Emotional Marketing: A Guide (Plus 8 Key Strategies)

Updated October 5, 2022

Effective marketing approaches can enable professionals to engage with audiences, generate leads and make sales. Appealing to the emotions of audiences can be a smart strategy for attracting attention and generating brand awareness. If you want to excel in a marketing, sales or business role, you may benefit from learning about emotional marketing methods.

In this article, we discuss emotional marketing, offer eight strategies for implementing it and provide steps for measuring your success.

What is emotional marketing?

Emotional marketing is messaging that companies use to target specific human emotions and engage with consumers. These emotions can include happiness, anger or sadness, and companies may reference current events or relatable situations to invoke feelings.

Business leaders who use this tactic hope to form a deeper connection between their brands and their consumers. Emotional marketing may persuade people to buy certain products, engage with a brand, share content or increase their loyalty.

Related: 25 Types of Emotional Appeal Advertising (With Tips)

Why does emotional marketing work?

Emotional marketing works because consumers often feel comfortable when a company publicly shares an emotion that resonates with them. Here are a few specific reasons emotional marketing is effective:

It can be memorable

Emotional content connects to consumers' personal experiences and people often better remember ads or stories that relate to their own experiences. Companies may create narratives that appeal directly to specific perspectives and feelings so when people recall these emotions, they associate them with a specific brand.

For example, a photographer may play a wedding reel with love songs in the background. This could inspire memories of your own wedding. This connection might influence you to follow the photographer on social media or hire them for another event.

Related: Creativity in Marketing: What It Is and How To Use It

It can create an instant reaction

People can form opinions on companies within their first few moments of interaction. If that immediate reaction is to something they can relate to or something that makes them feel happy or sad, they might be more likely to respond and learn more about the company. This can help consumers recognize the brand in the future as the one that made them feel immediately emotional.

Related: 54 Types of Effective Marketing Strategies for Promoting Your Business

It can help a customer decide

An emotional connection may influence a customer to purchase your products over another brand. If two products are similar in price and quality, the customer could choose the one they connect with more. For example, marketing an ocean-scented candle with beach imagery and happy families might appeal to consumers more than plain, beach-themed turquoise colors.It can inspire action

Beyond purchases, emotional marketing can persuade consumers to engage through shares, comments and referrals. If a certain advertisement makes consumers happy, they might be more likely to share that advertisement on their own social media profiles.

Similarly, sadness or fear can also inspire consumers to take action. For example, a company may advertise how they might donate a portion of their profits to animal shelters, with images of poorly treated animals. This could inspire animal lovers to make purchases, research more ways to get involved or share so that others can help.

Related: 4 Steps to a Winning Call-to-Action

8 strategies for emotional marketing

Here are eight strategies to consider when designing an emotional marketing campaign:

1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience is important in emotional marketing. Consider performing market research on what could elicit an emotional reaction in your advertisements. Research if any competitors have been successful in emotional marketing to see what methods to try. Create marketing materials that connect to potential consumers' fears, desires, dreams or memories.

Related: Target Audience vs. Target Market: What's the Difference?

2. Foster inspiration

You can foster inspiration with advertising that highlights a character's accomplishments while convincing the consumer they could achieve the same. This is common with famous athletes in major brand commercials.

These advertisements might show what adversities the athletes overcame before their success. Similarly, companies might make a commitment to a good cause like environmental cleanup or fighting for social justice to inspire their consumers to both consider their brand and get involved themselves.

Related: 15 Selling Words To Sell Your Products

3. Create aspiration

Similar to inspiration, companies may consider how showcasing that people can achieve significant goals may help consumers aspire to set higher objectives themselves. The brand might suggest that if a customer uses their product, they might achieve a specific result.

Rather than false advertising, emotional marketing may simply give the appearance of this connection. For example, a living room furniture commercial may show a family relaxing, happy and gathered on a couch watching movies and laughing. This can imply the furniture may inspire happiness in the home.

4. Use location

Location-based marketing can target emotional responses from the residents where companies do business. A company could sponsor local events, provide services to local people or businesses or simply feature locations in their advertising. Each of these actions can make people feel connected to a brand if they already have emotional connections to the location.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Local Marketing

5. Leverage milestones

Milestones in advertising can make people feel nostalgic or that they relate to certain companies. This can target holidays, events like anniversaries or certain times of the year.

For example, a camera company might advertise a family using their equipment to photograph their new baby and flash forward to taking pictures at graduation. This can make people feel emotional about their own family experiences and milestones, creating a memorable connection.

6. Express the idea of love

Love is an experience that consumers might seek in their daily lives. By replicating this, a company can relate to consumers on a human level. For example, an advertisement may express a brand's commitment to customers or its passion when designing a product, showing behaviors similar to those performed by individuals who feel love for each other.

7. Apply color

Colors can create emotional responses in people. Leveraging different colors for distinct purposes can affect how people feel toward certain products or companies. For example, people might associate the color green with health and environmental awareness while red can elicit emotions like excitement, joy and passion. You can include color with location, people's clothes or distinguished objects in advertisements.

Related: Brand Color Psychology: Colors and Their Appeal to Consumers

8. Tell a story

A narrative can be more memorable than a simple product description. Telling a story that your customers can relate to may encourage them to seek out your content in other places.

For example, if a customer who engages in similar activities sees a video ad featuring a dog and his owner fishing, they might seek the social media account of that company to access similar content. Similarly, they may consider the product advertised because they might share a similar story.

Read more: 11 Storytelling Skills For Business Success

How to measure emotional marketing

Measuring emotional marketing is similar to measuring traditional marketing efforts. Here are a few steps you can follow to monitor the success of your emotional marketing efforts:

1. Analyze current metrics

Measuring marketing efforts usually requires identifying trends. To find a trend, record the current metrics of your business including page views, click-through rate, subscriptions, opened emails and purchases. Depending on what emotion you want to target and what you hope to achieve, you may research various figures.

2. Conduct research before the launch

Conducting research is an effective way to see what competitors are doing and how their customers are responding. Even businesses outside of your industry could provide examples of the emotion you hope to target.

For example, if you see thousands of comments on an emotional social media post, examine the content they've created, how users are responding and how the business engages with customers. Seeing how people behave in response to targeted emotions can help you create a strategy to achieve similar outcomes.

3. Set goals

Evoking different emotions can influence customers in different ways. For example, if you target happy emotions, this might trigger more shares, while sharing something surprising can cause more brand loyalty through email subscriptions. Your goals can be like traditional marketing goals of more clicks, subscriptions or more subjective ones, like hoping to receive more personal messages.

4. Conduct research after the launch

One of the best ways to evaluate how customers respond to your emotional content is by conducting surveys. Polls or questionnaires that ask people to respond directly to advertisements can help determine if your emotional marketing had the intended effect.

Holding focus groups can help you target specific emotions or individual qualities for your next campaign. You might ask questions about how likely they were to engage with your brand before and after the advertisement or if they felt the targeted emotions influenced them in any other way.

5. Use marketing tools

Use tools like search analytics and email tracking to see if there is an increase in your metrics. These tools can help you identify how effective your emotional marketing is and if you're achieving the goals you set. For example, if your search counts increase, you might attribute that to people sharing or discussing your emotional content.

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