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Can Emotion Boost the Power of Your PPC Campaigns?

Posted on August 4, 2021 by Michael White

Can Emotion Boost the Power of Your PPC Campaigns? Four people hold paper faces showing various expressions over their faces

Pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns aren’t the sexiest topic for marketers.

PPC management may seem boring because of it's methodical nature; the ads rely on quantitative data and metrics. This perception however, is not true.

Optimizing minor variations on the same PPC ads is tedious, and character limits for headlines and ad descriptions may feel confining, but that doesn't mean marketers can't use other tools to boost the power their ad performance.

We'd like to show you how emotion-driven content is a great way to help your ads stand out while you work within the restrictions of the medium.



Emotional appeals are a helpful strategy for improving PPC campaigns. People happily playing in waterEmotional Triggers in Ads

Using emotional appeals in marketing are nothing new. Everything from Apple’s “Think Different” to Disneyland’s “The Happiest Place on Earth” can be considered emotional appeals. Apple appeals to our sense of creativity. Disneyland appeals to our desire for happiness.

And when you drill down deeper, it’s easy to see how emotional appeals are the cornerstone of all marketing. A common marketing mantra is to “sell the benefit, not the feature.” In other words, customers don’t care about the product itself. They care about what the product/brand can do for them.

Sell the benefit, not the feature.

Staples’ famous “That was easy” slogan gives us no information at all about what the company sells—but when customers hear it, they get the idea that whatever drove them to the office supply store in the first place can be handled without hassle. Far more than bragging about the quality of their products, this type of emotional appeal resonates with audiences.

Companies have used emotions to sell themselves to their audiences for years, but for some reason, PPC campaigns have been slower to adopt the same approach.


Building Emotion Into PPC Ads

There’s no magic formula for integrating emotion into your PPC ads. Like all other aspects of your PPC campaigns, success comes down to testing, re-testing, and more testing until you improve click-through rates with qualified leads.

The exact results depend on how your ads are currently performing and which emotional triggers you use to connect with your audience. Sites have done extensive testing on PPC ad performance relative to different emotional triggers, with interesting results.

Some separate emotional ads into “positive” and “negative” buckets. Positive ads offer encouragement, affirmation, and good vibes for readers. The negative buckets use darker emotions—sadness, fear, etc.—to hype up problems and then offer a solution.

Wordstream researched a different approach and found that four emotions in particular generate better click-through rates:

  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Affirmation
  • Fear

They tested various combinations of PPC ads aligned with each of these categories and found that “negative” emotions tended to perform better than their positive counterparts.

There are plenty of ways to go about it, and the results will depend on what audience you’re serving.


You can use a range of emotions in your PPC campaigns. Head shots of the same man showing different emotions.Why Do Emotional Ads Resonate With Readers?

It might seem counterintuitive that users would respond to fear-driven ads or anger-driven ads better than upbeat ads, but when you look at the PPC landscape as it exists today, it’s no surprise.

Companies still prioritize facts over emotions in PPC and cram as many value propositions into their ads as they can without giving much thought to how readers will feel when they see those ads – if they see them at all! Many searchers just skip right over paid ad results and go directly to the organic results.

But this is why emotion can be so powerful for capturing readers’ attention. Even if they have their “ad blinders” on, an emotionally-resonant ad can cut through and earn that extra little bit of attention.

When applied at scale across a broad PPC campaign, that little bit of extra attention can have a big impact on your marketing goals:

  • More brand visibility
  • Higher click-through rates
  • Higher Google Quality Scores
  • Lower cost-per-click rates for campaigns

But companies need to tread lightly when they test ad content that plays directly into their audiences’ emotions. Emotional triggers are unique in that, while they have great potential for driving click-through rates, they also have bigger potential to turn users off.

Leaning too heavily into fear-based ads by highlighting the readers’ problems might work if you can offer a quick problem/solution. But if you just point out the problem and then ask them to click to learn more about your solutions, they’ll probably leave. The idea is to use emotion to highlight what you can do rather than as a crutch to get them to click. Small distinction, maybe—but an important one.



Hire Professionals to Manage Your PPC Campaigns

PPC is an ongoing test to see how users react to different ad stimuli. If you're company is looking to improve your PPC campaign performance, we recommend try using emotional appeal. You might be surprised at how effective it is for moving you forward on the path.

If you're interested optimizing PPC ad strategies, get in touch. Our marketers have decades of collective experience across PPC management, inbound marketing, and campaign optimization that we leverage in service of our clients every day. If you’re ready to give your PPC ad performance a much-needed boost, contact us here.


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