The Power of Content Chemistry: Release the Oxytocin!

Sep 20, 2018


BEST PRACTICES SERIES

Want your audience to ask about your products and services? Wonder how to spark people’s interest?

Then, it’s time to “Release the Oxytocin!”

Yes, it sounds like a line shouted by Zeus in the Clash of the Titans film. A dramatic moment in which the Greek god is ordering his men to unleash the legendary squid monster, the Kraken. However, like Perseus, who made a stand for humankind, so ought good content marketers who believe in ditching the pitch and prevailing with powerful content.

We know that there’s a science behind what motivates us to buy and scientists are proving that it is related to our chemistry. A study by the National University of Singapore, found that the central theme of modern human behavior is the act of buying. People have shifted the focus of buying from satisfying basic physical needs to signaling our social identity and gaining social status. “I buy, therefore I am.” But where does chemistry fit in?

Oxytocin is a hormone best known for generating human connection and is produced in the hypothalamus, a region in the forebrain. Between sights, sounds, smells, and other senses, the brain can become flooded with stimuli from moment to moment. Oxytocin acts as a chemical messenger and performs the important roles of the forming trust and building relationships.

Can you imagine content tailored to hormones? Well, you should, because emotionally triggered marketing strategies are winning the trust of many and is the key to a virtual “buy button” in the brain. Whether you’re marketing to financial advisors or new-car buyers, your marketing needs a good dose of oxytocin.

The best way to increase oxytocin levels in your audiences is through marketing methods that create emotion-rich experiences. Here are a few of strategies to test in your own marketing campaigns: 

Storytelling Techniques that Spike Empathy

Good storytelling transforms the customer journey from “selling things” to “creating experiences” for audiences. We tell one another stories and we connect emotionally—through our hearts and minds. People are attracted to stories because they hold meaning and create an emotional impact. Good stories can yield powerful results for brands.

Paul J. Zak, scientist, entrepreneur, and author of the book Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies, talks about how good oxytocin triggers should matter to marketers. What he discovered in the simplest narrative is if you follow the classic dramatic arc outline, brands can evoke powerful empathic responses associated with oxytocin. These stories can trigger a chemical response of trustworthiness and behaviors you want to reinforce, such as making a purchase or engaging with your brand.  

Help Audiences Visualize

Images and videos stimulate the viewer’s brains, elicit emotional connections, and affect the user experience and response that make an impact. Craft content that includes interesting visual design, video, infographics, and other images that engage with the readers. Having appealing visuals allows brands to communicate with consumers in a manner that makes it easy for readers to relate to your story.

A great example of a brand story that serves up oxytocin like a hot biscuit on a cold morning is the UPS viral mini-documentary hit called “Driver for a day.” This little boy had an adorable specific wish to be a UPS driver, and the company delivered. They brought Carson’s dream to life as he packages up cookies and dog bones to deliver to his neighbors in his own cute mini UPS truck. The ad was such a hit they followed up with a UPS truck driver training camp for more children to have that experience.    

The Curiosity Factor

Marketing’s goal is to get people’s attention, maintain it, and connect with their audience. Curiosity can help to accomplish those goals. However, in a quest to make content consumable, many content marketers forget the element of surprise and how to make content interesting.

Recently, at Content Marketing World, Andrew Davis, a former television producer and best-selling author, said, “If we are going to create better content, we need to learn to consume content better.” Andrew provided a great tension-building example: The team at BuzzFeed had over 10 million viewers who stood by on live stream for 44 minutes (still think your audience doesn’t have time?), just to see how many rubber bands they could place around a watermelon before it exploded.

He believes that to pique curiosity with your audience there must be a gap between what they know and what they want to know. Think of it this way: people want to connect the dots, and when they can’t, their curiosity is powerful and motivating. Give glimpses of what customers will find but leave them wondering. The longer you have their attention, the more likely you are to build trust.

Social Media and Community Groups

Rather than just being passive consumers, people are set up to want to interact and feel like they “belong.” They want to connect with others who have shared interests. Fostering a community and demonstrating that your company shares similar values can creates a circle of trust.

Building a trustworthy brand goes beyond providing products and services. Allow a space for your communities to get involved, break out of your “brand bubble,” and join in the conversation. Nurture business relationships and forge a bond between brand and consumer. You can do this through online forums, meet-ups, and social media channels. Use data and insights to learn what resonates with your online community and then connect with them emotionally in a real and relevant way.

Use the L word

Of course, this means loyalty. By leveraging a loyalty program, brands can incentivize fans to attain unique rewards and prizes, which influence further engagement. When people receive a reward, they experience a surge of oxytocin. This “feel good” emotion can be translated into increased and measurable consumer spending habits and patterns.

A 2018 Customer Engagement & Loyalty Statistics report stated that 71% of consumers who are members of loyalty programs say membership is a meaningful part of their relationships with brands. And loyalty programs that establish positive emotional connections with members see 27% more of their membership increasing their spend with the brand.

It’s important to note that adopting omnichannel-based loyalty programs is proving to be very effective. Omnichannel loyalty connects customers to a brand across all touch points seamlessly, provides members with the opportunity to be rewarded for spend and engagement across all channels, and provides a better customer experiences. The spend and engagement data captured can also be leveraged for future marketing efforts.

So, remember, in the end don’t be like Hades in Clash of the Titans, who only wishes to serve himself, discover your inner Content God and bring out the oxytocin in your readers.


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