6 Powerful Psychological Triggers That’ll Boost Your Conversion Rates

The marketing world can feel like a formula 1 race track at times. Everything seems to be moving at a breakneck speed and things are always changing.

There’s a constant barrage of new strategies and tactics like content marketing, email marketing, SEO, link building and viral marketing. And each one requires a complex set of skills.

Making it easy for any marketer to feel like he’s sinking in an ocean of information, with concrete blocks attached to his feet.

But no matter how much people’s tastes change, or how many new strategies and tactics are released…

What makes us tick as humans will always remain the same.

And in order for you to be able to understand, influence and persuade your customers, you need to know what the triggers that make people tick are, and how to use them in your marketing.

So here are 6 high-power psychological triggers that’ll convert more of your leads into customers, ultimately resulting in more wads of cash in your wallet.

Let’s go.

The Life Force 8

Before diving into the tasty meat and potatoes of the psychological triggers, it’s important to understand why they are so effective and where they stem from.

In his book Cashvertising, consumer response psychologist Drew Eric Whitman talks about the 8 foundational desires that are common to every human being (yes, even Chuck Norris).

And according to him, they “are responsible for more sales than all other human wants combined”.

The eight desires are:

  1. Survival and life extension
  2. Food and beverages
  3. Freedom from pain and danger
  4. Sexual companionship
  5. Comfortable living conditions
  6. To be winning, or keeping up with the “Jones’s”.
  7. Care and protection of loved ones
  8. Social Approval

To understand why they are so powerful, think about the following… can you:

  • Conquer your will to survive?
  • Escape your desire to eat and drink?
  • Suppress your need to avoid pain, fear and discomfort?
  • Shake your desire to be liked and respected by others?

You can’t. Why? Because these desires are biologically programmed into all human beings.

And that’s why almost all psychological triggers are based on them.

Understanding these desires will arm you with a deeper insight into the psychological triggers and allow you to persuasively apply them in your own marketing.

Make A Common Enemy


Sociologist Georg Simmel stressed that when it comes to uniting a nation, or any group of people, there’s nothing like having a good o’le common enemy.

“Make friends, not enemies” is sound advice that will probably keep you out of trouble. But when it comes to marketing, growing a pair and picking a fight can be very lucrative.

So how can making an enemy possibly be a good thing?

A controversial study by social psychologist Henri Tajfel observed the psychology of people when engaged in acts of mass hatred. (Think Justin Bieber, cough, cough.)

He discovered that it was possible to create groups of people who would show loyalty to their own group and completely discriminate against outsiders. And this was with smallest of distinctions.

In the tests, subjects were asked to decide between two people or objects that they had no previous connection to.

When it came to dishing out rewards to their person or object of choice, subjects showed a massive bias towards their “in-group” and steered clear of sharing rewards with “outsiders”.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Anyway, once you know about this trigger, it’s funny how you see a ton of companies use it.

Apple used this trigger with their whole MAC vs. PC  beef to solidify their uniqueness.

Slipping on some gloves and creating an enemy helped give rise to their unique brand image because of its loud and proud message: Apple is for hip, fun, creative people. While the PC is for zombified corporate drones, who use their pixel infested boxes to create humdrum word docs and excel spreadsheets.

This trigger has also been used by companies like Miller Lite when they boastfully blasted non-manly beers.

Now, you’re probably wondering if you can use this trigger without directly attacking anyone. Well guess what? You can.

Just use a concept or idea as your enemy, like the middle finger project (awesome name don’t you think?).

You barely get time to scan the site before their kick-ass homepage slaps you in the kisser with this:


It clearly shows that they’re crusading against dry, boring, humorless businesses. And instantly makes them look like an exciting, fun, and easy company to work with.

When using this trigger it’s best to avoid going against anything to do with religion, race and politics.

Instead, focus on an “enemy” that people tend to dislike anyway, like the middle finger project did with boring businesses, or apple did with being a corporate drone.

Intensify Interest With Urgency

Ever wondered why almost every sales letter seems to be calling you to act immediately?

It’s because marketers know they can crank up desire for their product by creating a sense of urgency.

Before diving deeper into how to use urgency, let’s look at what it actually is.

Urgency can be described as the need to take immediate action because of how important something seems to be.

So how do you create an overwhelming sense of urgency that boosts sales?

One of the easiest ways is to harness the power of time limits.

Here’s an example that has probably been cheekily flying under your nose…


Time limits are a simple but grippingly powerful way to create urgency, and amazon knows this.

They cleverly attach their option for one-day shipping with a specific time limit. This spikes the buyer’s urgency level, because it gives a limited amount of time to decide if he wants the order delivered quicker or not.

However time limits aren’t the only way to boost conversions with urgency. Two other simple but effective ways are to:

  • Use trigger words. Words like “hurry”, “act now” and “immediately” are powerful persuasion tools, and they can do wonders for creating a sense of urgency in your marketing.
  • Use colours that create a sense of urgency. Buttons and colours seem like trivial topics when compared to psychological triggers don’t they? But they can still have a meteor like impact on your marketing.

To find out your optimum way to create urgency, be sure to continually test different:

  • Words
  • Colours
  • Phrases
  • Deadlines/offers

And be sure to use urgency with honesty, or else it can backfire.

Amplify Desire with Scarcity

You’ve heard of black friday haven’t you? But do you know what causes people to jump from their beds at unthinkable hours, trample the shit out of each other, and lose their self-respect as fast as a politician dodges questions?

Yup… it’s scarcity.

One marketer even boosted sales by a jaw dropping 322% by combining scarcity and urgency in his marketing campaign.

