7 Must-Apply Emotional Triggers For Your Copywriting

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Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Humans are by nature emotional beings. Almost every decision we make as human beings involves our emotions, even when we are not aware of them. Everyone has desires, hopes, dreams, and fears. Your copy should consider this and show your target audience how your products/services can meet their desires, give them hope, help them achieve their dreams, or reduce their fears.

Research has shown that marketing copy that appeals to different human emotions can boost engagement and conversion. Why? Because when we understand what triggers these emotions, and how to leverage these triggers, we are better able to create effective marketing copy that will drive our customers to action. 

According to research by Disney Institute, emotionally engaged customers are at least three times more likely to recommend your product and three times more likely to re-purchase.

As a copywriter, your two main goals are to make your audience feel something and push them to act on those feelings through emotional triggers. Here are the 7 emotional triggers that you can apply to your sales copy to achieve your business goals. 

1. Trust

When a customer decides to buy your product, they will expect that the product they receive meets their expectations. When it does, you build trust. So, how can you evoke this emotion in your marketing practice? One way to do this is to be transparent and go out of your way to remove any uncertainty surrounding your product or services.

For example, adding “no hidden fees” to your product or marketing copy will let your customer know that what they pay is the final amount — no surprise charges will be added.

Customers might develop more trust in your brand if you provide a guarantee: “If you’re not satisfied, we’ll give 100% of your money back.”

You could also build trust by being specific in your copy by using facts and figures. Let your customers know that your product or service has been certified, has gone through rigorous research & development processes, or has been used by prominent figures. Aside from simply saying that you’re trustworthy, give your customers proof that you are in fact, worthy of their trust. 

Words that evoke trust: Guaranteed, recommended, scientific, proven, fool-proof, expert.

2. Guilt

This particular emotion is used often in campaigns by non-profit organizations that are promoting their cause. 

Many nonprofits, like WWF and Greenpeace, highlight the staggering impact of human activities on the planet.

Greenpeace’s #shareforabetterplanet campaign, like the one seen above, is a deliberate attempt to trigger our sense of guilt and encourage us to change our behavior for a better and greener planet. By juxtaposing a pacifier with oil and the message “What goes in the sea goes in me”, Greenpeace raises awareness of microplastic pollution and reminds us that our actions have consequences and will affect the quality of life of our children – guilting us into changing our behavior. 

Triggering our sense of guilt is also an effective strategy to push us to make donations or contribute to their cause.  A similar approach is used in Oxfam’s campaign to ‘guilt’ people to donate a mere 3 dollars to save a child’s life. 

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Like nonprofits, copywriters can also utilize the power of “guilt” to evoke a strong market response and capitalize on the momentum. Copy that triggers guilt can stimulate a discussion on social media, bringing more attention to an issue, along with traffic and sales in the long run. This emotional trigger is highly relevant to businesses, especially when focusing on products/services that contribute to weight loss, encourage healthier diets, or promote a more sustainable lifestyle.

Words that evoke guilt: Regret, despair, shame, condemn 

3. Love

Who doesn’t want to feel loved? Humans are, after all, social beings who need love and attention. As one of our basic needs, love is an emotion that is most commonly used in advertising. 

For example, cosmetics, clothing, or perfume brands push out messages, like “Nothing is more attractive than the smell of a confident woman” to inspire their audience to purchase their products to attract love. 

Another angle seen in the media includes messages to show that you care by purchasing something that will protect your loved ones or giving them something that they will cherish, whether it is a product or an experience. 

Daikin’s ad uses this emotional trigger to convince parents to purchase an air purifier to keep their children safe – because they care! 

In addition to expressing love externally, brands can also tap into the importance of self-love in copywriting. The global cosmetics company, L’Oréal, has long been known for its popular tagline, “Because you’re worth it.” It simply highlights how the company values its audience and wants them to feel the same way. 

Since love has a lot of meanings, this emotional angle has been played in multiple different ways. But people still fall for it anyway! Why? Because it works! 

Words that evoke love: Cherish, treasure, care, dedicate, etc.

4. Fear

We live in a world full of uncertainties — which naturally causes us to feel emotions such as anxiety and fear. A strong emotion like fear is a strong trigger that can push us into taking certain actions to avoid risks and losses. 

Insurance companies and the healthcare industry use this trigger in their advertising. For example, “Protect your loved ones with our full-coverage family protection plan!” 

