Decision-making – Data Versus Emotion

With the growth of marketing technologies and the continued development of new channels, data has become the central focus of most communication efforts. Data identifies our target audiences, and it quantifies our goals. Data is king, but it’s not a benevolent king. It’s cold and disconnected from the needs of your audience. To understand how to use data for marketing communications you have to understand the decision-making process.

Every piece of marketing communication should request an action or a decision, and every decision no matter the weight is based on an emotion. While not everyone may feel that they make decisions based on emotions, the truth is nearly all humans make decisions based on feelings first. Think of how you describe a decision to buy a new pair of shoes. Are they comfortable? Do they look good with lots of outfits? This same thinking goes into large purchases. When you take a car for a test drive are you checking the gas mileage and resale value, or are you checking out how the car feels when it drives? Decisions can’t be made without an emotional value attached to them.

While data may not drive decision-making, it plays an important role in the process by allowing you to justify a decision. We all have been guilty of saying we purchased something because it was on sale or that it got great reviews. In the case of a car, we talk about the great gas mileage and the resale value, or we may even talk about the amazing deal that included the floor mats. Data helps us explain our decision because saying it “felt right” may not be acceptable, understandable, or quantifiable to others.

Smart marketing communications should tap into both sides of decision-making to help close a sale and support the purchaser. The best approach should be a data macaron, the rich emotional cream is surrounded by crunchy data cookies on both sides. Start with data to identify the best audience for your message. Personas, look-alike profiles, and geo-targeting are just a few of the tactics you’ll use for this side of the cookie. The goal is to understand who you are speaking to, and what they need from you. Next is the emotional layer, which in my personal opinion, should at least be double-stuffed. Tapping into the emotional needs with design and writing will help form an emotional connection to your audience. You’re aiming for the “they get me” feeling from your audience. For example, realtors often use scents like fresh-baked cookies or pies to invoke the feeling of familiarity when showing homes. The last layer provides the hard data to justify the decision. This would be where realtors talk about the excellent school district and the up-and-coming neighborhood. Infographics and sales sheets are a few of the tactics that work great for this phase.

Marketing communications asks a single-person to make a decision. Impactful marketing creates a sympathetic connection using emotions to relate to your audience while also providing them the justification for making that purchase. Using the data, emotion, data macaron method not only increases your closing rate, but it will also help build a strong brand that your customers can stand behind. After all, who doesn’t like a great macaron?

Check out our work for National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Austin College for examples of how HCK2 uses data and emotions to create marketing solutions that connect and deliver.


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