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9 Powerful Emotional Triggers for Your Email Marketing Campaigns


Every decision we make involves emotions. Understanding these emotions and their triggers can help marketers build effective marketing strategies and tactics. That is also true for email marketing. Once you know your target audience, you can determine which emotional trigger can be used in your email marketing campaign. Let’s learn more about nine powerful emotional triggers that can help you build effective campaigns.

Which Emotions Can Influence Email Subscriber Decisions?

Many emotional triggers can impact decision-making. Among them, there are nine that are widely recognised by marketers: fear, guilt, belonging, time, leadership, value, competition, trust, and instant gratification.

Trigger #1: Fear

When talking about fear, it doesn’t mean that your email campaigns should literally be scary. For marketing purposes, we want to highlight “FOMO” or “fear of missing out”. FOMO is powerful and can unconsciously impact our entire logical thought process. Use FOMO for urgency, such as “Don’t miss out on our Black Friday sale! Special promotions end in 10 hours!”.

Depending on your business, a more direct fear trigger can be an option. For example, insurance companies could be using messages like this: “What happens when you’re caught driving without insurance?”.

Trigger #2: Guilt

Guilt can influence your email subscribers. Charities/non-profit organisations often use this emotional trigger. You’ve probably seen messages such as “Your donation will help a child in need. Don’t let them suffer!” in marketing emails asking for donations. With this emotional trigger, you can show your email subscribers that they have a chance to make something right.

Guilt triggers can be used in various industries. It’s often included in health, sports and nutrition-related campaigns (for example, the highlighted guilt emotions based on cheating on your diet). However, please ensure you’re using this trigger carefully.

Trigger #3: Belonging

The human need to belong is instinctual. It’s in our nature. A sense of belonging can definitely be used in marketing messages. For example, encouraging purchasing specific products to feel part of a group.

Even in the welcome email, you can start addressing the need for belonging. You can highlight a feeling of being accepted into a community or becoming a part of the “family”.

Trigger #4: Time

How often do we say that 24 hours in a day is just not enough anymore? We live very busy lives, but at the same time, we wish for a good work-life balance. We have hobbies and personal interests, we dream about having more free time to spend with our families and friends. Time can make us feel many different things – we can be sentimental, happy or even stressed.

Depending on your niche, you can find the time trigger to be very helpful. Your email messages can highlight how you can help your subscribers save time. For example, somebody offering a solution that aims to help organise a business can market their product or service as a way to cut the time it takes to complete a specific task. Restaurants and food-related businesses can promote products or services as a perfect opportunity to save time cooking and having more free time to spend with friends and family.

Trigger #5: Leadership

Leadership as an emotional trigger is appealing to the audience who want to be the first, try new things, and be the leaders. If your audience is like that, you can include content based on this trigger in your campaigns. Messages such as “Be the first to try this!” will definitely appeal to this audience.

That said, you can also trigger leadership emotions by being a leader yourself. Your company’s brand can be positioned as a leader in your industry; your company can be innovative and trend-setting. A company worth following!

Trigger #6: Value

Values are our fundamental beliefs that guide and motivate our actions, perceptions, priorities and attitudes. Values can impact our decision making (including our purchasing decisions). When we think about values in marketing, the most commonly reflected “value” is the direct monetary one: someone could be getting a good deal. Good value for money.

The value trigger doesn’t have to be all about the monetary aspect. You could explore adding different human value triggers into your email campaigns. For example, you can highlight family values, empathy, equality or inclusion.

Trigger #7: Competition

Competition is a strong emotional trigger. Depending on your audience, you’ll have subscribers who want to be better, smarter, healthier, or stronger than others. Suppose that’s your audience type. In that case, this trigger could help you identify and create user journeys to drive your email marketing results.

Build highly targeted content to meet the needs of this type of audience. That said, don’t aim to manipulate your email subscribers. Instead, try to inspire them, show them the possibilities, how to achieve their goals and dreams.

Trigger #8: Trust

Trust can help keep customers happy and loyal to a brand. If your campaigns are aiming to build trust, make sure you mean what you say. Keep your promises. Your emails can highlight transparency, which is critical in trust-building. Display testimonials where appropriate.

Remember, if your customers trust you, they’re more likely to become repeated purchasers and advocate for your brand. Unfortunately, trust doesn’t come easy – it takes time and patience.

Emotional Trigger #9: Instant Gratification

Truth be told, instant gratification has become a standard, an expectation. In many aspects of our lives, we can get what we want almost instantly. For example, a subscriber who signed up immediately receives a welcome email. A customer who registered gets access to the tool instantly.

Words like “now”, “today”, “instantly” will help trigger this emotion in your messages – for example, “sign up now and start saving money today.

Inspiration for Your Next Email Marketing Campaigns

Emotions are powerful. Your words, your images can help evoke emotions and persuade your subscribers to take action. Emotional triggers can be effectively used in targeted email marketing campaigns. That said, don’t aim to directly manipulate your email subscribers; instead, use these triggers to inspire and encourage them to take action.