7 Simple Tips for Emotional Marketing

Emotional Marketing: 7 Basic Emotional Copy Drivers

Nothing works better than using emotion to persuade prospects to buy your products and services. Learn how to use emotional marketing to sell more.

People are not machines, nor are they Vulcans from Star Trek. We are wired for emotions – right inside our brains. According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman’s research, 95 percent of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously.

With a relevant direct marketing campaign, brands and companies can help make the connection between hidden thoughts or feelings and your solution to their emotional need.

Feeling over fact

Even the most powerful human brain cannot possibly consider all of the statistics and facts that can be considered during the decision-making process.

Instead, the mind focuses on which needs and interests are most strongly linked to their emotions.

For example, we frequently hear or discuss “pain points” and how a solution can alleviate this pain.

The pain, however, is not physical.

Rather, it is a word used to describe an emotion or feeling that is similar to physical pain.

A customer who is emotionally engaged responds subconsciously to how a product or service may make them feel and then weighs that against other more tangible factors such as cost, availability, or color.

In short, while we would like to believe that purchasing decisions are only rational or based on logic, the reality is quite the opposite.

We make a purchasing decision based on emotion and then choose specific facts to justify our decision.

Human emotion will drive more responses to your direct mail marketing campaign than a simple appeal to statistics, data, or other types of information.

Emotion outsells intellect,” as the late copywriter and filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis frequently stated.

When writing copy, you want to get inside your prospect’s head (or heart, to be more precise) to understand how they feel.

When you understand their emotional pain points and pleasure points, you can show them how you can meet both their emotional wants and their needs.

The 7 basic emotional copy drivers

Axel Andersson, a Swedish marketing expert, and Bob Hacker, the founder of the Seattle ad agency, identified the seven main emotional copy drivers that can elicit action:

  1. Fear
  2. Greed
  3. Anger
  4. Guilt
  5. Flattery
  6. Exclusivity
  7. Salvation

Other copy drivers include patriotism, love, and improved health. But these are the big ones, the ones that are most commonly used in direct marketing.

One of the most common best practices for direct response marketers is to include an emotional driver in their sales messages.


Fear, possibly the most primitive emotion, arises in response to a danger or perceived threat.

This can be physical (health, old age, death), financial (poverty, independence), or any combination of the two.



Many people have a strong desire for more – more money, wealth, and possessions. This is most likely the most frequently used emotion in direct response marketing.

Example: “An extra $500 to enjoy your happy place even more”.


This feeling, in whatever form it takes, such as annoyance, displeasure, or hostility, can be destructive.

It certainly catches the reader’s attention.

However, when properly channeled, it has the potential to be both righteous and constructive, depending on who it is directed at.

Example: “$1 Sale!… in our National Forests”.


Tell your reader what will happen if they act in a certain way… or do nothing.

While it is commonly regarded as a negative emotion, it can result in a positive gain if it is used to tap into their empathy.

Getting a good result puts the customer or donor in charge and removes their guilt.

Example: “All Emily had to eat was crackers and jam”.


Let’s face it: people enjoy hearing positive things said about them. And, as the saying goes, a little flattery goes a long way; just don’t go overboard. Many people can detect when they are being manipulated.

Example: “With the BuyPower Business Card from Capital One, business owners like you are rewarded for your hard work”.


Exclusiveness, like flattery, singles out recipients for special treatment based on some attribute or characteristic. Because of who they are, they are given opportunities that others do not.

Example: “3 fantastic deals just for you”.


Your customer or prospect is having issues.

They are in pain.

Your product or service could be the answer to someone’s prayers, or it could be anything that satisfies a desire or need.

So now is your chance to provide them with solutions.

Example: “Finally, an integrated HR platform that employees actually like!”

Important points to consider

#1. Context is important when it comes to how you use emotions.

According to studies, negative messaging works best when there is a strong incentive to buy or donate.

When the purchasing decision was not influenced by a deadline or scarcity, positive messaging performed better.

#2. Words have a lot of power.

When carefully chosen, they can broaden minds, open hearts, and remove barriers to purchasing a product or service or donating to an organization or cause.

You have several options for expressing these emotions:

  • Single words
  • Phrases
  • Sentences
  • Headlines
  • Testimonials
  • Personalized variable data
  • Stories

You can connect with your customer or prospect on a basic, human-to-human level regardless of which one you choose.

#3. Adding emotion-evoking images to your sales copy makes it even more effective.

Pictures pique people’s interests, illustrate or explain your offer or theme, and ultimately influence their purchasing (or giving) decision.

You have a lot of options when it comes to using emotions in direct marketing.

For them to work – to compel recipients of your mail to take action – they must be consistent with the overall theme of the message.

If your letter isn’t dripping with one or more of these emotional marketing tips, tear it up and start over.

The Complete Copywriting Course

Maku Seun is a freelance copywriter and direct response marketer. He helps digital marketers, coaches, and course creators boost sales by writing compelling sales copy which includes long-form sales letters, email copy, and website copy for their products and services. If you want him to write compelling sales copy for your business, click here.