Why emotional marketing works (and how you can do it, too)

emotional marketing-TN

Every picture tells a story…and good stories are seldom forgotten.

As we’re being flooded by advertisements on a daily—and constant—basis, advertisers that can stand out get our attention.

And how can they do that? By telling good stories that connect and engage us on an emotional level. And that can mean good business for advertisers!

Welcome to emotional marketing, the worst-kept secret in advertising.

Emotional marketing basically uses emotion to make you pay attention to a brand or message by making you feel empathy, happiness, fear, or anger.

Emotional marketing helps people remember your brand, but it does much more than that: it can help your consumers feel more loyal, share more, and buy more.

Emotions at the heart of decision-making

We like to think that we’re in control when we make buying decisions… but the opposite seems to be true. Several studies suggest that we’re driven mostly by emotions, personal feelings, or experiences rather than facts or features.

Our reaction to ads can be very emotional, and this can influence what we do next. In fact, ads that generate strong emotions can mean a 23% increase in sales, according to a Nielsen report.

Emotions can be the driving force behind half—that’s right, half—of our purchasing decisions. And if marketers want to engage their audience in their advertising, they need to tap into their emotions.

Psychology Today claims that “the richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user.”

In fact, in emotional marketing ads, we react better to the visual or emotional part of the ads than we do to text. That’s good news for out-of-home marketers.

It’s a science, more than an art. In fact, marketers are using results from neuro-imagery brain scans, to find out how consumers react and what they find more motivating or engaging. There’s even a special word for this—neuromarketing—and even an association dedicated to enhancing the field.

The power of four basic emotions

Tons of articles and marketers will tell you that there are basically four basic emotions that can make us connect and engage.

  1. Sadness creates empathy, and empathy leads to donations… or sales. Ask any charity organisation. When we care, we act on behalf of others.
  2. Happiness Bad news travels fast, but good news travels even faster. We share things that make us happy, and that brings more brand awareness.
  3. Fear It can be fear for our future, or simply FOMO (fear of missing out). How many ads have you clicked lately that were titled… “Find out what happens next”. We need to know. We need to know.
  4. Anger spurs action and inspires us. Anger is outrage, disgust, stubbornness. And stubbornness can mean more brand loyalty.

How to make them laugh (or cry)

You don’t have to be a giant brand to make use of emotional marketing.

According to Psychology Today, people react much better to the emotional parts of the ads compared to the linear texts. Ads that convey strong emotions are more likely to become viral and generate better results

We feel things when we see an emotional ad, and creative marketers can use channels like out-of-home advertising to have an influence on our subconscious mind, help us remember a brand, and influence our decision, in a matter of just seconds.

1. Know your audience

Harvard Business Review suggests using a great marketing strategy to build up a picture of what your customers care about, and what motivates them on an emotional level. Check out their High-Impact Motivators, from “confidence in the future” and “a sense of belonging” to “protecting the environment” and “being the person I want to be”, and how you can leverage those emotions in advertising.

2. Make it likeable

According to the blog writers of the online applied psychology program at the University of Southern California, the ‘likeability’ of an ad is a good predictor of how well the ad will perform in terms of sales.

Children, cats, dogs, babies, smiling people, friendship, families… all these are traditional storytelling elements that can inspire immediate empathy. But you can go further, and refine the tone of your ad, the setting, the story.


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3. Add excitement

Neil Patel suggests “pinch of emotion and a dash of thrill.” Authenticity, positive connotations, and creativity are key to creating an engaging and emotional story.

4. Lead with colour

Colours can influence our emotions, and the psychology of colour has long been used in branding and advertising. Studies have shown that the right combination of colours in digital ads, for example, can increase conversion rates. 

Out-of-home advertising, especially in family or community contexts, have an advantage, as their audience is already ‘primed’ for emotion and their large formats can make the most of bright colours.

5. Tell a good story

Storytellers know how to fire up emotions, and if you have an understanding of what makes your target audience tick, you can create stories that evoke any of the emotions mentioned above. Emotional marketing is all about making your story relatable and engaging.

Brands that use emotional marketing really well

Want to be moved? Check out these campaigns from some famous brands to see how they use emotional marketing:

Why not consider emotional marketing for your next campaign? Just remember that money doesn’t buy emotions. And a little humour never killed anyone.

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