The latest from GO2
What the office is up to, looking into and blogging about.
How to Use Emotional Targeting in Ad Campaigns

Emotions are powerful. We all know that. But what’s not so obvious is that when it comes to advertising campaigns, focusing on emotional elements can heighten the quality of your storytelling and the authenticity of your content, as well as consumer engagement and brand affinity.

Emotions are so powerful in campaigns that they can even evoke a greater intent to buy. In fact, Kissmetrics Blog mentions a research study, conducted by Pringle & Field, that finds “emotional campaigns outperform on almost every metric.” This includes revenue, profit and share gain.

So how do we successfully, and gracefully, use emotional targeting in our campaigns? What emotional aspects can we research and tap into? Read on to find out!

Psychological triggers

Emotions can lead people to take certain actions. So when developing a campaign, you’ll really need to think about why people are buying. Think about your product or service. Does it create a certain feeling — good or bad? Could it possibly make consumers think of specific life events? How do those life events correlate to their possible emotions? In general, feelings of happiness lead to more responses, shares and ultimately, sales.

This approach actually has a name: it’s called joy marketing. Eventbrite does this well in its Facebook ads. It makes sense — Eventbrite is an online event registration company for social events, so of course the ads should be inclusive to all and display happy people. However, other brands can take note of this strategy and apply it to their ads as well.

Throughout Eventbrite’s Facebook ads, you can see the company using three main tactics to elicit a certain emotion:

  • Bright and contrasting colors
  • Photos with smiling people
  • Language with positive connotation

What’s the underlying message each of these tactics is sending? Happiness. And this becomes two-fold. The viewer will likely feel the positivity that the ad exudes and begin to associate that with the specific offer and the brand itself.

Memories and associations

Similar to psychological triggers, memories and associations also play a large role in the buying process. No matter what your product is, you’ll want to extract the happiness out of it however you can. If it’s a product that’s typically associated with happy times, then you’re ahead of the game. If not, you’ll need to find a way to associate it with something positive in sentiment. When people connect your brand to happy memories or life events, you’re creating the emotion needed for more interaction and more intent to purchase.

Let’s take TurboTax for example. We all know that tax season isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite time of year. The reality is, TurboTax is starting on the negative end of the spectrum simply through association of a less-than-ideal life event. However, the company has a great opportunity to create a positive angle, which it has clearly recognized and implemented. In its advertising, TurboTax ties in meaningful life events (marriages, birth of children, etc.) to show that they can use those events to get their customers a higher tax return. It created positive emotions for the customer for multiple reasons: they’re reminded of those happy times, which can distract them from the burden of tax season, and they now understand that this company can get them more money. TurboTax found a strategic way to creatively extract the positive aspects out of its service.

Regardless of your product’s usual sentiment, you can apply creativity to showcase the positivity. We look at Hershey’s Chocolate for a great example of this. The company tweeted an Easter message with the copy, “Who makes your #Easter all the more sweet? #HelloHappy.” The picture includes Hershey’s chocolate and two small children enjoying the chocolate in all their holiday happiness. See the ad here. The sweets company mastered it with this one: associating positive memories with the product and making people truly intertwine the two — almost like you can’t imagine a happy Easter without your Hershey’s chocolate bunny.

Social aspects

It only makes sense that social elements would play into these buying emotions, as well. Feelings of inclusion and belonging go a long way when people are considering different products. More specifically, consumers want to relate to the people they see in the ads or even feel like they’re involved with a meaningful cause. If they feel like they belong with those people, or feel like they could belong if they bought the product, they’re more likely to purchase.

This can be a tricky one to master, but we see companies like Coca-Cola doing this well. For instance, look at the company’s “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign. This shows the effectiveness of social input in advertising dating back to the 1970s! The company saw enormous brand engagement through this campaign, receiving more than 100,000 letters that shared consumers’ approval and also made requests for music for future commercials. The soft drink company was able to capture the essence of consumer engagement using positive emotions and feelings of happiness and togetherness.

The efforts from Coca-Cola still live on today, as it brought back the “Share a Coke” campaign and used the personal touch of first names on the cans. It uses the same emotional positioning of inclusiveness and friendship as its campaign in the 1970s. Check out the more recent campaign here.


Sorry, what?

