The Value of Emotional Marketing in the Digital World

emotional marketing guide

We all know from experience that consumers need information and time to check a product or service before buying.

But marketers, advertisers, you, and I all know that these decisions are more based on emotion than reason. Hence the appeal of emotional marketing.

In the realm of marketing, emotional advertising creates first and lasting impressions about your brand. If you run a campaign with strong emotional appeal, customers remember you and think of you first when they are looking for a product.

Reason and Emotion Aren’t Enemies

It’s true that at school we learned that reason and emotion are at odds with one another. Teachings from Plato and Immanuel Kant talk about how Reason (and the Self) are constantly at battle with “rational” and “irrational” impulses.

Scientific research over the past thirty years now tells us that reason and emotion are not each other’s enemy.

Our feelings and subconscious influence our decisions more than we realize.

Neurologists ran studies based on MRI scans which revealed that consumers choose brands more according to personal feelings and experiences than actual brand features or attributes.

American-Portuguese neuroscientist Antonio Damasio wrote a famous book, Descartes’ Error, about a brain-tumor patient who struggled with decision making because his tumor had taken away his ability to feel.

Mounting psychological and neuroscientific research suggests that rational decisions are acts driven by an emotional component.

Indifference is your brand’s worst enemy, when people have no impression, feeling, or opinion about it. If consumers do not feel strongly about your offer, they are much more likely not to consider it.

Great Emotional Marketing Campaigns Have Strong Emotional Appeal

This is why advertisers believe in advertising with an emotional appeal. Emotional marketing can and does influence human decisions. It creates greater brand awareness and affinity, can trigger higher sales, and grow customer loyalty.

Digital marketing amplifies these messages, reaching across various demographics, interest groups, and timezones – and disseminate campaign messages to huge audiences practically overnight.

Emotional marketing did well in mainstream advertising. It does even better in the digital world.

Emotional marketing can connect with Millennials and Gen Z “Zillennials”.  These consumer segments respond to powerful, arresting visuals and are more impulse-buying in nature.

Tailoring the message matters. You can also reach Gen X-ers and upcoming Generation Alpha. They are all on the Internet, and so are you.

Emotional Marketing – And Why It Works

So what is emotional marketing, and why does it work?

Emotional marketing is the process of crafting and sending out marketing messages that communicate a specific emotion, with the intention of creating a deep connection with audiences.

Emotional marketing makes strong appeals to human emotion using joy, fear, anger, sadness, and other feelings – and persuades a consumer to make a decision.

Emotional marketing can do many good things for your brand, like:

  • Creating a memorable impression

The best emotional marketing campaigns are successful when you know people remember taglines and scenes and quote them in conversation.

Emotional marketing creates value for your brand in terms of recall, preference, and loyalty. Consider it a huge compliment if your ad or commercial is turned into a GIF or a meme.

  • Triggering real purchases and conversions

Consumers will always remember how you made them feel – and if you’ve convinced them with your emotional appeal, they will buy.

  • Giving Your Brand High Visibility – Maybe Even Go Viral

In the offline world, people talk about brands or commercials that strike them. In the online world, people share. The best campaigns, depending on the response they generate, can and do go viral.

  • Transforming Buyers Into Advocates

Emotional advertising that resonates with viewers can inspire them to share your message and promote your brand. When a user is proud, satisfied, and inspired about using your products or services, they become an extension of your brand by advocating for it.

Getting Results With Emotional Advertising

Using emotional marketing means going big with emotions to create strong impressions.

Let’s take a look at how global brands made strong emotional appeals using five basic human emotions: fear, surprise, anger, sadness, and happiness. We’ve got a few examples of great emotional advertising for you to look at below.


Fear can urge people to change something in their lives, making it a great emotional motivator for fast moving consumer goods or personal hygiene products. For Millennials and Gen Z, fear of missing out (FOMO) can evoke a strong response.

And then there’s plain old fear. Take, for example, this humorous Halloween commercial from Burger King that pokes at McDonald’s (something they do regularly)


Toward the end of 2020, Philippine soda brand RC Cola came out with an out-of-the-box “Family” commercial with a surreal plot and an even more surreal ending.

Needless to say, the campaign didn’t seem so much about a personal message to its intended audiences, so much as an attempt at virality and top-of-mind awareness.

RC Cola’s commercial went on to win a bronze medal at the 2021 Cannes Lions, the Oscars of advertising, under the Film category.