So what exactly is scarcity?

Scarcity is when someone feels the need to buy immediately because a product/service is in limited supply and/or about to run out.

You’ve probably heard about the Bugatti Veyron. But have you ever stopped to wonder why car fanatics/non fanatics lustfully drool over it? Why is it such a traffic stopper? Why is it valued so much?

Its huge $2.6 million dollar asking price certainly plays a role, but that role is tiny when you consider that there are only 450 in the world.

It’s one of the most scarce cars on the planet, and that makes it a trillion times more desirable.

Now let’s imagine the Bugatti was widely available, just like any other car…

It wouldn’t be so unique and valuable would it? Because it is no longer scarce.

One of my favourite examples of implementing scarcity is from custom furniture company ModMom.


When it comes to creating scarcity, ModMom stands out like a priest at a devil’s nightclub.

Unlike other companies who merely claim scarcity, they display popular, sold out products that can’t be purchased, no matter how bad you want them.

So when you find an item that you like, you’re more likely to pounce on it. Especially if it’s limited, because that might sell out too.

Another awesome example of scarcity is from the Freelance Writers Den:


The use of scarcity is unique in this example because of how well it integrates into the products marketing funnel.

The den is only open for a short time in the whole year. To be notified when it opens, you have to sign up. And while you’re signed up, you’re constantly being shown how the den has helped other writers. Which, when combined with it’s limited availability, increases your desire for it tenfold.

When using scarcity, be careful to avoid using it as a gimmicky marketing trick. If you say your product/service is scarce…make sure it is!

Use Stories To Skyrocket The Emotional Power Of Your Marketing.

Remember Aesop’s fables?

The Lion and the Mouse. The Scorpion and the Frog. The Hare and the Tortoise

Now imagine if instead of being told the fables… some boring old sod said that:

  • Small friends can help you in life
  • People can’t change their nature
  • Slow and steady wins the race

Those wise words would have slid through one ear and out the other wouldn’t they?

But they didn’t, because they were cleverly wrapped in a meaningful story that made them more memorable.

Stories pack a hefty emotional punch that makes them more “mentally sticky” than plain facts and statements. Which is why they’re such popular marketing tools.

Research shows that:

Journalist Rob Walker recently conducted an experiment that tested the emotional power that stories have on our perceived value of products. He boosted his conversions and sales by a ridiculous amount. And guess what?

He wasn’t selling some kick-ass product. Heck, he wasn’t even selling a normal product.

Rob used stories to literally sell junk items that were scooped up from thrift stores.

Resulting in $128 worth of abandoned thrift store items selling for a chunky $3,612.51. Which is a value boost of over 2,700%.

Here’s the story for an item from Rob’s experiment.  It sold for $21.50.


J. peterman also does a great job of using potent stories that keep their products flying off the shelves:


The product description is a great example of inspiring storytelling:

Crisp nights dancing under outdoor lights strung through trees.
Seashore walks in Avalon.
Morning walks in Brooklyn.
Whitman had nothing on you in this tunic.
Take it up the California coast, from Casa Soberanes in Monterey to the pine-fringed beach at Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Watch the waves beat against the rocks at Big Sur, or wander along the bluffs in Nepenthe. Have the Dungeness crab cakes at that little place in Morro Bay.
Park on a seaside cliff somewhere.
Take off your shoes. The salty air is good for you, you know.
Don’t tell anyone where you are.

What makes this such a great example is the gripping short mental movie it creates. Any woman reading this will be be lifted off her seat, instantly finding herself feeling more classy, feminine, uptown and desirable. This emotional bomb skyrockets the perceived value of the product.

You can incorporate storytelling in your marketing by:

  • Simply telling your own story. Think about how you came to be in business. Did you face any crushing obstacles or experience any euphoric successes? If so, share them with your audience. Master copywriter John Carlton does a great example of this.
  • Craft an emotionally potent story for your product, like the two examples above.
  • Share the story of a happy customer. It may not sound too hip or “markety” , but it’s still effective.

Make Your Customer Feel Important

Everybody has the need to feel valued. No matter who they are, or where they’re from.

Which means… if you want to ramp up your conversions and sales (and keep them) you need to know how to make your customers feel significant.

An easy way to make your customers feel significant is to reward them. Yup… open up your heart, flow with mercy, be kind and gentle and all the other “mushy” sayings that apply.

Mushy sayings aside, rewards are serious money makers. Sony proves it:

They used a reward based strategy in their marketing and shot up their conversions by a ginormous 300%.

Another awesome way to boost conversions by making customers feel important is to just up your customer service.

You can try all the fancy strategies you want, but as build.com will tell you, nothing beats badass customer service.

Build.com is the world’s second-largest online home improvement retailer. They have over 200 employees who handle over 130,000 inquiries a month.

Because of their size, their response time for web submitted questions bloated by 9 hours. Not only did this look pretty crappy for a company that believes in “taking care of the customer first”, it also caused many customers to leave.

To make their customers feel more appreciated…they used nanoreps’s FAQ widget in their product pages. This gave customers instant answers via self-service instead of waiting a long 9 hours for a reply.

This simple customer service focused change tripled their conversion rates.

There’s no one specific way to make your customer feel more valued. But no matter what strategy or tactic you use, there’s no replacement for genuine concern. Use your actions to show your customers how you much you care about them, and they’ll grow to love you.

Converting more leads into customers doesn’t have to be a messy, overwhelming process.

Sometimes it just takes a little understanding of psychological triggers. And now you’re more than equipped with enough psychological triggers to get the marketing version of homeland security on your back!

What’s your “go-to” strategy or tactic for boosting conversions?