Let Emotions Inspire Your Online Marketing

Let Emotions Inspire Your Online Marketing

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Emotions aren’t generally discussed within the context of online marketing, yet our emotions impact the decisions we make and the products we buy.

As marketers we’re looking to complete a basic equation:

need + want + desire = motivation to purchase

Needs, wants and desires are underwritten by emotions which can be personal and subjective. However, psychologists have worked for years to pinpoint commonalities which bind us in our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Abraham Maslow created a model of human motivations which helps us identify emotional triggers we can use to make our online marketing more effective.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is one of the most renowned theories of motivation. Maslow explains how humans progress from the most basic needs, to more complex needs.

The two lowest levels of needs satisfy our carnal and primal needs to survive. The middle two identify a lack which needs to be satisfied in order to avoid unpleasantness.

As we progress up the levels we strive to grow as individuals and experience our full potential.

Let’s assess how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can apply to motivating online purchases.

Together we’ll look at each need and uncover how they have been applied online in some real life examples.

Physiological needs

The basic physiological needs are vital to our survival.

  • Food
  • Water
  • Breathing
  • Sleeping

They hark back to our carnal needs in terms of looking for shelter, staying alive and sustaining human life.


Nutrient Water http://nutrientwater.com.au/

Nutrient Water


See how this page has tapped into the basic need which water fulfils. The headline “THE PERFECT ACCOMPLICE FOR ALL YOUR DAY-TO-DAY BATTLES.” pinpoints the product’s relevance to basic survival. The imagery of the products – energy, defence, endurance, multi v, focus and a-game use power words which heighten a sense of action and our instincts to survive.

People feel motivated by this page because of its energy. They feel supercharged and confident Nutrient Water can help power them through their day.

Security and safety

At this level, people want control and order in their lives. This need for stability, equates to safety and a desire for security.

  • Financial security
  • Health and wellness
  • Safety against accidents and injury

Finding a job, obtaining health insurance and health care, contributing money to a savings account, and moving into a safer neighbourhood are all examples of actions motivated by security and safety needs.

There is a primal need to protect, maintain and provide.


Coles Life Insurance http://financialservices.coles.com.au/insurance/life-insurance

Coles Life Insurance


Coles establishes the link between life insurance and family security. It depicts life insurance as peace of mind - your family’s lifestyle will not be jeopardised should you pass away. Embedded in the body copy is the need to protect, maintain and provide - “essential to leading a stress-free life”, “financial protection” and “maintain their lifestyle even if you’re no longer there to provide for them”.

This page targets parents and strikes an emotive chord with them, validating their true reason for considering life insurance- to protect their young. This primal desire will ultimately fuel their decision to request product information.

Love and belonging

Just as a newborn baby will not survive without touch, we desire love, acceptance and belonging through the rest of our life. This emotionally fuelled need is primarily satisfied by others or by a sense of togetherness.

  • Friendships
  • Romantic attachments
  • Family
  • Social groups
  • Community groups
  • Churches and religious organisations

In this state people make choices which make them feel they are part of a collective.


The Fifth Watches http://www.thefifthwatches.com/

The Fifth Watches


This page plays up the negative side of love and belonging- not being a part of the group. By doing this, they use the fear of missing out as the motivator to ‘join the waiting list’. The countdown timer creates more distance between belonging and not belonging, with a particular entitlement of exclusivity. Albeit, you can go on to ‘see the watches’ but without joining the mailing list, you cannot purchase.

People coming to this page are almost shocked into action. Without joining they cannot belong. Suddenly they are the ‘have nots’ and want to join the ‘haves’.


When the lower three levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs have been satisfied, needs of esteem begin to play a more prominent role in motivating behaviour.

Esteem relates to feeling appreciated, respected and valuable.

Self-esteem is tangibly gauged by indications of accomplishment and prestige. Rewards, awards and status symbols.


Jaguar http://www.jaguar.com.au/index.html



Nothing says status like a luxury car and Jaguar are a niche luxury brand to fulfil esteem desires. When it comes to self-esteem, brand awareness plays a large role. The emotional links to known brands are deeply ingrained, yet these brands still need to promote their product and motivate the consumer to purchase. Looking at the image, we see the art of photography, where the car is pure and in focus with the blur of the world around it. Intelligent, stylish, powerful- the copy speaks directly to our values of status. The Discover More button suggests there are more secrets to uncover.

People aspiring for status will feel validated by this page. They will read the copy and view the smooth textures as an embodiment of who they are and how they want to be seen. Ultimately they’ll feel compelled to discover more about the Jaguar they are now acquainted with.


This need can be described as the full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities, for more than self-gain.

It’s the sense of people doing the best they can and to the fullest ability.

As people generally have to progress past self-esteem to reach this it has been said not many get this far. However, it is an aspirational state which many desire at a more spiritual level.


Starlight Children’s Foundation https://starlight.org.au/how-to-help/volunteering/

Starlight Children’s Foundation


This is a simple, yet effective demonstration of how copy can influence self-actualisation. The headline ‘MAKE YOUR DAY MEANINGFUL’ shouts be the best you can be, with the ethos of striving to do for others. The video demonstrates the goodwill of other volunteers and their experiences with Starlight. This is a direct attempt to motivate people to consider how they could share happiness by helping sick children. Beyond this, Starlight also indicate the different ways people can help. Ways to use their existing skills for the benefit of others.

People coming to this page will feel warm and fuzzy about volunteering with Starlight. They will consider ways they can help, whether it be a matter of juggling their schedule to fit the commitment or offering skills for administrative needs. They will want to take a step back from their self-revolving life and step into the Starlight world to help children in need.

Want to apply Maslow’s Needs to your online presence?

The first step: Where do you fit?

Consider your product or service and if it naturally falls into one of the previous needs. If it could fulfil more than one need then consider your target audience, think about their age, lifestyle, their psychographics and where they aspire to be. How will your product or service help them get there? Is it a basic tool, will it be a particular validation or a utilitarian symbol?

The second step: Get creative.

Look for imagery which stimulates need and apply it to your target audience. Consider using powerful wording to speak directly to a person experiencing that need.

The third step: Test.

If you have a few concepts test them. Let the audience decide. And always test against the existing page to gain statistically significant results.

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Posted: 25 Feb 16 By: Comments: Be the first to comment! Category: Online Psychology
Prue Takle

Prue is a creative in a suit. With degrees in both marketing and creative arts she naturally thinks outside the square, coming up with ideas that will engage audiences and promote larger-scale objectives. Prue enjoys creating synergy between branding and communications, especially when it comes to developing marketing strategy.

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