How to Use Emotional Triggers Effectively in Email Campaigns

Have you ever crafted what you thought was perfect marketing
email, only to be disappointed when it didn’t perform well?

It can be frustrating to troubleshoot your process and figure
out where you went wrong.

Let’s say you’re already working with an appropriately
segmented and
healthy distribution list
. You even have automated
customer journeys
and other workflows set up to keep your
subscribers engaged. You make sure that you’re including all the

essential parts of an email
in every campaign component.

What else could you improve upon? You might consider using
emotional triggers.

Read on to learn about emotional triggers. We’ll discuss what
they are, what types of email campaigns would benefit from them,
and how to include them in your email marketing efforts.

What are emotional triggers in email?

Emotional triggers are exactly what they sound like. Most people
have emotion-based responses to certain opinions and intentional
actions of others. These responses make people sensitive, stressed,
and sometimes unable to act logically. In marketing, emotional
triggers tug at customers’ heartstrings to affect buying

Here are some positive emotional triggers that are fairly easy
to bake into your campaigns:

  • Anticipation or excitement: author Gretchen
    Rubin asserts that anticipation is the first of
    four stages of happiness.
    When customers look forward to
    something, they feel good about it and may even share their
    anticipation with other people.
  • Belonging or connection: the
    need to belong
    or be part of something bigger is human nature.
    This feeling is a great motivator. Customers may purchase items or
    participate in events to strengthen connections to specific groups.
    Through this trigger, brands can create tight-knit communities that
    support and trust them.
  • Curiosity: curiosity inspires physical action
    and mental activity in customers. Brands may trigger curiosity
    through sensationalism. However, unsubstantiated claims could
    damage their reputation in the long run. Appealing to customers’
    thirst for knowledge is a more stable strategy.
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO): this is a milder
    type of fear. The concern here has less to do with mortality and
    more to do with losing the chance to be in on an exclusive
  • Hope: this trigger deals with creating a
    yearning or expectation for a wholesome or beneficial outcome. The
    other side of this positive trigger is guilt. It takes skilled
    writing to walk the fine line between hope and guilt, especially
    when nonprofits use these
    particular triggers.

The idea is to craft emails that target specific emotional
triggers. Emotional marketing depends on knowing how your words and
visuals will affect human behavior.

How do you include emotional triggers in email campaigns?

As with any marketing campaign, you need to determine its
purpose. You can’t decide on which emotion to provoke without
knowing the end goal of your marketing email.

Now comes the tricky part. You need to hone your emotional
marketing skills well enough for your subscribers to forget about
your bottom line. Practice this by highlighting the helpfulness of
your content.

Here are four must-haves of every email employing emotional

  • Personalization: even without emotional
    triggers, personalization is crucial. Did you know that
    personalized emails
    have 600% higher click-through rates?
    Emotions are below the
    surface level for most people. Personalization cuts through that
    first barrier and makes it feel like you’re conversing with your
  • A problem: think of a marketing email’s
    purpose as a concrete problem that needs solving. Get to know your
    subscribers and consider their issues and difficulties. Being
    helpful is all about recognizing and taking the pressure off

    customers’ pain points.
  • An emotional trigger: follow up an
    understanding of a problem with the part that provokes
    subscribers’ emotions. Train yourself to do this by putting
    yourself in your customers’ shoes and thinking of what kind of
    language or tactics would work on you. If you start feeling the
    emotion during the course of your email crafting, you’re on the
    right track.
  • A solution: never bring up a problem you
    can’t solve. Swiftly put together a helpful solution to let
    subscribers know that you care.
  • A call to action (CTA): with enough skill, the
    strength of your CTA should help your customers and your metrics.
    You should aim for an increase in both click-through rates and
    conversion rates.

If you want to raise the chances of subscribers clicking on your
CTA, you can repeat them once or twice throughout your email

Here are 5 examples of creative ways to implement emotional
triggers in email marketing.

Examples paint a clearer picture of how emotional marketing
works. Study the emails below to get a grasp of how you can embed
emotional triggers in campaigns.

1. Build excitement by offering the option to pre-order an
anticipated product.

If you’re working with a retail brand, you already know the
importance of hype. When a product is popular and desirable but not
yet available, you can send out promotional emails provoking

Make your subscribers feel special and lucky to be part of your
email list. Give them the
first look at a new product
if possible. It’s a great way to
engage subscribers and keep them loyal to your brand.

