Content Marketing: The Power of The *Right* Emotion
BY Nicole Jenet
March 17, 2016

We all know by that emotion plays a key role in the success of content marketing. A study by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) found that purely emotional advertising campaigns performed about twice as well as campaigns that used rational persuasion and information.

What that tells us once again is that emotion in your content marketing isn’t merely an option – you need it. But you also need the right emotion.


Who doesn’t want to feel happy or evoke happiness in others?! Happiness is one of the most commonly emotions played upon in content marketing for this reason – making people feel happy will help them associate your brand with positivity, which is really a no-brainer.

But all happiness all the time may be too much of a good thing…and let’s be honest, you eventually got sick of hearing Pharrell Williams proclaim he’s happy. In an ideal content marketing world, every piece of content and every campaign focused on happiness would hit the mark with your audience – however that’s very difficult, nearly impossible. Plus, with the amount of content out there fueled by positivity, it makes it more difficult for you to stand out.

That doesn’t mean you should turn into a Negative Nancy content marketer, but rather cycle through other emotions to balance it all out.


On the other end of the spectrum, pass the tissues! Although many brands don’t want to be associated with sadness, this emotion evokes a very personal and empathetic response and can be beneficial to your content strategy if you harness it correctly.

Although utilizing sadness in content may limit its ability to go viral, it can have the power to start or build on a lasting relationship between your brand and audience.


Like happiness, fear is one of the most widely used emotions in marketing. You know what fear-focused marketing is like if you’ve ever seen any of the scary anti-smoking commercials. What makes fear powerful is its potential to make your content go viral – triggering fear in someone can move them to share their experience with others. Just be careful with fear –it’s much more subjective than happiness.


Ever notice when something pisses you off, you can’t wait to find someone to share it with and vent? Now imagine what content marketing underscored by anger can do. In Jonah Berger’s book Contagious, he explains that angry content (like happy content) is more likely to get shared.

But you don’t want to rely on anger too much – if you’re pushing out too much content designed to frustrate or rile up your audience, the novelty will quickly wear off.

Surprise and anticipation

Whether in your inbox or on Facebook, you’ve likely seen plenty of articles, emails and videos that promise to show you something you won’t believe – who doesn’t like the sense of surprise or anticipation?! Intriguing headlines or subject lines can make readers want to click, but your content has to have some meat to it to keep them coming back.

Not every brand can associate itself with every emotion, but you don’t want to focus on only one. The goal should be to tap into the right mix of emotions to create balance and continue to connect with your audience.

Let’s talk about growing your company.

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