How Emotional Marketing Can Influence Buyers


Woman Looking At A Mirror

It’s our emotions, rather than our logic, that have a more profound effect on our actions. Emotions help us to create lasting impressions and influence us to follow the same course of action in the future.

For marketers, this information is incredibly powerful and many brands have been trying to leverage the power of emotions by designing sentimental ads that touch a nerve.

Historically, the purpose of ads was to educate the customer on the features of a product to persuade them to buy from a brand. Nowadays, however, ads are not just designed to disseminate rational information but also to subtly and strategically manipulate a viewer’s feelings and evoke emotions that play a big part in making decisions.

This article examines the role that emotions play in modern marketing and why they are so important.


Emotional Branding

Emotional branding is a marketing strategy of creating an emotional connection with a company that differentiates it from the competition. Using emotional branding can help to create and reinforce brand loyalty over time.

Apple Inc. is an excellent example of a company that uses emotions to forge and maintain connections with its consumers and win their loyalty over the long term. Apple’s branding strategy uses simple, elegant, and minimalistic designs as well as creating a desire to become part of an exclusive lifestyle movement. This appeals to the sense of community and belonging that humans crave.

Apple recognizes that it is human nature to want to become part of something bigger and more important than ourselves. That's why Steve Jobs’ marketing tactics involved not only the use of traditional press releases or print media but also creating highly engaging events to launch new Apple products. This gives Apple an air of mystery and reaffirms its users’ sense of prestige. These events have created  a huge impact on consumer culture and continue to do so, years after Job’s death.

Consumers also highly value self worth and feelings of accomplishment and again Apple does an excellent job of fulfilling these needs. The brand labels itself as a platform that is part of a technical, creative, and cultural revolution and people gravitate towards it because they believe that Apple understands what they want — even before they do.

Emotional Advertising

According to research, creating a strong emotional response to advertising plays a bigger role in influencing a person's buying decision than providing information about the product.  As a result, brands are now increasingly using emotions to create a strong rapport with their consumers.

Let’s take the example of Procter & Gamble's  “Thank You, Mom - Strong” ad campaign. The commercials showed short stories of various world class athletes who encountered many life-threatening or traumatic situations but were always protected by their mothers. As they grew into adults, their mother remained as a source of strong and unrelenting support which helped them overcome the challenges along the way and become the legends they are.

The universal theme of a child’s personal struggles and a mother’s protection struck a chord in the hearts of viewers, which is why the campaign is the biggest and most successful in P&G's 175-year history.

Interestingly though, the entire ad featured very little of the brand itself and was more focused on driving the emotional message in the minds of the customers — proving that emotion played the major role.

According to brain imaging scans, when customers want to form an opinion of a brand, they use their emotions based on experiences, rather than factual information. This is very helpful for marketers and can be applied to various marketing tactics. For example, if you are making a landing page or a homepage on your website, it is important that you connect emotionally with your visitors so that they can build a good impression of you within a fraction of a second.

Since customers’ intent to buy depends on the type and intensity of emotion that an ad evokes in them, the more emotionally intelligent the brand is, the better chance it has of driving more leads and conversion and getting an improved return on investment.

P&G’s  ad mentioned above created quite a high emotional intelligence score by  generating empathy and plucking on the heartstrings. This inspired the customers to share the videos at a very high rate, with a high degree of engagement and heightened brand awareness.  Without this emotional response, the level of engagements would have been much lower. 


Storytelling engages a customer’s subconscious and helps them relate to the ad by forming an emotional link with the brand. According to research, storytelling creates a rush of dopamine and boosts the memories of the viewers by engaging the amygdala in the brain, which is associated with memory. The more emotional and enriching the story, the more memory markers will be created and stored in the brain. These can be retrieved at a later date in response to a stimulus and allow the viewer to remember the experience - and the emotions associated with it.

Hence, it makes perfect sense why many companies prefer storytelling when they want to make a psychological impact with their customers to remember their brand.

Social Proof

Brands that emphasize word-of-the-mouth recommendations and brand advocacy as part of their marketing strategy can influence customers to trust them. When a customer sees a positive review, testimonials, stories, or logos shared by other consumers who have used the brand, it also encourages them to trust this brand too. 

Social proof effectiveness depends on customers' validation to lend  credibility to the brand. Many brands use this tactic in their ads and landing pages because they can help to provide clear benefits during the zero moment of truth in any stage of the buying journey.

Research shows that about 70% of customers read product reviews before they decide to purchase a product. In addition, these reviews are 12 times more credible than a brand’s own product brief, which emphasises the importance of social proof.

Emotions and Technology

Today, marketers are fortunate enough to have technology that can make use of data and automation to find out what a customer is feeling. The MarTech industry is using machine learning and AI-based emotion analytics to figure out the kind and intensity of emotion that makes a customer tick and tilt them in favour  of a particular brand.

Software solutions like Smile Reader allow a company to find out how emotionally intelligent its customer base thinks it is. Through analysis of customer's expressions during content viewing, Smile Reader can find out what kind of content is obtaining  the desired results, which part or parts  need to be removed or  improved upon and whether using the campaign will  help to deliver improved outcomes for the brand.

Bottom Line

Marketing should not be pushy or sales-y. When you watch a poignant ad based on a cause such as fighting stereotypes, advocating for equality and justice, promoting social awareness and encouraging friendship and community, it generates an emotion with the marketing element very much in the background. 

That approach is being increasingly used in ads - with a greater concentration on connecting emotionally with their customers rather than a more traditional approach of  focusing on product features.

We build lasting connections with brands that are emotionally based because humans rely on their feelings to live a richer and more meaningful life. Marketing that appeals  to our instinctive gut feeling and raw emotions is smart, effective, and vital to a brand’s success.

Using a personalised and human touch can pay off, both in the short and long term. However, you can only integrate it into your marketing campaign if you understand and appeal to the emotional responses of your customers.

Researchers, agencies and brands choose Smile Reader to deliver valuable insights that  increase brand equity and achieve high performance marketing campaigns. 

For more information on emotion recognition services, click here.