 Oculus email using anticipation as an emotional trigger by allowing customers to pre-order

Really Good Emails

The Oculus email above offers the option to pre-order both the
Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift S, using separate CTAs. While the
focus is to rack up pre-orders, most of the email is anticipating
what you need after big-ticket items: upcoming games, VR
experiences, etc.

2. Strengthen connections by celebrating a milestone with your

You may already have an email campaign with a successful
emotional trigger running in the background:
a birthday email
. Most marketers give subscribers the option to
provide this information, along with their name, gender, and
location. These details make it much easier to personalize email
marketing campaigns.

As previously noted, personalization gets your foot in the door.

Celebrating milestones together
is the stuff of
relationship-building. Nothing feeds that sense of belonging like
having shared special occasions.

 theSkimm email using belonging as an emotional trigger by celebrating a milestone with customers

Source: Really
Good Emails

The email above shows theSkimm celebrating a brand milestone
with its customers.
Dynamic content
reminds customers of the brand’s presence in
their lives for the past five years. The referral program mixed
with a raffle rewards loyal subscribers and accomplishes
lead generation.

3. Pique curiosity by leading with an interesting question.

Did you know that the typical adult has an attention span of
eight seconds
? Longer than that, and a task might remain
undone—even something as simple as reading an email.

If you notice that a majority of your subscribers have
a short attention span
, you can design more
scannable emails
. You may also attempt to trigger their

TrustedHousesitters email using curiosity as an emotional trigger by asking a thought-provoking question

Source: Really
Good Emails

The TrustedHousesitters email above asks: “Can I trust a
stranger in my home?” While not the most clever, it’s relatable
and connected to the brand’s identity.

curiosity gap
is easily crossed once you open the email. Their
CTA even encourages further curiosity by telling you to “Ask a

4. Cultivate FOMO by adding a countdown timer.

The idea of adding a countdown timer to an email used to be so
novel. Modern technology has made it much easier to do in recent
years, and it’s changed the game when it comes to
creating a sense of urgency
in your email.

Numbers slowly decreasing can impact decision-making in
surprising ways. Emails with countdown timers average at least

14% higher conversion rates,
as well as 59% higher transaction

Harry’s email using FOMO as an emotional trigger by including a countdown timer

Source: Really
Good Emails

The Harry’s email above has a trifecta of
-inducing elements: the “Chop! Chop!” heading, the CTA
button with the text “Shop immediately,” and the countdown

5. Tell an uplifting story to trigger hope and encourage donations.

Telling stories is one of the most common tools email marketers
use in crafting campaigns, and for good reason. It’s one of the
most ancient ways human beings have passed on and preserved
messages and historical accounts from one generation to the

Why are stories so effective? Ninety-five percent of
cognition occurs not in the conscious brain
, but in the
subconscious. When you tell a story, you activate parts of the mind
associated with emotions, movement, sight, sound, and taste. This
observation carries even more meaning when we say that
giving is an emotional act.

 Help for Heroes email using hope as an emotional trigger by telling real stories

Really Good Emails

The Help for Heroes email above leads with a story and ends with
donation request.
The language used to tell the story is
crucial: thoughtful, hopeful, and powerful. It elicits a real
emotional response.

Ideally, the act of giving should bring positivity to the donors
as much as it does to those receiving the donations.

Wrap up

Everyone has similar emotional triggers. To understand and
influence your subscribers, you need to hone your emotional
marketing skills. Some common triggers you can use are
anticipation, belonging, curiosity, fear of missing out, and

Here are 5 ways to include these emotional triggers in email

  • Build excitement by offering the option to pre-order an
    anticipated product.
  • Strengthen connections by celebrating a milestone with your
  • Pique curiosity by leading with an interesting question.
  • Cultivate FOMO by adding a countdown timer.
  • Tell an uplifting story to trigger hope and encourage

Raring to use emotional triggers in marketing campaigns?
Increase the quality of your work and boost your ROI by
using email personalization hacks.

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How to Use Emotional Triggers Effectively in Email Campaigns

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Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
How to Use Emotional Triggers Effectively in Email Campaigns