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GUEST OPINION Making m-commerce more emotional could boost sales

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Split testing and decreasing page load time may make mobile sites easier to use, but will they help it sell? Should your brand “get emotional” instead? Simon Bell, Founder of Diligent Commerce, thinks it could

Split testing your copy and chipping away at page load times may make a mobile site easier for visitors to use, but do these technical improvements really help a website sell?

When consumers load up a website they’re excited to visit, does a 0.05 second slower site speed really make them less likely to click “buy”? By the same token, if a website leaves them feeling cold and disinterested, will a small tweak to a call to action wording convince them to buy?

The short answer to all of these questions is “probably not”.

As mobile consumers, we all like convenience and usability when we shop via smartphone. Excluding a total technical catastrophe, however, a milliseconds delay is unlikely to put us off as much as an uninspiring website will. This is because we’re emotional beings. It’s also the reason you must stop prioritising the technical over the emotional if you want your brand to become an m-commerce success story; it’s all about balance.

Why emotion matters in m-commerce

We only need to look at recent studies to know that shopping in any context is an emotional experience. A good example is Klarna’s study with Reading University, which addresses the emotional and psychological factors involved when customers abandon their basket. It comes as no surprise that 56% of customers prefer the convenience of one-click purchasing and that 33% exited a website when they had to register for an account. Shopping clearly affects how we feel as consumers, whether positive or negative, and therefore determines buying intent.

If digital brands can harness these emotions, they can sell online more powerfully.

This idea is borne out by the likes of Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning behavioural scientist, who states that humans make decisions using two different systems:

  • System One – A feelings-based, emotional system

  • System Two – A logical, rational system

Most of us believe that we make our choices using System Two, however, the bulk of our real decision-making is actually conducted using the faster, larger, emotion-based system one.

Emotion goes mobile

Is there any form of online shopping that feels as personal as shopping via smartphone? These personal devices are extensions of ourselves in many cases, and make us feel more connected to the digital activities we conduct.

If you’ve ever wanted to throw your phone across the room when an important browser accidentally closed or experienced the rush of excitement when a notification told you your hero liked your latest Instagram post, you’ll know what we’re talking about. Mobile is personal, which is why it’s an especially important conduit for emotional content.

One important aspect of the “emotionality of mobile” is the impulsiveness of purchases made via smartphones. While desktops give customers time and tools to leave tabs open and research purchases in detail, mobile (often used on-the-go) is far more likely to result in impulse purchasing.

Mobile is also a restricted medium with smaller screens, and slower connections to name but two of the challenges. All of these m-commerce hurdles can be a source of negative emotion; primarily frustration.

Removing frustrating obstacles and making m-commerce journeys as frictionless as possible should be a key priority for online brands. Yet the absence of anger shouldn’t be the only emotion m-commerce deals in. The presence of positive feelings is equally, if not more, important.

Emotional selling in action

Understanding and connecting with shoppers on an emotional level may be fresh practice within the digital marketing sphere, but it’s nothing new to the world of advertising. For decades advertisers have been playing on consumers’ hopes, their dreams, their fears and their passions to persuade them that they need what they’re being sold.

Until recently, advertising tackled aspirations and insecurities, showing customers idealised lifestyles, shiny cars, drop dead beautiful models and perfect, smiling nuclear families. But throughout the 2010s a shift has taken place. Partially due to the democratic, diversity-surfacing nature of the Internet, consumers are now much more interested in realistic representations of “who we are” when it comes to advertising, not glossy images of how we “should” be.

One of the best examples of this shift is Lynx’s recent move away from its dated “Lynx effect” advertising, which typically showed men attracting legions of women with a quick spritz of deodorant. Now the brand has jumped from telling men they ought to be Casanovas, to a campaign which challenges gender stereotypes. The brand’s new, emotionally engaging #IsItOKForGuys campaign and “Make Your Magic…” marketing is a telling departure.

Call it cynical, call it clever, this hop on Lynx’s part demonstrates the importance of emotion when it comes to promoting products. The brand’s website, incidentally, is a great example of a brand delivering their “emotional content” across all platforms – digital included. Many websites and mobile stores, however, are yet to catch on.

Harnessing emotion in m-commerce

We’ve explained why emotion matters in m-commerce. Now it’s time to explore how to start imbuing m-commerce stores with emotion…

  • Develop a personality

It’s hard to relate to and connect with a blank screen. Many m-commerce stores are still virtually indistinguishable from each other, focussing on function at the expense of every other feature. While these bare bones, cookie cutter stores may perform smoothly, they also do nothing to connect with consumers.

Put it this way: if every m-commerce site looks the same and the only real difference is price point, why should a visitor buy from your store rather than any other store (*ahem*, Amazon)? Giving your m-commerce store a personality allows visitors to connect with it on a personal, emotional level, improving brand recognition and giving them a reason to buy from you.

Consider your brand’s personality, take a deep dive into your demographic data and then channel everything you learn into the design of your site.

  • Get visual

Images can slow down and clutter up websites, which is why so many m-commerce stores are sparse when it comes to imagery. Yet images are intrinsically emotional, prompting an instant response, whether viewers are conscious of it or not. This means m-commerce brands must prioritise the most effective visual content for their site.

Pictures of people are often the images we respond to the most. This is partially because we’re neurologically hard-wired to recognise human emotion through facial features. Displaying visual content featuring your product and humans (who your target market will respond positively to) is a good way to harness emotion to boost your bottom line.

  • Tell a story

Time is limited in m-commerce. Buying journeys need to be fast as mobile shoppers are usually buying “on the hoof”, perhaps on their lunch break or on public transport. This means they don’t have unlimited time to delve into your brand’s origin story or your company ethos.

Whilst this may be true, storytelling is one of the most effective ways to connect emotionally with visitors. Sharing where your brand came from and where it hopes to go will engage visitors, allowing them to respond to your brand on a personal level. Although space to share brand storytelling via m-commerce stores is limited, weaving it into areas like product descriptions is a simple but powerful way to make your site more emotionally engaging.

Learn more on how to lead your brand’s digital presence with emotion in our Emotional Ecommerce Webinar.

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