How to Generate Sales by Triggering an Emotional Response from Your Customers

Emotions drive our lives.

Whether you recognize it or not, you feel a wide range of emotions on a daily basis. You might even be feeling some emotions right now as you’re reading this.

The word emotion is defined by an instinctive state of mind as a reflection of mood, circumstances, relationships, knowledge, or reasoning.

Sometimes emotions can cause erratic behavior, depending on the circumstances.

Other times, emotions can make people do great things. If someone is feeling inspired, they may create something that changes their life and the lives of people around them for the better.

As a marketer, you need to find ways to put yourself into the minds of the consumer.

You should be doing things like developing a customer persona to improve your conversion rates.

Once you can understand how people think, you can use that information to your advantage.

Marketers that know how to leverage the emotions of consumers will have greater success over extended periods of time.


In fact, 43% of emotional advertisements had positive effects on businesses for three or more years.

Ads that trigger above average emotions create a 23% increase in sales volume.

That’s right. If you can stimulate an emotional response from your customers with an advertisement, it will increase your sales volume today and potentially for years down the road.

But where do you start? Which emotions work best?

Depending on who you ask, humans have anywhere between 6, 27, or upward of 100 emotions.

Honestly, the number doesn’t really matter. As long as your strategies can trigger a response that impacts the way the consumer feels, you’re getting the job done.

I’ll show you some of the best ways to generate sales by guiding consumer emotions.

Build trust

Would you give money to someone who you don’t trust?

I doubt it.

So you can assume that consumers won’t give money to brands that appear to be untrustworthy. That’s why you need to take steps to build and establish trust with your customers.

Take a look at the most trustworthy advertising channels based on a recent survey of consumers.


As you can see, none of the top five responses are forms of digital content.

Online advertising just isn’t as trustworthy as the other types of advertising channels.

People have the perception that they’re going to get scammed online. They are afraid of getting their identities stolen or credit cards compromised.

However, if they know that they’re dealing with a trustworthy brand, they’ll feel much safer.

For example, would you hesitate to enter your personal information and credit card number to make a purchase from Apple? Probably not.

That’s because they’re a well-known, established, and credible brand.

But if you’re browsing online and get a popup advertisement from a company that you’ve never heard of, are going to buy something without asking any questions? I hope not.

If your business doesn’t have a reputation established yet, you need to take the right steps to add credibility to your website.

Showcase customer testimonials. Encourage your customers to review your products.

Display your contact information. Make it easy for people to reach you with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Secure the checkout process. Get rid of ads for other brands on your site. Promote your hassle-free return policy.

If you do things like that, people will trust your business. Once they trust you, they’ll be more willing to buy.

Create FOMO

Fear is a powerful emotion.

I’m not saying that you need to scare your customers, although that can be an effective strategy as well.

For example, let’s say your company sells home alarm systems. You could run a video ad showing the results of a robbery.

The camera can show a missing TV that was ripped off the wall, furniture displaced and flipped over, a broken window, bedroom drawers pulled out of the dresser. Maybe the ad even shows a child’s bedroom.

As a result of this type of ad, people without an alarm system might be afraid that this could happen to them. So they buy an alarm from your company.

However, this type of tactic isn’t reasonable for every business.

Let’s say you sell clothing. It wouldn’t make sense to run an ad about trying to scare people into buying a t-shirt.

So instead, you can create FOMO or the fear of missing out.

Here’s an example of how Expedia uses this strategy to sell hotel reservations through their platform.


They use this method all over this page.

For the first hotel, they have a message stating that four other people booked a room at this hotel in the past 48 hours.

Then there is a separate alert saying that the hotel is in high demand. There are only two rooms left at $135 per night.

As a result, the consumer will be afraid that if they don’t book the room now, the rate will go up, or the hotel will potentially sell out of rooms.

Expedia doesn’t stop there. When you click on a property to get more details, they continue applying the FOMO strategy.


So they’ve already told you that there are only two rooms left.

