Can you think of any ads, headlines, or titles that immediately snatched your attention just because of how they were phrased? That they made you feel impassioned or emotional for some reason, but you couldn't quite place the reason why.
How can a single sentence have such an influence over your emotions? How did they manage to win your interest that quickly?
It's highly likely that something that made such an impact on you probably used "trigger words." What are trigger words? Why do they work? How can you use them in your own content marketing to engage your audience with your brand?
What Are Trigger Words?
Trigger words are terms or phrases that are short, precise, and, most importantly, packed with emotional resonance.
These words derive their power from both their familiarity and all of the positive connotations they develop as a direct result of seeing them again and again.
Why Do Trigger Words Work?
These aren’t the most complex or sophisticated words on the planet.
Instead, they are words that cut through the clutter, sparking instant mental connections with things that are universally desirable.
Arguably, many different fields have their own trigger words. As marketers and consumers, however, we are most familiar with the trigger words related to buying, selling, and the unique satisfaction that can arise from making the right choice among a host of solutions.
These commercial trigger words are just as emotive and powerful as anything in literature.
They furnish the reader with the emotional dynamite they need to take that crucial first step toward a decision. They influence the emotional impact needed to forge their logical rationale for a purchase.
The judicious use of trigger words, especially in headlines and calls to action, can make web copy more magnetic and engaging. When you master their use, you’ll have the tools necessary to take any scaffolding of text and build it into something truly compelling.
How to Use Trigger Words to Elevate Marketing Efforts
Here are five uses for trigger words that can help you boost your marketing efforts.
1. Use Trigger Words in Your Headlines.
Headlines are typically considered the most important part of an article or blog post. Why? Because headlines make people want to read more.
If you don't have an interesting headline, it is unlikely that anyone will want to click, read, or share what you've written. The difference between a great headline and a headline that falls flat is the way you word it.
Headlines need good trigger words. Love them or hate them, BuzzFeed is an established master of using positive and negative trigger words alike in their content to grab readers' attention—here's an example:
Their trigger words are exciting, and they grab the reader's attention by challenging them to prove the writer wrong. I fell for it—I felt obligated to point out that I still have a crock pot/slow cooker in my kitchen (the item on the left side of the featured image)! I've even brought it to the office once or twice over the years to help celebrate Cinco De Mayo with the Bluleadz team by slow-cooking taco meat in it.
2. Place Them in Your Subheadings.
A great blog post is sectioned off using subheadings and pictures. It helps to break up the text and makes your content more scannable. H2s and H3s are also important for your SEO, though that has less to do with trigger words and more to do with using a solid keyword strategy for content optimization.
Placing trigger words in your subheadings can help boost engagement and encourage your readers to continue reading your article. For example, take a look at one of our Bluleadz blog posts about marketing strategies.
The word "essential" in this context is a trigger word that lets people know that it is not an option to use these startup marketing strategy ideas. These ideas are must-haves.
Also, adding a number in your subheading can help people know what to expect so they can gauge the length of the section and how comprehensive it is.
3. Incorporate Them in Pop-Ups.
Pop-ups are used on a website to help convert visitors into email subscribers. You can convert more visitors with a few colorful words.
For instance, check out this pop-up form on Skullcandy.
They implement a few trigger words like "unlock," "now," "full price," "you," and "get."
Here, the trigger words are used to create a sense of urgency—if the reader doesn't take the offer, they may miss out on the discount price. This strongly leverages the "fear of missing out," or FoMO people may experience when confronted with a limited-availability offer.
4. Add Them to Landing Pages.
Sprinkle trigger words all over your landing pages to help you convert visitors into leads! Your landing page copy can be simple and still have brilliant trigger words that get you the responses you want from visitors.
Take HubSpot's homepage into account.
They sprinkle trigger words throughout the copy on their homepage to encourage their visitors to try out the HubSpot CRM.
5. Insert Them Into Your CTAs.
Customized calls to action are a great way to optimize your website content for conversions. Trigger words on CTA buttons will help to convince people to click on them.
Take a look at one of the CTAs on the BarkBox website.
They have a variety of CTAs with simple and effective trigger words on each. This example leverages some positive triggers like "wholesome" and "guarantee" to reassure visitors, while the "Spoil" term grabs the reader's attention and brings it to the button for the reader to click on.
From these simple steps and practices, you should already have a good idea of some of the trigger words you could use in your own website content, emails, ads, and calls to action. Continue reading to learn about 100 effective trigger words and the emotions they evoke in your readers.
40 Trigger Words to Draw Visitors In
There's no limit to the amount of trigger words you can use. Well, technically, the limit would be the end of a dictionary. But, as long as you know how to use the word to make an impact and invoke an emotional response, you're on the right path.
