Emotions drive everything.

Your conversations, your fears, and your laughter. Decisions and mistakes.

They drive everything, but most of all, they drive your words. And when used correctly, they can make all the difference in connecting with your audience on a level that goes beyond superficialities.

Think back to the latest batch of commercials you watched. Which ones left a lasting impression? Beyond annoying jingles or corny jokes, which ones struck a chord, or made you smile?

Think about the content you’ve engaged recently with on social media. Are you more likely to make a comment, like, or share when you’ve connected on a personal or emotional level with the content you’ve consumed? More than likely so.

When considering how emotion influences our day-to-day lives, it’s important to remember that emotion certainly plays a role in our content consumption behaviors.

With that in mind, here are our top four tips for using emotion to write better copy that will resonate and connect with your audience.

Tip #1: Understand the Story You Want to Tell

Although this seems like a no-brainer, it bears repeating: if you don’t understand the story you are trying to tell, how will your audience?

This is where creative brainstorming comes into play. When you’re tossing around ideas for your next blog post, webinar, or eBook, put yourself in the position of your audience. Take your editorial conversation back to basics—those five “Ws” you likely learned in your middle school newspaper class.

Who? What? When? Where?

And perhaps most importantly—why?

In order to create content that resonates and engages your audience, you need to have a firm answer to each of those questions, as the answers will later help define your success.

Tip #2: Craft Headlines with Care

As marketers, we know we are fighting for attention in an oversaturated marketplace of content. With dwindling attention spans abound (including one study that has it down to eight seconds), it’s now our goal to write copy that not only intrigues—but emotionally connects.

An average site visitor will read, at most, 28% of a page’s content before moving elsewhere—though it is even likelier that they will consume just 20%.

Knowing this, the pressure is on your copy to be very compelling. And as we know from our earliest story writing days, a case for a compelling story is often made right in its title.

While the title is, of course, not everything, it offers the perfect opportunity to use emotion to connect with your audience.

Here are a few words to consider using when writing emotionally effective headlines:

  • How To: “How-tos” while plentiful, are successful for a reason. They immediately offer the reader a chance to learn something that they can either apply immediately–or bookmark for safekeeping. We all have objectives that we need to meet, and how-to articles are often a great tool for making people consider about those objectives more thoughtfully and move into action.
  • Question Words: Posing a question to your audience can be a great, simple way to connect with them. Readers feel a sense of urgency, and if the question is compelling enough to them, they will want to read on to find out the answer.

Tip #3: Involve Your Audience

What kind of content does your audience want to see? What educational pieces would be most helpful?

In our recent Demand Generation Summit presentation with Content Marketing Institute, we suggested reaching out to your audience directly by launching a small poll post-webinar or a Hotjar survey on your site with a few industry-specific questions or messages you’re testing. By giving your customer base an opportunity to put their pain points or concerns into their own words, you’re creating a solid foundation of data that can influence your next campaign or branding decision.

How does this help you write better copy? An involved and engaged audience is an audience that is more likely to make a personal connection with your content. After all, as Accenture reports, 81% of consumers want brands to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them. Use the feedback you receive to create pieces that solve problems and address customer concerns—an extremely effective emotional appeal that solidifies the connection between your customer base and your brand.  

Tip #4: Test, Learn, and Test Again

Persado noted that emotional language “contributes upwards of 70% to the performance of a message.” That’s a powerful statement, and one that shows the importance of testing our usage of emotion in copywriting.

The good news? You’ll have unlimited opportunities to test your copy—from email headlines to social media posts. Create A/B tests for headlines and take note of which words are getting more engagement.

If you’re stumped when it comes to crafting effectively emotional copy, consider the basic emotions demonstrated in psychologist Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions.

While, of course, not all of these emotions have a place in content marketing copywriting, the wheel offers a great place to start. By working your way around the wheel and testing different messages with your audience, you’ll be better equipped to craft copy that truly resonates and secures the emotional, memorable connections you’re looking for.

More Tips for Content Creation

Ready to learn more about creating compelling copy and content that will engage your audience? Watch our webinar with Search Engine Journal on Boosting Your Content Engagement.


Kate Mills is an Editorial Content Strategist at ScribbleLive.