What are trigger words?
You've probably heard "pull the trigger". A trigger word is a play on that phrase. It's a word that inspires someone to act, make a decision, or buy your product or service—and in most cases do it quickly.
A trigger word often describes something in such a way that encourages the consumer to buy it and it plays on emotion. Trigger is pulled, action is taken—simple as that.
Why should you use emotional trigger words?
Logic and emotion are processed in two separate parts of the brain. In fact, emotions process sensory input into our subconscious mind and work on an emotional level, while the human cognition part of the brain takes time to understand more logical, black-and-white copy. For example, the processing of value. Thus, emotional trigger words can have a more profound impact on consumer action, create lasting impressions, and spurring repeat the same actions over time. Even if there doesn't seem to be a solid reason or frame of logic as to why.
It's no secret that emotional marketing messages can subconsciously impact readers. Though, it's not necessarily in the nefarious way that the term "subconsciously" can project. It's more that, instinctively, people respond more emotionally to certain words used in certain contexts. And as marketers, we've tried to better understand what those words are, and why they work the way they do.
Which words attract customers?
So, do you want to put more emotional copy to practice? Emotional trigger words can be grouped into positive, negative, and transactional words and are fairly easy to implement once you understand them and how they can be applied.
Negative emotional trigger words: These words provoke negative emotions like fear, sadness, or rage. They are memorable because they are words that evoke emotions. And in using them you can grab someone's attention and offer a (hopefully) positive solution.
Positive emotional trigger words: These words typically stir good emotions like delight or elation. They are useful because they can cause readers to associate positive ideas, memories, and feelings with your brand.
Transactional trigger words: These words spark a reader to take an action and do something. That could be purchasing a product, opting into a list, or signing up for a service.
What are some of the more powerful words you can use?
Whether positive, negative, or transactional, here are some of the most emotion- and action-evoking words to leverage in your copy.
Examples of positive trigger words to use:
The word "yes" could be the most essential "positive" word. "It is a statement of possibility and personal investment," says BlueLeadz. "In body copy, it can show readers you're on their side by 'agreeing' with their thoughts. In headlines, it can even stand alone as an exclamation.
Example "Yes, we offer low financing on all our vehicles."
Synonyms that could be used are:
Instil in your readers the desire to believe that things will be better in the future. It's an approach that's commonly used in political campaigns, for the reason that people truly want to believe their best days are ahead of them.
Example: "Working towards creating a better, brighter future."
A few equally useful synonyms are:
Consumers want to be the best versions of themselves. The word "imagine" allows them to paint a picture of a different future. This word and associated ones allow consumers to suspend disbelief and imagine what could be.
Example: "Imagine how much easier your job will be with..."
A few similar words that can help conjure the same thinking:
Many people are motivated by success, wealth, luxury, and prestige. They want to be seen (and even think of themselves) as being in the highest echelons of society possible. And that often means buying products that are associated with or make promises of being in or joining that in-group.
So, using words that indicate that something is high-end, or of significant value can be a significant motivator for anyone who aspires to be a part of or remain in upper-echelon crowds.
Example: "When it comes to high-end, we're the highest."
Similar words include:
"When your audience is passionate about what you have to say or sell, there’s no need to convince them of need, it’s all about want," says Copyblogger. "Beyond attaining the objects of our desire, we love to experience excitement along the way."
Example: "Only the most passionate people may apply."
So, enhance the "passion" in your copywriting with these additional words:
Health, or more specifically, good health, is something that almost everyone aspires to in some way. A fitness goal. A diet goal. A weight goal. And using health-related words in your copy works in areas other than the health and fitness industry, too. An example: Personal coaching and business-to-business relationships. When using health-related words, your reader can imagine a prosperous future for themselves and others.
Example: "Improve the health of your finances by speaking to an advisor today."
Here are some health-related words to try:
Examples of negative trigger words to use:
Even small annoyances prompt people to feel a certain way. Capitalizing on little (or big) annoyances in your copy can turn people's heads and even make their blood boil. But, they can also be used to make a problem feel relatable or evoke empathy.
"Don't let that headache annoy you one minute longer."
Here are other synonyms that can be used as well:
Deception and betrayal are powerful words because they're some of the most negative emotions a person can experience—both on the receiving and giving end. They create negative thoughts, but also prompt intrigue to figure out the root causes of the feeling.
Example: "Drink milk and don't let your body betray you."
Use one of these varieties of deception:
Hate is probably the most powerful of negative emotions, so it stands to reason that it's also a pretty powerful trigger word. It conjures so many different emotions, few of which or good. So when used appropriately, it can be an effective trigger to take action. (Tip: If using it in your copy, provide a solution to the negative reactions or pain points your readers have.)
