Loyalty – one of the most powerful words in the English discourse – is what turns brands like Coca-Cola or Pampers into global phenomena. These are the brands that have earned your trust and loyalty with their emotionally loaded advertising. Why did they spend eons on winning your trust and loyalty, you ask? Think of it this way. You don’t let a stranger in your house, do you? You open your doors to the ones you trust. A deadpan sales pitch may get you a sale but it will not gain you a customer who keeps coming back for more like an addict. In a world saturated with brands, you want someone who keeps coming back again and again and preferably brings a friend or two on their way back.
How do we do that?
In my seven years in the advertising industry, I always told my clients: “Aim for the heart and you are in their cart!” because the brain forgets, the heart remembers. As an advertiser/content creator, I believe nothing sells in this world better than human connection at its most rudimentary level. Whether we like it or not, accept it or not, we are inherently cliquey and have this insatiable need to belong. We all get high on that ‘OMG someone likes me’ feeling and many brands have really hit gold using this insight.
"Crazy! Crazy! Crazy!" Nike said it all in one of the most powerful ads so far this year, featuring the real iron woman Serena Williams. Every woman, or at least most of us, have been called ‘crazy’, ‘extra’ or ‘too emotional’ at some point. So what did Nike do? It looked straight into the eye of each and every one of those ‘labelled’ women and said: "It’s okay; let them think you are crazy. Go be crazy, run wild because greatness never came from knitting a sweater in your courtyard on a creaky rocking chair.”
Although I know I will probably have to sell my kidney on eBay for a good pair of Nike kicks –and I have never bought Nike – but guess what? I love Nike now. I haven’t stopped talking about the ad because it told me and so many like me to just own our emotions – positive, negative, all of them. So next time I go shopping for sportswear you know which brand is going to pop in my head as a first option? Nike (have zero doubts about that!).
And it’s just not the brands that are leaning more and more towards emotions, search engines like Google have started leaning towards the qualitative along with the quantitative. Until a couple of years of ago, the highest ranking search result on Google as soon as you typed in the keyword ‘cat’ (for example) would look like this:
Cat cat cat. Grey cat. White Cat. Just Cat. Buy smart cats from cat shop and if cat dies bury in nearest cat cemetery where they bury cats. Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you cat?
However, gone are the days when domain owners could just throw up a bunch of keywords on their web pages and get their #1 spot on page one on Google without much effort. With software like RankBrain, Google has handed back the power to the user by upping the ante of EQ in the modern world.
RankBrain is a cog in Google’s core algorithm which uses machine learning to determine the most relevant results to search engine queries. With Pre-RankBrain, Google uses its basic algorithm to determine which results to show for a given query. Post-RankBrain, the query now goes through a much more comprehensive and smarter interpretation model that applies possible factors such as the location of the searcher, user persona and keywords of the query to determine the searcher’s true intent. By discerning this intent, Google can deliver more relevant results.
Thanks to RankBrain, a product of Google’s more intent-focused revised algorithm, several questions (such as How much time did the user spend on the page? Did the user find what they were looking for or did they go ‘pogo-sticking’ to another page? How user friendly is this domain?) are asked before a page can rank on Search Engine Research Pages (mainly Google) and get organic ranking.
How does all of this tie in with my earlier argument about emotional advertising?
Businesses now (even the ones dealing with the most quantitative subject matter - for example banks) understand that the magic is in the emotions and user experience. Even domain owners online have to create content that tugs at readers’ heartstrings or Google will send them to the timeout corner. It’s not about who comes to you anymore, it’s about who keeps coming back again and again and spends quality time with your content. If giants like Google have revised algorithms to add more qualitative factors to improve user experience, we know we are going somewhere with EQ. Content can get you attention but connection will get you loyalty, leads and eventually sales. Thanks to RankBrain, web pages that catch user attention and keep them ‘crawling’ on their domain, are organically moved to the top of the page.
So it’s not just keywords anymore. It is about which webpage provides the best solution to the query with the keyword (i.e. the page that gives the best user experience so that they no longer have the need to go anywhere else looking for answers). The good news at the end of all this is that consumers now have more power than ever! To manoeuvre search results, to pick and choose from a plethora of brands throwing emotions at them, to basically just be in the driving seat! Rev up the engines and let’s go!
Taniya Hasan is a content marketer.