E-commerce Tips: 6 Basic Secrets of Selling Emotions

Which banners attract your attention first, when you scroll your Facebook feed?

Most likely, they are related to your basic instincts. Within the first milliseconds, your attention goes to the news which relates to self-reproductive instinct (the one which helps a human preserve humanity, in simple words - sex) and self-preservation instincts (the one which helps a human preserve himself, which involves hunger and fear).

That doesn’t mean that you’ve lost control over yourself and have broken the promise to click only on Rembrandt works and the latest astrology inventions; that only means that we never abandoned our basic instincts.

Blake Snyder, in his book “Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need” states that a successful script story needs to be as basic as possible. In other words, it needs to be based on sex, hunger or fear. If you prefer to romanticize things, it would sound like this (though still would remain the same in the core): the story needs to be based on love, food and the will to live.

This is the first, the easiest and the dirtiest tip on how to make your work visible and clicked.

But in web design, that doesn’t sell.

What sells in web design then?

Positive emotions. Ironically.

Let’s take a look at a short example. People who are unsatisfied with their life/husband/shop purchase do attract our attention initially, but very soon, we do realize that being around them will only make us feel worse. We avoid these people at all costs. Just as we avoid depressive surrounding and poorly made designs.


Emotions are contagious. This is why you should convey positive emotions. #blogging #tips


What is the list of positive emotions?

  • Sincerity
  • Inspiration
  • Joy
  • Interest
  • Hope
  • Kindness
  • Pleasant Surprise and so on.

There’s a marginal difference, however. Nothing is black and white.


Let’s assume that you have some luxury brand.

Which emotions should you use to appeal to potential customers? Self-respect or vanity?

It’s not just a connotative difference of words, as the slightest difference becomes the basis for all your later actions, tactics and marketing campaigns.

You could say - vanity is not a good emotion. You are right; it is not. But self-respect is.

What am I saying? When choosing the mood which you want to convey to your customer, pay attention to the details. Remember an old parable: every man has a bad and a good wolf inside, and the wolf which you feed better - wins. In this case, every emotion has two sides - the one which you emphasize - sells. Or, if you choose the wrong one - doesn’t sell.


Every #emotion may be perceived both negatively and positively. How your customer accepts it, depends on how you present it.


Now, the tips on how to use emotions in web design and marketing.

Tip #1

  • The customer needs to be given a bias. By you.
  • Emotions: interest, inspiration.
  • What your customer feels: ready to learn more about your brand.

In psychology, there is a “Halo effect” - "the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area.” In plain words - the first impression matters.

Now imagine a big, well-lit empty room and a line of people, who are about to enter it, but before the customers enter, you give them different glasses; red, green, yellow, pink. So, when they enter the room, they have some colorful bias. The room is your website.

Your purpose is to give them the glass color which would be most advantageous for you. This is what you should achieve when creating your branding. You may have a great product and brilliant support, but if you don’t make a good first impression - you are very likely to lose a huge number of your customers even before they have time to read what your logo says.

What Should You Do?

Create a stunning first impression. Hire a great designer, purchase the best template possible, choose the right color palette - in other words, make your design outstanding. Make sure your website follows the latest web design trends, you may even consider using some red color in web design. Don’t be afraid to invest a little more in the budget for your neat business presence to make a stunning first impression! It will pay off quickly. (please note that I encourage you to create a great first impression AND to offer an excellent product. If you create a good impression and provide a bad product/service afterward, that will only make things worse for your business.)

Have a look at this art WordPress template:


Demo More Info

If you click on a website like this, you will get a biased impact the very first moment - everything that you will see on the website will look artistic. Do you think a famous Malevich's Black Square would look like a masterpiece if it were outside the artistic context? If your 5-year old son brought it to you, you probably wouldn't think of it as of high art.

Tip #2

  • The customer needs to be heard.
  • Emotions: trust, acceptance.
  • What your customer feels: he feels supported and calm.

Do you have a friend who’s constantly talking only about himself? Now imagine the client in your shoes, and the “friend” is you, talking about your brand.

Your customer needs to be heard before he makes the purchase, while he’s making a purchase and after he has made a purchase.

In this case, you sell the concept of "being heard." The hardest thing about this is to teach your staff empathy and to learn it yourself and not just imitate it. At some point, it may create the illusion for your customers that they have been heard, but later, you may find yourself changing your marketing tactics or even missing some potentially successful opportunity to develop your company because you didn’t actually "listen."

Zappos goal was to become as responsive to their customers as possible - as you can see, the result is stunning.

What should you do?

