Secrets To Selling With Emotional Content (Guide)

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
We humans are emotional creatures. We make our purchase decisions based on how products promise to make us feel. That’s why great brands succeed by seeking intimate emotional connections with customers. Either the product satisfies an emotional need (“I want to feel healthy and successful”) or it offers access to a self-identity.

Product features are usually of secondary importance to these emotional connections, and managers of great brands plan and take action accordingly. They first shape their brand identities with emotional values that differentiate their offerings and connect with consumers, and use product efficacy only to support those values.

They then prioritize long-term customer relationships over short-term sales because they know customers who are emotionally connected to a brand are more valuable. And finally they use their brands – not product categories – to scope and scale their businesses. Their focus on emotional connections fuels product innovations and brand extensions.

According to a 2014 study, “an overwhelming 85 percent (of B2B marketing leaders) fail to connect content activity to business value — and, as a result, fail to retain customers or win their long-term loyalty. In fact, when asked to look back at the past 12 months and rate the effectiveness of content marketing efforts, only 14 percent of those surveyed gave their content practices high marks for delivering value back to the business.

Few companies are as disciplined in linking products to emotions as Nike. Many of Nike’s competitors try to beat Nike’s products on the basis of innovation and style. But Nike’s success has much more to do with its focused use of athlete relationships and innovative brand experiences to inspire its customers to feel like athletes. 

Its products and technologies are always linked to values such as aspiration, achievement, and status. Most Nike products are functionally cool and technologically advanced enough, but the story Nike sells is entrancing. “Nike is more than performance,” Heather Amuny-Dey, Nike’s design director for North America once said. “Nike is also about how we live. Nike focuses on innovation, style, story and experience to create the emotional connection.”

The ethos that produced “Just Do It” is the ethos Nike continues to pursue today. All you have to do is compare its 2012 London Olympics ads with those of Adidas, a chief competitor. Adidas ran high energy, fun spots that highlighted its products. Nike’s commercials, by contrast, were quiet and moving. 

They made an emotional connection through a new call to action: “Find Your Greatness.” It’s no small wonder that the Nike’s ads generated 15 times as many Internet conversations. In this century, emotional brand-building requires you to develop a personal dialogue with your customers on the issues that are most meaningful to them. 

Herbert Muschamp once observed in a New York Times essay on product design, “[In] the last 50 years, the economic base has shifted from production to consumption. It has gravitated from the sphere of rationality to the realm of desire: from the objective to the subjective, to the realm of psychology.”

Muschamp’s point was that in a post-industrial society, material satisfaction is so easily attained that emotional fulfillment is now the true challenge for providers of goods and services. The key purchase question has moved away from “What does it do?” and toward “How does it make me feel?”

Even in business-to-business categories, emotions are highly influential. Emotion is a critical driver of decisions. People are emotional about their problems and finding a solution for them (this holds true for B2B buyers, too). In our commercial landscape, brand power is no longer driven by product efficacy. 

Instead brands form strong customer bonds through developing mind share and heart share, and to accomplish those ends, only emotive propositions will resonate. This is true today and it will likely be even truer tomorrow. The rising generation of Millennials, for instance, is not just looking for tasty treats at a good value when it comes to their restaurant choices. 

In the estimation of one food industry research firm, Technomic, what Millennials want is much more complex: an emotional connection to a brand that is socially responsible and sustainable. If they feel this way about fast food, we can only imagine their demands when making more consequential purchases. 

These consumers of tomorrow expect brands to inspire them and express their values so well that being a customer should be a source of pride and joy for them. Perhaps no topic in business these days receives more attention than content marketing. It can be a very powerful tool when it’s done right. So how does one use emotional content to increase visitor response?

When you are trying to sell people a solution, what you are REALLY doing is evoking desire by making them imagine their best possible future with your solution. As you are trying to get them to take an action (like, share, subscribe, buy) what you are REALLY doing is arousing their desire to make it impossible for them NOT to take an action.

When you are trying to get people to click and read your article, what you are REALLY doing is evoking curiosity so fierce that it claws at the minds of a casual browser and forces him to click that link and read that piece. When you are trying to get someone to agree with you, what you are REALLY doing is trying to evoke empathy so they see your point of view.

High Emotional Words That Can Work  Magic

Step One: Determine the desired action you want your prospect to take (e.g. like, share, read, subscribe, comment, buy etc.)