Let’s look at 40 of the top trigger words, their deeper meanings, and how to use them.
“Free” may well be the most powerful of all trigger words. Everyone wants more money and not spending it is one of the best ways to get there.
Including something “free” will make any offer more valuable and interesting, increasing email reads and click-throughs. However, use this one with caution, as overuse has left some readers cynical to the "free-ness" of your "free item. Also, some email clients use the word "free" as a filter to remove spam content from their users' inboxes.
HubSpot once ran an A/B test of the same email, one with the word "Free" and one without. In the test, the version without the word "Free" passed more spam filter check results and had a 17% better click-through rate than the version with the word in it.
Humans are predisposed to seek out novelty – just look at the smashing success of social media for the biggest example of our time.
“New” solutions are frequently thought of as being better in any progress-focused society. They have the potential to be better than anything yet, even if the solution is too new to be "proven." Speaking of...
On the other end of the scale, there’s “proven.” This word implies stability and a long history of success.
It also implants the idea of social proof – after all, something can’t be “proven” unless a lot of other people have used it. This may be the best route in more conservative industries or when you need to establish the reliability of a product or service to a skeptical customer base.
Marketers have known for a long time now that directly addressing the reader as “you” is the way to go.
It helps bring your customers into the world of your content so you can have a one-to-one conversation with them. This may be the biggest key to effective marketing copy.
In addition to stoking that love of novelty, “secret” gives your reader the opportunity to be one of the few – an insider who knows things others don’t.
This can be the basis of a magnetic online offer or even help spark the creation of a tight-knit mastermind-style community.
If you find something you like, you'll probably want more of it. “More” can also be used to affirm social proof and draw comparisons within your target demographic.
More is a word with positive connotations in most situations and a basic driver of decision-making.
Studies have shown that when people are briefly shown a photo, then asked what was in it, they are more likely to remember – or think they remember – items referred to as “the” (like “the car” or “the tree.”) "The" makes something singular, distinctive, and relevant.
So, as a standalone word, it's not so impactful. But, as an enhancer to other words, it becomes a critical way to elevate other terms.
"Yes" is perhaps the most essential positive word in any language. It is a statement of possibility and personal investment.
In an article's body copy, email headline, or any other piece of content, this word can show readers that you’re on their side by agreeing with their thoughts. In headlines, it can even stand alone as an exclamation.
Things that are "instant" are effortless, and anything that makes a challenging part of life truly effortless is worth buying.
Be judicious in how you use "instant," however. It can be emotionally refreshing (“instant gratification”) but sometimes implies cheapness (“instant rice.”)
“If” is a statement of possibility that opens up a whole new world to your reader. Think about it: If things were different, if things were easier, if their goals might be within reach like never before.
This is the word to use when positioning your solution as the key to all that potential.
Generally speaking, people prefer things that are easy rather than hard. Easy things are, well, easy.
Most people give up on solving a particular problem when they become frustrated and conclude that it’s simply not possible to win or worth the extra effort. “Easy” puts the ball back in their court.
"Convert" has won a place as one of the most used (and overused) words in marketing, but it also has a deeper meaning that harkens back to the idea of a profound personal change.
Converting has a potent spiritual dimension that can speak to the urgency of a situation. It's an act of transformation, of going from one state of being to another.
People won’t move toward a goal they can’t imagine. And when the going gets tough, it’s easy to reach a point where you can’t imagine things ever improving.
"Imagine" gives you the chance to paint a picture of that new world using vivid, colorful language that will awaken prospects. It also helps get your audience engaged by encouraging them to do something—making this a bit of an action word.
There are lots of things your prospects wish they never had to do. If you can seize on just one of those things, you can furnish them with a solution they’ll never want to be without.
"Never" almost always appears as the first word in a headline, underlining its definitive nature. For example "NEVER Have to Do 'X Thing' Again" titles are fairly common in email headlines.
"Discover" is great for any situation where your prospects have probably tried out many possible solutions before they even heard of yours.
They may be weary of trying and wary of new ideas. “Discover” is an inspirational, one-word pep talk that points to something visitors need to see.
"Stop" is a word that sparks a visceral reaction. Most of the time, when people are told to stop, they sit up and take notice (and hopefully, they stop whatever it is they're being warned against).
There are many things prospects might want to stop doing, but losing money is probably #1 for the average B2B buyer.
"Because" is an interesting case. It draws comparisons and distinctions. It shows readers why something is important or is the way it is.
This makes it one of the most versatile trigger words around. Consider, for example, “Because you deserve the very best.”
