23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

The thing about copywriting is that it requires a fundamental understanding of psychology. It takes knowledge of how people think, what they want, and why they want it. Even the best technical writer in the world might lack that knowledge.

So, how does your audience think? Well, there are many proven triggers you can rely on. There's a perfect angle no matter your offer or audience.

Many of these triggers are only useful for specific offers. Others are more flexible and work for many different offers. Let's look at some of these psychological triggers and see how you can use them to connect with your audience.

 

Psychological Trigger #1: Feeling Of Involvement Or Ownership

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Think about shopping online for a minute. Chances are, you've mulled over a product or two to decide if it's right for you. How much easier would it be if you could handle that product and see how it works? That's the idea of involvement and ownership.

Someone spends time with a product and shows interest to get involved. Ownership is when someone uses a product and gets an idea of what it's like to own that product. That can also apply to your offer. Anyone who looks at your product or uses it to any extent is much more likely to buy it. That's because they get a better idea of how it can improve their life.

Example: 

Imagine someone ready to buy a banana. They might look at pictures, videos, and reviews. That can give a good idea of what a banana is like, but it's not always enough.

That can change if they shop at a banana stand and handle a banana. They feel what it's like to use that product and what it would be like to own it. Sometimes that's the extra push people need.

 

Psychological Trigger #2: Honesty

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Dishonesty in marketing won't get you far. You might get a few initial sales, but word spreads and people can realize your offer isn't all you've made it out to be. You can't advertise the best bananas in the world if every bunch is either bruised or still green.

Your only viable option is to state the facts so you don't promise more than you can deliver.

You can point out negative aspects of your offer to take that one step further. Not enough to make your offer undesirable, but to keep it honest. Focus on the negatives that aren't relevant to the function of the product. Prospects might then trust you more about the positives.

Example:

Say you sell bananas. Bananas aren't perfect but they do more than many other fruits. You want to tell your audience how good they are but you have to instill trust.

In that case, you could tell them that the banana takes some extra work since it has a peel. Buyers might trust you more since you were honest about a negative aspect. Then, you might convince them that it's worth the work because the payoff is so valuable. Once they peel the banana they have unique options like a banana split or bananas foster.

 

Psychological Trigger #3: Integrity

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Integrity and honesty are similar but they're not the same thing. Honesty is easy to spot but integrity is more nuanced. Integrity is about more than the truth. Look at it this way: You may have helped someone make $50k in a month, but is that likely for every client? It isn't, so you can't claim that you'll do the same for everyone.

It may have been true for one client, but you might over-promise and under-deliver if you use that as a general claim. Instead, you have to make modest and believable claims. Claims that don't guarantee a specific amount of anything. The claims can mention specifics but only as a possibility.

Example: 

A business says their bananas helped someone lose 20 pounds. They did it for one person, but there's no way to prove that claim for every customer. Customers could see the business as untrustworthy if they don't see those results.

The way around that is to claim that their bananas can help with weight loss. They could say something as simple as "Our bananas can help you lose weight!" There's no promise of a specific result, only a possibility.

Psychological Trigger #4: Credibility

Credibility comes from a combination of honesty and integrity. You can establish trust if you're honest and show integrity. Once you have their trust, prospects are much more likely to buy from you. Without trust, you have no credibility.

Example: 

A banana stand on the corner of a street might not have much credibility. Business could be good but it's hard to break into a bigger market. That's where credibility comes into play.

Things would be much easier if a respected publication featured the banana stand. People might trust that endorsement since they already trust the publication.

 

Psychological Trigger #5: Value And Proof Of Value

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Every offer has to provide value to a buyer. The way the offer presents that value is as important as the value itself. One of the best ways to prove value is to compare your offer to similar offers.

Your offer might not excel in every area but you can show where it beats out competitors. What's important is to focus on what makes your offer better than the other guys.

Example: 

Everyone knows bananas are healthy and tasty fruit but they're only one of many. Consumers have a ton of choices, so why would they choose a banana? Well, that's why it's important to explain how bananas are better than other fruits.

