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Emotional Marketing Can Drive Your Sales

Selling to people is tough. They get skeptical, annoyed, and sometimes angry. But you can reorient these emotions and sell without pushing too hard. Plato and Kant talked about the rational and emotional being at battle. At the end of the day, if you’ve got the rational portion of your product figured out, you can also tap into the opposite.

Is Emotional Marketing Worth A Try?

Think of an advertisement, social media post, or email subject line that was memorable to you. Was it because of a good offer, something that made you smile or surprise you, or conveyed an idea you connected to emotionally?

In his book Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success, author Dan Hill noted that emotions process input in one-fifth of the time it takes for our conscious brain to do the same. Your emotions are a step ahead of your cognition. That is enough for marketers to want to act on them. A 2016 Tempkin Group study proved that a positive emotional association with a brand makes customers 8.4 times more likely to trust it, 7.1 times more likely to purchase more, and 6.6 times more likely to forgive mistakes. Another study from Nielsen showed that ads with a positive emotional response from customers triggered a 23% increase in sales compared to average ads. A mountain of scientific data leads to the same conclusion: our rational decisions are driven by emotion.

Emotional marketing is creating and sharing marketing messages that convey an emotion or a blend of several. This helps form a connection with the audience. The first step for a marketing specialist is to know how your product makes people happy. Not just by solving their problems but also by appealing to them as humans, not buyers.

You’ll find dozens of articles explaining how four primary emotions – joy, sadness, fear, and anger – get people engaged. You can’t always chase a general “happy” reaction. But, you can access a broader range of responses by triggering other emotions: Plutchik’s wheel can give you some ideas. Your product, audience, and industry can give you a deeper and more precise understanding of which emotions to target, which impacts your copywriting, design, and communications. If you’re a fresh startup with a small community, shared values or ideas can be good enough for more audience recall and preference.

As a Marketer Or CEO, What’s Your Takeaway?

Marketers who consider emotion their ally and know how to enhance their brand with it can influence human decisions, boost sales, and catalyze stronger loyalty. From a social media post that made you laugh to an email that made you feel curious, marketers find ways to promote experiences instead of product attributes. What value does this approach hold?

  • Your brand becomes a memory. The best marketing campaigns live on for months after they’re finished. Emotional marketing is simply easier to recall. How do you know you made it? See if your brand gets quoted in conversations and people remember bits from it even better if there are memes and GIFs.
  • You may go viral. Discussions are more likely to happen in the real world. In the online world, people like and repost. If your content made the audience feel something – whether good or bad, count the days before it becomes visible.
  • You motivate real purchases. Customers remember how you made them feel; if it’s convincing enough, they’ll buy. Or, they’ll talk about it to someone else who will. More stats: 31% of ads with emotional pull did better than the 16% with rational content, according to the University of Southern California study.
  • You make a solid first impression. First impressions are a matter of seconds. Circling back to one of our points – the emotional part of one brain reacts faster than the rational one. If a customer has to pick between an ad that displays the product and its features and an ad that impresses… well, you know the drill.
  • You encourage customers to act. Emotional marketing elicits more than just a desire to buy. Let’s come back to the four primary emotions for a moment. Bad news travels like wildfire, while good news (read: happiness) makes us want to share. Fear and surprise can be leveraged to make your customers cling to the known and comfortable, which equals being loyal. It can also inspire them to try something new. And, there’s fear of missing out. Sadness provokes empathy, which unfolds into people’s desire to give. Anger? Well, it’s bluntly viral. And then there’s greed – limited offers, “don’t miss out,” and free demos all trigger it.

Best Practices To Set The Stage

Study your audience to see what content drives more responses. Figure out which emotion(s) will bring you the desired results in terms of KPIs. Before choosing a feeling to infuse your content with, find what echoes the customers’ pain points, desires, motivations, and fears.

Here are some best practices to take your relationship with your audience up a notch:

  1. Tell stories. Once you understand your audience’s needs, use it to create a story. This will be the stepping stone that unites your users, keeps them engaged, and lets them have something they can relate to. We’ve talked about storytelling in another blog post – you may find it helpful.
  2. Weave emotions into your design. Color affects brand perception; this is known across many industries. Whether you want to spark excitement and highlight courage with bright reds or emphasize security with shades of blue, the right color palette can help amplify your brand’s features.
  3. Foster a community. With emotion, you can attract more people to your brand and access a new layer of interaction. The crowd effect will work for you, and being a part of something bigger is a common denominator within loyal brand communities.
  4. Try creating the perfect image. You don’t always have to work with the feelings your customers already have. Instead, paint them a perfect picture of how they’ll feel if they purchase your product or service. And as you do it, stay sincere and consistent with your brand; otherwise, you risk getting classified as fake.

Prominent Cases

Check out these brand campaigns that utilized emotional marketing in the right way:

  • Code.org, an NPO that encourages people to learn computer science, released a video that, at first sight, seems to outline the rational reasons why one should learn how to code. But, as the stories are shared, the video culminates in a moving ending that shows the emotional impact of learning on students. Phrases like “great coders are today’s rock stars” all underline the excitement and inspiration learning brings out.
  • The North Face stood up for medical workers and thanked them for their impact in handling the COVID-19 pandemic by rolling out a healthcare worker discount, donating, and creating an XPLR Pass that provides access to exclusive gear, product testing, and more.
  • Headspace strived to help teachers relieve stress by enabling them to access the app for free and use the resources to incorporate meditation into their classrooms. The campaign ended up bringing 25,000 new subscribers in three months.
  • Apple engaged its audience in a simple yet effective way: the #ShotOniPhone campaign united thousands of Apple users in sharing their best photographs.
  • Tuft & Needle, one of the leading companies selling mattresses, created a 15% discount for first responders, veterans, and healthcare providers. That’s a fantastic way to support the community and acquire new customers among all others who do the same.

Whales’ Tips

Next up are some recommendations to help you carry emotional marketing over to digital:

  1. Match the online language. Ideally, your brand should have an established tone of voice. But the online world has its own laws and its own slang. Depending on the social platform you’re utilizing, speak its language and write copy that speaks to people, not users.
  2. Work out the timing and frequency. Analyze how your audience behaves on the selected platforms. Some of your messages may be for the early birds, while others work better later in the day. The same goes for posting density – it matters as much as the content itself.
  3. Mix your campaign up. Responses don’t always have to come from the audience. Engage your staff, stakeholders, industry people you know, and anyone who could help you extend your brand stories.
  4. Get help from professionals. If you don’t know which metrics to track or don’t have your branding all figured out, find a team to delegate part of your efforts to.


Summing Up

Even though, in a very real sense, we have two minds – one that thinks and one that feels, emotion and logic are not at odds. Most of us love to feel in control when making purchasing decisions. It’s where you, as a marketer, can leverage the rational side of your product and convince users with facts and figures. Yet, tapping into the other – emotional half behind purchasing decisions will make you memorable and distinct in a flood of advertising messages.

Want the audience to fall in love with your marketing campaigns?