When you want to stoke some anxiety, "worse" helps you point the finger of blame.
It can be used to emphasize how dangerous or undesirable a situation is or call into question the motivations of a person or organization.
"Today" can be used at the end of a headline to create a sense that action needs to be taken right away. For example, something like "Don't Delay, Call Today!" appears fairly frequently in contact us call-to-action buttons.
It can also be the first word, setting up a contrast between the improved situation today and the bad old days of how things used to be – even if that was just last week.
"How" is an enticing way to dangle a hook for your prospects by asking a question they’ll hunger to know the answer to.
Everything from “How you can ...” to “How 20,000 other dentists like you have ...” is possible with the power of how.
Like "new," “now” implies something that just arrived on the scene and is poised to change things forever.
“Now” is arguably even better than “new” because it’s instantly in the realm of the attainable – something you can have now is, by inference, easy for you to get.
They say nothing succeeds like success. People aren’t usually very impressed by the chance to “win” a car or other item with long odds, but they want to “win” at work, in love, and ultimately, in life.
Winning emphasizes competition and the ability to be the best. It's a great, positive term to include that gives readers a tantalizing taste of accomplishment.
As food for thought, few things beat a direct question that starts with “want.” It gives readers the space and permission to think about what their goals are, not just what they need to do to get by.
Wants are aspirational and feel good, unlike many needs. However, there's still a risk of negative connotations. So, it's important to be judicious with your use of the term and focus on helping the reader get what they "want."
Here's a trigger word that can be more flexible than you might initially assume. For example, "Fix" can be technical – as in “fix these common computer errors” – or it can be personal, like “fix dandruff now.”
In a world that’s full of problems and solutions, "fix" is the bridge between the two. It’s more direct than "solve" and more versatile than "cure."
The only thing better than fixing something is fixing it ... forever. Nothing else in the English language asserts enduring value like “forever.”
It tells your prospects that something only needs to be done once, whether that’s paying for software or resolving a challenge. Just, be careful that you can back up the forever claim when you apply it to a service or solution.
"Destroy" may be a bit hot-headed for some industries, but it speaks to a visceral urge to compete and excel.
You can "destroy the competition" or "destroy your sales quotas," for example. (And, yes, you can "destroy" something "forever" ... but be careful about making this claim.)
Closely related to “destroy” is "crush." It has developed its own separate connotations closely intertwined with the world of sports and anywhere 20-something frat brothers can be found. It’s also common in youth-skewing industries (like digital marketing!).
"Deadlines" are a reality most of your prospects will be used to dealing with and announcing a deadline at the start of your headline might cause them to tune in and pay attention.
It’s another popular term in the family of urgency-producing words for making a given action a top priority.
Scarcity is one of the common factors that makes anything appear more valuable. You can have a "limited inventory," a "limited number of spots" at your event, or offer something for a "limited time." In all these cases, the underlying message is to act now.
Once again, this taps into the phenomenon of "FoMO" to urge the reader to do something before it's too late. In this case, that's often securing something before the chance is gone... forever.
Some people are early adopters, and the word "revolutionary" is for them. If you have a product that’s truly disruptive, you can use this as a watchword to differentiate yourself from your rivals.
Be careful to live up to your claims, though, as calling something "revolutionary" implies a big promise to fulfill.
In B2B contexts especially, people have two basic drives: To save money and to make money. In most cases, time is just as valuable as money and can be a good substitute.
Of course, you can also “save the date” or “save your sanity” (or some other valuable, limited commodity.)
When a headline includes "unlock," it implies that those who respond will be among the few to get their hands on some super-secret or beneficial resource.
It’s also another winner for situations where you know prospects have been through adversity or many different options.
"Amazing" is heard less often than "epic" these days. That’s why we recommend it as an intensifier over its more common cousin.
It’s ideal for introducing content that will surprise or delight your prospects or equip them with knowledge they can use within minutes.
34. How To
Probably the most powerful single variation of “how,” "how to" defines the whole purpose of the B2B internet in a nutshell: solving problems, answering questions, and finding solutions that work.
Everyone wants to know "how to" do something – you just need to figure out what it is that your customers need to "know how" to do!
"Elite" is another word that, while used more often than it used to be, still retains a lot of its power. People who are motivated and success-oriented are most interested in being part of the elite.
This can be a good lifestyle-oriented hook – it’s how prospects want to define themselves and helps you set expectations for the quality of whatever it is that you're talking about.
Sooner or later, prospects will go in search of whether you have a guarantee. Why not make it easy for them and put it upfront?
