Home OPINIONS Triggers in marketing and how they work

Triggers in marketing and how they work

Marketers seek to elicit the right reactions from the audience

Marketers seek to elicit the right reactions from the audience

Triggers in marketing are peculiar psychological keys that open the door to the emotions and motivation of potential customers.

With their help, marketers seek to elicit the right reactions from the audience. Ideally, these reactions should lead to a targeted action (buying a product, choosing the right online betting odds, ordering a service, subscribing, entering contact information, or making a pre-order).

Channel 1

Why Use Triggers in Sales and Advertising

When applying triggers, you need to understand that it involves setting and achieving specific goals in marketing. They are:

  • Increasing conversions. Incentivizing users or site visitors who have seen an advertisement to apply for a purchase.
  • Removing objections. For example, such techniques as a limited time action (including the presence of a timer on the site) and a limited number of products can neutralize the objection “I need to think about it.”
  • Increasing sales. Consumers who experience positive emotions, anticipation of pleasure, or fear of missing out on a benefit are more likely to make a purchase, i.e. bring profit to the company.
  • Establishing an emotional connection. The positive emotions that non-trivial marketing techniques, such as skillful storytelling, evoke in customers contribute to positive brand perception and brand equity.
  • Improving the customer experience. Some techniques are directly related to customer support and providing personalized offers. They improve the customer experience, increase loyalty, encourage subscription renewals, and build long-term relationships.

Types of Triggers


Humans tend to place value on something rare and limited. If something seems limited or inaccessible to us, the desire for the product increases. The scarcity trigger in marketing plays on a sense of missed opportunity — the customer wants something that may not be available very soon.

When a customer sees a message like “Only 10 items left” or “This item is now being viewed by 20 people,” he thinks, “What if I don’t make it in time?” or “Maybe it’s a really good item if it’s selling out so quickly.” As a result, he becomes more inclined to leave contact information soon. One useful tool here is a timer on the website that counts down the time until the end of the offer.

Time Limit Trigger

In marketing, the time limit triggers scarcity. It gives potential customers a feeling of limited time to perform some action. If they don’t have time, they won’t be able to do it as easily or at all.

Often, companies use time-limited promotions, for example, “Only this week,” “Discount valid until midnight,” etc. This creates a sense of uncertainty and incentivizes a faster decision to buy, subscribe, and take other targeted actions. You can also use the above-mentioned timer on the landing page here.


Greed, although it can be associated with negative emotions, is actually an effective sales trigger. It’s based on our natural tendency to want more, hoard and increase our resources, and save money. Thus, the greed trigger is such a marketing play on customers’ desire for more for less. When companies offer discounts, there is a desire to “grab it now while it’s cheap.” Therefore, triggers that play on greed are a powerful tool in marketing.

For example, a retail store runs a promotion that offers a discount proportional to the number of items purchased. The more items a customer buys, the higher the discount percentage. Customers are incentivized to buy more products to save more money. We see the desire of customers to not only buy the items they need but also to add additional items to their cart to get more benefit. This is how the store motivates customers to spend more, while they experience acquiring more for their money. It turns out that this trigger in marketing not only helps increase the average check but also creates a sense of a successful shopping experience for customers.


This trigger in marketing is based on our innate desire to learn more, solve mysteries, and resolve emotional tension. Intrigue is often formed by creating mystery in advertising campaigns, promotional materials, or even the product itself. A few hints, enigmatic images, or unexpected twists can suddenly grab attention. And then the user opens a letter in the mail, goes from a post on Facebook to a webpage, reads the whole long-read article because he was hooked by the submarine at the beginning. In the end, he or she may buy the product or leave contact information. Unfortunately, the technique of creating intrigue is actively used in spam mailings, but it can also be successfully used for positive purposes, for mutually beneficial work with clients.

The effectiveness of any trigger is a measurable indicator in marketing that needs to be tracked. To what extent, in your case, messages with intrigue work better than messages without it, you can check, for example, by conducting A/B tests. To check the effectiveness and return on investment of different advertising messages, as well as the results of A/B tests, call-tracking is used, as are technologies for tracking all hits from the site and advertising.


Fear is one of the most powerful and universal triggers in marketing. It works with any person’s need for security. Under the influence of this feeling, a person becomes more inclined to be cautious as well as more proactive to prevent harm.

Fear is used to draw attention to certain safety problems or issues and to persuade the consumer to take some specific action or make a purchase. Examples include social advertising that warns against drinking, driving, or taking bribes. Such campaigns don’t sell anything, but may encourage the viewer to change their behavior. At the same time, the need for safety can also be used for commercial purposes, such as promoting property insurance.

Social Proof

This trigger in marketing is based on our innate desire to follow the example of others. People tend to make decisions based on the actions or beliefs of a group.

