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Leveraging Emotional and Influencer Marketing for B2B Marketing

February 20, 2020

While many think buying decisions are purely rational, the truth is that emotions always influence these choices. Some studies have indicated that consumers’ experiences, positive feelings toward a brand and emotional responses to their ads are better determinants of purchasing decisions, engagements and brand loyalty.

There are many ways to draw out these feelings from buyers, even in the context of B2B marketing. One such strategy is emotional marketing.

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Table of Contents

Emotional Marketing: Making Your Brand Relatable

HubSpot defines emotional marketing as “marketing and advertising efforts that primarily use emotion to make your audience notice, remember, share, and buy.” It is an effective way to get a target buyer’s attention in a sea of competition.

Creating products that really help B2B clients and highlighting these features in their promotions do help–these tap into the rational side of their decision-making.

But to seal the deal, brands need to leverage another critical decision-making factor: emotions.

Consider this analysis of the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s case studies of successful advertising campaigns. Campaigns that leaned mostly on emotional appeal were almost twice more effective than those that focused on rational persuasion.

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With emotional marketing, brands can deliver a good first impression, present themselves as companies who “get it” or understand the challenges B2B entrepreneurs, managers, and marketers go through, and move these decision-makers to finally purchase a product or service.

Aside from encouraging people to buy, emotional marketing can also prompt people to share content (leading to brand awareness or virality) or give or support a cause.

5 Brands Acing Emotional Marketing

Leveraging emotions has been a key component of marketing strategies. For example, brands’ landing pages and email marketing campaigns focus on their buyers’ pain points. Below are a few more examples of brands tapping into the emotions of their target audience.

1. P&G’s “Thank You Mom” (Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games)

The ad focuses on mothers of athletes being there for their kids each time they fall or are hurt, up until they win championships. Aside from celebrating mothers–the company’s main buyers–this two-minute video packs so much emotion: love, pain, frustration, and victory. Moreover, these feelings and experiences are not limited among mothers.

Even adult children or non-athletes can relate to the unconditional love shown by the mothers and the struggle of fulfilling any dream: trying hard, getting hurt, failing, and finally, winning.

2. HP’s “The Wolf”

This video plays into individuals’ and businesses’ fears. HP used storytelling to laymanize a technical subject: cybersecurity.

Through it, they pointed out loopholes any company may have in its security system and what these may cost them business-wise, and what employee data it may leak as well.

3. Zendesk’s “I like it when he gives me the business”

This Zendesk commercial appeals to emotions on several levels. It surprises viewers, it turns business’s customer service dilemma into a funny dialogue and placed it in the context of relationships.

Entrepreneurs can relate to the man who felt they had neither the time nor the resources for customer support.

At the same time, viewers can easily empathize with the lady who complained about her experiences to her family and friends, including on social media.

4. Bitrix24’s “Free Business Management Solution” ad

This ad packs a lot in 46 seconds. It succinctly captures everything small business owners go through in maintaining a business.

This includes trying a bunch of software to maximize productivity, management tasks pulling them away from important work, and costs.

5. Microsoft’s “Nordic Health Innovation – Virtual Care Rooms”

The idea of patients administering health checks themselves while guided by a computer and talking to doctors online may seem too unconventional or radical. Some may wonder if this takes away the warm, human interaction that’s an important component in healthcare.

But the video’s script and shots help viewers relate to Anna, a diabetic elderly, and their community’s challenges in accessing health services. It allowed the audience to understand how the virtual care rooms, instead of taking away human interaction, actually enhances it in areas not easily reached by healthcare professionals.

It’s a video that triggers pain and hope at the same time.

Strengthening Trust and Reach by Combining Emotional and Influencer Marketing

Emotional marketing is truly powerful, and some B2B companies have been using it well. But there’s another way for businesses to expand their reach, establish credibility, and start building trust: influencer marketing.

Alexa defines influencer marketing as “a strategy that identifies people who have a strong influence on a brand’s industry or target audience.” Here are a few reasons why companies must consider incorporating influencer marketing in their promotional strategies.

  • 66% trust consumer opinions they read online.
  • In terms of ROI, 89% of marketers say influencer marketing equalled or surpassed other marketing channels.