FOMO: a term that Millennials have created that stands for “fear of missing out.” Essentially, it’s a feeling that comes up when a person sees something happening that they think would be fun or cool, and they don’t want to miss out on it. Although it’s a relatively new term, it is a serious physiological element to consider. People alter their lifestyles, routines and schedules in order to not experience FOMO, so brands can certainly benefit from getting a grasp on this emotional concept.

Who can you learn from in this area? A company focused on growing website traffic called Sumo. The brand uses a sense of both exclusivity and urgency to leverage feelings of FOMO within the consumer. How? The company includes copy in its Facebook ads that make it seem as though everyone else is already using the software and that if you’re not yet using it, you’re missing out. According to the Kissmetrics Blog, Sumo uses these four considerations in its copy strategy:

  • Includes a number of users already reaping the benefits of the service (which is huge in the business of website traffic growth, as you wouldn’t want your competitors to get ahead)
  • Asks a question, hinting to something great that the viewer is missing out on
  • Makes the reader curious about the community and entices them to want to be a part of it
  • Gives a time limit on the offer, adding to the sense of urgency

You can see the company’s example here.

As you can see, there are so many considerations for emotional input during the buying process. With plenty of opportunities for tapping into these emotions, research and strategy are essential — you need to know your consumer well enough to understand how they’ll react.

Have you experienced the effects of emotional targeting? Or maybe your company has taken this approach? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.


Kissmetrics — How Emotional Targeting Converts More Leads
Kissmetrics — 12 Genius Ways to Apply Emotional Marketing to Facebook Ads

Employee-Owner Spotlight: Amy Bernhardt

As an employee-owned agency, what moves one of us moves us all. So each month, we’re turning the spotlight on one of our many awesome owners to find out more about the unique personalities that shape GO2.

This month, Senior Production Artist Amy Bernhardt sheds some light on her love of lighthouses, fresh veggies, dystopian rebellions and more!

What are you most passionate about at work?

I love translating big ideas into workable, accessible components.

The large projects that have complicated technical requirements and moving pieces to bring together are often the most rewarding. There is a lot of problem solving and skill that goes into setting up a document that everyone can easily work with and in coordinating the smooth production of the finished product. People from different departments need to be able to contribute to the jobs I work on and they count on me to provide them the framework to do it. I am always trying to find ways to work smarter.

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

I have a passion for landscape photography, especially involving lighthouses. I love that they are a bit old-fashioned and a little romantic. They remind me of a time before GPS when sailing the seas meant depending on these beacons and their operators to guide you safely home. Also, since they are located on coastlines, lighthouse hunting is an amazing way to explore and photograph some of the most beautiful places in the world.

Gardening is big part of what I do outside of work. I have my pepper plants started already this year! It’s a great way to get fresh produce that tastes better than anything you can buy in the grocery store and it’s a fun challenge to see what I can grow successfully. Gardening is something I learned from my mom, so we like to try and grow new things together. Last year we did sweet potatoes, which may not be something you would usually think about growing in a northeastern Ohio garden, but they turned about great.

I really enjoy traveling and would love to have the opportunity to do it more. I end up traveling around the U.S. a lot to visit my siblings. I have a sister in Milwaukee, a brother who will soon be moving from California to New York and another brother in Boston. As long as they keep moving to interesting places, I’ll keep visiting! My recent vacation to Dublin, Ireland, has been my favorite trip so far. The people were so nice, the pub food was great and seeing a city that was founded over 1,000 years ago really helped me put our own history into perspective. They also have a much better cider culture than we do. There were so many hard ciders available everywhere; I actually didn’t see much fruit juice that wasn’t fermented.

What are some favorites you’d like to share?

TV show: The BBC’s Sherlock

Movies: The Hunt for Red October, A League of Their Own

I really appreciate shows and movies with clever dialogue. My family has a habit of conducting entire conversations in movie quotes and thankfully, Sherlock and The Hunt for Red October give me a lot of witty one-liners to work with.

Books: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter

Young Adult genre books are fun and work well on a lot of levels. The plots can be complex — dealing with issues you don’t get in mainstream bestsellers — while not taking themselves too seriously or being preachy. For example, The Hunger Games had some really interesting questions to ask about rebellions and what happens to the figurehead of a rebellion once it’s over. Though they may have an important message to deliver, good storytelling always comes first.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The first female professional baseball player (until I realized you needed hand/eye coordination to play baseball) or an astronaut.

What would you like to be famous for?

Landscape photography (particularly lighthouses) or writing novels.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

I am going to be running my first 5K at a Harry Potter-themed event in Kent this July.