Love Padlock - Photo by Alex Martinez
Ease your customer's path to purchase by caring for their emotional journey PHOTO: Alex Martinez

"Is there nothing I can say, nothing I can do to change your mind?" — Rolling Stones

A visitor’s journey through a website is as much about the heart as it is about the mind.

Most marketers recognize that the website section of the customer journey is a path through the decision-making process. It is a path through information, answering the key questions, and enticing people to buy, try, contact, donate or signup.

The Key to an Effortless Customer Journey

Our websites are the core of our online presence and, usually, the primary expression of our brand. We want them to have maximum impact. We want them to convince and convert. We want a low bounce rate and high conversions.

So those of us with the skills and resources available, invest in making them attractive and optimizing for conversion rates. We obsess over the metrics.

But if you want to build a really effective journey, one that people will naturally want to follow, you need to design and optimize for the emotional journey.

Emotion and reason are tightly connected. Our instantaneous visceral reactions set the stage for our slightly later and then much later rational ones. Establishing the right emotional journey to accompany the rational  “customer journey” can transform an arduous journey into an effortless slide.

There are five fundamental emotions your journey needs to accommodate. The first three emotions need to be triggered within about three seconds — so it takes a lot of work to get them right, but the payoff is huge. 

The 5 Feelings of the Emotional Journey

Emotion and reason are tightly connected. Our instantaneous visceral reactions set the stage for our slightly later and then much later rational ones. Establishing the right emotional journey to accompany the rational  “customer journey” can transform an arduous journey into an effortless slide.

1. Recognition

Let’s say someone just clicked on your link from a list of 27,586 search results. You’ve got about a millisecond or two to show her she’s in the right place. You need to say what you do and for whom, in the SIMPLEST possible terms. That can include words, pictures, images … everything matters, including (especially) font.

Here’s a couple of B2B examples — bonus marks if you can tell me who they are in the comments.

Who is this homepage for?

Where Work Happens

What about this one?

number one software development tool used by agile teams

Interestingly, they look very similar. So look more deeply than offices and software teams. These are trying to project young, hip, human type people.

Here’s a consumer example:

new kind of finance company

Note the woman of color with an intelligent look in her eye. Note the language — new kind of finance company. What does the font say?

One thing to note about “Recognition.” You can’t use a video to make people feel it. OK, maybe that background gestalt video loop. But this isn't the time for your product explainer. Not yet.

You have to earn that.

2. Excitement

In the same blink — the same inhale and exhale that you declare what you do and for whom you do it — you must also ignite some kind of spark. The same imagery that projects “millennial” or “serious business person” or “older, wealthier, investor,” the same words that declare your offering also need to frame it in a way that connects to the aspirations and anxieties of your visitor.

This word choice and image choice — these itty bitty little details — may take half the work of your entire web design. A great choice here will reflect deep insight into two things. The first is why you matter. The second is why they might care.

You should probably allow eight to 12 weeks to gather, research, test, try, iterate and socialize these details. Distilling your essence into a hero-shot panel takes work. And when you get it right, it is very, very powerful. Don’t underestimate the challenge or the benefit of doing it properly.

3. Curiosity

The next thing you need to do is earn your next moment of attention. A scroll or a click. If you’ve created recognition and you’ve sparked some feeling, your visitor will give you that next second — if you tell them where to spend it.

This is not the time to try to close the sale. It’s the time to explain yourself in just enough depth to get them to the next step. At a high level, and continuing the tone from steps one and two, tell us about your approach, your point of view, your methodology. Then, step by step you can guide them through what they need to know.

Not sure what they need to know? Ask them. Ask your sales people. In most cases there’s a common set of questions prospects ask. Answer them.

4. Confidence

Now it’s time to start building confidence. Show people why they should believe you. Testimonials, case studies, data, graphs, awards, analyst reports … whatever you have to bring to bear.

Can you mix these into the above? Yes. But deftly. If you go in all directions, your visitor will also lose focus.

5. Enthusiasm

Now’s the time to build enthusiasm. They’re with you. They’re confident. If we show them the next step, they’ll take it. Make it easy, and frame it well. “Join the world's best CEOs,” “Most creative marketers,” … give them something to do that speaks to their aspirations. 

Sometimes the “enthusiasm” may just be agreeing that knowing more would be helpful.

A Word About Manipulating People

We live in times when a lot of people aren’t telling the truth. People are actively pursuing and manipulating people with information, emotion, facts and fibs. Stay on the side of good.

You Can Do This

Master the emotional component of the customer journey, and your visitors will glide along the path. Your bounce rate will drop. Your conversion rate will rise. And wait till you see what it does for your team’s pride.

The best is yet to come.