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Trigger words evoke feelings and emotions in your target audience. Here, we break down how using trigger words in your marketing can help you to sell more.

Some words are fluffy, but some words command action.

Words that direct readers are called trigger words. They make readers sit up straight and consider taking action they might not otherwise have thought of. And if you’re a marketer or course creator, trigger words are one of the most powerful sales tools you can have in your arsenal.

The right trigger words can take a directionless piece of sales copy and turn it into a laser-focused pitch that gets readers to convert. Conversions are anything from clicking a “buy course” button to signing up for an email newsletter. Conversions put money in the bank. So these words are worth getting to know.

Here, we’ll break down the ABCs of trigger words, why they work, and how to use them in your sales copy to boost your sales. And here’s some shortcuts, in case you want to jump ahead:

  1. What is a trigger word?
  2. Why do trigger words work? 
  3. 3 places to add trigger words to sell more
  4. 46 powerful trigger words to make readers feel

What is a trigger word?

Trigger words are words and phrases that nudge readers or listeners towards taking a key action—which is usually called a conversion. They’re called trigger words because they play off universal emotions and experiences, and make you relive the feelings you experienced in moments of heightened emotion.

One crucial point: trigger words are not special or different words. They’re regular English words where context is key. “Only one day left” could be exciting if you’re counting down to a vacation, or buy-inducing if you’re trying to score deals on a last-minute sale.

When writing sales copy, you set up the reader’s problem, and then use trigger words and phrases to define the action that will solve it for them. Take this tagline for a made-up drink, for example: “Hot outside? Quench your thirst with our new drink.”

First, you call attention to a hidden problem (namely, that it’s hot outside.) Then, you immediately outline the action that you want your reader to take: quenching their thirst by buying a new drink. This doesn’t feel invasive, when done well. Your reader won’t think, “arggghhhh those manipulative marketers,” they’ll think “ooooh, well I am thirsty—maybe just one…..”

That’s the power of trigger words in action.

Why do trigger words work?

When you’re reading a book or an article, each block of text is generally trying to teach you something—or to entertain you. There’s artistry and careful wordsmithing involved, but the words aren’t trying to provoke a specific action. That’s because there isn’t a careful use of trigger words to direct attention, introduce the key action, and convince you to take it.

Sales copy is completely different, though. Each section of sales copy sets up a problem, draws you into an emotionally relatable scenario, and then convinces you to take the action that either brings that scenario to life—or prevents it. You’re not teaching, you’re slowly drawing your target towards the action you want them to take, and then getting that last hook in with a trigger word or phrase.

3 places to add trigger words to sell more

1. Your Headline:

Headlines are the biggest pieces of copy on a sales asset—and they’re the most visible piece of text you add to each ad. They’re a great place to add in emotion-driven trigger words, too, because they really jump out at people.

For billboard ads, your headline would be the biggest text on the image. For social media ads, your headline is generally the text on your image, not the caption. And for landing pages and articles, your headline is generally the text at the top.

You’ve got to have some subtlety and finesse when using trigger words in headlines, though. In some cases, you’ll need to spell out the problem before trigger words that prompt a specific action. Starting an ad with “buy now” can be done well, but if it doesn’t land right, it’s like proposing on the first date.

2. Your Subheadline:

Your subheadline comes after the main headline. It’s generally smaller, but still gets read by most viewers. If you’re taking a softer touch with the trigger words, this can be a great place to work some in. The headline will have space to set the scene, and then you can seal the deal right afterwards.

Because subheadlines are small, you also have slightly more space to work with. In a headline, you might only have room to write “try our new sandwich,” but in a subheading, you’ve got space to expand. You’d have space for something like this: “Want a meal that won’t leave you hungry? Try our new sandwich today.”

There’s more space for story telling, and more room for trigger words, like “want,” “hungry,” “try,” and “today.” That’s a win in our books. And for good measure—this is how we used trigger words in the subheading of one of our recent Instagram ads:

3. Your CTA:

Your call-to-action (or CTA) is a small piece of text that tells readers what to do after they’ve finished reading an ad. Trigger words can be particularly helpful in CTAs for communicating the benefits of taking that crucial next step or the urgency around it.

The tone in CTAs can range from very direct “buy now,” to a softer touch, like “learn more.” But people actually like to be bossed around a little bit (so they don’t get lost). Providing clear CTAs is one of our biggest jobs as marketers. We encourage you to aim for more specific CTAs, and to incorporate trigger words.

“Try a free demo” is far more convincing than “learn more,” and “get 50% off now” is a better hook than “link in bio.” So try working more trigger words into your CTAs—on social media and elsewhere—and you’ll watch your sales to start to lift.

46 powerful trigger words to make readers feel

Now that you know the fundamentals about trigger words, here’s 46 great ones that you can use to spark six of the most important emotions for sales: trust, fear of missing out (FOMO), easiness, newness, and surprise.

Trigger words to communicate trust

Trust is one of the most important feelings to reinforce when writing sales copy—especially when you’re selling big-ticket items. People want to know that the product they’re buying is high-quality, but they also want to know that you, the seller, are someone with integrity. These words will get you there.

  1. Absolutely
  2. Because
  3. Facts
  4. Proven
  5. Guaranteed
  6. Reliable
  7. Research-backed
  8. Evidence-backed
  9. Industry leader

Trigger words to communicate FOMO:

The fear of missing out is powerful, and marketers have been using FOMO to sell from the start. If you communicate your product value well, a dash of FOMO can be the exact nudge buyers need.

  1. Limited
  2. Expiring
  3. Almost
  4. Deadline
  5. Miss out
  6. Act now
  7. Before it’s too late
  8. Today
  9. Only
  10. Running out

Trigger words to communicate easiness:

People are very motivated by the idea of tasks becoming easier. Convenience and ease are central benefits of many products and services—including online courses.

  1. Simple
  2. Fast
  3. No sweat
  4. Secure
  5. Effortless
  6. Painless
  7. Manageable
  8. Child’s play
  9. Piece of cake

Trigger words to communicate newness:

The ideas of novelty and newness are also effective selling tools—because they imply quality and trustworthiness. And there’s more ways to say “new” than just “new,” so try experimenting with different trigger words when describing forward-thinking products and services.

  1. Brand-new
  2. Fresh
  3. Shiny
  4. Unique
  5. Original
  6. Novel
  7. Current
  8. Disruptive
  9. Progressive
  10. Creative
  11. Forward-thinking

Trigger words to communicate surprise:

Surprise is an effective emotion to trigger in your sales copy, too. You invite the reader to consider how they’ll feel when they see just how great your product, service or course is, and make them THAT much more likely to buy. Here’s some trigger words for surprise:

  1. Mind-blowing
  2. Astonishing
  3. Jaw-dropping
  4. Eye-popping
  5. Sensational
  6. Breathtaking
  7. Heart-stopping

So, what’s next?

Now that you know all the trigger words that can help you sell more, you’re ready to start creating and promoting your online course content. And the fastest, most effective way to put that knowledge of trigger words to work and build passive income is to start creating courses.

That’s where Thinkific comes in. We make it easy to drive massive revenue by offering self-guided online courses and membership sites. Our easy-to-use course design platform helps coaches, educators, and digital content creators build engaging, custom eLearning experiences and grow sustainable online businesses. 

Try Thinkific for free and get the course creation, marketing, and selling tools you need to turn online courses into a rock-solid business. (No tech skills required!)