Step Two: Determine the exact emotional state that will drive that action (e.g. curious, relaxed, fearful, inspired etc.)

Step Three: Choose some of the words from this list and sprinkle ‘em throughout your content.


List of Emotional Triggers :

These are what you want them to be gripped by which would generate an unshakable desire to click and read more):

What no one tells you,
Have you hear,
Behind the Scenes
Secret agenda
Off-the record
No one talks about

Emotional State: Urgency (If you want then to take action now ):

Missing Out
Left behind
Most Important

Explore your clients business, explore what's going on in the world, but always remember the powerful impact that emotional content can deliver, if tastefully done. Even if content shouldn’t be used to directly sell products, it should help drive the sales process forward. Many marketers use content to educate readers about their products – a valid function of content marketing.

But people won’t become more inclined to buy from you just because you educate them about your product. They won’t be persuaded by features and specs alone. They’ll be persuaded to make a purchase because they are convinced you will help them solve a nagging problem or reach a goal.

In a B2B environment, content that connects to emotions can lead consumers to take the next step in the buyer’s journey – whether that is joining your email list, registering for your latest value-packed webinar or contacting your sales team. We decide and take action (including buying decisions) based largely on emotions. People are emotional creatures. 

So, if your marketing content tries to reach your audience only through a rational approach, there’s a good chance it will fall flat. Savvy marketers have understood the power of an emotional appeal for generations and have used it used it to make a strong impact. 

Not only can using emotion in your content help you make more sales to new buyers, but maintaining a strong emotional connection through post-sale content. This can help you make repeat sales and is more likely to get shared. It may even go viral. People are much more likely to buy from companies they feel an emotional connection to. 

Look at successful brands like Harley Davidson and Apple. Customers feel a strong emotional attachment to these brands, and that connection is leveraged often in their marketing content. Continue to use your marketing content to educate readers and build awareness of your products, but remember that people are emotional creatures.

They make buying decisions based on their emotions, to one degree or another. Harness the power of emotion in your content to build a strong connection between your customers and your brand and you will stand out and get noticed in the crowded content marketplace.

Ask most marketers or salespeople talk about the roles of emotion and logic in the sales process, and they’ll likely tell you that customers buy on emotion and justify those decisions with logic. That perception has been around so long, in fact, that most content marketers (and the sales teams they work with) simply accept it as fact.

But here’s the reality: the notion that emotion is the primary driver of buying decisions is so old-school that it makes overalls, mood rings, and bleached hair seem like modern fashion trends.Buyers today are much more savvy than they used to be. They heavily research products and services long before they ever contact a sales rep, and they’ve evolved to a point where they can sniff out marketing campaigns aimed directly at tugging on their heartstrings. 

Frankly, selling solely on emotion — and creating content that’s only directed toward emotional reactions — can make your business seem condescending, manipulative, corny, or slimy.

Now, that’s not to say that emotion’s role in the buying process is totally irrelevant today.We are human, after all. And emotions will always have some degree of influence over the choices we make. But, in the context of buying highly technical B2B software, we’ve also evolved to the point where we can think on our own, question the status quo, and marry our emotional needs with logical justifications for them.

When you embrace the impact both emotion and logic can have on buying decisions, it allows you to begin creating much more powerful content resources — case studies, eBooks, webinars, blogs, and white papers that don’t just hit on emotional pains, but also address logical needs. The key to doing this, however, isn’t to suddenly flood your content with an equal balance of emotion and logic.

Instead, it’s to determine the right recipe of emotion and logic for each stage in the buying process, and then ensure that content is delivered to the right person, at the right time, through the right channel. When you understand those dynamics (how emotion and logic function together throughout the buying cycle, and when to pull the right lever), you’ll find it much easier to create a framework for a much more effective content marketing strategy.


Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Purchase, and Loyalty

Build A Strategy For Each Stage

Generally, customers in the awareness stage are just beginning to learn about your company and its products. They may not be aware of their needs or what you offer, and emotional content can be incredibly powerful in this stage. As buyers progress through their buying process, however, logic begins to creep in.

For example, in the interest stage, buyers begin to recognize a need for your product or service, or become aware of a problem or opportunity. Thus, they’re often willing to invest a little bit more time engaging with you, which means your content can be longer and more narrative. Emotion still matters, but now you’ve got to tie that emotion to who you are and why the buyer should care.

