These Emotional Triggers Will Increase Your Audience Engagement

Every day, millions of blogs and other pieces of content find their way on the web. But the fact is, if you are not using the right emotional cues, then your carefully crafted content will be ignored by readers.

Great brands and content writers use emotional triggers to drive engagement with their target audiences. But what are emotional triggers?

In the simplest senses, emotional cues are those moments that tug at your heart strings and force you to give your undivided attention to the content featured in the post, article or presentation deck.

Used right, they can make or break your piece of content in it’s entirety.

There has been significant research in the field of emotional triggers by academicians and industry experts. They have broadly classified cues into four categories- Love, Fear, Greed and Duty or Honour.

  1. Love – If you have a pet at home and you go out frequently to the market to buy pet supplies, then you will not fail to notice messages invoking this emotion by various brands. Pets are all about love and protection and that is why various brands like Pedigree use these emotional hooks to entice buyers. Right from the headline to the call for action statement, love and protection from the dominant part of the message.


  1. Fear – Fear is used by many product categories while pitching themselves to their customers. Insurance companies almost always use this cue to warn people in case they die.

We’ve all be there before right? Articles that destil a little fear like ‘What will happen to your dependents if…’ – this is the most overly used scenario built up by insurance companies. In this case, death or fear is the most over riding emotion. The second emotion that is built in the messaging is that of uncertainty. So this combination of fear and uncertainty is a potent one while selling insurance products.

  1. Greed – Perhaps greed is the most used emotion by various companies. Financial product companies that promise enormous returns use this cue very cleverly.

‘All you need to do is save X dollars a month and you could earn a hundred thousand dollars in just a few years’, is the dominant catch line of these companies. What many buyers do not notice is the fine print in the messaging which does not guarantee enormous returns.

Casinos use greed to lure more people to their slot machines and make them play. The messaging on those machines plays upon the primitive human emotion of earning big money without having to work hard.

There are many other examples that use these emotional triggers to sell their products. Discount coupons, incentives, cash discounts and other forms of freebies use greed to draw consumers towards brands.

  1. Duty and Honour – Defense forces use this emotion while advertising for fresh recruits. After all what is Army about – Pride, Honour and Duty.

Look up any ad from armed forces and you will see visuals and words invoking the feelings of pride and honour. The US and Indian Armies use this emotion to pitch themselves to potential soldiers.

Great brands, like Apple, use emotion in their headlines to capture reader interest. For example, Apple Watches use ‘love’ to entice readers to read their ads. Once the reader is ensnared by this emotional hook, the rest of the job is relative easy.

But if you thought that merely using emotional triggers will sell your product then you are mistaken.

You still need to deliver valuable information to your readers so that they are able to make informed choices.

Consumers are looking for advice while evaluating options so the copy needs to incorporate that as well. Reader interest can also be maintained by invoking thought provoking questions that force readers to think, and then act.

Time to put it all in action

Next time you’re writing a piece of content, take time to evaluate your content’s emotional cues, and make sure it’s aiming for the right reactions. Keep in mind that emotional reactions don’t only stem from the words you use, but the visuals you include in your post.

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