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Making Your Customers Smile with Targeted Content

April 20, 2015


“It’s become apparent that producing targeted content will continue to be a major trend in the upcoming year,” writes Diana Muina, Marketing Coordinator at Hannon Hill. “Targeted Content is specific content created for a subset of your general audience, often referred to as a persona. Targeted content is unique because it’s designed to elicit a specific response from a specific group, based on data about that group.”[1] The “specific response” that manufacturers and retailers are most often looking for is the purchase of a product. Elyse Dupré () reports, however, that the path to purchase can sometimes elicit another response — a smile. She cautions, however, “What marketers say makes consumers happy and what actually does isn’t always aligned.”[2] Dupré admits that “new cars and clothes are nice”; nevertheless, she recommends that marketers look beyond material pleasures in order to discover what makes people happy at their core. To that end, she discusses some psychological research that has been conducted by a charitable group called Action for Happiness — which is part of the registered charity The Young Foundation. In 2010, based on its research, the organization developed “10 Keys to Happier Living” that the organization spells out with the acronym GREAT DREAM.


Dupré asserts that marketers can enhance the path to purchase by tapping into one or more of the “keys to happiness.” She goes on to note, “Making consumers happy doesn’t mean that marketers have to suffer.” To prove her point, she discusses how four brands managed to tap into the things that truly make consumers happy in order to promote their products. Too often, we correlate laughter with happiness. After all, who doesn’t like an ad that makes them laugh? Read Dupré’s article, however, and you will see that laughter is not always necessary to bring a smile to someone’s face or to touch deep emotions.


In an earlier article, Dupré reports about another way to elicit a positive result from consumers — namely, helping them feel good about spending their money.[3] The article involves an address given at marketing conference by Elizabeth Dunn, a behavioral scientist and coauthor of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. Dunn’s contention is, “If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right.” Dupré writes:

“Dunn argued that people can turn money into happiness by adhering to three core principles: buy experiences, make a purchase a treat, and invest in others. Marketers can apply the same statutes to their own agendas to give their customers a better overall experience and, most important, make their customers happy.”

Concerning her first assertion, Dunn told her audience, “Study after study shows that people get more happiness and more lasting happiness from experiences.” Dupré elaborates:

“In fact, people who don’t make an experiential purchase, like a dream vacation, tend to regret their decision more than those who do, Dunn said. Contrastingly, people who buy a material object tend to regret their purchase decision more than those who don’t buy. Dunn partially attributed this phenomenon to the notion that people compare products, such as whether the product worked or whether it’s the latest and greatest, which can lead to dissatisfaction. ‘Experiences seem unique and they’re difficult to compare,’ she said. In addition to being unique, experiences often make compelling stories that people like to share with others.”

So what can manufacturers and retailers that sell products rather than experiences do to capitalize on this phenomenon? The answer is: They can provide consumers with shopping experiences. Such experiences might not measure up to that dream vacation, but they still matter. To learn more about why providing customers with good experiences is good business, read my articles entitled “Analytics 2.0: Big Data, Big Testing, and Big Experiences — Part 1 and Part 2“; “Enhanced Shopping Experiences and the Digital Path to Purchase“; and “Customer Experience (CX) Highlights the Digital Path to Purchase.” As I noted in the latter article, Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman (@jakesorofman) reports that Gartner’s 2015 Marketing Spending Survey concludes, “Customer experience is the most pressing mandate for marketers, [it was] the top area of marketing technology investment in 2014, and it will lead innovation spending for 2015.”[4] Concerning her second assertion — that people need to make a purchase a treat — Dunn stated, “Abundance is the enemy of appreciation.” Dupré reports that Dunn went on to note:

“When brands constantly give, customers can lose sight of their products’ values. … Dunn also encouraged marketers to exercise scarcity marketing and only feature products for a limited time to motivate consumers to take action. … However, creating new and exciting experiences is also vital to revitalizing unhappy customers. … Hence, if marketers want to give their customers a real treat they have to offer novel, disrupting experiences that will only be around for a limited time. ‘Boredom can be a surprisingly toxic force,’ Dunn pointed out.”

Dunn’s third assertion — that happiness can be obtained by investing in others — is her most intriguing point. “If you think money can’t buy happiness,” she told her audience, “try giving some of it away.” Dupré notes, “Granted, telling people who make a living measuring ROI to give their money away wasn’t the most common recommendation heard at the conference; however, Dunn said it can have big payoffs.” She explains:

“Dunn cited Coca-Cola’s Happiness Dispenser as a prime example of a brand that used the joy of giving as a way to engage with its customers. As part of the brand’s ‘Open Happiness’ campaign, Coca-Cola built an ATM that dispensed 100€ to anyone who agreed to use the money to make others happy. The campaign took place in Spain during a time when the country was in the middle of a recession. Although not everyone followed the rules, a few consumers stayed true to their word and helped their community. The ATM drew media attention from around the world. Hence, it doesn’t take a lot to make your customers happy. But putting in the effort to create unique, memorable experiences are sure to produce the kind of results that are something to smile about.”

Big data analytics can help companies understand what motivates their customers and touches their emotions. “The explosion of self-reporting on social media has led us to provide very intimate details of ourselves,” writes Martin Zwilling, Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals. “Many market research companies now use this data by ‘scraping’ the web to obtain detailed examples of the sentiment relating to particular issues, brands, products, and services.”[5] If this data is used to help companies understand how they can make their customers’ lives a littler happier, we are all the better for it. It turns out that putting a smile on your customer’s face is good business.


[1] Diana Muina, “Targeted Content: What is it and why should it matter to you?” Hannon Hill, 8 January 2015.
[2] Elyse Dupré, “Marketing That Makes Consumers Smile,” Direct Marketing News, 25 March 2015.
[3] Elyse Dupré, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” Direct Marketing News, 21 August 2013.
[4] Jake Sorofman, “Gartner Surveys Confirm Customer Experience Is the New Battlefield,” Gartner Marketing for Leaders, 23 October 2014.
[5] Martin Zwilling, “What Can Big Data Ever Tell Us About Human Behavior?Forbes, 24 March 2015.

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