This roller coaster ride between emotion and logic continues throughout the buying cycle — with logic ramping up in the evaluation stage and emotion creeping back in as buyers approach the point of purchase — and it’s critical that you have a buttoned-up content plan for each stop along that journey.

Ultimately, understanding this perpetual interplay of logic and emotion will empower you to create the right content to support buyers at the right time, and deliver the insight needed to convert curious buyers into happy customers. That might sound like a lot of work, but at the end of the day, it’s really just good content marketing.

You must demonstrate a value that seems to be equal to or greater than the asking price. The greater the value relative to the price, the more likely people are to buy. Value is not a fixed number. Value is relative to what you’re selling, what others charge, what the prospect is used to paying, how badly the prospect wants it, and how the prospect perceives the difference between your offer and others.

Example: a man sees an advertisement with a photo of a sports car and instantly falls in love. However, he can’t bring himself to buy the car based on a feeling, so he reads the copy for technical details about the powerful engine, safety features, and low maintenance. He wants the car because it makes him feel good. But he buys it only when he can justify the purchase rationally.

Furthermore, we all see the world in terms of how it relates to us personally. So when your copy asks someone to do something, it must also answer the unspoken question, “What’s in it for me?” On a deeper level, the question might be “How does this give me feelings of personal worth?”

The human brain is not a computer, calculator, or information processor. Scientists have shown that its primary function is to deal with social interactions. Remember how some mathematical questions in high school were stated as real-life situations? They were always easier to understand and solve than abstract problems.

Your copy, therefore, should feature people through names, personal pronouns, quotes, testimonials, stories, photos of satisfied customers, etc. You can never predict the level of suspicion any particular person has, so it’s usually best to back up all claims with evidence, such as testimonials, survey results, authoritative endorsements, test results, and scientific data.

Similarly, you can’t force people to do anything. When people buy, it’s not because you wield some magical power over them. You can urge. You can push. You can entice. But ultimately, people do what they want to do. This means your job is to show how what you’re offering meets your prospect’s needs.

People love to buy. Some say people don’t like to be “sold.” Not true. What people don’t love is to be cheated or tricked. Therefore, it can be helpful to change your analogy of the marketing process. Instead of “selling” to people, try to “help” them. Sell good products, make appealing offers, and treat people fairly. That’s a surefire formula for success.

People are always looking for something. Love. Wealth. Glory. Comfort. Safety. People are naturally dissatisfied and spend their lives searching for intangibles. At its simplest, writing good copy is a matter of showing people how a particular product, service, or cause fulfills one or more of their needs.

Furthermore, people buy “direct” because of convenience and exclusivity. If people could easily find the things you offer at a nearby store, that’s probably where many would buy them. So if they are buying from you directly for sheer convenience, they’re doing it because they can’t find the item elsewhere (or just don’t know where to look). That’s why it’s wise to emphasize the convenience and exclusivity of what you wish to sell.

Some people never buy online because they can’t examine the merchandise. People like to see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it before they buy it. Some items, such as books and CDs, are tangible and familiar enough to sell easily online because there is little doubt about the physical quality.

Other items, such as clothing or food, may be a harder sell — at least until people have a satisfactory buying experience — because quality may be variable.Think about how people buy things in stores and ask yourself if there is some element of that sensory experience that is missing from your sales message.

“What do others think about this? What do others feel? What do others do?” Then we act accordingly. This is why testimonials and case histories are so influential. Other traditional media have made the most of these principles and taken advantage of them for many years, whether it be a TV commercial or an ad in a magazine. If something causes a customer to become upset, they become angry and try and solve it.

If they become upset enough...they'll make a decision to perhaps discontinue your service and hire another service. On a positive side, the TV media bombards us with commercials that try to make an advertisers product seem fun or cute. The "emotional content" tactic is in nearly every advertising and communication media from print to radio to TV and yes, even the web. 

Emotional content is used to sell everything from books to children's toys. Toy marketers have known for years that the focus in a toy commercial is not so much on their new product, as much as it is on the facial expressions of the child. They're showing the absolute joy and delight of playing with that toy. 