Saying “This product is recommended to you by 1,000 customers” has an effect. Publicizing positive reviews, testimonials, and success stories on websites, social media, or advertisements builds trust in a product or brand. A sense of social support is created, which motivates us to take action. The use of social metrics such as the number of followers, likes, reposts, or comments directly affects the perception of the brand or the product itself.


Speaking of triggers, one can’t help but think of the queues lining up for new smartphone models because they are new, because everyone is curious to know what it is, and mainly because of the halo of prestige. Furthermore, new products are often associated with progress, innovation, and improvement.

Novelty as a trigger in marketing can sometimes play a key role in shaping the purchase decision. It gives the customer the impression that they are getting the latest and best solutions.


This trigger in marketing is based on the need for security and confidence in the quality of goods or services, and it creates a sense of caring for the customer. Guarantees reduce risk for the consumer. When a company makes some sort of additional commitment, such as returning or replacing a defective product, we have more confidence in its products or services. “…or we’ll give you your money back,” some brands boldly state in advertisements. A company that provides warranties means its confidence in its product. The guarantee trigger capitalizes on the need for security for risk reduction; it increases the conversion rate of advertising in marketing because customers are more confident to make a purchase.


Expertise causes a brand to be treated as authoritative and trustworthy. This applies to expert personal brands as well as companies. When a brand or expert demonstrates their track record, it works as a trigger in marketing and builds trust and the desire to become a user of the service or product. Information that speaks to a professional background can be:

  • Number of years in the market or the year the company was founded.
  • Number of clients.
  • Awards, honors, and wins in competitions held in a particular business sector.


Everyone remembers the proverb, “Everything brilliant is simple.” Why do companies always emphasize: “intuitive interface,” “in just 2 clicks,” etc.? Obviously, simplicity is also an important trigger in marketing. And they try to use it not only in advertising but also in the development of the product itself.

Simplicity offers convenience and accessibility to customers, ensuring that barriers to purchase are minimized. When the process of buying or interacting with a brand is simple and intuitive, it evokes a sense of confidence and satisfaction in the customer.


The desire to be unique and different is an urge deeply embedded in human psychology. In marketing, the trigger of exclusivity becomes a powerful tool as it allows companies to stimulate consumer interest and satisfaction. Many businesses use personalized offers that appeal to the unique needs of customers. What is important to say about the trigger of exclusivity is that it’s a tool for creating a personalized approach in marketing.

Let’s imagine: a well-known fashion brand launches an exclusive collection of clothing and accessories available exclusively to members of their VIP loyalty program. Each VIP program member receives a personalized offer to buy the items before they are available to other consumers. Limited availability creates a sense of special status and attractiveness of the product, as well as belonging to a privileged community. In this way, the brand simultaneously increases the loyalty of existing customers and finds new ones to participate in the above program.

Reciprocity and Gratitude

If someone performs some useful or pleasant action, we feel obliged to return the favor. In marketing, the gratitude trigger is actively used to attract customers.

Providing valuable information, goods, or services can incentivize consumers to return the favor. Bonuses, gifts or special discounts, free subscriptions, distribution of samples, lead-magnets with useful, expert information — all these marketing techniques can be designed for the subconscious desire to thank, i.e. to buy a full-fledged, no longer free version of the product, to increase the check, etc.

Sending personalized thank you messages for registration, purchase, or participation in a program is another way to use reciprocity in marketing. A sense of special value is created for each customer. Additionally, when a company shows attention and gratitude to its customers, an emotional attachment is created and a positive attitude towards the brand is reinforced.


Pleasure as a trigger in marketing relies on evoking positive emotions, on the promise of a pleasurable experience. When a product or service can deliver pleasure, interest, and conversion to transactions increases. The pleasure trigger also helps increase loyalty and the likelihood of repeat purchases.

Let’s say in a chocolate advertising campaign, we see a story about how people from all over the world find happiness and pleasure in simple moments, no matter how insignificant they may be. The characters experience the joy of a walk in the park, meeting old friends. The chocolate company emphasizes: their product is not just chocolate, it’s a source of pleasure and joy. The final scene of the commercial shows the moment when the characters, enjoying the unique taste of chocolate, experience moments of real happiness. The ideal effect: consumers begin to associate pleasure and joy with the products of this particular chocolate brand.


Storytelling is the art of storytelling, which allows brands to communicate product values more vividly, familiarize the brand, and evoke emotional engagement. People remember and respond to stories better than they do to plain facts and figures. Stories evoke emotional responses to help people better understand, absorb, and remember information.

By the way, the storytelling trigger is a good tool not only in marketing but also directly in sales communications.

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. 

Guest Writer
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