Outstanding Results: Emotional Triggers that Inspire Customers to Act

If your content did not bring you the results you were looking for in the past, you may have tried to convince your audience with logic. Time to talk about the emotional part of decision-making and the emotional triggers you need to know to get better results from your content.

95% of decision making occurs unconsciously. emotional triggers can initiate these decisions

Are you aware that 95% of thinking that leads to decisions is made in the subconscious?

We marketers often try to speak to logical and conscious decision-making!

We try to convince with arguments and point out the benefits of something.

But all this effort tackles only the 5% of conscious decision-making.

This article is about the 95% of decision-making that happens in the subconscious. Learn about the emotional triggers you can use to influence this subconscious decision-making.

Marketing content has a goal

You are creating content with a goal that you want to achieve with this content. Most of the time, you want people from your audience to take action. 

Your content is carefully crafted to convince your audience to take this action.

The desired action can be to sign up for your email list or to buy a product.

Your content should always be created a goal in mind. This way you can optimize your content to achieve this goal.

How content leads an audience to take action

Our content is crafted as a tool that helps our audience decide to take action. That often includes talking about the features and benefits of a product. We educate our audience about the positive effects of doing something.

This is rather straightforward: Talk about the positive outcome of doing something and people may do it.

But as a study from Harward Business Review points out, 95% of our decision-making is not conscious. 95% of our decisions are triggered by emotions and psychological factors that only scratch logic. Talking about benefits don’t trigger these decisions. They only speak to the 5% of logic decision-making.

If you have conscious arguments for taking an action: great, you should use them.

But if your content can trigger the unconscious and nudge it toward the desired action: big time! Because you now tackle the other 95% of decision-making that your logical arguments have not.

This post is about the psychological triggers that speak to the 95% subconscious decision-making. The goal is to inspire action from your audience.

I will present the most important mental triggers for marketing and some ideas of how you can incorporate them into your content.

Why Use Psychological Triggers?

Have you sometimes wondered why some products win over similar ones that provide the same benefits and are much cheaper?

Most of the time, it is because one brand is more successful at bypassing rational thinking with psychological triggers. They play our emotions and we respond.

I can still remember how important it was for me at school to have certain clothes or shoes only to not feel like an outsider.

There was no logical reason it had to be that pair of Nikes, I could have walked and run in a cheaper pair just as well. But the sense of belonging and peer pressure was so strong in the eyes of my younger me, it was worth paying extra for them.

Mental triggers tap into human emotions. This way they can trigger irrational actions. Sometimes we want to avoid a feeling (avoid feeling like an outsider when I don’t have the same pair of shoes as my friends), sometimes we want to create a feeling. In both cases, the action is triggered by emotions and psychology rather than logic.

In marketing, the huge benefit of psychological triggers is that they can make a difference between similar solutions. When your niche is crowded and competition is fierce, you can still win the race if you add psychology and emotional triggers to your marketing content.

If you provide the same benefits as your competition, but your marketing is better at triggering emotional decisions, you will make more money than your competitors.

If logic and conscious competition is hard to be won, bring in the factors that are responsible for 95% of decision making and the odds are totally different.

That is one reason that makes storytelling such a powerful tool in marketing!

But playing the emotional card without delivering on your promises can kill your brand faster than you can make big money. You may have come across some emotional storytelling online that tries to sell you something that may not live up to the promise.

Shady people try to use emotional stories to make quick money. Where there is money and powerful tools, fraud is usually not far away.

Don’t hop on shady emotional tactics. 

The most important mental triggers in marketing

For most of the following mental triggers, you will think “Oh, yes, that makes sense” once you read about them. For some of them you will also instantly recognize them in some newsletters and sales emails you got or on some product landing pages you visited.

Once you know about them, you will recognize them in all kinds of places and situations. And you will realize how people use them to lure you into buying or doing something.

#1 Emotional Triggers: Authority

Some of us are natural leaders. They emanate an aura of authority. Other people naturally follow these natural-born leaders.

But you can build authority, even if you are not a born leader. All your actions, the value you give, and the community you build, help you build authority for your chosen niche or topic.

It may not come naturally, but you can still achieve it.

You want others to perceive you as an authority for your chosen content pillars or your main topics. This authority will lead them to look to you for advice and help on this topic.