LISTEN to your customers. And, most importantly, HEAR them. Developing good listening skills is challenging, but rewarding.If they want a refund - refund. If they left negative feedback on your company Facebook page - RESPOND to that comment. Apologize for the inconvenience and suggest to them a solution. Most of those angry comment writers no longer let off steam once they get a sincere apology and a solution to their problems.


Make sure that the support that your business provides is really about supporting people.


Tip #3

  • Inspire and approve of people.
  • Emotions: gratitude.
  • What your customer feels: he feels appreciated, inspired, grateful. To you.

If you were lucky as a child, you may have had a great person who would support you and inspire you to believe in yourself. If you are lucky, as a grownup, you have similar people now, who support and encourage you, regardless of what crazy idea you might have. Being appreciated and feeling supported is like oxygen to us. We feel perfectly fine, ready to embark on other actions if we have enough of this air, but we lack something really important when we don’t.

Being appreciated is always appreciated. Remember this.

Cardstore has made one of the best commercials ever, and I’m pretty sure you have seen it. It is a video which states that the toughest profession in the world is the profession of a mother.

Now pay close attention. This video was released in 2014.

Have a look at the WayBack Machine chart of the website visits:

cards statistics

See? Gratitude and inspiration matter.

What should you do?

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Know what they need and what their problems are.
  3. Express your understanding of their problems.

Tip #4

  • Make it exclusive.
  • Emotions (what you arouse in your customers): Dignity, self-respect.
  • What your client feels: self-respect.

Again, it’s about making your customers feel good about themselves. I’ve already mentioned above the importance to know how to walk the thin line between the good and bad sides of emotions.

Probably, the first technology company which might come to your mind would be Apple. They declare themselves as a purveyor of excellent taste. You feel unique when choosing their products, forgetting that there are hundreds of thousands of others who feel just the same. However, this policy works.

The most expensive car commercials tug at the heart-strings of your self-respect and dignity, and this policy works, too. So, why not try these tactics in your marketing? Remember that your customers are unique. Treat them accordingly and the group of customers who felt good about themselves, because of you, will spread the word and your brand will start gaining status in your niche.


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Making a customer feel good about himself may be achieved by content and by design. Using a fancy design, setting an above average price, positioning your brand as a brand which offers exclusive service or product, makes your customer feel that he or she has an excellent taste. Besides, if your product is worthy, you have a very high chance of becoming a successful brand.

What should you do?

Make it feel luxurious.

Tip #5

  • Social-proof your brand.
  • Emotions: trust
  • What your customer feels: If others buy from this brand and they are satisfied with the product, most likely I will be satisfied with it, too.

When choosing from among three restaurants, you are more likely to choose the one who was praised by your friend or colleague. The funny thing is, you don’t even need to know this person to consider taking his review seriously.

While a popular motivational phrase “I don’t care what they say about me” may be good for you as an individual, it may ruin your brand totally. Care about what they say about you. Make sure that your customers have a desire to leave a positive comment on your product or service. Take time to respond to the comments, to solve their issues and to improve your support. This is not just an unsatisfied customer. That is one dissatisfied customer + a couple of negative feedbacks on social media + several dozens (or even more) potential clients who saw this review and decide not to deal with your brand. See the pattern? Social proof is real and it's important.

What should you do?

Make sure your satisfied customers leave positive feedback about your brand. Choose web designs which offer ratings, make sure your social media pages are active.

Tip #6

  • Create a design which is opposite to your project subject.
  • [Attention! ONLY in those cases where your subject carries a negative message to your customer]

If you have an agency which provides legal advice to desperate people, don’t make it look gloomy. It has to present the possibility of hope. If you need to create a website for a hospital, make it look light, bright and full of hope. It should represent health, not illness.

What should you do?

If you have a project which is supposed to instill some negative emotions, replace them with positive ones. Partially this can be expressed through calm and peaceful web design, and partly - through the text and the words that you use. Ensure that you give them some hope, assuming there is some, anyway.

See this design for a funeral service? The customers of this niche are already in grief; they don't need any more of it in web design.


Demo More Info

Of course, this is not a full list of emotions which may help you in your project. But understanding these six basic tips, you may build a right way to promote your brand. Supporting and inspiring your customer may work wonders with your business.

Which emotions do you think should be involved in blogging and eCommerce? Please share your thoughts in a comment section below. And if you have implemented these tactics in your business, we’d like to know how it worked for you. Enjoy growing your business!

Oksana Preda

I like putting things in order and sorting stuff to make it easier to find something useful. That's why I like creating template listings. Besides that, I do researches on different interesting topics on web design and seek topics that could inspire readers. LinkedIn

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