How to Use Emotion to Influence Decisions & Increase Conversions

by Today's Eggspert

Last updated on July 27th, 2017

Marquis De Vauvenargues

“Emotions have taught mankind to reason.” -Marquis De Vauvenargues

Research done in the last 30 years shows that emotions “powerfully, predictably, and pervasively influence decision making” (Lerner et. al.).

Recently, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied individuals who were damaged in the area of the brain that generated emotions. When asked, these individuals could not make even the smallest of decisions. Even with logic and reasoning, they could not decide between small things such as pasta or rice. From this experiment we can deduce that emotions heavily influence our decision making.

Offline marketers from last century knew this, and used it very well:


Although this ad is dated, it serves as a great example as how the great advertisers of yesteryear stuck to emotion only. In this ad, McDonald’s shows Jimmy enjoying his burger while they spell out that Jimmy’s mother knows the features (100% beef), Jimmy tastes how delicious and feels how good they are.

When customers see this, they may think: “wow 100% beef!” – but most likely not. What they will see is a very happy kid, truly enjoying his food, and they’ll think: “That’s how I’ll feel when I eat a burger. I want to feel that way! Doesn’t a burger sound good right about now?”

british airways billboard

Image Source

In the billboard above, British Airways doesn’t say: “We have comfortable seats, safe, reliable flights at a good price from point A to point B.” British Airways frames a character we are all familiar with – that young child that is super excited to see an airplane. And this particular airplane (literally the plane passing overhead at that moment) is flying in from Barcelona. Not only are you blown away by this modern advertising technology (how does it know that plane is flying in from Barcelona?), you feel that excitement about a flight and start dreaming about your next trip to beautiful Barcelona. Or perhaps your last trip there and how long it’s been and how much you want to fly again!

In this article, we will learn how to use emotional targeting, how to highlight benefits and values on your landing pages to increase conversions and one up your CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) tactics.

The Status Quo

Many companies advertise themselves by focusing on their product and its features.

For example, Dragdis states they are the “#1 Visual bookmarking tool” and allow you to “collect images, links, videos, and texts you find online quick and easy with drag&drop.”


Image Source

Dragdis describes the features they are offering (collect images, links, videos, and texts – a visual bookmarking tool), but not the emotional value the user gains from them (keep everything in one place, quick and easy). The user has the facts, and can use them to compare to other sites, but users don’t just buy because of features – they usually buy on emotion. People buy based on the value and the promise of a better version of themselves – a better “me”.

With your product, your customer’s dream of learning how to code / meeting their soulmate/ solving their math problem easily – whatever it is – will come true. Your job is to make them feel the benefits of your product.

Before going any further, let’s define some terms:

Features are things your product does. They are descriptions of the different features/aspects of your service/product.

Benefits are the value of your product to your users. What your user will feel and gain once he or she has purchased your service/product (or signed up for your newsletter).

Let’s go over some examples:


Features: Holds up to 128GB of music, A8 chip, 8MP iSight camera in a small device.

Benefits: Your music. Wherever you go.

Microsoft Word:

Features: In-app editor of images, spelling & grammar check, ability to insert tables into document.

Benefits: Write on! Word whenever and wherever you need it.

Here are examples of some well-known companies that discuss benefits on their landing pages rather than features:


With a slogan like “I’m lovin’ it” branded into our brains, McDonalds definitely uses emotional targeting. Look at their homepage:


Image Source

Filled with people laughing, smiling, and clearly enjoying this Buttermilk Crispy Chicken! Yum! Where do I order one?

James Allen:

Engagement rings are an emotional product to say the least, so it begs to sell it with emotions as well. James Allen puts the customer in the moment with the imagery and the copy.


Image Source

MyHeritage: is a company that helps you create your family tree. Clearly you get all the feelings with this homepage image – even though that’s not your family. We all have these images in our family albums somewhere, and they bring up all kinds of feelings – hopefully warm and fuzzy ones that will make you want to dive in and build your family tree!


But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Listing the benefits of your product for your users means understanding your users. Talia Wolf drilled down to the two important questions to ask during her presentation at the Unbounce CTAConference: “How do you make your customer feel and how do they want to feel?” upon using your product.

So how do you learn about these feelings, that, when unmasked will translate into your key product benefits? The answer: You have to spend time surveying and interviewing your paying customers. Why did they buy your product? What language did they use to describe their decisions when making the purchase?

It may be the most tedious and time consuming work you will ever do, but it will unlock the most valuable insights as to what really resonates with your future customers.

Applying This to CRO

Let’s take a look at a case study. I will walk you through the process we went through in order to increase registration by changing the strategy from product features to product benefits:

We work with Piktochart, an amazing infographic maker (that you should definitely go check out!). Their product is an editing tool that helps marketers create beautiful infographics.

