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Why Emotion Is Essential to Content Success – Here’s Why #91

Business people don’t hang up their humanity when they go to work, and that includes when they’re reading or viewing content. In this episode of Here’s Why, find out why an emotional element is essential for content marketing success, even in a B2B marketplace.

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Resources Mentioned

Transcript

Eric: Mark, you wanted to share with us a content marketing myth that you wanted to bust. What is it?
Mark: Eric, the myth is that business content, especially business to business or B2B content, should be devoid of any emotional impact.
Eric: That’s a myth? Don’t business people expect serious content that doesn’t waste their time?
Mark: Well, of course they do, but here’s a key. Business people are still people.
Eric: Shocking, that sounds obvious and at the same time hard to believe.
Mark: I know it, right? But it’s true. Business people don’t hang up their humanity when they go to work, and that includes when they’re reading or viewing content. So here’s the second key, emotional hooks are just as effective in business content as they are in any other content. In fact, I think they’re essential if the content is to have any impact.
Eric: Explain what an emotional hook is?
Mark: An emotional hook is the thing in your content that captivates and moves your audience. It makes them sit up and take notice. It’s often what moves them to take action on your content, or to share it, or to link to it, or do whatever with it.
[Tweet “Emotional hooks are as important in B2B content marketing as they are in any other type of content. More at”]
Eric: But you call that an emotional hook. Where do emotions come into it?
Mark: It’s called that because it works in the reader or viewer at a deeper level than the rational. Now we all like to think that all of our decisions and actions are based purely on rational evaluation of the facts, the arguments, but research shows that, actually, a good deal of that happens at the emotional level of our brains. In other words, we aren’t fully conscious of why we make a certain decision, but once it is made, our rational mind rationalizes it. It comes up with logical valid reasons for the decision.
Eric: What does that actually look like in content? How does a hook work?
Mark: Let me answer that with an example from one of our most shared and most linked to pieces of content, our study of the effect of Google’s first mobile ranking update, popularly known as “Mobilegeddon” on mobile search rankings. Now on the rational level, this content is pretty cut and dry. We knew Google was going to release an update that they said would potentially cause non-mobile friendly sites to lose rank, and mobile-friendly sites to rise in rank.
Eric: We took a snapshot of the top 10 results for over 15,000 queries before the update and looked at the same set of queries after the update was in place. We found that almost 50% of the non-mobile friendly sites in our test set dropped in ranking after the update.
Mark: Those are the facts. But once we had that data, we quickly realized we had a significant hook.
Eric: I think I know what that was. We showed that the conventional wisdom across the industry that Mobilegeddon had very little impact was wrong, very wrong.
Mark: Exactly, and that’s a hook because it causes a visceral reaction in the reader. Most of our readers have probably seen the many articles and forum discussions saying that Mobilegeddon was a bust, a false flag from Google, a dud. And of course, because we were aware that our contradiction of that was our hook, we mentioned all that conventional wisdom in the introduction of our article, to make sure that all of our readers would catch the strong contrast.
Eric: When they hit the results of the study, they had this “Holy Smoke’s moment.”
Mark: And I’m pretty sure it was at that Holy Smokes moment, that the emotional part of their brain moved them to take some action. It said to the rational part, “This is news. You got to share this. You’ve got to link this from your site. You’ve got to tell everybody about it. You’ve got to put your own content.”
Eric: And boy did they ever. It’s now been shared over 4,000 times on social media and it’s got a lot of links, including some from major publications such as The Wall Street Journal.
Mark: Now, I’m not going to claim that having a good hook was solely responsible for the success of that content, and we still needed to have great content. In this case, a carefully prepared and executed data study, and good execution, that is, the content had to be presented in an attractive, inviting and easy to digest form. But when you have a good hook, an emotional touchstone in your content, it can be like pouring gasoline on a campfire. It can really make things take off, make readers take notice.
[Tweet “An emotional hook in your content can be like pouring gasoline on a campfire; it really takes off. More at”]
Eric: I’m betting though that most content producers give little or no thought to a hook for their content.
Mark: Probably right. And many of them are probably unaware it even exists. But on the other hand, a really good content producer often includes a hook instinctively even if she couldn’t tell you exactly what it is. But if you are aware of the power of the emotional hook, it will change how you prepare and present your content.
You don’t usually need to come right out and say what it is explicitly, but in fact, it’s probably more effective if you don’t do that. But if you know what your hook is, you can craft your content so that it naturally and effectively leads the reader to find the hook themselves.
Eric: Thanks, Mark. Can you recommend a good resource for understanding how emotional hooks work, and how to implement them in content?
Mark: I’ve got a great one Eric. As a matter of fact, it’s a slide deck by Hannah Smith called “Right in the Feels: How to Create Content That Gets Shared”, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

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Thoughts on “Why Emotion Is Essential to Content Success – Here’s Why #91”

  1. You make very valid points. It’s so important to connect with your audience and using the emotional hooks you talk about is a great way to do that. Great post, I especially enjoyed the video. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Peter. Actually, we use a green screen. We built our own studio at our company headquarters, and painted two walls green. In post production, our videographer can remove anything green and substitute it with whatever he wants. It does mean we have to eliminate green from our wardrobe and costumes, though!

  3. Thanks for a great article, I never thought about use emotion to connect more with my readers. I enjoyed the learning for your article Today. Thanks

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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