The other day I was sending an e-mail to some colleagues using Google’s mail client. The body of the e-mail read something like, ‘Attached you will find a document I put together that will change your lives forever and will earn me much love and respect.’ As I went to send this e-mail containing an attachment which was obviously very important for my peers to see, Gmail sent me a message, ‘Did you mean to attach files? You wrote “see attachment” in your message, but there are no files attached. Send anyway?”
By gosh if I didn’t say right out loud in that moment, “Google, I love you.” They had my back by knowing me better than I know myself. I had that warm fuzzy feeling.
Warm fuzzy feeling? I’m a scientist. Warm fuzzy feelings or any feeling from an unknown origin leaves me curious. What exactly happened in my mind that made me ‘Love Google?’ Can that same thing be replicated in my brain to make me ‘love’ other brands? Can our clients leverage something in the human mind that will bond their visitors to them?
Yes. The answer to all these questions is the nonapeptide oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the ‘cuddle hormone.’ It bonds men to women, mothers to babies, and can attach your visitors to your brand.
I recently read the book Quirk: Brain Science Makes Sense of Your Peculiar Personality by Hannah Holmes, which answers a lot of interesting questions about what chemicals in the brain cause people to react differently in a variety of situations. She explores how oxytocin makes fathers out of rats. Research was presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, that concluded people under the influence of oxytocin are more empathetic and more likely to spend money. That’s great news for you! Even though you cannot spray your visitors with a mist of Oxytocin when they enter your website, you can milk their brains for the hormone in other ways.
You can always show pictures of babies or puppies to induce the release of Oxytocin. We think a better, more professional, and more customer centric way to tackle this is by understanding your customers on a higher plateau by creating personas to represent them and their differences. Do nice things for your customers. Tailor your online experience to their needs and truthfully, try to make them happy. Leveraging personas in this case is paramount because it helps you to create bonds with the different types of people who visit your site.
There might be an argument that improving customer experience with Oxytocin is the same as brainwashing visitors. If a positive online experience is brainwash, chain me to the wall! Oxytocin not only improves the bond between your brand and your visitors, it is a hormone that helps relax and reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels, increases pain thresholds, has anti anxiety effects, stimulates various types of positive social interaction, and it promotes growth and healing. I doubt anyone will complain.
The truth is, we all know that delivering a positive experience to someone can increase their trust and loyalty to your brand. Oxytocin is one of the reasons why. Understanding how the mind works can only help on the journey to understanding your customers. Understanding people and their needs is more valuable than any numbers from Google Analytics or Omniture.
What is your experience with an unexpectedly positive brand experience? Are you currently working to provide Oxytocin releasing moments in your online campaigns? Do you leverage personas on your website to deliver bonding experiences on your site? If you need any help getting those hormones flowing, please feel free to reach out to us.