5 Hacks to Create Emotional Marketing That Converts

by Katy French

The biggest myth in B2B marketing is that it’s not emotional. We’ve railed against this fallacy for over a decade, and yet it persists in content marketing. Over and over, we see B2B marketers try to rationalize and reason their way into connecting with their customers, but they forget that every customer is a human. Even if you’re selling to a corporation, you are still convincing people (and, oftentimes, many people) to make the buying decision. 

In a media landscape littered with content, you have very few opportunities to stand out and create instant connections. One surefire way? Infuse more emotion into your marketing. 

Joe Chernov, Chief Marketing Officer at Pendo.io, dropped by our Best Story Wins podcast to chat about the biggest changes in B2B, and during our conversation, he dropped one of the best knowledge bombs we’ve heard in a while. 

“A CMO’s job is no longer marketing to people. It’s marketing through people.”
—Joe Chernov, Chief Marketing Officer at Pendo.io

Traditionally, marketers have battered audiences with intellectual messaging instead of cultivating meaningful emotional connections. By doing this, they not only alienate but sometimes burden their audiences with a windfall of content that they have to 1) navigate and 2) synthesize. 

I genuinely think of thought as a burden,” Chernov says. “And people just want to shed the burden of having to think. So how can a brand message in a way that just allows people to feel something and relieves them the burden of contemplation?” 

Chernov reminds us that, ultimately, we make purchasing decisions emotionally, and then we justify those decisions rationally. Using emotion is incredibly powerful because it bypasses the brain and speaks straight to the heart, endearing people to your brand in an instant. 

If I can arouse that emotional bias by making people feel a certain way, helping somebody identify with something that they’re proud to identify with, then the rational stuff is easy.”
—Joe Chernov, Chief Marketing Officer at Pendo.io

So, whether it’s a funny video, intriguing headline, or hilarious meme, Chernov believes that the key to better marketing is creating more emotional entry points to your brand. But how do you do that?

5 Ways to Create More Emotional Marketing

Fortunately, there are all sorts of ways you can produce and adapt your content to cultivate these emotions. If you’re short on brainstorming energy, don’t worry. Here, we’re sharing great content ideas that tap into your audience’s most powerful core emotions: fear, joy, humor, relief, and surprise. 

1) Joy

If you can consistently evoke positive emotions, research shows that customers are more likely to be loyal to your brand long-term. Luckily, there are many ways to do this throughout the buyer journey. 

  • Highlight customer success stories.
  • Celebrate milestones, achievements, or big wins for your brand, industry, or clients. 
  • Create fun things like quizzes or interactives that provide a bit of levity. 
  • Design eye-catching visuals (think bold colors, playful illustrations, etc.). 
  • Tap into nostalgia. 
  • Share inspiring content that is positive, uplifting, and motivational. 

Tip: Find out how to turn customer success stories into an exciting narrative. 

Example: One of our most successful videos to date was the Child of the ‘90s video we created to help Microsoft re-introduce Internet Explorer to millennials. By tapping into the early wave of ‘90s nostalgia, we reminded users of their fondness for the brand and ushered that joy into their modern lives. 

2) Fear

You don’t want to terrify or traumatize your audience, of course, but fear can be a strong emotion that captures attention quickly. 

  • Showcase the risks or consequences of not using your product/service. 
  • Create a sense of urgency via limited-time offers or limited-edition items. 
  • Play on their FOMO. 

Tip: To understand your audience’s biggest fears, you need to understand their biggest pain points. See our guide to creating marketing personas and ideal customer profiles to document your audience’s needs, wants, and fears. 

Example: To help Dropbox recruit the next generation of developers, we built a campaign around the ways their engineers are innovating and building the future, emphasizing all the cool things prospective employees are missing out on by not joining the team. 

3) Relief

While fear is a powerful motivator, delivering relief or reprieve from fear will instantly endear you to your audience. To do this, think about creating content that solves problems, eliminates barriers, or makes things easier. 

  • Create free tools and templates to help people do things more efficiently. 
  • Be transparent about who you are and what your qualifications are. This reassures your audience that they are dealing with true experts who have their best interests at heart.
  • Share helpful hacks or tips to make their lives easier. 
  • Showcase before/afters that demonstrate your problem-solving abilities. 

Tip: Turning the lessons you’ve learned into helpful tips or mistakes to avoid is another way to relieve your audience of making the same mistakes. 

Example: We’ve shared content about everything from mistakes we’ve made in content marketing to lessons we’ve learned in business. (BTW, when you share content about the mistakes you’ve made, you demonstrate transparency, which helps foster trust between you and your customer.)

4) Surprise

People are often bored in the drudgery of their day. That’s why a surprise provides a jolt of joy that creates positive associations with your brand. 

  • Do something edgy that stands out. (Find out how Liquid Death has built a brand that shocks and delights.)
  • Make an unexpected announcement or reveal. 
  • Collaborate with unexpected brands or influencers. 
  • Give them a gift out of the blue. These may be free guides, toolkits, or actual physical gifts. 
  • Create personalized experiences. This is a great way to reach through the crowd and create a person-to-person connection.

Tip: AI is a great tool to help you work more efficiently. See our tips to create more personalized experiences with AI. 

Example: We worked with the language operations platform Unbabel to create a surprisingly entertaining and slightly NSFW campaign that encouraged their users to “STFU” (Start Fearlessly Translating with Unbabel). It was a head-turning approach that broke the mold for the industry. 

5) Humor

Humor is a joyful emotion—and it is also a great way to demonstrate how well you know your audience, their tastes, and the challenges they face in their daily lives. 

  • Create funny videos that spoof common issues. 
  • Generate relatable memes or inside jokes. 
  • Show off the fun behind-the-scenes happenings at your company to showcase your brand personality. (Here are seven ways to do that on social media.) 
  • Encourage customers to join in on the fun via caption contests, photo submissions, etc. 

Tip: User-generated content is a great way to bring your audience together to share in your brand stories. Here are 11 ways you can solicit more UGC

Example: We know that marketers can sound pretty pretentious when they rely on pointless jargon and industry slang. To spoof this, we created the Marketing Gibberish Generator to help our audience fake their way through their next meeting. 

Marketing Gibberish Generator - machine that spits our marketing jargon

Remember: Emotional Marketing Isn’t a One-and-Done Thing

As you continue to build and grow your content strategy, look for more opportunities to infuse emotion at every level. 

That said, it’s important to use emotion earlier in the buyer journey and follow that up with logic as you get closer to closing the deal. (See our tips to build a journey that balances both logic and emotion to get the best results.) And, of course, if you need a partner to help you strategize at any stage of the journey, we’d be happy to help. Take a look at our FAQs or reach out

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