Authority is an emotional trigger that needs to build over time

There are mechanisms to help you build authority.

  • Share valuable tips and show expertise
  • Answer questions and give advice
  • Share praise from customers, clients, or social media followers
  • Tell stories that showcase your expertise and authority.

Many factors that contribute to your authority are long-term factors. You need to consistently build your reputation and expertise. Once you can rely on your authority, converting customers gets a lot easier.

#2 Emotional Triggers: Novelty

This is about the shiny new thing syndrome. If it is new some people want to have it.

Apple used to play this card with every new IPhone. People camped out on the street in front of Apple stores just to be the first to get them – and no, they were not in desperate need of a new phone.

But be careful: not every new piece of content or “new” product has what it takes to lure people in. And not every new name for an old idea makes it “new.”

Novelty describes an emotional trigger of experiencing something new and intereting

You cannot expect the 20th course about how to start a blog to be perceived as something new – even though it may be new. 

Novelty is more. It is about new ideas, new points of view, new shiny things, or new gadgets.

A new angle, a new take, or even some controversy can help to make things perceived as new.

And with launching products, trying to sell something off as new that you have offered to your audience multiple times before is not going to do the trick.

#3 Emotional Triggers: Reciprocity

In my circle of friends, we like to look after each other. When someone mentions a need or wish, we think about how we can help them to get it. It is a very fulfilling way of looking after each other.

And it entails a feeling that I already got so much from my friends that I want to do something for them in return – I like to reciprocate.

Or a different example: When one of my Twitter friends launched something, I was happy to help her promote it. She instantly told me to let her know when she could reciprocate.

The law of reciprocity as an emotional trigger means you pay it forward and get it back in some form

You can develop a Twitter strategy from this: Give a shoutout, a mention to some of your fellow Twitter users once in a while. You will earn many friends who will one day share something for you. It also works for comments: When you comment on people’s tweets they will start commenting on yours.

In marketing or sales, reciprocity works like this: You give a ton of value via emails, blog posts, and freebies or you answer personal questions.

One day people will feel they have to pay you back and they start sharing your stuff or even buy your products.

#4 Emotional Triggers: Trust

Trust or distrust is a strong emotional trigger when it comes to buying decisions. The more expensive a product is, the more trust is needed for people to take the leap.

If people trust you you have far more influence on them than if they don’t know you or worse distrust you.

When you have a question you usually turn to someone you trust – why on earth should we ask someone we don’t trust when we have a problem?

The trust equation. The lack of trust is the opposite of an emotional trigger. It is a roadblock.

Trust is something to earn over time – but be careful it can be lost with one stupid action.

I have had a friendship that lasted for years. But one act of betrayal and the friendship never recovered from it. Because the trust was lost. 

Since trust is something that needs to be built over time, it is hard to earn the trust of people who only saw you once, found one piece of content, or read one of your social media posts.

Trust or the lack thereof makes it hard to convert a website visitor from a search. Most of the time they don’t know you and don’t know whether to trust you.

That makes followers and email subscribers so valuable. You have the chance to earn their trust through multiple posts and emails.

#5 Emotional Triggers: Community

We talk a lot about building a community. However, we have not talked so much about how a community influences behavior and buying decisions.

Here is your definitive guide to tapping into the psychological drivers that compel customer action. Explore the profound impact of emotions on consumer behavior and learn how to craft marketing messages that evoke powerful responses. Discover the key emotional triggers that can transform passive viewers into active customers. With actionable insights and real-world examples, this comprehensive resource provides strategies for integrating these triggers into your content and overall marketing strategy. Unlock the secrets to inspiring your audience, driving engagement, and achieving outstanding results. Harness the power of emotion to elevate your marketing efforts and motivate customers to take meaningful action.

What we think the people around us would do in a certain situation influences how we behave and the decisions we make.

If we think everyone is going to wear a dress to a party, we will probably not show up in cargo pants and sneakers.

If you can make your audience believe that all the others are buying your product they may do so, too. 

You can force the impression that everyone from the community buys by using testimonials or even user-generated content. Give a voice to the community and they will help you to convince their fellow community members.

“Community” here does not necessarily stand for something huge. There are work communities, friend communities, and social media communities. And communities do not necessarily mean something universal. My community may be a different one from yours, although you belong to my community. 