A fear-based sales copy makes people imagine what might happen if a threat, a crisis, or a scary scenario befalls them. This attempts to activate our survival instinct and pushes us to change our behavior or purchase the product/service being advertised to avoid these risks/scenarios. This strategy is very commonly used in public service announcements (PSA), as seen in the Don’t Drink and Drive PSA below.  

FOMO (The Fear of Missing Out) is another phenomenon in the world of marketing that manipulates anxiety and fear in consumers to increase sales and boost revenue. If you want to try this promotion method, create a perception that your product is either rare, limited, urgent, or will improve the buyer’s social status. For example, you can include words like “last chance”, “act now”, “hurry”, “limited time only”, or “sold out” to induce FOMO among consumers.

Remember, good copy is not only about highlighting the benefits and value that your product/service can provide. Sometimes emphasizing potential threats can be equally powerful.

Words that evoke fear: Beware, caution, danger, failure, nightmare

5. Desires

Everyone has desires – a desire to travel, to learn a new skill, to live a comfortable life, and to become better. While we are all individually unique in many aspects, our actions tend to be motivated by the same universal desires, such as belonging, abundance, safety, status/esteem, and growth.

To benefit from using desire as a trigger in your sales copy, you need to fully understand your customers’ journey to identify their biggest pains and gains, and then craft advertising copy that meets these needs. Once your copy can present your product as a way for your customers to fulfill their desires, they’ll come running to you.

Many of us have seen copy that promises to deliver our deepest desires. You may have noticed examples like, “Want to start a healthy lifestyle? We’ll show you just how!” or “Make your financial dreams come true! Download our app and start investing now!”

This appeals to consumers because they contain words that tap into our universal desires for good health, safety, and abundance. A healthy lifestyle increases our well-being and financial stability gives us security. 

Even if what you sell doesn’t have any direct link to our basic needs, you can still associate your product with a universal desire to influence the audience’s buying behavior. If you sell fashion accessories or luxury goods, your copy can emphasize how it will enhance your target customers’ self-esteem or status and how it can make them feel like they belong to a certain social circle.

Words that evoke desire: Wish, want, desire, health, dream, hungry, eager, etc.

6. Greed

Greed is a common human emotion. While too much greed is bad for you, leveraging this emotion can help you make more sales. 

All sales promotions that offer tempting bargains use this emotional trigger to tap into their customers’ emotions through appropriate call-to-actions (CTAs). Promotions that ask you to “Sign up now and get a free T-shirt!”, or “Buy 2 for only $10!” are typical sales calls that tap into our greed and the human desire for free items or good bargains.

Since this trigger has the power to attract consumers who expect instant gratification, as a skilled copywriter, you must be able to manipulate this soft spot and create compelling promotions that will push them into action. 

Brands also leverage greed when they give extra rewards for making a purchase. This is when discounts, loyalty points, and free bonuses come into play and make your customers feel that you are helping them save money in the long term.

Words that evoke greed: Want more, free, limited edition, get an extra, bonus, high return

7. Curiosity

Curiosity encourages us to discover new things and experiences in the world. This emotion can become a valuable marketing strategy when marketers use it to drive purchase motivation, generate hype, and spark conversation.

Have you noticed whenever it’s time for a new release, whether it be a service, a movie, or a product, marketers publish teasers in advance to develop our curiosity and generate excitement? This is a golden opportunity to intrigue your target audience and hopefully, keep them hooked and interested enough to convert them into potential clients. 

There are many ways to build your audience’s curiosity through copywriting. You can create enticing headlines for blogs or news articles, write a unique title for books or movies, and even create a teaser for social media. But make sure to include enough information and avoid clickbait with empty promises that will negatively impact your business’ credibility.

While curiosity can help you win your customers’ attention in a crowded marketplace, it is also important that you do not leave your audience hanging for too long. Otherwise, they will lose interest in the suspense you’ve built and turn away. 

Words that evoke curiosity: Coming soon, stay tuned, get ready, happening soon, save the date

Related read: 5 Psychological Pricing Strategy That Every Marketer Should Know

While we’d all like to believe that we are rational, logical creatures, good marketers know that humans are emotional beings. After all, it is our emotions that influence our actions and how we interact with others. This is why marketers and copywriters (like us!) are now trying to harness the power of emotional triggers in promotions to build awareness, engagement, and sway target buyers into going down the funnel.

Even if you have a full-fledged buyer persona, you still can’t read your customers’ minds. But you can put yourself in their shoes and use psychology to help you connect and inspire your customers to take action. 

Do you need help in evoking these emotional triggers? We’ll show you just how (see what we did there?)

Start a project with us!

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