The texture is soft, they're filling, and they have more vitamin A than apples. They provide many benefits that other fruits don't share. The consumer can then see why other fruits aren't as good in those aspects.

 

Psychological Trigger #6: Justify The Purchase

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

People like expensive things but many don't have tons of disposable income. They can't go out and buy everything they want. Instead, they have to decide what they want the most and come up with a good reason to buy it. In many cases, they have to save up money before they can even think about it.

They have to justify the purchase even if that reason is made-up. It's up to you to give them reasons that the purchase is sound. They might already want something but they don't always have a good enough excuse to buy it.

Example: 

Premium banana suits are an investment. They look great and attract attention but they aren't cheap. Sure, everyone wants a banana suit, but they can't always justify the cost.

That's why you have to give them a logical reason to make that purchase. A banana suit is cheaper than a custom three-piece suit and it can grab more attention, so it's perfect to stand out. That's not the real reason they want the banana suit but it's a logical reason.

 

Psychological Trigger #7: Greed

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

For better or worse, people are greedy. That means they'll likely jump on a deal with a good discount — more bang for their buck. Or they might feel even more pressure to buy now since discounts don't always last. That's why one of the best ways to evoke the feeling of greed is a combination of a discount and a countdown.

Example: 

Want to sell more bananas? Have a 50% off sale. Imply that your customers can enjoy the sale while you lose out.

You still make a profit but people have an urge to buy when the deal sounds that good. They can't afford to pass up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like that.

 

Psychological Trigger #8: Establish Authority

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Authority is important for any business but it isn't easy to establish. It takes a lot of time and work. That's even more true if your business is new and not well-known.

The good news is it can get easier as you make a name for yourself. Once you're more established, you can reference big clients you've worked with.

Example: 

Plenty of businesses sell bananas, but how do buyers know which bananas are best? They can try every brand and variety, but that takes too much time and money. They want to know which banana is best before they make a purchase.

So, they're more likely to buy from a known brand with connections. They want a banana that's recognized everywhere.

 

Psychological Trigger #9: Satisfaction Conviction

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

A guarantee can instill confidence. Customers tend to trust your offer if you're confident about it. They need to believe you're 100% behind whatever you sell or do. The more your guarantee benefits the customer, the better. You can do this in different ways, but you should give them something extra or cut risk.

Example: 

Let's say someone is on the fence about a banana investment. They have the chance to buy a pallet of bananas but they're worried about the risk. They might need a guarantee to feel confident in their investment. Something like a free replacement pallet if they don't move the bananas in time is perfect. Anything to prove your confidence in your offer can work wonders.

 

Psychological Trigger #10: Nature Of Product

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Every product fits in a category. The product might be one of many similar products, but its niche is well-defined. That means you have to know the audience for that niche. You have to know who they are, what they want, and everything else about them.

Every audience is different so it's important that your marketing reflects that. You can't sell a product to everyone no matter how amazing it is. You have to sell it to the right audience with the right angle.

Example: 

A fast-food restaurant might not have much luck with bananas. They could deep fry them and dip them in chocolate, but they don't have the right customers. Healthy restaurants might have an easier time. The customers of those places are already interested in bananas.

 

Psychological Trigger #11: Current Fads

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Fads come and go, so you might not pay them much attention. Or they're not relevant to you at all. That's often true but fads can also provide some great opportunities.

If you can get in right when a fad starts, you can sell a certain product while it's popular. In other cases, you can angle a product or service a certain way depending on what's popular.

Example: 

Suppose you sell bananas but you don't see much growth anymore. After all, everyone knows what bananas are so the market doesn't change much. Now, what if a banana challenge goes viral online? That's the perfect opportunity to capitalize on and make some sales.

 

Psychological Trigger #12: Desire To Belong

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

People like to belong. They see certain people and they want to be like them for whatever reason. The best way to do that is to become part of their group.

Many times it's easy to identify something that people in the group have bought. It could be a product or a service. Either way, you can appeal to someone's desire to belong and influence them to buy something.