Often images in the mind of the child who is viewing the commercial might evoke a sense wonder, adventure and excitement. Sometimes, a toy marketer may aim much deeper psychologically by showing the child in their commercial, enjoying their toy with either Mom or Dad sitting on the floor playing with him or her. The child viewing the program may even desire that toy more simply because they think that "if they only they had this toy", their Mom or Dad might take more time to sit down and play with them too!

In the example above, a TV commercial does not focus on the parent...they are selling to the child. However, selling a toy on the web, in an online toy store, is different in the aspect that you are actually selling to the parent (a child does not have a visa card to place an order).

The benefits of a toy that appeal to the parent will be things like, it's safety features, the fact that it "educational". However, focus on appealing to the child might zoom to the top again in a children's entertainment site. If you want to sell a toy, you must make it desirable to have on the child's level. 

When a child "wants" something, that child will persistently find a way to go after that item until usually, the parent often gives in and buys it. Actually, with the web being a multimedia experience, we have lots of opportunity to work with emotional content. After all, your visitors are just human beings too? We're really no different online than offline. 


We have an important emotional side of us that can be appealed to. Here are some of the things you can do to succeed:

If you are trying to sell a baby crib, but nobody is buying it,...put a cute little baby in the crib and parents will adore it which might make them buy it. If you are relying on graphics, photos, animated gifs or any type of images, you want a combination of quality with uniqueness. 

Will your image make your audience smile or will it make your audience cry? Where might it be appropriate to make your audience cry? Actually, all it takes it the right scenario. Example: some businesses are utilizing messages based on the events which occurred September 11 in the US. 

In these examples, the websites selling products are appealing to the visitors sense of patriotism or they may deliver messages of hope and inspiration. As important as these points are, they are also making good sales. In the case of the Sept. 11 example, some sites are selling but also contributing a portion to the cause.

This leads to another very mindful of current events and current interest topics that you hear about on the media. Sometimes the most obvious strategies can be staring us right in the face. Be mindful of all media topics and in many cases you can bring about some good out of what would otherwise be missed.

Whatever you are selling for retail online...."Lifestyle graphics" work best!

Example: If you are selling a piece of furniture for the living room....display a picture of the furniture being used in someone's living room. The visitor may say to themselves...."look at this comfy looking couch". "This guy looks like he is really enjoying himself". (The image might be of a person sitting comfortably on the couch, in their living room....feet up and arms relaxed).

TIP: Lifestyle photos are much more influencing that just a product displayed in a showroom.

Create pages that are not "hard sell". Instead, focus on the product benefits in way that it appeals to the emotions. (Keep in mind that many people will buy spontaneously, but they do not want to "be sold" something). Most people come to a web page in search of information. The "loud" or "hard sell" approach does not work on the web.

If you are promoting something with emotional appeal which is already established through other media, then also use it in your web page and tie it in. Remember the web has the potential to be a powerful multimedia experience. Is there a place for the use of music to contribute to the right atmosphere?

Moving your audience just takes a little thought.

Let your mind think outside of what is already being done.

Does your product or service offer a solution to people’s problems? Is there a way that it can be promoted with an emotional angle to it for greater impact?

The use of Humour at times is very important. It can be in the form of text, graphics, audio, and video but just make sure it is good humour. People want to feel good on your client's web page. Good humour will influence emotion and "great humour" can funnel volumes of traffic into your site just by word of mouth.

Can you recall seeing humour used on a web page that made you laugh out loud? If so, just think back and see if you don't recall telling a friend to "check it out"! Then there may be sites where it might be hard to use humour.

A good example of the power of emotional content can be seen in instance where something about a site is so moving that it makes the viewer want to tell everyone they know!

Drive home the point in their heart and mind that they have a painful, frustrating problem… and then give them hope that you have the solution. Talk in an emotional fashion about your reader’s pain “selling the problem”.

The same is true of B2B buying decisions. “Businesses” don’t decide to buy anything; people do. People get emotional over their work and over work-related buying decisions, even if the decision is about choosing industrial solvents or new machinery. It’s crucial to remember this when producing content for such audiences.

The first step to take in harnessing the power of emotion is to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. Put yourself in their shoes. Survey them, Interview them. Hang out in the online forums they frequent. Visit the websites they read. Read the magazines and blogs they value. Understand the emotions they feel and the emotions that drive them to take action.

Within the title and first paragraph of your content, focus on the readers – not your product. Show empathy and use the same language and vocabulary they do with their peers.

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