Mental Triggers: What They Are and How to Use Them in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Mental Triggers: What They Are and How to Use Them in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Mental triggers are part of psychology, and understanding it is key to any business success. Find out how they can help your Digital Marketing strategies.

Mental triggers are external events or circumstances that can produce unfavorable or favorable emotional or psychiatric symptoms. A person’s mental trigger can be activated through one or more of the five senses. In Marketing and Sales, the most common are sight (image) and hearing (sound).

Digital Marketing uses many strategies to generate leads and obtain and retain customers. From the simplest to the most complex, their efficiency revolves around something in common: giving people what they want or need at the right time and place. One of these techniques is the use of mental triggers 

Despite the name, this is not manipulation or hypnosis: mental triggers are part of psychology, the understanding of which is the key to the success of any business. All human beings have similar stimuli and motivations that, when activated, lead to action.

Therefore, the first step is to know and understand your customers in order to know how to influence them. The next step will be to find out what are the existing mental triggers that can be applied to your Digital Marketing strategy.

Knowing how your customers’ minds work and which tools to use, you will have the power to influence them in their decision making. That’s why we’ve prepared a special post for you to find out what these mental triggers are and how you can use them in your strategy.

What are mental triggers

Mental triggers are external events or circumstances that can produce emotional or psychiatric symptoms that are unfavorable (anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative thoughts) or favorable (joy, calm, enthusiasm, motivation, or positive thoughts).

Reacting to mental triggers is a natural consequence of human beings in the face of external stimuli, which can be strategically structured to provide desirable feelings and emotions.

A trigger, when activated, can open a memory window that transports a person back to the past, where they had their first experience. It’s like reliving the moment for a few seconds and feeling the same thing you felt at the time and place it happened.

In addition, they can also bring feelings related to some element of your content that refers to a sensation or experience of the reader . Therefore, the use of images and references can have a positive effect within content, generating a correlation of this trigger with the reader’s experience.

For example, the image of a puppy can refer to love and care, not necessarily looking for elements of the past.

The tip here is to be careful when working with mental trigger strategies so that, instead of activating traumatic memories or negative sensations, only activate what brings a feeling of comfort, exclusivity, desire, independence and confidence.

A person’s mental trigger can be activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. And the most common ones for a Digital Marketing strategy are vision (image) and hearing (sound). 

A perfect combination of these senses can be essential to activate a mental trigger that arouses the desire to immediately purchase a product or service.

How mental triggers can be used in Digital Marketing

Anyone who depends on sales to survive, whether online or offline, must know the principles that lead to the activation of mental triggers and dedicate themselves intensely to the study for their practical application.

Discover now which principles are responsible for activating these mental triggers and how people’s main senses are stimulated:

principle of reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity can be felt when someone gives us something without asking for anything in return. We automatically feel obligated to return the favor.

A blogging content strategy can be a good way for online entrepreneurs to work on this principle. That’s because they will deliver valuable information for free to an audience that loves or needs to consume it. 

It would work as a gift that will later drive the customer to buy from you for the feeling of returning the favor.

Another way to work on the mental trigger of reciprocity is to send a gift along with the first purchase, so that the customer feels obliged to make the second purchase, and so on.

principle of authority

To use this mental trigger, it will be necessary to work on people’s trust. You must position your product or service as a market leader. The behavior of the company and employees must follow this line to demonstrate authority in what they say and do.

The public needs to feel that your business is the best in the segment and, for that to happen, they must behave as if they really know what they are doing and have authority on the subject.

Content Marketing can also be a fundamental strategy for this principle, as it can provide valuable tips and information about the correct use of products and services in order to get the best out of them.

Principle of social proof

The principle of social proof is directly linked to the mental trigger of preference. We are social beings and totally influenced by what the other is saying, doing or using.

We tend to like things just because other people like them, whether they’re good or not. Therefore, anything that demonstrates popularity on your site can trigger an immediate purchase spur.

Always inform the most sold products and services, as well as the reasons that make it so desired by the public. The results could be surprising.

novelty principle

We, as human beings, love novelty. This is a statement that can be proven by a survey carried out by students of Neurology at UCL University in the United Kingdom.

In it, it was shown that exposure to something new increases the release of dopamine in the brain. That is, in the face of news, our brain emits sensations of reward. This potential for pleasure motivates us to always look for it.

In Digital Marketing , this principle can be put into practice through messages announcing news soon, be it exclusive and more complete content on a certain subject, a new version of the product or service, etc.

The important thing is to announce news from time to time to keep the public’s interest in your business always high.

Principle of scarcity and urgency

The principle of scarcity and urgency is one of the most important for a successful Digital Marketing strategy, as it is capable of activating a feeling of imminent risk that the person is having of missing out on a great opportunity.

The best way to put this mental trigger into practice in Digital Marketing is to suggest that the products or services have a limited quantity and interest in them is high.

Also, in the face of a promotion, you can make it clear that the prices and payment terms offered will be for a limited time or while stocks last.

Remember that regardless of the mental triggers you use in your Digital Marketing strategy, you must be creative .

Think about your audience and focus on the goals, desires, problems and challenges they have in their professional and personal lives to achieve even better results.

Practical examples of mental triggers in action

Now that you know the main triggers of mental triggers that lead consumers to make a purchase decision, how about seeing some of them working in practice? Check it out below:

Example of reciprocity in action

You know when you go to a website or blog and it offers a free downloadable eBook, a free video lesson or a free trial of the service or product offered?

Well, this site or blog is using the principle of reciprocity as a strategy to activate mental triggers that induce the potential customer to buy.

Example of authority in action

How many times have you come across articles, news or TV commercials informing you about a product or service developed with innovative technology and by a renowned scientist that promises to solve a chronic problem?

This strategy is widely used by the wellness, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry to add respect for products or services and generate a feeling of total and absolute approval.

Books written by experts in some field also awaken mental triggers linked to the principle of authority, as many want to know the secrets it will reveal.

Example of social proof in action

You must have already noticed the excess of testimonials that the sites make available so that you have complete confidence in the efficiency of what is being sold there. Many comments irrigated with opinions about a particular product or service can serve as proof of their true effectiveness. Also, it can demonstrate that a lot of people are using it.

Letting it be understood that a lot of people are using and approving these products and services activates a mental trigger that drives the person’s desire to consume them so they don’t miss out on this opportunity.

These tactics are widely used on fashion, cosmetics, beauty and wellness websites, but they can be adapted to any segment.

Example of novelty in action

This mental trigger is so common to be activated in people that smartphone and vehicle manufacturing companies abuse them.

Every year, we have a new model or a more complete and updated version of smartphones and vehicles, keeping customers always interested in exchanging the old for the new.

An example of scarcity and urgency in action

In any market segment you can see a demonstration of the mental trigger of scarcity and urgency in action.

Exclusive products in limited quantities and unmissable promotions for a limited time are strong and eye-catching messages that generate great purchase impulses. After all, no one wants to miss out on a great opportunity, do they?

The role of copywriting on mental triggers

As you’ve seen, the impact that content has on people’s decision to choose can be huge. Regardless of the format and medium, the way you write the text makes a big difference in the conversion decision. 

Using more direct language and betting on some mental trigger, for example, are great ways for a potential customer to prefer you over a direct competitor. Therefore, copywriting needs to be thought of in every detail.

Even a very short text can be highly convincing. And don’t be fooled, because having little text doesn’t make the job any easier or faster. That’s because the power of synthesis is an art that you develop with each new content.

Below, we separate some copywriting tips for Digital Marketing that help trigger mental triggers:

  • Always keep your persona in mind
  • Use action verbs in Call-to-Actions
  • Work the keyword well
  • Know your product or service well before writing
  • Encourage the person to solve a problem
  • Use “you” whenever possible
  • Be a seller by writing
  • Prefer active to passive voice
  • Go straight to the point

In the special post on copy for Digital Marketing , we go into detail on these tips and bring you even more good ideas for you to apply in your business campaigns. However, if you want to delve even further, take a look at the tip below.

The methodology of the course, in turn, is very straightforward. The goal is to make you understand what copywriting is, its definitions, real models and practical exercises. You will also learn the best techniques and secrets of good writing, as well as understand how to write for each specific Marketing channel, how to perform analysis and improvements.

Common questions:

What are mental triggers?

Mental triggers are external events or circumstances that can produce emotional or psychiatric symptoms that are unfavorable (anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, negative thoughts, etc.) or favorable (joy, calm, enthusiasm, motivation, positive thoughts, etc.).

How to use mental triggers?

A person’s mental trigger can be activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. And the most common ones for a Digital Marketing strategy are vision (image) and hearing (sound).

What are the main types of mental triggers?

The most well-known types of triggers are: reciprocity trigger, authority trigger, social proof trigger, novelty trigger and scarcity trigger (“last units” and “it’s only until tomorrow” are some common examples).


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