Example: "Hate Cheddar? Try Havarti instead."
Some other words similar to "hate".
Perhaps it's in our nature, but humans often want what they can't (or shouldn't) have. The allure of a having something or doing something we shouldn't can ignite a strong response in consumers. That can be as simple as a chocolate bar at 9pm or as complicated access to information they wouldn't normally see. But it can be a truly powerful motivator.
Example: "Try the award-winning whisky that was once forbidden in all 52 states."
Consider using these associated words:
How can you have what's best if you don't know what the worst is? To understand what the least-good thing is means you're in the know, that you have the intelligence to discern, and that you have the good taste to do better. That's why "worst" can be such a powerful word. It's something that everyone wants to avoid. So it, and it's synonyms, are effective when used alongside a solution (that you likely offer).
Example: "The worst roads demand the best tires."
Here are a few other similar words to use:
Examples of transactional trigger words:
Everyone likes free stuff. Whether it's free advice, a product, or service, using the word "free" in your copy will almost always improve your results. Author Dan Ariely in Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions says, "The word 'free'… gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is."
Using this word in your copy can broaden your brand's appeal, too. Because most audiences love free things, you may get people clicking on your content that may not otherwise.
Example: "Buy one, get the second one absolutely free."
Other words similar to “free” are:
New is amongst the most powerful of trigger words. It makes sense. After all, "new" means something that you haven't seen before. It's better than "old". And it comes with implications of improvement and enhancement. Humans are psychologically hardwired for novelty, reports The Telegraph. If our brains seek the lustre of a new thing, why not capitalize on these types of trigger words in your marketing copy? It gives people the urge to look and listen to whatever your business has to say.
Example: "Try the newest flavor in our line-up of soups."
Here are similar words that you can try, too:
- Brand new
People love things that come effortlessly. Anything that is a challenge might not be worth it. In a world of instant gratification, the faster a brand can deliver a product, service, or idea. Indicating that your long-form content or lead magnets, can be downloaded instantly may urge people to take that extra step and click on the call-to-action.
Example: "He was able to get rid of the tough skin on his hands instantaneously."
So, think about ways to create that "fast" appeal in your copy using these trigger words:
Urgency, often expressed as scarcity, is one of the 6 proven persuasive techniques and it is one of the most powerful trigger words available to writers. It demands that a reader make a decision faster and employs a certain amount of FOMO to help influence that choice.
Example: "Don't miss your chance to get this discount."
You can create a sense of urgency and scarcity with words like:
While your English professor may disagree with you, the pronoun you should be used in all marketing copy is "you".
The copy you write isn't about you, the writer. Or you, the product. It's about you, the reader. You're speaking to them.
Point the finger at your readers, and make it personal. Personalized marketing is the way to market in this day in age, and simply focusing on using the right pronoun is a great start.
In using “you”, you avoid referring to your readers as an ambiguous “they” audience, which allows you to speak directly to them.
Here’s an example:
- DON’T: Here's How Taxpayers Should Pay Their Taxes in 2020
- DO: Here's How You Should Submit Your 2020 Taxes
A note on when and how to use trigger words
A big part of the power that trigger words carry is knowing when to use them. And just as importantly, when not to. A well-executed use of a trigger word can elevate copy from good to great. It can help you communicate your idea clearly, cleverly, and with more impact. And of course, it can help you sell your product or service.
But a poorly used one? At best it's ineffective. And at worst, it's spammy and working against you, your brand, and the objective at hand.
For example, well-used trigger words:
"Learn the new technique that allows you to focus on your passion and avoid work you hate."
Here we've used "new", "passion", "avoid", and "hate". Each word is working hard to paint a picture of what the statement means: an easier way to do more of what you like to do and less of what you don't like to do.
Here, even the negative words are working towards that positive end. They're telling the reader what they'll avoid.
That's a big part of it. You don't necessarily want to use negative words to say negative things or make statements that instil those not-so-great emotions. You want them to support your pitch.
Infuse emotional trigger words and improve your bottom line
Pair emotional trigger words and writing unique copy, and you're going to bring your content to the next level. Whether you're writing copy for headlines, blogs, social media, landing pages, or websites, consider infusing some of these psychological trigger words and see how attention to your brand and conversions improve.
Emotion impacts reader impressions, actions, and memories. So, nix that neutral tone in your brands copy and add some emotion to your copy. For more tips on how to improve conversion rates, download our guide.
Have you had luck using other trigger words? Add them in the comments below!