But now you find out that there are 14 other people viewing this property right now.

This makes the consumer think that they need to act even faster to secure the advertised rate.

You can apply this same tactic to your ecommerce website. Put up an alert that tells people there are a limited number of a certain product remaining.

I’m not advocating that you should lie to your customers, but realistically, nobody will know if you actually have plenty left in stock. So do what you want with that information.

Identify the desires of your customers

Desire can stimulate emotions as well.

Just like you and I, your customers have wants and needs. If you identify what they desire, you can use that to reach them through your marketing campaigns.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here’s an example of a simple advertisement from Calvin Klein.


What do men desire? Women.

Look, I get it. It’s 2018. I’m not here to get into a debate about sexual preferences or anything else like that.

I’m just trying to show you how Calvin Klein’s marketing team positioned this advertisement in a way to stimulate desire.

The ad implies that if you use this cologne, beautiful women without clothes will be attracted to you.

Obviously, that’s outrageous. But subconsciously, people will see this ad and get an emotional reaction from it.

Let me give you another example so you can look at this concept from a completely different perspective.

We’ll say that your company sells running shoes.

What do competitive runners desire? Winning.

So you can run an ad that shows someone winning a race while wearing your shoes.

Focus on what your customers want. Then tailor your marketing strategy accordingly around that idea to stimulate their desires.

Trigger envy

Envy and jealousy are not necessarily considered positive emotions.

However, as a marketer, you can still use these ideas to your advantage. I’m sure you’ve seen ads like this before.

There are commercials on TV all of the time about products like fertilizer that will help you grow a lawn that’s greener than your neighbor’s.

Those ads are trying to trigger the envious emotion that people feel. You walk by your neighbor’s house and see that their grass looks better than yours. Time to do something about it.

So when you see an ad like that, it speaks to you.

Here’s an example of this strategy used by Zeus Beard.


Zeus Beard sells a variety of beard grooming products and accessories.

This blog post explains how people can grow a beard that’s thicker and fuller than their friend’s beard.

So anyone who is envious of their friends or other bearded people will be inclined to read this content.

After that, they’ll be eager to buy products from this company.

It sounds silly, but it’s human nature to want to be better than people. Whether you want to admit it or not, I’m sure you’re envious sometimes too.

Don’t be ashamed. You’re not alone.

Fortunately, your customers get envious too. So trigger that emotion to get them to make a purchase from your brand.

Create content that’s creative and humorous

You need to run ads that will get the attention of your current and prospective customers.

So be creative and try to get some laughs out of people.

Here’s an example from the Old Spice Instagram page.

old spice

What exactly is happening in this picture?

It looks like this guy is skydiving with a lion on his back while putting mustard on corn dog that the lion is holding.

Is that going to make people buy deodorant? Not necessarily.

But it certainly grabs their attention. It may even make people laugh.

As a result, it will show them the human side of your brand, and even establish trust with them. This is something that we discussed earlier.

Laughter will improve the mood of the people viewing your ad.

If someone is happy, they’ll be more likely to buy whatever it is that you’re selling. So have some fun and get creative with your next marketing campaign.

Go for shock factor

Is a lion going skydiving shocking? Yes, but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.

Shock your audience with reality.

Depending on your approach, this strategy can be used to stimulate fear, which we previously discussed.

One of the best ways to shock people is by showing them an alarming statistic to back up whatever you’re selling.

Here’s an example from the Action on Smoking and Health Organization.


This company is trying to get people to stop smoking.

So they ran this ad to inform people how tobacco products can cause diseases that lead to death. The idea here is that it’s more common than people think.

Someone may not realize the harm that they’re doing to their bodies by consuming certain products.

However, after seeing a shocking ad like this, they may reconsider their actions. As a result, they could reach out to the organization and seek whatever services they’re offering to help them quit a bad habit.

With that said, shock doesn’t always have to be associated with fear.

You can shock people with news that’s exciting and encouraging as well.

