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Getting Emotional With Mobile

Jackie Micucci
Thursday, Oct 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM

This week we’ve been talking about the emotional attachments people have to their smartphones and how mobile marketing can use those connections to engage users and build campaigns. I have certainly been on the receiving end of some of those kinds of campaigns.


Getting emotional image


I used to walk almost every day from my office in New York’s Soho section to my apartment in the East Village always with my headphones on listening to music or my favorite podcast “This American Life.” Twice a year for about a week or so, Ira Glass, the podcast’s host (who I totally have a nerd crush on), would start the podcast with a very laid back plea about the production costs of the show, which is free to download. Listeners could help out by donating $5 simply by texting the word “LIFE” to a short code. That fee was added to their mobile bill. I loved the show, $5 was the cost of one large latte that I could certainly do without and I was listening to the podcast right there on my smartphone, so it took just a minute or two to donate.


This American Life image

Even though this wasn’t money being raised to help the victims of a horrible natural disaster the campaigns have been a big success. It played on my sense of guilt. Here I was every week enjoying this podcast for free. Surely I could donate a mere $5 to defray costs? Plus, the mobile giving system was so easy to use.


Playing on Emotions


It sounds a tad slimy, but let’s face it: marketers have been playing on emotions for decades. If you buy product X you will be a happier, more complete person. With mobile, it’s about taking those kinds of basic human emotions and harnessing them in the moment.


Check in apps such as Foursquare play to people’s competitive nature. Does anyone really need to be the mayor of their office? But it’s something to boast about. Many check ins at their core are consumer loyalty programs that are more engaging because of the immediacy. Users get to brag about their whereabouts on social media sites and receive rewards both virtual (badges) and real (discounts).  


We’ve talked about mobile social gaming and gamification in the past, but the reason why it works is because of both users’ sense of competition and the range of emotions they go through when engaging in those games. A user can go from incredibly happy to incredibly frustrated in a matter of seconds, but the key is to keep them hooked and coming back for more, thus a good system of rewards.


A lot of conferences are using Tag scavenger hunts to get attendees more involved and to create a less passive environment. When these show attendees visit the different venues or sections of a conference they scan a Tag, and when they’ve scanned enough Tags, they are rewarded with badges. They get to win and even if it’s something that is seemingly silly or useless like a badge, it makes the user happy. It also builds a sense of comradery among those at the show and gives them a reason to chat as well as brag a bit.


Marketers also have to make sure that users don’t become bored. We talk a lot about Eurest Dining Services scan to win campaign, but that’s because it is a good and simple implementation that uses gamification and the users’ sense of competition. Scanning a cup to win a prize is easy and making sure users win every few tries (but not every try) appeals to that competitive spirit and ensures they’ll keep coming back for more.


Making it Easy


The easier you make it for people to engage, the more likely they will. For example, right here on the Microsoft campus the Giving Campaign is going on. There are posters strategically located in places where people may be waiting and have their smartphone with them like by the elevator bank. These posters have Tags, so all it takes is a quick scan for the user to donate to their favorite charity. People never go anywhere without their trusty smartphones, so when you make it convenient for them to do something like scan a Tag on a poster as they wait for an elevator or a bus or even on a UNICEF trick-or-treat box, they aren’t going to have time to over-think their decision.


Giving Campaign Poster image

With games, you don’t want to make things too complicated or people won’t play. And you do actually want them to win once in a while or you will totally lose your audience. At the end of the day, the whole point is to get the mobile user engaged and emotionally connected to your brand.


What other emotions can be used by mobile marketers to help build their campaigns? Let us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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