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5 “Opt in” emotions your brand content should evoke in your readers

By: Helen Holt Tuesday June 14, 2016 comments Tags: Brand

Brand emotions

Quick question here: What makes you open an email? What moves your fingers to hit that PAY NOW button? What stirs you up to download that free eBook? 

 If you’re in business, and you’re digital, then welcome to the club: you’re providing content marketing- and that means you're looking for readers to opt-in. 

What makes people opt-in to your blog, email, newsletter or landing page? What's the "secret sauce" to getting those little fingers to click the mouse and opt in?

As a brand copywriter, that's my "job". Creating words that make people want to know more. It isn't as easy as it looks, but I've learned one sure thing along the way:


Emotions are the key to opt-ins. 

Yes, this is where it pays off when you major in psychology back in college. Human emotions are what drives us to do what we do. The studies have been done. We are by far, as a human species, irrational creatures. 

The "secret sauce" that gets us to click the PAY NOW button or click the link to "Read more..." in the e-newsletter relies on primary, instinctive, human emotions. And if you learn these emotions and how they work, you'll soon understand how to reach (and convert) potential clients and customers more effectively.

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Here are my five primary “opt in” emotions your brand should evoke in your audience:


Opt-in emotion #1: Fear.  


Fear may seem like a terrible thing, but love it or hate it, fear is a vital survival mechanism. Being concerned about what may happen in the future is instinctive for us as humans. 

 Common fears:

  • Failure
  • pain
  • not knowing enough to prevent avoidable problems
  • regrets
  • being alone
  • being the one who missed the boat


All these fears propel us to do one thing: take action. Fear of regret will move a potential customer into making a purchase or opting in on the free download. Fear forces us to take action. Not a year from now. Not a month from now. Not even two weeks from now—but RIGHT now.  Studies show that over time, the odds of someone making a purchase tends to decline without proper CRM (customer relationship engagement). 

Remember, people want to be guided through the sales process without being pushed into doing business with you.  Fear will make your role a lot easier as fearful prospects will take less convincing than someone who is “just looking.” 

For example, fear of regret will more likely move a potential customer into making a purchase or opting in on the free download sooner than later as missing this opportunity (i.e. what could have been?) will make them feel regretful later on. To avoid this pain, the odds are in favor of them taking definitive action.

 Opt-in emotion #2: Curiosity.


They say curiosity killed the cat, but a lack of curiosity kills conversion rates. If people aren’t curious to learn more, chances are they won’t open your email. You want people to stop and hesitate before scrolling down to the next email- or over to another page.

What makes people curious? You guessed it-your headline. Headlines are the first thing potential buyers or clients read, so it better be good or else it will be the last thing they read from you. 


Extra, Extra! Read all about it!



Headlines can be many things. Typically people think of cheap, tacky, misleading shock value when it comes to headlines. But a headline can peak your interest in less shocking-and tacky- ways, too. 

Here's an example of a good headline that is successful at peaking curiosity:

5 Steps to 100K passive income in 2015.

This was a headline to an email list I'm currently on.  I recently found it in my personal inbox and well, I had to open it. 

I was, well... curious.

After all, who wouldn't want to earn six figures in passive income this year? (if you're not currently doing it in 2014, that is.)  And I needed to open the email to see exactly what these 5 steps were (5 steps seems easy enough, right?) and ultimately how I'd achieve this lofty goal so confidently promised in the headline.

Effective headlines do just that-they make you want to know more about what you've just read. So make 'em curious next time, won't you?


Opt-in emotion #3: Urgency. 


We’ve all been there. Staring at the computer screen right before bed, scrolling through emails, perusing offer after offer, our brains in passive mode. Marketing research has shown that the majority of buyers are not first-timers.  Typically it takes a few hours to a few days to a few weeks (or more) to act on making a purchase. 

People tend to take action when there’s a sense of urgency. Urgency has a way of making you prioritize your reality in order of importance. If you have a sale ending in 24 hours, chances are people's brains will flip the switch from passive observing to immediate conscious action when there's a great offer that is limited. You'll be more compelled to click the PAY NOW button compared to items that will “always be there” at the regular price


Opt-in emotion #4: Empowered. 


It’s human nature to be attracted to things that give you a sense of strength.  When it comes to purchasing an item or signing up for a monthly subscription service as a client, people want to feel they’ve made an informed decision that will somehow better their lives.  The less they feel like "opting in" is a gamble, the more likely they are to get on board.  

A HUGE component of content marketing is building trust with your audience that will “soften the sell”.  If you offer valuable free information via blogs, newsletters and eBooks, readers will feel informed enough to take action. (For more in-depth info on how to empower your readers, check out my article where I reveal 3 ways to empower your blog readers.)

Visit the original blog to learn about Opt-in emotion #5: Exclusivity. 

Today’s thought takeaway: 


What emotion most moves you to opt-in to a product or service? Chances are, your potential clients or customers will be the same.

 Are you  feelin’ this? Follow me on Twitter or join me on Facebook for my latest blog updates and more ways to make your brand shine online. 

Helen Holt

About the Author: Helen Holt

Helen C. Holt is a marketing copywriter who helps businesses identify, attract and convert their target audiences. She offers up-to-date practical tips and insights for business owners on her website, Thewritingpreneur.com.

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