Not all emotions fit all brands. And anger is not an emotion that brands take or use lightly. But sometimes current events make an angry response appropriate.

Take the case of Nike, a hero brand that champions courage and resilience with its tagline, “Just Do It.”

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter rallies, Nike decided to make a statement against racism and bigotry. It ran a copy-driven ad against a simple black background and modified its classic tagline: “For Once, Don’t Do It”.


One thing people missed throughout the pandemic was the pleasure of traveling, and while the world continues to recover, traveling is still not advisable in groups.

Traveling solo for the first time after so long might feel tough, even lonely, but Expedia is there to turn it around for you.


Many Filipinos in 2020 were introduced to K-drama and to one of its biggest hits on record, Crash Landing On You. At the end of the year, the drama’s leading couple, Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin, confirmed that their onscreen relationship had blossomed into a real one.

A few months later, Smart’s 5G network commercial showed off the happy couple, and trended on social media and in international news. It also validated loyal fans who had been rooting for the couple’s offscreen fairy-tale ending.

How To Make Emotional Marketing Work

Emotional marketing has many working components that come together to make it work. Here’s how to bring it all together.

  1. Storytelling – A story connects you to your target audiences without being heavy or preachy. Pixar teaches us that the best stories appeal to our deepest emotions. Try using their 22 rules of storytelling to help you craft a really great story.
  2. “Emotional” design – Keep in mind that colors, patterns, and subjects in your design convey certain moods and feelings. Animate your story with voice, music, and video.
  3. Copy that matches the tone of your design – Headline, body, and other microcopy should match the tone of your design. Pay attention to fonts, colors, and copy placement.
  4. A clear, simple message – If you cannot distill your brand message into a phrase without explaining it, then it needs more work. Choose a message that is sincere, meaningful, and consistent with what the brand represents. If you are insincere or playing to the crowd, people are quick to detect it. They will point it out to you and to others.
  5. A deep understanding of your audience – Your campaign’s emotional appeal depends on understanding your market’s habits, beliefs, and deepest desires. Refining your digital marketing segmentation strategy is essential to developing relevant and memorable messages.

Adapting Emotional Marketing to Digital

Emotional marketing, just like mainstream advertising, carries over well in Digital, but if you are not crafting “traditional” advertising, what can or should you do differently

  1. Adapt to digital advertising and social media formats.
    We’ve all had to adapt to marketing in new digital formats and sizes. The marketing campaign you may have made for TV may work well for YouTube, but would your Out of Home billboard design work on Google Discovery or YouTube’s social feed?
    Design for digital. Resize and reconfigure design and copy for mobile-first and desktop environments
  2. Speak the Language of Social
  3. Your brand may have its own tone – but getting your message across on social media platforms also requires knowledge of the “local” language.
  4. Are you creating emotional content for Facebook, Instagram, or Tiktok? Be on the level. Craft copy that speaks to people, not at them or above them.
  5. Work on Your Timing
    Learn about your audience behaviors on the platforms you target. Maybe your brand message is not for morning people, but for moments like early evening or after work. Timing matters as much as the form and content of the message.
  6. Figure Out Your Campaign Mix
    A great emotional marketing campaign receives plenty of attention from customers and industry insiders. And in today’s world, many are interested in how the campaign was crafted.
  7. Don’t confine yourself to digital marketing tactics. A behind-the-scenes story on YouTube or LinkedIn will work, but so can a digital PR campaign on industry websites, or an interview with popular podcasters.
    Talk to journalists and disseminate stories in print if it fits your brand. Flex the virtues of your campaign using both digital and mainstream media.
  8. Go Straight For Conversions
    The beauty of digital marketing in the Philippines is that we now have the tools and platforms to bring your customer straight to a booking, a sign-up, or outright purchase.
    Make the most of your emotional advertising campaigns by integrating them directly into your e-commerce digital marketing activities.
  9. Get Digital Marketing Support
    Marketing budgets distributed across various digital platforms can spread your efforts thin if you aren’t sure of what metrics you are tracking.
    Don’t let your digital marketing efforts go to waste. Tap into PPC agency or social media marketing support; in the Philippines, experts are here at your disposal.

Since emotional marketing is all about your audience, how you design and craft your message is crucial.

Use your knowledge of your audience to appeal to their core values and beliefs, as well as their imagination. If you can make the emotional connection, you may succeed in convincing them that your pitch, your product, or service, can make a difference in their lives.

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