Community is more a term describing a group of people that influences an individual and their thoughts. 

There are weaker community ties and stronger communities. You can help your community to get closer by engaging and communicating.

Examples of how community is used as an emotional trigger in the buying process are:

  • During the promotional phase of a webinar the speaker welcomes new customers: “Welcome to Mike, Sophie and Angela who just signed up for our program.”
  • Little popups on websites “34 people recently bought product P.”
  • Testimonials can also help – especially if they are from people from your community that are known to other community members.

#6 Emotional Triggers: Curiosity

Usually, we think that people click because they believe something is in it for them.

But I have clicked on links where I did not believe there was value for me. I clicked because I wanted to know what it meant, and what was behind it. Sometimes I even clicked because I did NOT believe in the value but instead, I wondered how the people were playing their audience.

quote albert einstein I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Curiosity is powerful in making people want to know more. It may not be enough to make them pay for it though. But inspiring curiosity gives you a second chance to convince your audience to take action.

If you lure people into checking out your product, you may be able to convert some of them.

Curiosity can be inspired by mystery, surprise, a desire for adventure, and even cliffhangers.

#7 Emotional Triggers: Anticipation

Anticipation is when looking forward to something is turned into part of the fun.

how can you build anticipation to convert better

It is like the whole holiday season that leads up Christmas and turns this one holiday into weeks of fun.

Anticipation is my brother calling every couple of days if I would like to do this or what I think about doing that when I am visiting him and his wife in their holiday home in sunny Tuscany this summer. The planning of our week together is already part of the fun.

Building up momentum and attention can be a powerful trigger as you can catch the attention of your audience over a longer time. Done right anticipation will lead them to open your final announcement or launch email because you made them wait and long for this message.

#8 Emotional Triggers: Social Proof

It is a lot more powerful if other people say you are great than you running around telling everyone how great you are. That is what social proof is about.

let your audience speak. Their comments work as emotional triggers

That’s what makes testimonials and reviews so powerful. It is also why user-generated content can work wonders for your marketing.

It pays off to watch mentions of your brand on the web or social media – because these little thank-you tweets and brand mentions can become a valuable part of your marketing.

#9 Emotional Triggers: Peer Pressure

I already mentioned the peer pressure when kids “need” the same white sneakers all their peers are wearing. But it is not only kids.

In the solopreneur sphere maybe you want to have the same email tool that the gurus are using or you go out with friends and all the girls wear fancy dresses and you feel like the odd one out because you are the only one who wears jeans.

We like to belong and we like to fit in. What our peers choose, do, and wear has a lot of power over our decisions.

Buying decisions can be influenced by the impression that every successful person bought this and just buying it will increase our chance of success.

You can trigger this by displaying your customers on your website or giving a voice to existing customers with testimonials.

You can also use more sneaky tricks like increasing the price for your product after a set number of it has sold. With every price step, the impression increases that everybody already got this and you want it too.

#10 Emotional Triggers: Scarcity

Scarcity describes a situation when the availability of a product is limited, either by the number of instances of a product that are available or by the time the offer exists. Scarcity generates pressure to buy now instead of postponing the action to a later date.

Scarcity may easily be the most used conversion trigger in many product launches. It is used as time-limited availability or a limited number of available spots. It’s also used to earn signups for a freebie in social media “get it for free now but only for 24 hours.”

I have seen offers that increase the price every day/hour or after a certain number of sales. You can offer bonuses that people will only get if they buy before a deadline.

Let’s be honest, a lot of scarcity is fake or artificial.

With digital products, we can usually offer an endless number of instances of a product and the only reason why we close a launch or limit the availability of a product is to nudge people to make a decision now.

Once your audience sees through your fake scarcity, you may lose a lot of credibility and trust. Give a good reason why you close the cart or increase the price.

But even though a lot of scarcity is fake, the fear of missing out that is triggered via scarcity is real – and it works wonders. We don’t want to buy that product for double the price next week just because we were too lazy to get up and fetch our credit card today.

#11 Emotional triggers: Controversy

Controversy can be a double-edged sword.

Marketing that generates a lot of buzz gets attention. Be careful, not all buzz is positive.

While content that takes a new and different point of view often gets many shares, likes and comments, it may also drive away potential customers.

Taking a different point of view may generate buzz but not all of it is necessarily positive.

