After Party: 7 Things We Learned at Marketer’s Guide to Emotion

Marketers tend to know that emotion impacts a customer’s decision to purchase a product. But the strategy to consistently harness those emotions typically includes more personal bias and intuition than a deep understanding of the intended consumer. New advances, including marketing language AI produces, and research have provided marketers with the tools to reach customers.

The August 2017 Forrester report “The CMO’s Guide to Emotions” demystified emotional engagement and introduced a framework that makes it actionable for marketers. On Thursday, Nov. 9, Persado, Cheetah Digital and Forrester teamed up for a webinar “The Marketer’s Guide to Emotion” to discuss the emerging science behind emotions and language in marketing.

ICYMI: We put together a list of things from Forrester VP and Principal Analyst James McQuivey, Cheetah Digital Senior Director N.A. Solutions Consulting Director David Evans and Persado Chief Operating Officer Greg Dale. Consider this a quick-and-easy guide to the inspiring marketing language AI can generate.

Straight Up: Marketers Love Emotion (But They’re Doing it Wrong)

Different people respond to different emotions. In retail, an in-store sales rep can gauge a person’s personality with a simple conversation. She’s a mom of two and wants to look good on her first day of a new job. She’s patient and wants to find the perfect dress. Taking a “BUY NOW! This is totally the one!” approach would be a turn-off. The sales rep instead lets her try on what she wants and when she sees the customer’s face light up, lets her know that it looks amazing, she deserves it and, by the way, it’s a limited edition. She used gratitude (you deserve this) and exclusivity (limited edition) to seal the deal.

But how does that translate online? Often, it doesn’t. Marketers frequently fall back on the old “ACT FAST! 50% OFF ENDS TONIGHT!” The woman who purchased the dress in the store would likely trash this email in a New York minute. “Urgency is an overused emotion,” Dale said.

Instead, it’s important to personalize these emails or social ads much like you would for a party invitation.

Figuring Out Your Audience Doesn’t Have to Take Years

Forget a multi-year A/B testing odyssey. You’ve got KPIs to meet now. AI technologies like Persado’s and multi-platform marketing solutions companies like Cheetah Digital can get more learning out of a few campaigns than years of A/B testing.

In one instance, a broadcast company wanted to grow its subscription base. The company sent out an email “Attention Please! (First Name), subscription offer inside. This is too hot to miss!” Sure, the message got personal. But phrases like “Attention please” evoke anxiety and “This is too hot to miss” sounds more like a guilt-trip than a pitch. Persado took a different approach: “Congrats {First Name)! As a thanks for listening, enjoy a subscription offer.” Not only was it personal, “Congrats!” made receivers feel like they earned something (achievement). “As a thanks for listening” showed gratitude. The change increased clicks by 100%.

In other words, the marketing language AI produces saves time and earns results.

Get Specific

Contrary to popular belief, short headlines don’t always produce sweet results and vague descriptions aren’t clicky. Persado worked with a Fortune 500 financial services to introduce a credit card that allowed users to choose a category to receive points. The company’s first attempt – “Get 3x points–Choose 1 of 5 categories.” – didn’t gain the traction it was hoping for. Persado’s platform tweaked it to read, “We’re pleased to present the only XXX Card that lets you choose where you get your points. Get 3x points in the category you select.” By highlighting the card’s benefits, the company saw upticks in clicks (82.8%) and opens (32.2%).

Good AI is Not Click-Bait

Clicks and opens are great but at the end of the day, it’s about the dollars. And the marketing language AI generates lets you show your boss the money. Take a retail/e-commerce Persado client. When machine learning took an original subject line of “Did you see your code for FREE shipping? It expires at midnight” and generated “Announcement: we’re giving away a code for FREE SHIPPING (expires soon)” instead the company saw an 111% increase in revenue.

Images Matter

At Persado, we like to say words matter. But images do too. One of the world’s most prominent media brands turned to Persado to increase subscribers via Facebook ads. A photo of two people sitting on the couch in front of a fireplace had a 181.81% better conversion rate than one of a plate of food and the brand’s food section. Dale attributes the success of the fireplace image to its “warm, safe” feel.

Optimize Big Moments

One of the highlights of the webinar occured when Evans spoke about how Williams Sonoma targets and aids expectant parents. One of the company’s brands, Pottery Barn, handled much of the approach. The team understands that pregnancies include good emotions (the excitement of announcing the pregnancy and gender reveal) and bad ones (frustration when the crib arrives late). The company also ascertains the mother’s trimester and personalizes emails accordingly. But Pottery Barn takes it a step further than marketing language AI produced for the brand. Sales reps reached out to the expectant parents at key moments to introduce them to a nursery designer or help them set up a registry. “[They] become a helpful part of the planning service.” After birth, Williams Sonoma sends ready-to-eat-meals (because as any parent of a newborn knows, sleep, time and home-cooked meals are a luxury). It showed empathy in a way that was rich, Evans pointed out. From a company standpoint, it allowed Williams Sonoma to build loyalty with multiple brands.

Go All In

AI professionals often get asked, “Can’t I just see your demo and apply this myself?” To put it bluntly, the answer is no. “AI’s power is in its constant learning and adapting,” Dale said. “It isn’t one and done. It needs to be an ongoing component of your marketing process.” Times will change and the top emotions will shift but the machine will continue to learn quickly. And as more marketers begin using the tools, customers’ expectations will go up. “Commit,” McQuivey said.  


  • Emotion drives engagement but it’s not a one-sized-fits-all tool. It’s important to find the right trigger for the right consumer.
  • A/B testing can take years. AI machine learning can read your audience after a few campaigns.
  • Be specific. Highlight the benefits and best features of a product.
  • Marketing language AI produces doesn’t just get you clicks. It increases revenue.
  • Words matter. Images do too. Find impactful images and you will see impactful results.
  • Take campaigns a step further by adding a true human aspect. Have local sales people reach out to customers at key moments in their lives (the third trimester of a pregnancy) to help and provide rich empathy (and if you’re really awesome: a rare hot meal for a new parent).
  • Commit to AI. What’s true today may not be true in a couple of months. The machine will pick this up and adapt.