Over the past decade, I’ve seen what an impact psychological triggers make on sales copy, marketing, growth hacking, and CRO.
With this post, I wanted to prepare a list of the psychological tactics I employ regularly in order to drive conversion lifts for my clients.
31 Psychological Triggers to Boost Sales Copy Conversions
1. Pace your prospects for the future.
Mentally prepare them for when they experience the success they desire with your offer.
Ask questions like, “Aren’t you tired of [insert problem]?” or “Wouldn’t it be nice to start getting relief from [insert problem] right now?”
Or “Are you ready to feel at ease knowing [insert problem]?” or “How relieving would it be to avoid [insert problem]?”
2. Create open loops.
Tease the beginning or middle of a story, and make the reader keep reading in order to discover how it plays out.
Create this tension in your reader, and force them to release tension by reading the story to completion and closing the loop.
3. Use active voice over passive voice.
This increases clarity and processing fluency. Readers can digest your information more clearly.
For example, instead of saying, “Many benefits are contained within our product” — change it to “Our product offers many benefits.”
4. Sprinkle coherence markers liberally.
Restate objects that you reference in previous sentences, even if this can come off as a bit repetitive. Liberally use words such as So, But, and That’s Why.
5. Use metaphors to make things more tangible.
Provide your readers with a more concrete mental image.
Instead of using simply stating that your offer is “amazing”, try to come up with a metaphor that embodies that sentiment using a cultural reference that your target audience understands.
6. Tell a story through your writing.
Instead of making overarching generic claims that are oftentimes unsubstantiated, add statistics. Concrete terms make your copy more persuasive.
7. Sell the benefits.
Instead of selling your product like an infomercial salesperson, you’ve become a storyteller extolling the benefits of a product that has improved your productivity by 25 percent.
8. People want to hear about people, not about percentages.
Statisticians rely on percentages to prove a point, but human beings prefer to hear about humans.
So, instead of saying “20 percent of people have experienced a 15 percent hike in conversion rates,” say instead “2 out of 10 have experienced a 15 percent hike in conversion rates.”
Your copy has just become more compelling.
9. Disarm your opponent.
Or, in this case, your reader, before you go in for the close (rather, the CTA). Weave a story together. Agitate the problem. Prolong the pitch.
When you’ve caught their attention, then reveal your solution.
10. Sure, your copy should be clear and direct.
But under no circumstances should you make any direct claims. It sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it?
Direct marketing claims are so explicit that customers are forced to rely on the (probably biased) information given by the advertiser.
Customers that infer their own conclusions trust the product more because they came to the solution on their own.
11. Talk about their fear and anxieties.
I know I said to be positive in your copywriting but here’s another tactic. Evoke fear by shedding light on the pain points of your target market.
What are their fears and anxieties? “You spend less time with your family?” “Your boss is starting to dislike you?”
Encourage your customers to empathize with these situations, then swoop in like a superhero with the solution.
12. Rhetorical questions make your arguments more persuasive.
By asking your readers a question, you’re engaging them and eliciting a response.
13. Use second person pronouns.
When you use second person pronouns, you engage your customer base to develop a more favorable perspective of your product.
Now, didn’t that sound so much better than, “When second person pronouns are used, customer bases are engaged to develop a more favorable perspective of the product?”
14. Demonstrate impact on other people, especially when the impact is negative.
Explain how other people are affected when your CTA isn’t pursued.
15. Sometimes, describing a state of being is more effective than describing what someone is doing.
The clever use of descriptive nouns creates an impact. For example, instead of thanking people for buying your kitchen knife, thank them instead for being an awesome home cook.
16. Let’s talk periods of time.
When people think about immediate events, they’re more likely to look at the numerals. So, “shipped in 1-3 weeks” is easier digested than “7-21 days” even if they’re the same amount of time.
On the other hand, if people are thinking of far-off events, they’ll look at the unit of time. So a delivery estimate of 7-21 days is swallowed better than 1-3 weeks.
Isn’t that nifty?
17. Pique their interest, then offer up an upcoming point of closure.
Human beings crave closure. They avoid ambiguity at all costs. Reference this tactic through teases throughout your copy.
First, make an ambiguous statement that sparks curiosity, then second, reference the upcoming point of closure. “Last year, I found myself jobless and homeless. I’ll tell you more about that later.”
18. Go find out why people complete your CTA.
Are they trying to gain something, or prevent something?
Reference their own words in your copy to hit home more effectively. Agitate the problem. People will digest your message more easily, thereby making their reaction to it a lot stronger.
19. Trigger the perception of justification.
Using “because,” or any of its synonyms will make an argument seem stronger. That’s because we mindlessly assume that an offered justification is valid — the only justification that matters.
20. Employ the primacy effect.
Information at the beginning has lots more weight than the information presented at the end. So sequence your strongest benefits at the top.
21. Studies show that decision timelines factor greatly into people’s decision-making.
So, when making immediate decisions (time-sensitive), they’re more concerned about feasibility, about reaching a goal. Prevention ads (risk minimization) work well here.
When making distant decisions (far into the future), people are concerned about reaching a pleasurable goal. So promotions (benefit maximization) are a good tactic to communicate desirability.
Match the ad copy to the mindset of the customer, and where they’re at in their decision-making process.
22. Identify your risk.
Choose arguments that generate the most impact and that minimize risk.
Every situation has different types of risk. The risk involved in financial products is different from the risk offered by a real estate website.
Address the risk and offer some level of security so your customer base feels confident pursuing your CTA.
23. Use semantic visuals.
Employ graphics, infographics, photos, and so forth to illustrate your point. Our brain has a hard time processing numerical values.
When you illustrate “9 out of 10 people,” your customers’ brains absorb the information faster and easier.
24. Use your customer’s first name.
Upon hearing your first name, certain regions in your brain get activated like the middle frontal cortex, middle and superior temporal cortex, and cuneus.
25. People like feeling like they belong.
Use ingroup pronouns like “we,” “our,” and “us,” to make your customers feel like they’re part of the trend.
26. Never underestimate the power of BYAF (but you are free).
Frame your words to reduce psychological resistance to persuasion. By making it your customers’ choice, you develop a genuine desire to complete your call to action (CTA).
27. Consider familiarity and emotion when you write.
If you’re gunning for comprehension, evoke familiarity by illustrating a recognizable scene. Put yourself right beside your audience and help them see what you see.
If you’re gunning for impact though, choose the perspective that evokes an emotional response the most. Write to the triggers of your customer base.
28. Extrapolate on the savings the customer receives when they purchase your product.
Do they save time so they can spend more time with family? Do they save money which they can use for an Aspen vacation?
Explain the tangible benefits and help your target market visualize what they get past the physical product.
29. Go ahead and explain the drawbacks of your message.
But spin them in a positive light. Research shows that two-sided arguments are more persuasive, but you don’t necessarily have to put yourself down.
30. Mention your competition.
Do your customers’ homework for them. By mentioning your competition in a classy and non-militant way you’re stopping your customers from searching around for competing solutions.
31. Experiment with pattern interrupts in your copy and content.
Strive to add personality to your content, and do things a little bit differently than everyone else. Aim for novelty and intrigue.
But yeah, that’s it for now!
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Award-winning growth marketing consultant and digital strategist with over half a decade of experience building brands, growing communities, and directing marketing strategy for hundreds of venture-backed startups, creatives, and companies worldwide. I help tech and ecom companies scale with growth strategy, copywriting, and CRO.