Definition of Emotional Appeal

Emotional appeal, in digital marketing, refers to a technique used by advertisers and marketers to evoke strong emotions in their target audience by connecting with their feelings, values, and desires. By resonating with the audience on an emotional level, marketers aim to influence their decision-making process and ultimately persuade them to take a desired action, such as purchasing a product or service. This approach often relies on storytelling, vivid imagery, and powerful messaging that elicits particular emotions like happiness, fear, or nostalgia.


The phonetic transcription of the keyword “Emotional Appeal” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is: /ɪˈmoʊʃənəl əˈpil/

Key Takeaways

  1. Emotional appeal is a persuasive technique that plays on the audience’s emotions, values, and beliefs to evoke a desired reaction or response.
  2. There are various types of emotional appeals such as fear, pity, joy, and pride, which can be used effectively to sway the audience towards a particular point of view.
  3. While emotional appeal can be a powerful tool in persuasion, it’s essential to use it responsibly and ethically, as excessive or manipulative use can backfire and damage credibility.

Importance of Emotional Appeal

Emotional appeal is a crucial aspect of digital marketing because it enables brands to connect with their audience on a deeper, more human level.

By tapping into emotions, marketers can create impactful content that resonates with consumers, fostering a sense of loyalty and trust.

Emotional appeal helps to evoke a desired feeling in the target audience, which drives engagement, spurs decision-making, and ultimately influences consumer behavior.

By strategically utilizing emotional appeal, digital marketers not only draw attention to their product or service but also encourage stronger relationships with customers and boost brand recognition, leading to higher conversion rates and long-term success.


Emotional appeal, a widely implemented aspect of digital marketing, serves the purpose of connecting with the target audience on a deeper, more personal level. This powerful strategy sparks emotions such as happiness, sadness, empathy, or even fear, ultimately influencing the decision-making process of consumers.

By tapping into the human psyche, marketers can foster a stronger bond between the audience and the product or service, which often translates into higher customer loyalty, brand recognition, and ultimately, increased sales over time. To achieve an emotional connection, digital marketing campaigns must be thoughtfully orchestrated, harnessing the power of compelling storytelling, thought-provoking visuals, engaging social media content, and targeted email marketing, to name a few.

The core objective of an emotional appeal lies in evoking a sentiment that resonates with the consumer and forms a positive association that is difficult for competing brands to replicate. In the fast-paced and overcrowded digital world, leveraging emotional appeal can be a game-changer for brands, as it enables them to break through the clutter and create a truly memorable and meaningful consumer experience.

Examples of Emotional Appeal

Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is an excellent example of emotional appeal in digital marketing. The campaign involved printing people’s names on Coke bottles and encouraging individuals to share a Coke with someone they care about. The idea was to stir emotions ranging from excitement to nostalgia, forging personal connections between customers, their loved ones, and the brand. The campaign was widely shared on social media, resulting in increased user-generated content, brand exposure, and overall sales.

Airbnb: Airbnb’s “Belong Anywhere” campaign focuses on the emotional appeal that people can find a sense of belonging, safety, and comfort in any place they travel. The promotion features personal stories of Airbnb hosts and travelers from diverse backgrounds who have overcome cultural, personal, or situational barriers to make connections. By evoking emotions such as empathy, acceptance, and a sense of community, Airbnb resonates with prospective users, who are more likely to engage with the brand.

Dove: Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign is another notable example that employed emotional appeal in digital marketing. The campaign aimed to challenge conventional beauty norms and promote self-esteem by hiring an FBI-trained forensic artist to create sketches of women based on their own self-descriptions, and then comparing these to sketches based on descriptions provided by others. By illustrating the discrepancy between self-perception and how others see us, Dove elicited strong emotions such as self-realization, acceptance, and empowerment. The campaign went viral, receiving wide media coverage and fostering a positive overarching brand image.

Emotional Appeal FAQ

What is emotional appeal?

Emotional appeal is a persuasive technique that involves connecting with the audience’s emotions, values, and beliefs to sway their opinions or actions. It often relies on storytelling, stirring imagery, and powerful language to evoke emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, happiness, or sympathy in the audience.

Why is emotional appeal important?

Emotional appeal is important because it can be highly effective in persuading the audience to adopt a specific viewpoint, support a cause, or take action. By tapping into the target audience’s emotions, it becomes possible to bypass critical thinking and establish a more personal and compelling connection with them. This way, emotional appeal can enhance communication, influence decision-making processes, and shape people’s behaviors.

How can I effectively use emotional appeal?

To effectively use emotional appeal, consider these strategies:
1. Know your audience: Understand their values, beliefs, and emotions to select the appropriate emotional triggers.
2. Create relatable stories: Share personal anecdotes or stories that are relevant to your audience as they enhance the emotional response.
3. Use vivid language: Choose powerful words and descriptive phrases to intensify the emotional impact.
4. Make use of visual elements: Incorporate images, graphics, or videos that evoke emotions and support your message.
5. Be sincere and authentic: Be genuine when expressing emotions to build trust and credibility with your audience.

What are some examples of emotional appeal?

Some examples of emotional appeal include:
1. Advertisements using heartwarming stories to promote a product or service.
2. Charities sharing stories of individuals in need to evoke sympathy and motivate people to donate.
3. Political speeches using patriotic language and imagery to inspire pride and loyalty.
4. Public service messages using fear or shock tactics to encourage a change in behavior, such as anti-smoking campaigns.

Can emotional appeal be manipulative or unethical?

Emotional appeal can indeed be manipulative or unethical if used irresponsibly or dishonestly. It can be exploitative when it plays on people’s emotions to take advantage of their vulnerabilities, deceive them, or push them into making decisions that may not be in their best interests. It is important to maintain credibility and ensure that your emotional appeal is based on fair, reasonable, and accurate arguments, respecting the autonomy and intellect of your audience.

Related Digital Marketing Terms

  • Brand Storytelling
  • Emotional Triggers
  • Humanizing Brands
  • Consumer-Brand Connections
  • Emotion-driven Campaigns

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