Inspire your customers

Sometimes you just need to give people a little bit of motivation to accomplish something.

By triggering emotions that inspire consumers, you can entice them to make a purchase.

Here’s a great example from the Nike website.


Just do it.

We all know this as the Nike slogan. But what does it really mean?

This powerful image on their website shows exactly what their slogan looks like in real life.

Football is a difficult sport for anyone to play. So for someone with only one good arm, it may seem like just a crazy dream.

Nike explains that it’s only a crazy dream until you do it, and they have proof to back it up.

Are they displaying this content to tell people across the globe that they can play football with one arm? No.

They’re doing this to inspire people.

No matter what you think is holding you back, you can accomplish it.

Do you think you’re too overweight to go to the gym? Are you too old to run a marathon?

Whatever it is that you need to overcome, a promotion like this can inspire you to accomplish your goals. Once people feel inspired, they’ll need to buy the right products to help them reach their potential.

Build anticipation

Anticipation can drive you crazy.

We’ve all been there. Waiting by the phone for a certain call. Sitting in front of the TV anticipating a new episode of your favorite show to start.

Waiting to hear back the results of a test.

Once anticipation gets built, you can get your customers to buy something.

Here’s an example from the Apple website.


Apple is notorious for their keynote events.

During these events, they announce the launch of new products and software. In the past, some of these announcements have been groundbreaking to the industry.

So by promoting the event with not much information besides the date, location, and time, it builds anticipation.

If they told people exactly what they were going to announce at the event, it would defeat the purpose.

This is a great example of how to build hype for a new product launch.

Once they announce the new products, they still aren’t available right away. However, Apple gives their customers the opportunity to pre-order items.

First, they build hype by promoting the event. Next, they continue to build anticipation by announcing a new product without launching it.

By the time the product hits the shelves, people are lined up around the corner ready to hand their money over.

Entice kindness

Despite what you might think, people are actually kind.

I know some of you who live in certain places may not agree with that, but just bear with me for a minute here.

If people believe in a certain cause or want to help other people, their kind nature will be brought out.

Take a look at how Box Lunch incorporates this strategy with their overall brand mission.

box lunch

For everyone $10 spent, this company helps provides meals to people in need.

It’s a great pitch to consumers.

Buy from this brand, and you’ll help feed the hungry.

If your company supports charitable organizations, don’t be afraid to share that with your customers. Use that to help stimulate an emotional response.

This will help you generate more sales.

Promote joy and happiness

Lots of times people associate certain emotional responses with negative feelings.

Someone may do something stupid if they’re mad or angry. But on the flip side, people who are happy and joyful can have an emotional response as well.

Nobody who is in a bad mood buys coffee for a stranger.

But someone who is having a great day might pay it forward to the car behind them when they’re going through a restaurant drive-thru.

If someone is feeling down or depressed, they probably won’t be as open to spending money.

However, if you can find a way to bring joy to the lives of your customers, they’ll be more likely to buy what you’re selling.

Here’s an example from Tropicfeel.


This startup company sells sneakers for both men and women.

They posted this image on Instagram to show two people having a great time while wearing Tropicfeel sneakers.

Just look at their faces. As a consumer, you almost can’t help but smile while looking at how happy these people are.

Sure, they’re models working for this company.

But that doesn’t change the fact that this picture can make you happy.

This relates back to one of our previous talking points about identifying desires. People have the desire to be happy.

If you’re able to explain through your ads how your brand can make this possible, it will increase your chances of getting people to convert.


Certain actions and behaviors happen as the result of an emotional response.

Marketers need to recognize this concept, and learn how to leverage consumer emotions into sales.

Build trust with your customers. Identify their desires.

Stimulate fear, envy, shock, creativity, and humor.

Be inspiring. Build anticipation. Entice kindness. Find ways to make your customers feel joyful and happy.

If you can stimulate these emotions properly, consumers will respond by making purchases.

How is your company driving sales by leveraging the emotions of your customers?

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