5 Ways to Use Emotion to Get the Click

This is a guest blog post from Larry Kim, founder and chief technology officer of WordStream, a search marketing software and services company. He is the author of four award-winning books on software development, and is a regular contributor to several top online publications. Connect with Larry on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Across email campaigns, social media ads, organic search, paid search ads and other online campaigns, we have one goal that usually overrides all others: get the click!

You want qualified audience members to click YES! on your subscribe button. You want Facebook or Twitter followers to click through on your ads. You want clicks to open your emails, and clicks on your email calls to action (CTAs). Of course, you want people to click on your pay-per-click (PPC) ads over those of your competitors.

Emotion has long been a critical facet of advertising; for decades, researchers have studied the impact of emotional connection on advertising efficacy. Online advertising is no different. In fact, the multimedia, cross-screen nature of marketing today means you have more opportunity than ever before to appeal to your audiences on an emotional level.

Check out these tried-and-true tactics to use emotion in your online campaigns to get the click.

1. Use Structured Brainstorming to Find an Emotional Hook

Most PPC ads are boring. The vast majority all look the same.

If your ads are the same as everyone else’s, you pretty much rely on upping your bids to get higher positions and more clicks. Try finding a unique emotional hook, instead.

I love Perry Marshall’s “Swiss Army Knife” structured brainstorming process for this. Think about the things your customer loves, or hates… the people they love or hate, what makes them angry or overjoyed. Understanding their emotional triggers inspires some pretty creative concepts. Instead of another boring “Call a Divorce Lawyer” ad, you get something like this, which had a click-through rate six times higher than average:

2. Entertain and Inspire Awe to Get Shares

OkDork and BuzzSumo analyzed 10,000 of the most shared articles on the web, mapping each share to an emotion. Awe, laughter and amusement were the three most popular emotions, while anger, sadness and surprise fared worst.

Image from OkDork.com
Image from OkDork.com

People feel more inspired to share when they can elicit a positive emotional response in others. Think about it – you typically don’t want to make your network of contacts angry or sad, right? Think about what it is you’re asking people to share, especially in the social ads arena (on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), where every share can potentially earn you more clicks through that increased exposure.

3. Know When Fear is an Appropriate Motivator

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a huge motivator, and tapping into it can seriously boost conversion. In a recent study, consumers who experienced fear while watching a film, for example, felt a greater affiliation with a present brand than if they were exposed to films that made them happy, sad or excited.

Why? You can thank the amygdala for that. This tiny part of the brain controls our fight or flight response, but also drives a feeling that when we’re scared, we should share the experience with others, said researchers.

“People cope with fear by bonding with other people. When watching a scary movie they look at each other and say ‘Oh my god!’ and their connection is enhanced,” says study author Lea Dunn. “But, in the absence of friends, our study shows consumers will create heightened emotional attachment with a brand that happens to be on hand.”

4. Focus on Your Mental Imagery

What kind of picture is your ad or offer painting for your audience? One of these ads earned twice the clicks – do you know which one?

The ad on the left is keyword-focused, cerebral and straightforward. The ad on the right – the winner with double the CTR – immediately showcases the user benefit in the title and paints an emotionally happy, positive picture for the viewer. Which sounds more emotionally appealing: “Sharpen Memory and Attention” or have “fun” training your brain?

Always consider the emotional response you want to elicit and the mental picture you can paint to garner it.

5. Get Your Happy Juice On

The first time I heard Perry Marshall talking about “Happy Juice,” I actually laughed out loud. What in the the heck was that? As I learned, it’s an incredibly effective process for injecting emotional flavor in all of your marketing, from PPC to email marketing to social and more.

Happy Juice is the meaningful insight found at the intersection of optimization testing and persona mapping.

This goes way beyond A/B testing and seeing which keyword combinations or title variations work for you. Happy Juice is a deep and meaningful understanding of your audience’s emotional triggers. More than a tactic, it’s an ongoing strategy – one that helped my own business grow our site visitors by 116 percent YoY and generate twice as many qualified leads for the sales team. Learn all about the Happy Juice principle here.

Double Your Email Results with PPC Marketing

This week, AWeber CMO Erik Harbison and I will lead an exclusive live webinar on doubling your email list, getting more clicks and generating a ton of leads by combining the power of PPC marketing with tried and true email.

I’ll share my greatest PPC hacks for boosting email performance, alongside one never before-shared strategy that can actually double your results from email.

Join us Thursday, March 19th, at 1:00pm ET (6:00pm UTC) for How to 2x Your Email Results with Pay-Per-Click Marketing – but reserve your spot now, availability is limited!


  1. dirlei de farias

    3/17/2015 7:14 pm

    thank you for sending mail min, and can work together here ,,,, in aweber .I love working with blogs. oline work and very good

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