Influencers already have a loyal following, and by partnering with these individuals, brands can reach new markets. Companies can also benefit from the trust these influencers have earned: Viewers are more likely to purchase if someone they can relate to and trusts uses and/or recommends a product or service.

Merging Emotional Marketing and Influencer Marketing

Enhancing Content Strategy and Storytelling

Before launching a campaign or partnering with an influencer, brands need to get clear about their goals. These goals may include:

  • Brand awareness: introducing your company and products/services.
  • Audience building: getting more people to subscribe to your email or social media accounts.
  • Engagement: encouraging people to share, like, or comment on your campaigns.
  • Sales: closing more deals, moving your audience deeper into the sales funnel.
  • Customer loyalty: keeping your audience loyal to your brand

After naming your goals, choose your marketing channels and the types of content that will support your goals. Your influencer marketing engagement can include one or more of the following:

  • Sponsored content: Influencers will feature you on their blog or social media account.
  • Guest posts: You create content for your influencer’s blog.
  • Giveaways: Having influencers mention your contests or giveaways to their followers.
  • Social media mentions: Influencers mention your brand on their social media posts.
  • Influencer takeovers: Giving influencers control over your social media account for some time.
  • Affiliates and discount offers: Providing influencers with an affiliate code or discount code which they can offer to their readers/listeners/followers.
  • Exclusive content: Giving influencers a backstage pass to an event or a company’s processes.
  • DIY tutorials: Allowing influencers to show the audience how to use your service/product.

Whichever content you choose, be sure to create positive emotions in your audience. Some ways you can do this is by:

  • Highlighting personal values beyond product features, similar to Microsoft’s Virtual Care Rooms above.
  • Skipping technical terms and jargon and using the language of your target buyers.
  • As in HP’s “The Wolf,” using storytelling to build emotional connection and reflecting why a product is important to individuals in a company. In a study, Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council found that “B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value–such as opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice–in their business purchase decision.”

Leveraging the Credibility of Micro-Influencers

In a U.S. survey, Collective Bias found that almost a third (30%) of consumers are more likely to buy products promoted by non-celebrity bloggers than famous personalities.

When selecting who to work with, brands need to set aside an influencer’s number of followers and focus on factors like:

  • How engaged an influencers’ audience are
  • Whether the influencer’s audience overlap with the company’s buyer persona
  • Credibility
  • Shared values

While celebrities and mega-influencers (1million+ followers) and macro-influencers (100,000-1 million followers) may be more famous and have large followings, their audiences may not be as engaged as micro-influencers’ (1,000-100,000 followers) and nano-influencers (1,000+ followers). In addition, audiences can better relate to micro-influencers and nano-influencers and deem them more trustworthy.

When searching for influencers, you don’t need to limit yourself to social media personalities. Depending on your business goals and target content, you can look for thought leaders, industry experts, your customers, and bloggers.

Harnessing Live Media for Storytelling and Emotional Marketing

Videos provide brands more opportunities to tell stories and tap into their target clients’ emotions, wherever they may be in the buyer’s journey.

In a survey of B2B marketers in the UK and Ireland, LinkedIn found that 62% created videos to generate brand awareness, and many found it effective for product/service demonstration (86%), finding high-quality leads (78%).

There are many ways B2B companies can leverage live media for better emotional marketing:

  • They can ask influencers to help do product tutorials and interview niche influencers on how the product/service has helped them.
  • They can create live webinars using a webinar software, and then trim these into shorter clips and distribute these across platforms.
  • They can collaborate on interviews, whether live or recorded.

Publishing live videos is an amazing opportunity for brands to interact with their target audience, invite questions, and answer these in real time.

See for example Mayo Clinic’s Facebook live video featuring cardiologist Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, and Mayo Clinic responding to questions posted by viewers.

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Live videos do have their risks: You can’t edit what’s been said or done during the recording. Given this, brands need to carefully choose influencers to work with for live videos.

They also need to decide if live videos fit their business goals. If their goal for engaging with an influencer is to highlight product features, then archived videos may be a better choice.

Be Transparent to Win the Audience’s Trust

While some may fear that labeling materials as “sponsored” will turn off their target audience, it’s actually a good way to establish transparency. And transparency leads to trust.

