4 Ways of Eliciting Emotions in Digital Media

customer emotions
What emotion is your marketing creating in your prospects & customers?

Why should we be concerned about eliciting emotions in digital media? As we learn more about customers’ decision making process, we have discovered the outsized importance of emotions. In the past, the assumption was that people make rational decisions when deciding whether or not to buy something. With the advent of neuromarketing, however, scientists have proven that most of the information we process is taken in on a subconscious level, with emotion playing a huge part. Then our logic justifies our decisions after the fact. Bottom line – emotion matters. A lot.

In this context, marketers want to make sure that their digital communication is hitting the right emotions in prospects and customers. Research from LAB, a neuromarketing company in the UK has demonstrated that all digital photos and videos are not created equal. Some are much better at eliciting emotions in digital media. Here are some takeaways.


Generally speaking, viewers react with warm emotions such as desire, joy and approval to photos and videos that are rich in color. However, if you have a luxury brand, highly saturated images may not be right for you. Luxury brands benefit from a cooler, eliciting emotion in digital media might not benefit them. A more remote, unemotional look is indicative of exclusivity. This is why high-end retail stores often have a lot of hard, shiny surfaces and product is displayed far apart.

Regardless of where your product falls on the bargain-to-luxury spectrum, avoid images that have high contrast, low color saturation and low resolutions. These images provoke negative emotions like fear and disgust.


In an image, the closer the main object appears to the viewer, the stronger the emotional response. For example, a photo of a smiling man who looks like he is far away is less emotive than a close-up of the same man. This is true whether the image sparks a positive emotion or a negative emotion.

Emotional Language

Our subconscious reacts to language quicker than our rational brain. That’s why it is best to avoid negative phrases. For example, if you have a food with a health benefit, it is better to call it “healthy” than “fat-free” or “guilt-free.” When processing those kinds of phrases, our brains discount the negative part (in this case, “free”) and focuses on the main word (in this case, “fat” or “guilt”) which cause negative emotions.

This is also the case when cautioning people about something. For example, it is better to say “Remember to buckle up” than “Don’t forget to buckle up.”

When writing any kind of business communication, consider the emotions that your audience may associate with your words. For example, if you were marketing ski apparel in northern California, you might want to avoid words like “toasty” or “fire” because they might bring up negative emotions associated with the rampant wildfires in that region.

Mirror Neurons

One of the most interesting things we have discovered about ourselves is the existence of mirror neurons. These neurons in the brain prompt us to unconsciously copy the facial expressions and body language that we see, both in person and in images. This “monkey see, monkey do” behavior helps us to form bonds with people and create empathy.

With digital media, however, you should be aware that you may be inadvertently causing viewers to experience negative emotions. If a person in a video is frowning, for example, viewers are apt to frown as well and feel bad. Make sure that people in photos and videos have at least neutral facial expressions and body language to avoid this pitfall.

Here is a great example of a video that sparks strong emotion. It is from Greta Thurnberg’s organization and, as you would expect, is focused on getting people to take action on climate change. As you can see, eliciting emotions in digital media makes a huge difference in its effectiveness.

Contact Pro Creative to ensure that your digital media is working to provoke positive feelings in your prospects and customers.

What to Look for in a Marketer

What sets a good marketer apart

When deciding how to spend your marketing dollars, you need to hire someone who will be effective. Here’s what to look for in a marketer to ensure that you are making the right choice.

First of all, in marketing youngest and cheapest are rarely best. Many business owners think that to compete on social media, they need to hire someone right out of college. And to be fair, if you’re just looking for a constant stream of posts linking to professionally written content you already have, that is a good job for a young social media marketer.

But if you are truly interested in connecting with prospects in a way that leads them to spend their hard-earned money with you, hire an experienced marketer. Hire someone who has been dealing with customers, business and human nature for a long time. Also, be wary of foreign writers who will charge very little but do not express themselves in a way American prospects can understand and appreciate.

An average marketer can explain your product or service to prospects in a way that sounds fairly intelligent.

But who wants just average?

Here’s what to look for in a marketer

  • Experience – As mentioned above, it takes a lot of trial and error dealing with business situations to discover what works. Experienced marketers are also generally better at managing their time, so they can get the job done (right) faster.
  • Process – If your marketer approaches your job with no plan, the results will be uneven and jumbled. Every job is different, but the steps to doing the job thoroughly and well are pretty consistently the same. See our process here.
  • Insight – Hire a marketer with an ability to hone in on the driving motivators of your target market. For example, if your product is a gift set, the buyer cares more about the presentation and how expensive it looks than about the lifetime warranty.
  • Curiosity – Look for someone who is enthusiastic about finding out more about your company and what you sell, and is willing to do a lot of research to uncover the nuances. Her enthusiasm will come through in her writing and will transmit to prospects.
  • Versatility – Many of today’s marketers confine themselves to one kind of marketing. But a truly effective marketer will be able to see the whole picture.
  • Consistency – Your company communicates with customers in a variety of ways. If your message and voice are not consistent then you are being ineffective at best and confusing at worst.