“Guarantee” is probably the most powerful safety word in any market. It shows you have your prospects’ back in a way that’s legally enforceable. Of course, a guarantee should be backed by not just words, but by actions and documentation that demonstrate reliability to your customers.
The evil twin of "want," "need" is for situations that are more desperate and dire. A need is something that must be fulfilled – the alternative is some serious loss you want to avoid – so it has its own built-in sense of urgency, unlike "want."
Here's an example to highlight the difference between "want" and "need": A customer who is already operating within their budget may want to save money—they have some cash to spare but know it's a good idea to not waste their money. Meanwhile, a customer who is badly overbudget would need to save money so they can take care of other, more important expenses.
Tired of reading trigger words? In our fast-paced and under-rested society, many people are tired of many things.
And being "tired" (in the literal sense) is one of the most common problems your prospects suffer from. The word itself taps into that sense of exhaustion and grabs their attention.
In many cases, titles and headers might use "tired" in conjunction with other trigger words to indicate a way to beat whatever it is making the reader tired. For example: "Tired of 'X'? Use This Simple Trick!"
Everyone wants to feel that, if they just make the right decisions, they will reach their goals. "Overcome" is the epitome of that desire, calling to mind heroic stories from Beowulf to The Avengers.
There’s a certain quality to it that praises the reader as a capable person.
"Boost" is a word that’s great for connecting with metrics – like sales or conversions – or with personal traits that are vital to how prospects see themselves, such as vitality, memory, or charisma. It’s a solid, unpretentious choice that helps put benefits front and center.
81 More Trigger Words to Use In Your Marketing
Forty trigger words just aren't enough to provide you with the value you need for persuasive copy. Check out this bonus list of 81 more trigger words you can use in your content to evoke emotion and entice desirable responses—all sorted into some general categories for your convenience!
Trigger Word Category #1: Safety Words
People need to know that you will take care of them. They need to feel safe. This means you need to do your best to reassure them that their needs will be met.
These trigger words can help your audience feel safe:
- Trusted, trustworthy
- Cancel anytime
Trigger Word Category #2: Anger and Frustration Words
"Yes, use your anger!" Hey, who knew the Emperor had a solid grasp of trigger words? Your audience is likely angry and frustrated about something. You can use this to your advantage to empathize with them while encouraging them to move to a more positive emotional state with your content offerings.
Here are some extra trigger words to use to leverage your readers' anger or frustration:
- Never again...
- Temporary fix
- Had enough?
With this category of trigger words, it's important to be extra careful, or else you might run the risk of accidentally insulting your audience. Remember, you want to empathize with their anger at some situation—not be the thing they're angry at!
Trigger Word Category #3: Exclusivity-Indicating Words
Exclusivity-related trigger words should aim to make your audience feel special—like you are giving them something that no one else can get. These trigger words help to boost their interest and may increase their chances of converting:
- Members only
- Login required
- Special for you
- Just for you
Trigger Word Category #4: Authority Words
Be the authority figure for your consumers. Let them know that you know exactly what you are talking about. Let them know that you make the decisions.
This helps them to build trust in you and they'll be more likely to take your suggestions or recommendations about products and services. Try out these trigger words:
- Right way
Trigger Word Category #5: Exciting Words
Create some excitement around your offerings to get people talking and sharing your content. People should excited by the fresh ideas you have each time you publish new content.
Stir up the excitement with these terms:
Trigger Word Category #6: Fear Words
Of course, you don't want to scare away your leads, but you do want to let them know what may happen if they don't use your products or services.
Fear is a powerful motivator for a lot of people, and you can use these fear triggering words to motivate and then encourage them to make a good decision:
- Steal, Stolen
- Failure, to fail
Trigger Word Category #7 Sharing Prompts
Your content can spread like wildfire when you use the proper trigger words to prompt your audience to share it with their friends and family. Here are a few terms to use to entice them to share your content:
- Tell us
So, what about all the other epic words out there?
There are dozens of more trigger words to discover – possibly hundreds more. But, if you stray away from words that offer a true and instant emotional connection, their power will evaporate.
Lots of common words (like “epic”) can seem like trigger words, but when you think about it, they fall flat. This could be due to overuse, or simply due to the context behind the term causing it not to "land" with your intended audience.
The same thing is true of jargon words. They have their own specific meaning, they’re useful in the right context, but it’s not easy to get excited about them.
If you’re wondering whether a word is truly a trigger word, close your eyes. Think of that word. What mental image – or, even more importantly, what feeling – do you get as soon as you hear it?
Trigger words are all about emotions, the content of our ever-shifting inner world. When your copy consistently evokes emotions aligned with prospects’ needs, you’re halfway to success.