Example: 

What's something many healthy people have in common? They eat fruit.

So, someone might do the same if they want to get healthy and belong to that group. They wouldn't want to show up to a group exercise with a cheeseburger in hand. Well, they might want to but then they won't fit in.

 

Psychological Trigger #13: Desire To Collect

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Many people have collections. They might collect for personal reasons or to show their collections off. They might even feel the need to complete a collection because they like a certain brand. Or they could get a reward if they collect enough of something. Whatever the reason, certain customers will buy until their collection is complete.

Example: 

Let's say you run a successful banana farm. Sales are good but you want them to improve. You have loyal customers, but not enough of them make regular purchases.

So, you decide to offer a rewards program based on the stickers that come on your bananas. 10 stickers and you get a banana pin, 50 stickers and you get a banana case, and so on. These items are exclusive, but customers can't buy them. They already eat bananas so that could push them to buy more.

 

Psychological Trigger #14: Curiosity

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. Curiosity is a natural, powerful feeling, after all. People want their questions answered and they don't want to feel left in the dark.

This is even more true about products and services they can't touch or experience. That includes every product or service sold online. So hype up your offer and convince prospects that they need to see and experience it to believe it.

Example: 

Imagine a boutique banana breeder who crosses all types of bananas into new hybrids. He even created a variety that tastes exactly like bubblegum.

It sounds too good to be true so people want to try it. They can imagine it but they need to know if it does taste like bubblegum. That curiosity is often enough to drive sales.

 

Psychological Trigger #15: Sense Of Urgency

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Nobody likes to miss out on good things. They even feel like they can't afford to miss out if it involves money. That's why a sense of urgency can drive sales.

Even an artificial feeling of urgency can give people that extra push. That can look like a low amount of stock, a limited-time bonus offer, or a regular old sale. If they don't buy now, they might not ever get the same deal again.

Example:

Say you grow bananas and you have to clear out stock before a harvest. The alternative is to let your bananas rot and lose any potential profit.

All you'd have to do is hold a limited-time sale. People won't want to miss out and they only have a short time to take advantage. You can even increase sales if you don't have a legitimate reason for a discount.

 

Psychological Trigger #16: Instant Gratification

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Everyone likes to get what they want as soon as possible. They might even feel entitled if they paid money for it.

The current market for many products and services only reinforces that desire. Many businesses offer next-day delivery and many products are digital now. You have to compete if you want a chance in the market.

Example: 

Think of a bananapreneur with a book for sale. The book contains modern business strategies but a book takes a long time to print and ship.

A physical book isn't the best choice since the information is time-sensitive. An e-book would work much better in this case. It's easy to send right after a purchase and information is easy to update.

 

Psychological Trigger #17: Exclusivity, Rarity, Or Uniqueness

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

People like to stand out as much as they want to fit in. They want unique things so they can feel exclusive or special. Those things may or may not have cost much to make, but they have their own value.

That value often comes from the fact that those things are exclusive or rare. There's only one or a few of them, so their value increases.

Example: 

Anyone can buy a banana. But what about a banana made of solid 24k gold?

That's the ultimate goal for the true banana fan, but it's not realistic for most people. Anyone who can afford one can show off their devotion to the best fruit known to man. That makes it the rarest banana in the world and it puts the owner in a tiny, exclusive club.

 

Psychological Trigger #18: Simplicity

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Copy should be as simple as possible. Your goal is to sell something and you want to close sales as soon as possible. Readers don't always want to buy something, and they're not always likely to read past your headline.

The best way to make that happen is to write simple copy. Don't try to impress anyone, only tell them what your offer is. The less time it takes a reader to figure that out, the better. They might lose interest otherwise.

Example: 

You could list out all the nutritional content of a banana but that might not help you sell one. Most customers don't care about the technical details. They want to know the main benefits and nothing more.

You might have more luck if you explained what that nutritional content can do for someone. So instead, you could sum up what the general health benefits of bananas are. You could explain what potassium does rather than list the potassium content.

