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Emotional Ecommerce: How to Appeal to People’s Instincts

ecommerce emotions

The old sales maxim goes that people buy with their feelings, using logic to justify a purchase later. Now that might not be true for every single customer, but most people will be open to emotional persuasion when shopping in your store. Here is how to maximise emotions in ecommerce to get people to buy more.

Force them to imagine life with your product or service

Paint a pretty (yet punchy) picture. Tell them how relieved they will be once they get their hands on what you’ve got to offer them. Tell them how they’ll feel; how the product will change their life.

Get people invested in their transition to happy owner and see sales rise.Use copy, visuals and video testimonials to really help people imagine their future life.

  • Don’t be afraid to go strong. Imagination needs helping along with striking visual language and big superlative statements.
  • Address your prospect’s deepest needs and explicitly state how your product is going to solve them. Tell them they will sleep better, eat better, feel better. Whatever it is your product can ultimately do for them: say it.
  • Seek the emotional rather than rational benefits.

Have a ‘sticky’ sales funnel

Don’t let people meander off-course. Control their journey through your site through hyperlinks, calls to action and crafted landing pages to maintain momentum. Make your sales funnel as ‘sticky’ as possible (read here for the principles of sticky content).

Keep adding fuel to the fire to maintain the emotional momentum of the sale.

  • Remember, your sales funnel is an absolutely crucial part of the journey you’re asking people to go on. Treat it as a journey with its own landmarks and celebrate the final destination.
  • Factor in concurrent (but not competing) sales funnels for people who need to go off and a read a more detailed guide on your product before committing.
  • In an online environment, a sales funnel has to work really hard and compensate for the lack of human interaction you get in a regular store.

Use emotive imagery

Is your store full of bland product images? STOP.

Don’t ignore the emotional power of images and photos. Use them to raise the emotive bar on your website. (You can also use product images to further SEO and conversions).

  • In your imagery, connect your products with their benefits rather than features. This will help you broaden the spectrum.
  • Don’t go too far the other way and just fill your store with shots of smiling happy families, remember to also provide value with informative product images. Use the emotive imagery to sell, but don’t forget to inform too.
  • Don’t go for cheesy stock imagery that’s going to be used on thousands of other sites.

Share real user stories

People having those “this changed my life” moments with your products? Share them!

Sometimes if it’s all coming from you, it just doesn’t seem real (the customer sees you as ‘the sales guy anyways’). Give your customers a voice for a more personal person-to-person interaction.

  • Use real names, people and images. Don’t airbrush these stories.

Appeal to universal needs

We all have them. Some of our needs are perennial, universal, and at the core of what makes us human.

Delve beyond the first level benefits of your products to the deeper and darker motives behind the purchase. Are people trying to prove a point? Advance their careers? Have a happier marriage or relationship?

  • Stop appealing to the logical side all the time with metrics, case studies and detailed reviews. Embrace the power of emotive language and go for the emotional jugular.

Dial down on corporate speak

B2B ecommerce merchants sometimes hide behind a smokescreen of ‘clever’ corporate speak. In truth, you’re just alienating their customers by treating them like corporate bots, not humans.

People buy from people, so stop trying to sell to a computer algorithm or desensitised robot. Corporate speak is the enemy of emotions as it pumps the copy so full of mumbo jumbo there isn’t even a millimetre left for real dialogue.

  • Corporate jargon is the antithesis of real and natural language.
  • Clever words don’t always work know your audience.
  • It’s hard to be convincing when you’re working with vague and imprecise language.
  • Even if users aren’t sophisticated enough to pick up on exactly what you’re doing differently, they will be glad to be spoken to like a real human being.

Evoke urgency

Any emotion you want to evoke will be heightened by an added sense of urgency.

  • Directly question your prospect’s unwilligness to buy now. What exactly is holding them back? Do they lack confidence or decisiveness, or have you not given them a compelling enough reason to buy yet?
  • Everyone reacts to requests that specify a specific time. It makes us realise that time stops for no man.


Emotional ecommerce is about cutting to the chase and appealing less to logic, more to gut. It totally pays off as a tactic because in the bargain you’ll also learn loads more about your customers. Win-win. What emotional sides can you uncover from your product?

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