Here is their original homepage:

piktochart screenshot

They have bright, energetic colors, a large headline, and a brightly colored call to action. They have easy to digest, informative bullet points, and a “featured in” section that imbues trust. And most prominently, they have a video near the center of the page.

We conducted research on the market, competitors, and on Piktochart as well.

We created heatmaps using Crazy Egg and found that the most clicked on button (after Login) was the large, central “Start For Free” button.


The video got less than 1% of the clicks than the Start for Free button.

We also saw that people did not scroll far below the fold.


Only 50% of visitors reach the green line, and only 25% of visitors reach the blue line!

Using our research and these facts, we decided what we wanted to test.

We wanted to give the user the immediate understanding of what they will be getting with this product, and the energy and empowerment to see themselves creating these infographics!

Piktochart wanted more people to not only sign up for their site, but also to create an infographic – so with this final conversion goal in mind, we started working on our message from the very first time the user came in contact with the client – the homepage.

The goal was to make users feel a personal connection to the product, and feel empowered to design, as well as energized to continue designing from the homepage through the infographic creation process.

We started with an analysis of the product, the market, and the target audience. We did a competitor analysis, and after we understood the target audience, we created marketing personas. We made a persona for each section of our target audience, to be able to put a name to our target audience, and think about how we would want to interact with each persona. Based on our personas and their emotional triggers, we developed our strategy and chose our tactics.

Next, we worked on the copy (keeping in mind our marketing personas!):

  1. Research shows that users read less than 28% of the text on the page – probably closer to 20% (Nielsen). So we decided to reduce the amount of text on the homepage. We selected our 3 favorite bullet points from the list and shortened the subtitle.
  2. Talking directly to the user – referring to them directly – has great emotional power. So we changed the copy to speak directly to the users.
  3. Based on our market research, we knew that many of our users were professionals & students, marketers, bloggers, and teachers. We knew they weren’t graphic designers and wanted to make something awesome without needing professional designer skills. So our copy reflected our understanding – they want to create something impressive and quickly.

Lastly, we worked on the imagery:

  1. We wanted users to see the benefit of the product – the end product – THE INFOGRAPHIC. So that is what we did! We put an image of an array of infographics – all the endless possibilities!
  2. We wanted the whole site to have an “infographic-y” feel – so we added some sparkle and cool edges to the page, and put the title in an infographic-style banner.
  3. Lastly, our main goal was registration so we made that clear with our call-to-action button.

And here is the first variation we created:


We tested the variations – 50/50 traffic between the original design and the variation, using Optimizely. We ran the test for 10 days with a sample size of 150K visitors, looking for an increase in registration as our conversion rate.

The Results

The results were of 99% confidence – with an improvement of 11.4% in total registrations (which includes registrations via email, Facebook, and Google+). For each section specifically, we had a 7.1% increase in email registration, a 13.8% increase in registration via Google+, and a 14.9% increase in registration via Facebook.

In order to make sure you are targeting the right emotions in your designs, it is important to keep testing.

So remember:

  • Research and understand the user in order to realize the emotions you want to trigger
  • Describe the benefits and “show” the value in your homepage
  • Keep testing

Using benefits on your homepage is not something new, but it can significantly increase conversions. You can express these benefits via imagery, copy, and colors.

The power of showing individuals what they can do, and who they can become is incredible. But it is important to do the research, understand your user, and test to make sure that you are targeting the right emotions and emphasizing the best benefits for your users.

About the Author: Netta Gal-Oz is a Web Strategic Planner and Marketing Analyst at Conversioner. With BA’s in Psychology and Communication, and a passion for marketing, Netta helps businesses understand their competitors’ and market opportunities using research and data analysis, and with this and emotional targeting, builds strategies to increase conversions. She is an avid reader who loves cooking and baking. You can follow her on Twitter @ngaloz21

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  1. Cathy Goodwin says:
    October 29, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for the post! I’m also a big fan of Piktochart.

    It seems like the lesson here is to include a fairly large, attention-grabbing graphic that evokes emotion. The BA airlines ad with the child will get attention because…well, it’s a cute kid! I interpreted the headline as “reliably ontime…” I.e., “If it’s 11:30 that BA plane must be going to Barcelona…” although I’m guessing kids that age don’t tell time or know where Barcelona is.

    I like the copy with the Allen diamond ring ad but it took me awhile to figure out the graphic! Maybe it’s just me because I have an aversion to stilettos and I’m light years away from the target market, being happily “single with dog.” 😉

    Definitely food for thought here.

    And I love what you did for Piktochart. Just seeing a bunch of infographics makes me want to get one … whether I make it or hire someone.

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