 

Psychological Trigger #19: Human Relationships

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

People relate to other people. That's true in everyday life, but it's also true in marketing: human elements can connect with humans. You want something that helps them see an offer in a relatable way. It can be obvious or it can be a subconscious trigger.

Example: 

Would people want to buy a banana if an ad showed one in a chimp's hand? Few would. There's a disconnect there and it can imply that the banana is for apes. A banana in a human hand makes it much more relatable.

 

Psychological Trigger #20: Guilt

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Guilt can push (most) people to take some sort of action. It might be guilt about something they did or about something they didn't do. People even feel guilt about things they have no control over and can't help. They can feel like they owe someone something for whatever reason.

Example: 

A banana seller could use information to "guilt" an audience. They could provide statistics, tutorials, and other free resources. These resources provide value to the reader at no cost. Then, the reader might feel like they owe the banana seller for all that free information.

Psychological Trigger #21: Specificity

Specifics are much more compelling than vague language. Vague language can seem untrustworthy and come off as misleading.

Specific language is important in copy, but you can take it one step further. That next step is to use numbers and details to add some legitimacy to your copy. It's more convincing as these numbers are factual.

Example: 

"People eat a lot of bananas."

That's true, but it's not the best reason for someone to invest in a banana business. Everyone knows people eat bananas, but how many do they eat?

"People around the world eat over 100 billion bananas... Every year."

That sounds a lot better and puts the industry into perspective. A potential investor might change their tune after they realize how much money they can make.

 

Psychological Trigger #22: Familiarity

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

People gravitate toward brands they trust. Those brands have built that trust so it's well-deserved.

People might figure there's no point in trying something new when they can count on a familiar product. They know what to expect and the quality is consistent. They're even less likely to try something new when money is a factor.

Example:

Imagine you're at the store about to buy your weekly bunches of bananas. You see two brands: Dole and Bole. They look about the same, but you've never heard of Bole.

You already know Dole bananas do the job, so you choose those. Bole might be better quality but you don't know anything about them. You're unfamiliar with the brand so you choose the brand you already know.

 

Psychological Trigger #23: Hope

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Most people hope for something better. No matter how good or bad things are, it's natural to want more. People hope the product will do something for them when they spend their money.

The more convincing your offer is, the more hopeful someone will be about it. The more hopeful they are, the more likely they'll make a purchase. It's easy to instill that hope, but many people sell false hope. That's why it's important to back up whatever you claim your offer does.

Example: 

Put yourself in the shoes of an investor. You want to invest in a new market but you're not sure which. Then you see an ad: "Join the thousands of people who've already made millions in the booming banana industry."

They then provide testimonials and links to successful clients. Your goal is to make millions and it looks like that's a way you can do it.

 

Time To Incorporate Some Psychological Triggers

23 Powerful Copywriting Psychological Triggers That Convince People To Buy Stuff

Sometimes you can find yourself stuck without a good angle for your copy. It might fall flat or you might want to pack an extra punch to get your point across. Whatever the reason, you can use psychology to your advantage. Psychological triggers, to be specific.

Psychological triggers are time-tested and there are plenty to choose from. Each trigger is best-suited for certain offers, but many are versatile. It all depends on your business and its offer.

So, remember these psychological triggers next time your copy falls flat. If you continue to struggle don't forget you can always hire a copywriting consultant. They take care of the hard work and they understand what your business needs.

Want higher conversions on your landing pages, sales letters, emails, or ads? It might be time for you to work with an expert copywriter. I’ve driven tens of millions of dollars in revenue for hundreds of clients over the past 10 years — including some of the largest B2B companies and digital brands in America.

Using my words, I’ll tap into your prospects’ deepest desires, deploy my menagerie of psychological sales triggers, and prime them for the sale. The result? More wins for your business and more revenue and profits in your pocket. Sound interesting to you? Click HERE to learn more about my copywriting work and see if we’re a good match.

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About the author

Daniel Doan is a veteran direct-response copywriter with over 10 years of expertise leading copywriting teams and writing copy for some of the largest brands in America.
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