8 Emotional Triggers To Use In Your Copy And Connect With Your Customers

Daniel Paredes
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If you use emotional triggers in your copy, you'll increase your sales. Do you know why? Because roughly 85% of purchasing decisions are driven by emotion.

That’s why the key to successful marketing campaigns is understanding human psychology - especially human emotions. You can craft extremely effective advertisements with an understanding of emotional triggers.

Your sales copy simply won't be as effective if it’s not designed to evoke a specific emotional reaction from your prospects, regardless of how well-written the copy is.

Why Do You Need Emotional Triggers in Your Copy?

People have desires, hopes, and fears. For that reason, your job is to show them how your products can meet their desires, give them hope, or diminish their fear.

Your sales copy should be written with two goals in mind: It should make consumers feel something, and it should make them act on those feelings. How do you achieve these goals? The answer is with an emotional appeal.

Use emotional triggers to evoke the exacts emotions and feelings you want your prospects to feel. Think of what you want them to feel based on what type of feeling would prompt them to take action.

Below there are 8 emotional triggers that you can start using in your sales copy right now.

1. Guilt

Guilt is a powerful emotional trigger. Charitable or non-profit organizations use the emotion of guilt quite often in their copy. “Don’t let these sick children suffer any longer.” Sound familiar? A more positive approach that still utilizes the emotion of guilt is accomplished in a TOMS ad, where they tell consumers that if they buy a pair of TOMS shoes, they'll give a pair of shoes to those in need for every pair purchased.

On Branding Strategy Insider, Martin Lindstrom, explains,

Guilt, that most puritanical of all our human emotions, has resurfaced to become a 21st century emotional social and consumer pandemic.

Copywriters can craft very effective messages based on guilt. And sometimes messages can be controversial, which could engage people in a heated debate. Copy that sparks controversy isn't a bad thing. An ad by Shelter that stated, “The girls’ room is about 6 degrees Celcius - a little warmer than a fridge” is an example of a controversial ad that worked.

Words that trigger guilt: Humane, disgrace, charity, donation, mercy, kindness, compassion, feel for or understand.

2. Trust

Prospects are skeptical. Especially when every company tries to jump on the trust bandwagon in their advertising or marketing. Trust is especially difficult to gain when you're a new company.

For example, “No hidden fees” is one of the core messages for financial companies that use trust in their marketing campaigns. Another way to use the emotional trigger of trust is with a guarantee. “If you’re not 100% satisfied we’ll happily give your money back. No questions asked.”

In your copy, you can trigger a response of trust by explaining the reason behind your pricing. For example, let’s say you're selling something for $15 when everybody selling similar products are charging more like $50. If you explain why your price is lower, people will trust you. Otherwise, they will think it’s a scam. In other words, a low price doesn't always attract buyers. Sometimes, the low price arouses suspicion. Suspicion isn't the emotional response you want, so explain yourself to gain trust, instead.

Another way to use trust as an emotional trigger is to be specific in your copy. Give names, dates, numbers, and facts. Which of the following statements do you think is more credible? “The other day I met a friend”, or “last Monday at 7 pm I met Johan at Coyote's Bar”? Because the latter has facts, numbers and names, it sounds more legitimate.

Words that trigger trust: No hidden, absolutely, scientific, guaranteed, proven, fool-proof. 

3. Sense of Belonging

We are social animals, which is why we often purchase something in order to feel part of a specific group. The sense of belonging is a strong emotional trigger. Why do you think there are people who only buy Adidas or Nike?

Companies appeal to their customer's desire to belong using a copy such as, “Would you like to join a community of people who _____?”

Few people truly want to be alone. Most people want to feel like they belong to a group. And customers often purchase products in an attempt to feel part of a specific group. Many companies effectively appeal to consumers' desires to belong, using copy such as, "You're part of the family."

The feeling of belonging satisfies a core psychological need. This need or emotional trigger is so powerful that people feel the need to remain loyal to one brand. Are you a Mac or PC person? Pepsi or Coke? Real Madrid or Barcelona?

