Emotion and Automation: The Best Formula for a Successful Marketing Strategy

5 min

The most successful brand marketing campaigns are often those that tug at your emotions. With recent technological developments, mastering emotion in marketing is easier than ever before.

The power of emotions

Everyone knows how easy it is to blur the lines between “needs” and “wants” when coming up with a purchasing decision. How often have you found yourself justifying buying the latest sneaker release, or that beautiful dress you could wear to a future event?

According to Evan Kearney, becoming emotionally driven is human nature, as humans are not rational beings with emotions, but rather, emotional beings with the ability to rationalize. And marketers have long kept this fact at heart, often looking at their strategies through an emotional quotient lens.


So how does emotion in marketing work?

People identify with six core emotions—happiness, surprised, fear, disgust, anger and sadness—and appealing to these is one of the ways marketers use people’s inclination to emotion to their advantage.

emotion in marketing


The majority of brands want customers to associate them with this positive feeling as campaigns that center on this emotion increase sharing, engagement and loyalty.

There’s a reason McDonald’s came up with the “Happy Meal,” and it’s because the toys that come with the meal bring joy to the kids—an emotional memory they will carry with them for a long time.


Perhaps the best example of a marketing campaign that tugs at people’s sadness are the UNICEF ads that show images of starving children with deep sadness in their eyes.

Seeing footage of those children as your feet are up while waiting for the movie to play, has its way of making you want to donate immediately.


Marketing campaigns that elicit fear are some of the most effective in encouraging people to take immediate action.

Those ads showing gruesome accidents resulting from drunk driving, or those grotesque images on cigarette packs are extremely powerful ways to make people move toward a different direction.


While these emotions could result in negative associations, appealing to these can also inspire action to your target customers.

Campaigns against social injustices, for example, make people angry and frustrated real quick. Experienced marketers use these frustrations to try and inspire change.

The challenges

Though emotion usually leads people to make brand decisions, tapping those emotions can become difficult. Simply appealing to emotions does not ensure sales and/or a successful campaign.

Here are some of the challenges marketers face when trying to analyze emotions and creating effective strategies:

The empty emotional promise

Dr. Glenn Livingston, a clinical psychologist and marketing consultant, considers this the “number one emotional marketing mistake of all time.

Simply providing people with emotional reasons is rarely enough. It is vital to set up an emotional promise you make with a logical justification.

Livingston states that the key to avoid this mistake is by asking yourself these questions:

  • What people will remember after your brand once the emotional reaction wears off?
  • Have I given a real reason for them to buy?

The idea of emotionless businesses

While appealing to emotions is commonly used in B2C marketing, a common misconception is that a similar strategy doesn’t work when it comes to B2B endeavors.

Businesses place emphasis on making the buying process as efficient as possible, and as such, tend to base their decisions with more logic.

But, it is important to keep in mind that though you’re dealing with a business, there are still people (and emotions) behind that entity. And, as mentioned, as you play to the decision makers’ desires and motivations, make sure you lay on the table ample logic, financial benefits and all the necessary data that supports your sales pitch.

Lost in digital translation

Because so much of what goes on in this age happens in the digital world, businesses have been scrambling to collect behavioral and attitudinal data in hopes of being able to develop effective emotional marketing content.

But as a recent Forrester survey showed, 40 percent of marketers find it difficult to understand said data, particularly when the goal is to use it to create content that resonates with their customers’ emotions.

Perhaps more telling, while consumers rated brands poorly on their ability to send personalized messaging or offerings, only 28 percent of the surveyed marketers place high priority on improving that aspect.

And because it is virtually impossible to maintain a 1:1 relationship with every customer, particularly with the wealth of channels available to marketing efforts, more and more companies are turning to marketing automation platforms.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a software/web-based service that streamlines, automates and measures marketing tasks (like customer segmentation, customer date integration, campaign management, etc.) designed to optimize your company’s operational efficiency.

More on this: Marketing Automation for Beginners

How it works

GetResponse, for example, is an email and marketing automation software that’s based on communication workflows that listen and react to subscribers’ behaviors.

Using conditions, filters and actions that can be arranged like blocks, you can customize every aspect of communication – actions that trigger process, message timing, number of recipients and the content you want to deliver. With its drag-and-drop feature, you can trigger a different action or event based on the individual activities and properties of your subscribers.

This fully customizable email and marketing automation tool even allows you to assign different tags to treat different groups of subscribers in their own special way, which allows you to target your audience more precisely.

Across the industry, marketing automation has helped save companies time money, while building more detailed customer profiles that make communication more targeted and profitable.


If a few years ago, using technology to understand human emotions was just a thing from sci-fi movies, recent developments intelligently mix data and automation to create effective connections with our customers.

While understanding the role of emotion in marketing is key to devising a successful strategy, using the ideal marketing automation tool can help you streamline the entire process.

Of course, it’s likewise vital to know if you’re at the stage of your business where marketing automation is the next step for you.

Know any other ways on how marketing automation and emotion can boost marketing campaigns? Sound off in the comments section below.