When it comes to advertising …

By James Lowry & Christy Correll | November 18, 2011

Evoking emotions = more conversions

When creating advertising, you must manage many elements. A solid headline, graphics, ad position, type of media, timing, copy, and a call to action are just a few examples. Paying attention to details matters because they determine the results you will get. This is true of any type of advertising media you create.

Today, let’s concentrate on appealing to the reader’s emotions. People act on emotions when looking at advertisements. Your headline, in particular, should get an emotional response. There are other ways to affect the reader’s emotions through offline media like printed ads, mailings, and emails. Here are a few examples:

It is said that the headline is 70 percent responsible for the success of your ad. You want it to promise the biggest benefit, make a news announcement, or ask a provocative question.

The graphic, since the number of people that will look at a graphic versus copy is significant. Remember, though, that the photo you choose must match your message.

The copy variations you choose can draw people in. An example is putting a simple word like “free” in the message. The word itself draws attention. Next, experiment with bold, uppercase and color fonts.  Each change will evoke a greater emotion and a different response.

Always ask questions that get a “Yes, that is me” reply.  Write in the present tense, using the second-person viewpoint. Use the word “you” as often as you can: “You will relax.” “You will know.”

Give the reader the feeling that they want to know more. Curiosity is a great emotion to create so that they take that next step.

Effectively combining the elements of your advertisement is what will get you new clients. Choice of title, graphics, colors, copy, and ad size matters. Your presentation must generate an emotional response in your reader. One quote I like that sums up the importance of creating an ad that evokes emotion:

You need to make your customers squirm, or wince, or laugh, or cry. You need them excited, exhilarated and ready. Let them feel danger. Fear. Heat. Hunger. Pain. Desire. Life. Death. Stoke them up, and then tell them how to get what they want. Fulfill that desire. Quench that thirst. Eliminate that pain. Easy. Fast. Free. (Source:

While there are many ways to create emotion with traditional advertising methods, there are even more opportunities to do so when you advertise online. Christy is going to talk about how you can appeal to internet users’ emotions.

James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing. 

Whatever type of media you use to promote your product, your advertisement is going to be most effective if it contains an emotional appeal. What sets online advertising apart from the pack is that it allows you to target your audience, enabling you to tailor your message to people most likely to respond.

Internet users have extremely limited attention spans. Whatever form your online advertising takes – pay-per-click (PPC) ads, website banners, or rotating display ads – you typically have less space to work with. This means your online ads must have a clear, concise message that grabs attention immediately.

Facebook PPC – Control who sees your ads. Incredibly detailed targeting options include education, gender, location, occupation, and favorite products. Facebook’s social ads encourage users to “like” your business page by showing tiny display ads to the friends of people who already like you. One type of social ad incorporates close-up photos of people who like your Facebook page – a huge attention getter when shown on their friends’ pages.

Google AdWords & MSN Ad Center PPC - Control who your ads are shown to based on what they’re looking for. Search engine-based. Choose what ads are shown based on keywords used in search queries. Also includes the ability to show ads based on users’ geographic location, and the option to run ads during specified times.

Conveying a clear, concise message is key. Show how your product or service can meet an emotional need (e.g., success, acceptance, good health, friends). In display ads, minimize the use of text. (One-liners are especially effective). Carefully select images and colors that evoke the emotional response you seek. Humans are instinctively drawn towards images of faces. Consider incorporating them into your ads. Grab attention on cluttered web pages (commonplace on news sites) by leaving lots of negative space in your ad design. In text ads, use words such as easy, simple, tips, and save that are associated with improving one’s life.

Don’t be that guy, the one who uses online advertising techniques that annoy or anger internet users. Avoid buying ads that cover up content users want to see (e.g., pop-ups). If you must run an ad like this, promise that you’ll make the “close” button prominent. Don’t use cheap gimmicks to distract readers from what they are reading by purchasing an ad that flashes on/off or floats around the page. Many internet users (myself included) are also put off by multimedia ads that automatically play sound. Focus your energies on creating positive associations instead. And run like the wind!

Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.
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