eCommerce Insiders

Emotional Triggers: Your Secret Weapon For Sales Conversions

There’s an old adage that highlights the ultimate reason why consumers buy things:

A person may buy nails in order to hang a photo, but they hang the photo in order to enjoy the memories.

All of this is to say that ultimately, the shopper bought the nails to enjoy the memories. This is a fine example of how emotions are often the underlying factor in what determines a consumer’s final buying decision.

Knowing this, you can use emotional triggers to lead your site visitors and shoppers towards the checkout button…but only if you understand how to use emotional triggers.

More importantly, you’ll need to understand which type of emotional triggers are most effective for your company’s brand and your online property.

Check out the immensely effective strategies that these two e-retailers are using in order to boost their revenues while acquiring and underscoring customer loyalty:

TOMS Shoes Appeals to the Socially Conscious Shopper

The marketing team at TOMS shoes understands quite wisely that they should use the emotional trigger of sustainability and social conscious shopping in order to appeal to their consumer base. After all, there will always be those who care about directing their cash towards causes close to their heart.

Therefore, the marketing team at TOMS uses this important piece of information in their website content. Specifically, they inform the site visitor that the company donates a pair of shoes to needy children around the world after one pair of shoes is purchased by the consumer.

This works for a couple of reasons:

1. No one wants to imagine impoverished children running the streets with no shoes on their feet.

2. The campaign makes consumers feel emotionally invested in properly clothing children (and keeping them safe) in a very realistic manner.

In fact, the tagline for the company is: “It starts with one.”

There’s no way that a compassionate, socially conscious consumer could ever resist such a tagline, or the offer at hand.

The fact is, people often feel moved to participate in philanthropic campaigns, but they also tend to avoid feeling overwhelmed. TOMS removes this barrier to action by encouraging the consumer to take the smallest of steps:

Just buy one pair of shoes.

When the consumer buys a pair of shoes, then needy children are protected and rewarded with a pair of shoes. Everyone wins, and the consumer feels that they can reasonably take part in healing a major social and physical crisis.

Old Navy Brings Hip and Chic to Main Street

Old Navy has become an extremely approachable and profitable brand. Part of the reason is due to their approachable and affordable prices, but there’s another reason at play that exploits a very important emotional trigger:


All humans need to experience a sense of belonging. This is why they follow trends, particularly in fashion.

As clothing retailers know, fashion trends start on both of the coasts (New York and L.A.), eventually filtering their way into middle America. However, this process can often take years, leaving those waiting for trends to happen in their area of the country feeling hopelessly behind step as the latest style trends become passe and old on the coasts.

Old Navy eliminates this problem while acknowledging this very real issue.

First, the buyers at Old Navy have their fingers on the pulse of what’s fashionable and happening in the world of everyday sportswear. Then, because the retailer is ubiquitous all over the country and online, the retailer can supply up-to-the-moment everyday fashion pieces to anyone at the click of a button.

Thanks to the retailer’s online property, the consumer who lives in the most land-locked region of the U.S. can experience the same sense of belonging to a fashion trend that their relatives living on the coasts do, at the same time!

Sales Conversion Goes Far Beyond Logic

While it’s absolutely true that consumers make logical decisions when they purchase products, it’s also absolutely true that their emotional triggers sealed the deal and led them to pull out their credit cards when they shopped on your online property.

This fact alone means that you can’t lean too heavily on your features. You’ve got to present emotionally-led benefits that converts shoppers into buyers. And lets face it-the emotional stakes are high for you as the retailer, too!

In fact, Hubspot author Emma Snyder used a quote from Steven Pinker to delve deeper into emotional triggers as a powerful weapon that e-retailers should use, saying:

Choosing which to focus on depends on your buyer’s personality (what will resonate most with them?) and your offering (what most closely reflects your value proposition?) Once you’ve determined which emotional lever to pull, use the following tips to create a tear-jerking, heart-stopping, chest-puffing presentation your prospect will never forget.

Marketing is the life-blood of any retail venture, and you’re in a competitive war with other brands who want to cut into your market share.

Therefore, it only makes sense to use every weapon you have to direct dollars into your coffers. Using emotional triggers is one of the best weapons you have at your defense!

This article was amended from a version that first appeared on The Conversion Scientist blog.


Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *