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The Do’s and Don’ts of Emotional Marketing


emotional marketing - woman smiling feature image

Emotional marketing is all the rage right now in the world of content marketing. But what exactly is it? Does posting a cute picture of a baby or puppy on your social media count? Or do you need an extensive omnichannel marketing strategy? The truth is, emotional marketing is all based on your customers’ needs and desires since they are the ones you are trying to create an emotional connection with.

“Emotional branding refers to the practice of building brands that appeal directly to a consumer’s emotional state, needs, and aspirations.”

Emotional branding takes this concept one step further and requires a commitment to creating positive emotions with your customers through everything you do. This is the key to building a sustainable customer base that will make repeat purchases. 

Emotional marketing enhances the customer experience that builds engagement within your community. This leads to retaining these engaged customers for the long term, which is the ultimate goal since repeat customers are so much more profitable than one-time shoppers.Acquire Engage Retain modelNow that you know that emotional marketing is a must for your small business, let’s take a look at what you should be doing to create emotional connections as well as what you should definitely not do if you want those emotional relationships to flourish. 

Don’t only talk about yourself 

We all know that one person who loves to talk about themselves. All. The. Time. Just like you don’t want to constantly hear about how amazing they are, your customers don’t want to only hear about you and your products.

Talk about your customers, not your brand.

People are drawn to other people more than they are to product features. This is why it’s imperative to create an authentic, emotional connection with your customers. Using images and videos of real people in your marketing campaigns is beneficial no matter what channels you use. Additionally, sharing customer stories from devoted members of your brand community will not only be more trustworthy, but it’s way more cost effective. Spending significant amounts of money of advertisements is an expensive customer acquisition strategy that ultimately does not build your brand community all on its own.

Narcissism may work at first, but is not sustainable in the long run.

Marketing based on your product features or prices may create temporary excitement, but it does not lay the groundwork for sustainable customer relationships. In fact, studies have shown that while people are initially drawn to narcissistic behaviors, they tend to lose those relationships rather quickly as people start to see through them. The same is true for your business as customers will see through your self-revolving ads and won’t make it past the acquisition stage of the journey to retention

The only sustainable way to build customer retention is through emotionally intelligent marketing that focuses on people’s values and desires. 

Do tell meaningful stories

There are very few things that get people’s attention like a good story. Telling stories to your brand community is a good way to create a lasting impression long after they’ve gone on with their day.emotional marketing - luca and danni our story overlap

If you’re not sure where to start, then start at the beginning like Luca and Danni. Sharing your founding or origin story with your customers is a great way to let them feel like they’ve been with you since the beginning, even if they just joined your community. 

Stories are also a great way to make an unemotional product emotional. One way many companies do this is through cause-related marketing. Either through raising money for charity or employing other corporate social responsibility methods, many brands have told stories centered around making the world a better place to appeal to customers.   


  • Include customer stories pages on your website. 
  • Make your “About Us” page actually about you. Include pictures or descriptions of your team to humanize your ecommerce brand.
  • Showcase customer testimonials and reviews on your website. Offering points for these is a great way to encourage these types of actions.

Don’t ignore your customers

This might strike you as a painfully obvious tip, but hear me out. With traditional brick-and-mortar stores, not “ignoring your customers” seems fairly straightforward and might be as simple as a “hello” from a sales associate when they walk in.  With the separation of a screen, you have to work even harder to ensure that your customers feel welcomed and appreciated.

The first step in recognizing your customers is engaging with them wherever they choose to engage with you. Whether your customers are interacting on social media, replying to your email campaigns, or attending brand community meet-ups, it’s your job to actively seek out these connections and begin building relationships.

Social proof is a great way to build your brand community and create an emotional bond.

One of the easiest ways to build loyalty within your customer base is by acknowledging the different forms of social proof they are creating for your brand. When customers post photos wearing your brand, it is a good idea to re-share it on your own brand’s account to show that you value them. Not only does it create a positive experience for the featured customer, but it portrays a community that people want to be a part of. 