While everybody may have an opinion and keep up the engagement, they may not agree with you.

In sales, using controversy can be a ride on the verge of disaster: exciting as long as it works out but close to the abyss and losing it all.

#12 Emotional Triggers: Likeability

Recently a friend of mine broke her foot. She usually comes on the morning dog-walks that I participate in with a group of friends.

We all like her. There never was a question that we would organize that her dog would go on the walks with us. One of us will collect her dog every morning to make sure our friend has this one thing taken from her mind.

what makes people likeable?

If we did not like her, I am fairly sure that we would have found an excuse why we could not help her – or just not offered any help.

Likeability is a powerful trigger when it comes to offering favors – and buying.

Because if I don’t like you, I will find 1000 reasons why I should not buy from you.

If I like you, even if I don’t want to buy from you I may be willing to share your offer and help you spread the word.

While you should not focus on being liked by everyone, you need to understand what makes a person likeable. Here are the characteristics that contribute to the fact whether people like you or not:

  • Friendliness
  • Honesty
  • Tolerance
  • Positivity
  • Humor
  • Happiness
  • Kindness

#13 Emotional Triggers: Consistency

In the context of psychology, consistency means that you show the same face to your audience or customers every day.

the impact of consistency

If people know exactly what you stand for and what you can give them, they are more likely to buy exactly this from you.

Consistency is key to many of the other triggers:

  • Consistency builds trust. If you always post about similar things, don’t contradict yourself, and show that you are an expert in your niche. With consistency, your customers are one step closer to buying from you.
  • Consistency builds authority. A jack of all trades is never the one go-to person that people would ask for advice. They will turn to an authority for their problem.

#14 Emotional Triggers: Clustering

Too many choices leave many potential customers at a loss.


Imagine you are organizing a party. Here is what to choose from

  • You can have a buffet or a placed dinner.
  • You can have a band or a DJ.
  • You can choose from hundreds of drinks.
  • You can start a 6 or 8.
  • You can use the ballroom or the terrasse.
  • You can have one large table or multiple smaller ones.

Some of your customers may want to choose. Some will be happy to buy a package that you predefined.

Screenshot: Leadpages

Clustering can help people make a quick decision. 

#15 Emotional Triggers: Simplification

Have you ever tried to configure your perfect version of a complicated product with a lot of technical specifications? I have. And more often than not, I end up not buying anything because I am overwhelmed and don’t know what half of the stuff means that the product descriptions say.

simplicity quote leonardo da vinci

So I don’t buy anything because I cannot make the decision.

If you leave your customers with the thought “Oh, I have to do some research to make this decision” they will leave your website without buying more often than not.

You can win this competition by providing an explanation for the specifications. Tell consumers what it means, not the technical stuff. Give them a hint of what they need. One solution for this could be clustering but it may also help to not point out the technicalities but plain words that someone like me can understand.

If you do this, you can also win the trust game – because nothing inspires trust more than being open about things. Everyone else will seem as if they are hiding something.

Applying Psychological Triggers to Your Marketing Strategy

Incorporating psychological triggers into the content we share and make targeted use of the conversion effects of them, can make the difference between a failed launch and new income records.

If you are wondering why your content does not bring in the results you are looking for, while someone else is writing one success story after the other, it may be due to mental triggers and the convincing use of them.

Keep your eyes open when you read other peoples sales and marketing materials, you will see the same mechanisms and conversion triggers over and over.

Many of the triggers start their magic long before you ever offer a product. Authority and likeability go hand in hand with consistently providing help and advice. Tell stories to build community and make yourself stand out in the mass of valuable tips.

Just copying the psychological triggers someone else is using may not work for you. You are in a different stage of your online journey, your reputation is different, and your brand may not be as strong.

A Word of Warning

I already said that trust is won slow and lost fast.

But it is not just that. All these mental triggers should be used in an ethical way. Don’t invent testimonials, don’t lie and don’t try to rip anyone off – it will all fall back on you. It may seem like a good idea to fake it until you make it but most of the time honesty will take you further.

I have seen eye-watering stories to make big bugs that turned out all fake.

If you want to build a long-term success story and a brand you can be proud of, use emotional triggers in an ethical way. Content psychology is a powerful weapon, use it wisely.

Don’t play your audience dumb!

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *