Emotional benefits are critical to persuasive copy, but how do you naturally incorporate them into your writing?
It’s one thing to talk about general concepts like “connection” or “fear,” and another to convey these ideas.
The 10 examples of emotional triggers below have been used in countless promotions, because they speak to underlying desires and fears that nearly all of us have.
I’ve paired each benefit with a sample headline to give you an idea of how the benefit might be used in context. Feel free to tweak, bend, or use them as jumping-off points for your own angle.
These aren’t the only effective emotional benefits by any means, but they include some of the most widely successful.
1. Learn How to Stand Up to Your Boss (and Force Him to See What You’re Really Worth)
Emotional benefit: feeling assertive and confident
2. Your Grandkids Will Be Struggling to Keep Up with You
Emotional benefit: feeling vital and energetic
3. You’ve Worked Hard All Week — Now Indulge Yourself
Emotional benefit: feeling pampered, justified entitlement
4. A Limited Number of Spaces Are Still Available for Founders’ Circle Membership
Emotional benefit: sense of belonging, exclusivity
5. Are You Working Harder than Ever, but Still Worried about Downsizing and Layoffs?
Emotional benefit: feeling in control of one’s own destiny
6. The 20-Minute Read that Will Make You a Financial Genius
Emotional benefit: feeling wealthy and powerful (also feeling smart)
7. How to Take Command of Any Meeting
Emotional benefit: feeling respected
8. The SecureWidget Alert System Keeps Tireless Watch Over Your Family
Emotional benefit: feeling safe
9. Is Your Child Emotionally Intelligent? Take This Test and Find Out
Emotional benefit: feeling like a good parent
10. How to Survive (and Yes, Even Thrive) in a Recession
Emotional benefit: feeling financially secure (note that this is subtly different from feeling wealthy and powerful)
A powerful one-two punch
You might notice that there’s a lot of potential for overlap. A headline can speak to “feeling in control of one’s own destiny” at the same time it helps your reader “feel like a good parent.”
In your copy, take the time to address each benefit fully. Hit the one you think is most important first, then move on to the next.
You’ll create a powerful one-two punch to the gut — and when you’re putting together persuasive copy, that’s a great thing.
Read next: How to Write Killer Email Subject Lines for Sales
Reader Comments (53)
lawton chiles says
You told me I’d like today’s post and you were right- this is always something I have trouble with: I can turn features into benefits, but often, the copy is long-winded and not paired down enough.
Also, it’s easy for me to spell the benefit out instead of letting it linger there for the audience to “get” on their own
Your headlines target these emotional needs and desires without having to dumb it down. Thanks for the direction.
Mark - Creative Journey Cafe says
Very clever, Sonia. Thanks for the great tips.
A while back I posted a headline called ‘Why We Need YOU To Create’. The purpose, I suppose, was to make my readers feel special – I wanted them to realize how their unique style is important to the rest of us.
These are quite concise, yet intriguing. I think they probably work best for a shorter copy sales letter or article. Having a longer headline that offers even more benefits may convince more people to spend their time reading it.
Phyllis A Rogers says
I love the word “dork”. How many words are there that combine affection with a put-down? And, in case you care, I don’t think you are a dork. I truly like your writing and learn from your posts. Keep up the great work.
Sonia Simone says
@Neil, or you could also go with a header & subhead for a longer piece. Good point that sometimes you need a little space to get the full beneficial goodies across.
@Phyllis, I love “dork” too. It has that nice punch-your-pal-in-the-arm feel. Thanks so much for such nice words, I am very glad you’re enjoying my work.
DJ Francis from OnlineMarketerBlog says
I saw your message on Twitter and thought I’d check it out. These are great! I’ll be sure to Stumble this.
I appreciate your work – I quoted you a couple of times in my recent white paper about writing in a web 2.0 world (yes, it’s as dorky as it sounds).
Have a great weekend!
Jay Ramirez says
It makes me think I should start with the emotional benefit first and then work backward to the headline. I haven’t done that before although I typically write the headline after the blog post.
Great ideas. I’m seeing a matrix where these emotions are paired with the 5 senses instantly creating 65 headline possibilities right at one’s finger-tips.
Hmmm… Looks like I’ve got some work to do this weekend…
Thanks for posting this.
Dave Navarro says
I’ve bookmarked this one for reference when making next week’s posts. Thanks for the benefit list!
This goes well with Michael Martine’s post on power questions to ask before writing.
Ari Herzog says
These are great emotional headlines to draw a reader into what you have to say.
Not mentioned here is the parallel in the advertising world; next time you watch TV or listen to the radio, pay attention to the commercials which undoubtedly passed a series of consumer tests to similarly draw you in to hopefully buy a product.
The irony of this entire page is directly underneath I am staring at a Google ad with the headline, “How to Write Killer Ads.”
sir jorge says
There is a lot of irony to be found in this page.
Roy Sanders says
Hi Sonia – Thanks for this great list. Really very informative. If I can add in 1 more to this list which is a sure shot success more often than not:
What you need to do to (make money, be successful, get women easily, etc.).
This headline usually captures instant reader attention and also builds certain credibility by portraying the blogger as an expert in something. Again, this may at times fit into the “Emotional Headings” section or otherwise.
Just my to cents!
Maggie Chicoine says
Thanks for this…you got me excited! Once again stirring up the possibilities of mixing and matching.
Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Map says
Some of the headlines here are very clever! Thanks!
Ben Moreno says
This is wonderful. As a new blogger these will most definitely help me out. Thank you.
Hi Sonia! You don’t know me, but want to let you know this is a FANTASTIC and extremely useful post! Every week I’m looking for new ideas for ‘subject lines’ for enewsletters to our sales reps. Of all the articles I’ve read about writing headlines, I believe this one is the one I’ll be coming back to and learning from through shameless adaptation. Thank you for writing this. What can I do for YOU?
When I read headlines like these it makes me feel like I shouldn’t read what’s under the title.
Strong One says
Great list! I may have to steal… uh I mean borrow one or more of these.
Coach Kip says
Great in sight on headlines. I like the fact that it is as simple as taking one or two good points in your articles.
I have never been good at writing headlines. I will take your advice, take my time, and certainly get better at it.
Hi Kyledeb: You say you feel like you SHOULDN’T read what’s under these headlines — and I’m kind of curious about why you feel you shouldn’t. Do you mean you feel these headlines are implying content you feel you shouldn’t read on the job, or for ethical reasons? Something else?
Bryan P. says
As I read down the list of titles, I immediately felt the emotional pull, and noticed similar titles used on other blogs, which got my attention almost immediately.
nice article, thanks. i anew comer in this blog, i like yours blog.
very valuable new way to look at creating headlines. we constantly fret over our newsletter headlines. sometimes they take longer to write than the body content.
OK… it’s official. I shamelessly stole one of these great headlines today as the subject line for an email blast to chefs/cooks I want to have take a product survey.
The headline I pilfered was #5 — I just substituted Founders Circle Membership with the name of my testing program! I tried to edit and/or improve on it but it was too good to change.
Thanks from a now addicted Headline Bandit!
“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a marvelous friendship” (with this post)
Sonia Simone says
@Emmon, that’s what I like to hear! Glad you made good use of it. 🙂
@oddpodz, the power of a great headline is worth the sweat. I sympathize–I am not a natural headline person myself, they take some brain damage on my part.
I enjoyed reading this post on headlines…….its been very helpful
Cyndee Haydon says
I am working on doing a better job of this. Terry Dean shared the 37 emotional benefit to be aware of when blogging. Thanks Simone.
Shelley Ryan says
Let’s take this beyond headlines! These are also great for lecture/webinar titles and tweets that link to other content.
Thanks for sharing them and emphasizing the need for expressing an emotional benefit.
Brad Twersky says
I have to beg my clients and readers alike to write posts for their blogs, even though they know what content will do for their businesses without my input.
So I will try some variations of these to get them to take action on their own. Of course…if any of you fine people have any ideas on how to get the blinders off…I am all ears!
Trent Jessee says
This is the perfect post I was looking for, thanks! How to create emotion in others is what drives sales that’s for sure!
Nikki May | Web Content Writer says
I know this is an OLD post, but I recently “discovered” copyblogger and I absolutely live it! I am learning a lot here!
Thanks Sonia for the sample headlines and the respective emotional benefits. Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with “catchy” headlines. I will certainly refer to them for ideas and inspiration!
For any copy to succeed, connecting with the reader is critical. Once you get that connection with a reader on an emotional level, it becomes easy to sell them whatever you are selling or to ge them to subscribe to whatever idea that you are supporting.
Sonia, these are awesome headlines. I’ve been in search of some catchy headlines to make use of a couple of “outrageous” marketing ideas. I see some here that I can modify to fit my needs. Never really thought so much about the emotional aspect of the headline, but it makes a lot of sense.
This article's comments are closed.