Do understand your customer

Creating an emotional connection with your customers all begins with understanding what makes them emotional. Knowing what they value allows you to identify what is important to them and to act accordingly.

Expectancy Theory proposes that an individual will be motivated to act in a certain way because they believe that behavior will result in a desirable outcome.

This is most important when it comes to rewarding your customers because they will only be motivated if they know they are working towards something valuable. This is based on Expectancy Theory, which is the driving principle behind points-based loyalty programs. Customers believe that the benefits they can earn are worth the effort they put in. 

Understanding what excites your customers is the key step in designing a rewards program that will leave your customers filled with all the right emotions. 


  • Use branded hashtags to create an online community. 
  • Interact with customers on social media through replies on Twitter, comments and likes on Facebook, Instagram story reposts, and more.
  • Make the most of user-generated content. User-generated galleries are a great way to do this on your website. 

Don’t try to be the be-all and end-all for everyone

As a small business, your ultimate goal is to achieve sustainable growth. This type of continuous revenue growth is only possible by retaining a loyal customer base. While it may be tempting to try to attract as many customers as possible, more site traffic does not always equal more success.

“If you need to water down your story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one.”

If you try to create a brand that appeals to everyone, you run the risk of building an emotional connection with none of them. When you focus on too many things, you come off as being overly salesey and inauthentic. Honing in on a specific customer segment allows you to create more targeted and strategic marketing campaigns. You can create detailed buyer personas based on your ideal customer to ensure that your entire organization has a clear image of who you are targeting and focusing their efforts to achieve a common goal. emotional marketing - spikeball home overlapOnce you’ve identified who your ideal target audience is, you can begin creating a marketing strategy to create emotional connections. This can be done by making your brand position crystal clear in every channel you use. Whether it’s your website, email communications, or YouTube channel, you want to ensure that you’re conveying the same clear message. For Spikeball, their message of creating the next great American sport is front and centre in every marketing channel they use. 

Although having a massive number of single purchases seems great, remember that having a loyal brand community who make repeat purchases will set you up better for long-term success. 

Do provide value to your customers

Once you’ve selected a specific customer group, it’s important to continuously provide value to them to keep them coming back time and time again. In a time when customers are no longer shopping with transactional brands, it is especially important to show your customers what sets you apart.

Building an emotional connection with your customers fosters a relationship that continues beyond a sale.

There are several strategies that you can include to go that extra mile. Value-added marketing tactics like including thank-you notes make your customers feel special. As an ecommerce business, there are very few tangible connections you make with your customers. emotional marketing - pugparti pug parti overlapThe most direct contact you have with your customers is easily through the packaging of your deliveries. When you put effort into the packaging, it makes customers excited to receive their order and often encourages them to take pictures of their packages to share on social media. Take PartiPug and their adorable, pug-themed subscription boxes designed by Packlane. These unique designs add a whole new level of fun to the delivery experience, encouraging customers to share their delight with others online. 

All of the extra effort you put into your customer relationships is what’s going to make them feel committed to your brand and build emotional connections. 


  • Create an optimal delivery experience. Including personal touches such as thank-you notes or nice packaging can show your customer you care. 
  • Offer your customers value-added content such as blogs, podcasts, Youtube videos, or anything else that enhances their shopping experience. 
  • Personalize your email communications with your customers through things like product recommendations, special reward offerings, or abandoned cart deals.

How to start emotional marketing

Every brand wants to be one that their customers love. Emotional marketing is the first step in building a sustainable customer base because 95% of purchasing decisions are subconsciously driven by things like emotion. Using these practices will let you create a connection with your customers that is based on real, human emotions. 

Making your customers feel something is definitely the #1 “do” of emotional marketing. 

Get fostering emotional relationships down to a science.

Study up on some of the best practices to motivate positive emotions and behaviors in your customers with our rewards psychology 101 guide.

This article was originally published by our friends at Smile.io.

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