Why Are Emotions So Crucial to e-Commerce?
As consumers, we tend to believe that our decisions are purely rational. We like to think that we are in charge and that we make choices based solely on our own judgement – that we’re not influenced by brands and advertising. Yet, it has been proven that almost all buying decisions are made with emotional motivations.
Neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio observed patients whose brains were incapable of generating emotions (e.g. due to surgeries or particular health conditions). They had no problems processing information, but something else was interestingly common between them: They felt no emotions, and thus found it extremely difficult to make decisions.
We cannot make decisions based exclusively on facts and logical thinking. We don’t have enough time to analyze all the available information. Therefore, emotions – both conscious and unconscious – drive our behavior and how we make buying decisions.
Customer Experience as a Key to Consumer Emotions
Today's online world is abundant with commercials and marketing communications. E-consumers are faced with too many options – the so-called paradox of choice. Scientists have concluded that this phenomenon can even lead to depression and feelings of loneliness.
Additionally, data indicates that as many as 88% of e-clients experience various problems while shopping online. These issues include excessive available choices and a transaction process with various complicated procedures. This makes many clients quit before completing their purchases.
You can respond to these problems by using simplified information techniques and ensuring the best possible customer experience. According to a Gemius Report for e-Commerce Polska , positive buying experiences encourage 33% of Polish Internet users to shop online again.
Emotional Triggers that Drive Sales
There are a few proven emotional triggers that can affect sales and help win and retain loyal e-commerce customers.
1. Telling a Story
People love stories. How can this be used in e-commerce? Standard product descriptions could be replaced with storytelling. A good story breathes life into products and brands, featuring product qualities that are close to consumers' hearts. This removes a barrier commonly felt in online shopping.
A good example is set by the company Zielony Renifer (Green Reindeer), which sells wall decorations. From the start, this brand has engaged consumers with the story of creating a reindeer, breeding it, and leading it to a stable (i.e. closing a transaction). Their communication to customers maintains the same narrative – the story of a reindeer. This certainly makes the brand more appealing, as opposed to positioning itself like other wall-decoration stores. Providing dry information about decorations would certainly fit the store into the second category.
2. Playing on Fear
According to research, fear is one of the most frequently used motivations. Naturally, it should be applied in moderation. Nevertheless, the message "there is just one last product left" triggers a fear of missing out in customers and stimulates buying.
Booking.com can serve as a useful example here. The brand sends messages to customers based on their search histories, e.g. "there is just one room left in your requested timeframe!". This motivates customers and gets accommodation booked faster.
3. Playing the Greed card
Greed is commonly used in persuasive communication. Messaging like "free of charge", "buy one and get one for free" or "free delivery" is really quite effective.
The opportunity to get a large discount or a free item in exchange for a purchase triggers emotions and boosts purchase intent. It is a skillfully used technique employed by the online shoe and accessory retailer eobuwie.pl. They place a lot of emphasis on the phrase "free of charge" in their delivery and returns content. Additionally, the company sends emails to customers about discounts that are "today only", "especially for you", or "just for the product you liked".
4. Playing the Altruism Card
According to the Cone Cause Evolution survey, 85% of consumers think more highly of brands that engage in charitable activities. Altruism triggers a sense of social belonging, which is very important in building the brand image and boosting sales.
One of the most socially active brands is Starbucks. Apart from the Starbucks Foundation – which donates gigantic sums to various causes – the company consistently pursues its Shared Planet strategy. They defined this as a commitment to acting in ways that benefit people and the planet. Funds for this activity are raised from the sale of products, which triggers a sense of social responsibility in Starbucks’ customers.
According to the report Green Generation: Together for the Earth, 88% of e-customers note the unecological practices of e-commerce businesses. Clients oppose practices like using plastic packing, shipping small products in big boxes, using parcel fillers, and a lack of eco-packaging or eco-delivery options. This is a way for eco-conscious consumers to choose suppliers who can deliver on promises of sustainable growth.
5. Encouraging Reciprocity
The principle of reciprocity in commerce is a powerful tool. When clients know they can receive something extra for their purchase, they are more inclined to buy. Loyalty programs illustrate this.
Sephora does not focus strongly on sales promotions. The company more frequently offers benefits in its loyalty program. It’s divided its customers into three groups based on the annual value of their purchases. Within each of the levels, customers can benefit from promotions, freebies, and incentives like trips or sessions with make-up artists.
6. Customer Reviews
In other words, this is providing evidence that someone who used a product was satisfied with it. According to Local Consumer Review Survey 2020, 90% of clients check reviews before buying products online. Think about your own habits; when was the last time you bought something online without checking its reviews?
Airbnb makes sure customer reviews are eye-catchingly displayed. At the search stage, customers can already see the average star rating for each rental, as awarded by previous guests. While viewing a specific rental, they can precisely filter all the reviews it has received. The company strongly encourages visitors to leave a review after their stay, even offering discounts on an upcoming trip in return.
7. Building Trust
The experts at Singapore Management University published a large study on the connection between trust and closing the purchase process. The study has found that people are more inclined to buy if they do not see any risk involved.
However, there is some feeling of risk in e-commerce. How can you minimize this feeling?
- Prominently display customer reviews and update them frequently.
- Include extensive contact information.
- Consider using a chatbot that’s accessible 24/7 to answer shoppers’ questions.
- Emphasize safety and trust certificates awarded to your e-store.
According to the Temkin Group , emotions have a great impact on brand loyalty. The Group observed that buyers who feel positive emotions connected with the brand are more inclined to:
- Trust that brand (8 times more often than those who do not feel a connection).
- Buy more (7 times more often).
- Forgive mistakes (6 times more often).
Today's technological advancements in developing online sales channels, marketing, and data analytics can ensure your company’s transparency while building positive relationships with e-commerce customers. Learning the art of managing emotions is actually a necessity – one that is likely to become a competitive advantage for your brand.