Value-driven vs. Emotional Decisions in Digital Marketing

“Failure is a blessing because it makes you stop and look at the analytics.”

– Holly Homer

Many times, internal businesses frustrations can lead to ambitious, but rash, marketing decisions. This might be along the lines of a new website design, a blinding focus on social media or a creative microsite campaign. These decisions usually have very little data to back them up and even less of a longer term strategy that results in driving revenue. 

What is behind this thinking?  Is it a value-driven need or an emotional one?

A value-driven decision offers something to your customer. There is a need that you have discovered in your marketing and it would greatly improve your business to accommodate it. Each of these needs requires you to execute on a plan to support a more long term strategy. 

This is what a value-driven need sounds like…

  • “We have no way of selling tickets to our events directly through our website.  We would learn a lot more about our customers if we could see the traffic coming directly to our website for ticket sales.”
  • “We are launching a new flagship product next year and need to structure our site around that product since it will be changing how we do business and what customers we attract.”
  • “We are completely rebranding due to discovering a new audience for our product that will increase revenue by 75%.  Our research shows that our website isn’t targeting the audience we want to have through with the new branding.”

An emotional decision is reactionary, it jumps to a conclusion that is untested and may or may not be true. 

This is what an emotional need sounds like…

  • “We are receiving no blog comments and our website traffic is down 10% for the last 6 months. Nobody is interested in what we are putting out there.”
  • “I am tired of our website, it looks like everybody else’s out there.”  or “I really love the look of this other company’s website, can we do something more like that?”
  • “Our social media needs to be more fun.”


  • Perhaps people aren’t making comments on your blog, but they are still reading the articles. Many people read content without commenting on an article.
  • Perhaps your traffic is down because of something you changed in your social media strategy.
  • Redesigning a website because “the grass is always greener” syndrome is never a good idea. Perhaps the look of your website represents your unique brand. Changing that will have negative results, not the positive ones you are thinking. Are there other things you can do to make your website fresh without a complete redesign?
  • Social media doesn’t need to be fun to be successful but it does need to provide value to your audience. Is it driving customers to your website? Are people reading what you are putting out?

If you are having trouble separating the emotional decisions from the value-driven statements then I have great news…there is a way to test these assumptions. 

Test Your Assumptions With Analytics

Value-driven decisions should never come directly from analytics. It’s the other way around. Analytics are important to proving or disproving your assumptions. It’s ok to have an emotional response to your business, this happens daily and frankly it wouldn’t be interesting without the emotion involved.  It’s your job to make sure what you are thinking is correct and that the decisions you make on those feelings make sense. Combine the emotional with the scientific to validate your thinking.

Start by creating specific performance targets for your website, but make them realistic. Key performance indicators can be:

  • An increase in traffic by 5% over the next 2 months.
  • 5 more sign-ups to your newsletter this month.
  • Have your blog article picked up by a key influencer on social media.

Now create a mini-strategy for each one:

  • Run facebook ads to increase traffic to a specific area of your website.
  • Promote your newsletter on social media to show people what they are missing and to encourage them to sign up.
  • Engage more with a select few key influencers on Twitter.

The attempt to reach these goals is almost always more important than actually reaching them. What you will learn about your customer in the process is what you should be focused on. Also, for many of these goals, it will be a lot harder than you think. But the rewards from making  educated decisions and seeing results is worth the time you put in. 

Let Data Marinate for 2 Weeks

Set a time period for each of your performance goals. When looking at data, I would give most of the tests 2 weeks to start thinking about results. Some tests may be quicker, some may be longer. 

Look at the data. Make minor adjustments as you see the data come in, but keep track of when you make these adjustments. It’s best to A/B Test, which you can research on your own outside of this article. Sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple for these quick experiments. 

Once you reach the end of your test you can then regroup to look at everything you learned.

  • How did my customer react to this strategy?
  • What points in the customer journey were more successful than others?
  • Did a noticeable amount of customers drop off on a certain page on your website?
  • Did you have people sign up for the newsletter and then unsubscribe after the first week?
  • Most importantly, how can I convert this strategy into increasing my revenue?

Think about how you can adjust this strategy based on the answers you receive to these questions. You will be either changing the creative, the copy, or the conversion. 

Changing the Creative

  • Does the creative interfere with the messaging or the call to action?
  • Can you try different brand colors?
  • Is the layout minimal or busy?

Changing the Copy

  • Try a different headline or subheader.
  • Give your audience 3-5 bullet points on the benefits of your product, not the features.
  • Is there too much copy?
  • Is the message unfocused?

Changing the Conversion

  • Do you have too many form inputs?
  • Do you give a reason for the customer to give you their email or to call you?
  • Does the downloadable material look valuable and engaging or just another marketing brochure?


Final Results

Your intuition is still a very important part of marketing, really that’s what assumption are. This cannot be replaced with data, but why not use the tools we have to test what is truth and what is purely emotional?

At Black Label we value education because it facilitates ideas around how to react to positive and negative results in the future. But then we bake in a system of planning and testing to validate or invalidate those ideas.  We then adapt and make changes to a website or full campaign based on real world results. A negative result is, in most cases, is more important as we learn more from these experiences than the positive results that support our preconceived notions. We aren’t trying to take the emotion and passion out of marketing, but we realize the importance of having targeted goals while still being flexible with the decisions we make. 

Author: Brent Hoffmann

Brent has a diverse background in graphic design, software development, and business strategy. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, he helps clients find solutions to technology problems, develop their content strategy and find ways to help them grow.

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