The Emotional Triggers That Hook Email Subscribers & Drive Conversions

“Emotional triggers are the secret to successful email campaigns.”

Source: Convince & Convert

Human decision making is ruled by the emotional brain, suggests Marketing Land. “People decide first based on how they feel, and then justify that decision with what seems like a consciously balanced weighing of pros and cons.”

While many marketers know the importance of establishing an emotional connection with their readers, there are still some who don’t understand the depth of feeling that rules the average purchase decision.

According to Entrepreneur, “Your copywriting should accomplish two goals: It should make consumers feel something, and it should make them act on those feelings.”

Once you’ve identified the appropriate audience for your marketing message, you can choose the emotional triggers that will transform that message into an email campaign that hooks subscribers and prompts conversions.

Here are 10 common emotional triggers you can use to make your emails more persuasive:

Belonging –  “Human nature dictates that 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,” says Entrepreneur.  Use phrases like “You’re part of our family” to appeal to the consumers’ need to belong.

Instant Gratification – We live in a society where people crave—and expect—instant gratification in virtually all aspects of their lives. That being said, your copywriting should create a sense of urgency to convey the message that you can help them meet their needs immediately. You can achieve this by using the following words suggested by Entrepreneur: today, now, in one hour or less, within 24 hours, etc.

Hope – We all want something good to look forward to (i.e. a silver lining, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow). Use this desire to generate messages that cater to your subscribers’ sense of expectation for a particular outcome.

Competition – The saying “Keeping up with the Joneses” speaks to our competitive desire to feel equal to or better than our peers. You can use phrases like “Make your neighbors drool” in your copy to ignite feelings of competition in your subscribers.

Guilt – Think of the last nonprofit mailer you received. It probably used an emotional trigger like “Don’t let the children down” or “Don’t let abandoned pets suffer anymore.” That’s because consumers are easily swayed by messages that provoke feelings of guilt, as well as the opportunity to right a wrong.

Vanity – Marketing messages that appeal to personal vanity are widely used in the media today. We see ads with gorgeous models telling us that a particular makeup will make us more beautiful, for example. You can use the same approach in your emails by using phrases that flatter your consumers’ intellect or decision-making capabilities (like, “We know you’re too smart to pass this up”).

Leadership / Trend Setting –  Some consumers want to be the first to try out the newest products or trends because it makes them feel powerful and in control when they can lead the way. You can appeal to these consumers by using phrases liked “Be the First.”

Fear – You might recognize this effective emotional trigger in marketing messages from insurance companies. There’s nothing so motivating as warning consumers that they’re “In Danger of” something if they don’t take action.

Value – Consumers are always looking for a good deal. You can arouse feelings related to value be using emotional triggers like, “If you find a lower price on the same item, we’ll match it!”

Greed – As one of the seven deadly sins, greed has motivated human behavior from the beginning of time. That’s what makes it such good fodder for books, plays, and movies. You can make good use of it, too! Just use your email marketing message as a means of showcasing a product or service that convinces subscribers that it will help them “get a bigger piece of the pie.” Phrases like “Make a fortune in real estate” will trigger the reader’s desire for wealth or power.


Because consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisements and marketing messages, you need to give them a good reason to read yours. To achieve this, remember Entrepreneur’s two essential guidelines:

Your copywriting needs to:

(A) make consumers feel something

(B) make them act on those feelings

After much strategizing and A/B testing, Convince & Convert knows a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t:

 “…when it comes to improving open and clickthrough rates (CTRs)…emotional triggers are the secret to successful email campaigns.”

Use the emotional triggers listed above to hook your subscribers and improve your email marketing conversion rates today. (btw, did you catch the emotional trigger in that sentence?).

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.