To inform audiences that a material is paid, influencers can use #ad, mention the brand, and indicate on the post’s first line that it is a sponsored post.

In videos or podcasts, influencers can mention that the material is sponsored by a company, such as this video by Currently Hannah sponsored by SquareSpace

Drive Engagements through Contests and Giveaways

Receiving freebies is also another way for brands to generate positive emotions among audiences, increase brand awareness and social media engagements. While brands can launch contests on their own, involving influencers can help create more buzz around their giveaways or promos.

Also, partnering with micro-influencers and nano-influencers can lend credibility to new companies and put them right in front of their target customers.

When planning a contest or giveaway, brands must make sure the rewards are valuable enough to encourage audiences to participate. They must coordinate with influencers about guidelines and deadlines, then let them announce or promote it in their own creative, catchy way.

Notice how this Instagram post on giveaways combines emotional and influencer marketing.

The photo and caption tug at couples’ hearts, generates feelings of love, tenderness, and joy while promoting a health drink. It also clearly outlines the mechanics of the giveaway.

Plus, announcing and tagging a winner helps further establish that the contest is real.

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Maximize Social Media Takeovers

In June 2018, Instagram hit 1 billion active users each month, with many users logging in each day.

Given social media platforms’ expansive reach, B2B companies will benefit from finding ways to leverage these platforms. And one unique way to do that is through social media takeovers.

During social media takeovers, brands let influencers use their social media accounts to post stories or their own experience of using a product or service.

Such form of storytelling allows brands to appear more relatable and credible to viewers. By tapping different influencers across niches or geographies, they can quickly and simultaneously reach different markets as well.

Nurture Ties with Influencers and Audiences

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Source: rawpixel from Pixabay

While companies have the option of having one-off projects with influencers, others are moving toward long-term partnerships. Nurturing such ties with influencers present several benefits to companies.

First, they don’t need to keep going through the process of finding the right influencer to work with. When they find one or a few who fit their values and goals and deliver good results, they can focus their energies on planning the next campaigns with the same influencers.

Equally important, audiences perceive the brand-influencer partnership as genuine, even if they know it is a paid or sponsored post.

When they see their trusted influencer repeatedly using and promoting the product, they are more likely to think the product truly has its merits.

Apart from long-term partnerships, there are other ways brands can nurture ties with influencers.

They can give gifts (such as invites to events) or product samples. These gestures show influencers their contributions and opinions are valued. Plus, influencers may also thank the companies for these gifts, which helps increase brand awareness and positive perceptions of the brand.

When it comes to nurturing audiences, companies can show viewers their concern by answering questions, providing helpful tips and links, during live videos.

They can show appreciation by sharing customer reviews or user-generated content. Doing so not only helps brands promote their service. In the context of B2B, sharing or retweeting these posts also promote clients’ businesses within the company’s own network.

Create More Blog Posts

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Source: Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

While videos and images play an important role in influencer marketing, blogs remain a powerful platform as well.

While social media posts may quickly pass or be forgotten, blog posts, especially long-form content, have longer lifespans and can boost a brand’s SEO rankings. These blog posts can also be used by influencers to spread  the word about contests and giveaways, or new videos they have made in partnership with B2B companies.

Within these blog posts, which influencers can incorporate in their emails and newsletters, companies can direct audiences to their website and encourage them to sign up to their emails as well. From here, B2B marketers can begin nurturing the newly acquired audience through their sales funnels.


Emotional marketing and influencer marketing offer many benefits and possibilities for B2B companies.

By linking their product’s features to their target market’s feelings and experiences (emotional marketing) and making their brands relatable and building credibility and trust (through influencer marketing), they can better position themselves in front of the right audience.

Without getting too technical, they can make entrepreneurs, managers, key employees get to a point where they can say: “This product is exactly what we need.”

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Author bio: Aaron Chichioco is the chief content officer (CCO) and one of the web designers of Design Doxa. His expertise includes not only limited to Web/mobile design and development, but digital marketing, branding, eCommerce strategy and business management tactics as well. For more information about Aaron,

Aaron Chichioco
Aaron Chichioco