Words that trigger belonging: “We”, “together”, “society” or “become a member” are great emotional triggers for the sense of belonging. For example, American Eagle appeals to the sense of friendship and belonging in their ad “WE THE PEOPLE. Live in AE jeans.”

4. Exclusivity

Another powerful emotional trigger is exclusivity. People want to belong, but they especially want to belong to something exclusive or unique. It makes them feel as though they're part an elite community. This is a strong form of social proof. Garret Moon from CoSchedule explains,

Exclusivity is like a club with membership restrictions. You want in because others are in. There’s a bit of social pressure with exclusivity wording.

If you want to evoke this emotion, you can limit the number of your product, VIP membership or make it more difficult to achieve. For example, “Join The $100,000/year Club if you qualify”.

Words and phrases to trigger exclusivity: Members only, login required, invitation only, only for, available exclusively to, few, exclusive, unique.

5. Instant Gratification

Technology gave people the power to buy whenever they want. Just one click away is a purchase of just about anything. Prospects don’t want to wait, because most people want what they want right now. That’s why instant gratification is a strong emotional trigger.

If you give consumers something right away, they'll feel excited.

“We want it, and we want it now”. That's the motto for today's consumers. Amazon Prime capitalizes on this by offering same-day and next-day shipping for Amazon Prime members.

Netflix is a success largely due to the concept of instant gratification, too. You can have 24/7 access to movies and your favorite TV shows on demand. You don’t have to wait until next week to watch the next episode anymore.

Words and phrases that trigger instant gratification: Now, today, in one hour or less, within 24 hours, 24/7, next-day delivery, instant access, same day.

6. Anticipation

Anticipation is an emotional trigger to build excitement. Have you ever watched the news and videos about people camping outside Apple stores? Of course, they go viral. People get so excited about getting their hands on the next iPhone, they camp outside the store the night before the release.

Companies use anticipation as a pre-selling technique to create buzz. Copywriters who understand anticipation can hype up the release of product months before the actual release date.

Words that trigger anticipation: Coming soon, release date, upcoming, get ready, soon, save the date.

7. Fear

Another powerful emotional trigger is fear. Insurance companies make millions of dollars appealing to our sense of fear. “If you die today, who will take care of your family?”

Fear causes us to take action without thinking too much about it. Fear can be controversial, but if you use it in an ethical way it’s really powerful. For example “the fear of missing out”, also known as FOMO, makes consumers feel that they might miss their chance if they don't buy now. According to Trustpulse,

60% of people make purchases because of fear of missing out, mostly within 24 hours.

Words and phrases that trigger fear: Mistake, don’t miss out, limited time, worry, anxiety, doubt, danger, death, only X available, almost sold out.

8. Anger

Successfully triggering anger can be a great motivator. Anger is one of the emotional triggers commonly used in political advertising, because it’s effective at gathering people around a single idea.

People talk a lot when things are unfair or unjust. Skillful copywriters use anger to make prospects feel as though they could be the hero with the solution. “That will teach ‘em”.

The famous advertisement from Always uses anger. “What does it mean to do things #LikeAGirl?” This ad wants girls to be angry or offended by the phrase, “Like a girl” and feel empowered. P&G says that 81% of the women between 16 and 24 years have a negative association with phrases such as, “Like a girl”.

Words and phrases that trigger anger: Provoke, repulsive, shocking, offensive, unjustified, abuse, victim.


You build deep connections with your customers by appealing to their emotions. That’s why using emotional triggers in your sales copy is a strategic sales technique.

Your prospects are seeing tons of marketing messages every single day. You must give your audience a reason to listen to you. Appeal to their human side. Find your brand voice. You can use emotional triggers to evoke the type of feelings that move them to take action.

Feelings are powerful. Don't ever forget that.

Do you want your brand to create long-lasting connections with your audience? Do you want copy that effectively triggers emotions? Then hire a copywriter who can evoke emotions and get prospects to act now.

Daniel Paredes

Daniel Paredes is a copywriter specialized in email copy. In his free time, Daniel is very active and does Parkour. You can follow Daniel on Instagram @daniel.journal

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