how to use emotions to win over your customers

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Nick Lyford. Originally from New Zealand, but since moved to Stockholm, Sweden, Nick joined Fishbrain back in April 2018. He is currently the Marketing Manager at Fishbrain, specializing in product marketing, leading launch campaigns across both the marketing and product teams.

Think back to the last live sports game you went to (pre-COVID times of course). What’s the first thing you remember from that experience? Was it the energy of the crowd, the friends you went with, or the excitement of the game itself?

The atmosphere, fan spirit, the adrenaline rush of the winning goal or heartache of losingthese are the feelings that sit with us long after the final whistle is blown. 

Sports teams aren’t selling the game they play, or the players on their roster. They sell emotions. 

As app marketers, it’s very easy to get trapped in the world of apps. We live and breath app stores, retention graphs, push notifications, and it’s easy to miss what is right in front of us. Features tell. Emotions sell. 

“Sports teams aren’t selling the game they play, or the players on their roster. They sell emotions.” 

We’ve all heard the following phrase: “communicate the value, not the feature.” As marketers, this is nothing new. From the university marketing course to the campaign planning meeting, it’s been on repeat since we started out in this career.

But I don’t buy that anymore. And I see too many brands leaning into this phrase as their safety net.  

Humans are emotional beings. We crave that feeling of satisfaction, and we’re all prepared to pay the cost in order to feel better. That’s no different when it comes to app marketing. As marketers, I see it as our job to identify the emotional wants and needs of a user, and sell them that. 

As soon as we hear the term “emotion”, we often jump to a conclusion: that emotional decisions are irrational or illogical. And because of this, we tend not to consciously use emotions in messaging. Instead, we use facts, numbers, and logic. The balance is heavily skewed to the latter to avoid people making irrational decisions surrounding your product.  

Features tell. Emotions sell.

This phase is a great way to help you think differently when it comes to creating impactful campaigns and messages. When we say “don’t sell the feature,” we aren’t suggesting that the feature itself isn’t important. As marketers, we need to be aware of where to strike the balance between the two. 

But how does this manifest in your marketing campaigns? I think there are a few really important things to keep in mind to find that right balance between emotions and features. 

Three ways to keep emotions at the heart of your marketing campaigns:

1. Identify the emotion

Identify the emotion you’re selling to your customer first. A fitness app isn’t selling the video classes (the feature) or even the fact that you will become a fitter individual because from completing the video classes (the value/benefit). While we might tell ourselves we’re buying the value, what we’re really after is the confidence and feeling of being stronger and healthier. And this sense of confidence is what needs to come through strong. 

Start by asking why until you land on the emotion that your customers are striving to achieve. Why do you want to watch fitness videos? Why do you want to be a fitter individual? As basic as this task is and as obvious as it is, it will help you set the foundations of what your customers are actually purchasing, and what they really desire.

Once you have identified this emotion, make sure this is clear for everyone the emotional state you’re striving to sell.

2. Design for the emotion

Every day, we make over 80% of our decisions based on emotions. We do it subconsciously, without even thinking. When designing campaigns, you want to put your brand in the best place to form as many connections to this emotional connection identified in step one as possible. 

List out all the areas where the emotion (confidence, in this case) can be shown. Ask yourself: does the imagery we’re using scream confidence? Does the copy read strongly and efficiently? Is the weight of the font sitting heavy on the page, or does it get lost? These questions, while nothing new, are easy to forget while you’re head down executing on a campaign. They will help you stay focused and increase your chances of connecting with your audience in more emotional ways.

3. Back the emotions with logic

People make decisions based on emotions and validated by logic. We can process thousands of emotional messages at once, but only a few logical ones. Once your customers have formed an emotional connection with your brand or product, the next questions they’ll be asking are the logical ones to validate their purchase. What do I get from this purchase? How trustworthy is this? Is it good value for money? 

Even though emotions play a key role, every customer has questions that can only be answered by displaying facts. These include the following: customer reviews, growth numbers, or feature details, among others. For people to follow through with a purchase, they need validation. Validation that is often achieved only by staying clear of emotional triggers. The takeaway: a campaign based on only emotional triggers will still leave many unanswered questions. 


Overall, it’s all about finding the right balance. Whether it’s to do with a campaign or in your personal life, no one wants a concentration of one thing without anything to complement it.

If you don’t strike the emotions your customers are striving for, the facts and logic will not matter. You can’t have one without the other.

And while there’s no golden ticket to achieve the perfect balance, you can start by asking the questions that will put your product in the best place to achieve both. Sometimes, rolling back to the basics and asking the simple questions can be what we’re all missing.