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Emotional Copywriting Words (and a Really Nifty Tool)

When it comes to emotional copywriting words, I’m reminded of the immortal words of Mark Twain:

“The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

People ask what makes copy compelling. I think it’s because… it evokes the right emotional states… using the right words… in the right sequence… at the right level of intensity.

When working with emotions, I focus on 4 different things:


First, what emotions does my market WANT to experience? And not want to experience? (Because I’m going to use those too.) Specificity is key.

Most copywriters are content just to get an occasional rise out of prospects. General emotions. But there is so much power in being intentional as well as specific about using the RIGHT emotions using the RIGHT words. (Which is why the Emotional Copywriting Words tool below is so helpful.)

What you’ve got to appreciate at all times, is your prospect WANTS, NEEDS, DESIRES to be taken on an emotional roller coaster ride. And emotional copywriting words are the vehicle.

You might feel you’re manipulating them. And you are. But my belief is prospects WANT to be emotionally manipulated. If they’re a long time customer, they actually look forward to it.

Let me ask you. Why do we go to the movies? Because they’re interesting? NO. To be emotionally guided, from one emotional state to another. Sometimes abruptly. Sometimes smoothly.

It doesn’t matter. Just so long as you do it and keep doing it. Which leads me to my next point.


2. Next, think about how to lead your prospect through A SEQUENCE OF EMOTIONS you want them to experience. For instance, in the survival market, I often use:

Shock–> Fear–> Anger–> Interest–> Hope–> Desire–> Conviction

Most copywriters think if they can get the prospect to experience one or two emotions, that’s good enough.

Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. But the idea is to guide them through the sequence of emotions you believe will have the best chance of them doing what you ask. Whether that’s a sale, an optin, or click.

If you can control their emotions,
you can control the sale.

3. Then like a series of dials, I think about how much I want to dial up or dial down the emotional intensity.

I may want them to experience fear, but I don’t necessarily want to terrify them. It depends upon what I’m trying to accomplish.

In the survival market, with some products, I may want them to experience intense paranoia. For instance, selling potassium tablets and Geiger counters when the Fukashima meltdown was all over the news.

It’s these three reasons why the Emotional Copywriting Words Wheel is so useful. (Mr. Twain would love this wheel.)

What the wheel does is give you specificity as well as a range of emotions regularly used in compelling copy. It allows you to easily evaluate which word would be the most appropriate for the emotion you want to evoke.


Emotional Copywriting Words Wheel

Emotional Copywriting Words

7 Random Ideas on Using Emotional Copywriting Words

1. Focus on one emotion at a time.

2. Don’t let the AIDA formula confuse you. For instance, there is no such thing as the “attention” emotional state.  However, you can get attention using shock or surprise. e.g. “Shocking Discovery! Doctor Discovers Cosmetic Surgery in a Bottle!” (Hokey, yeah I know. But you get the idea.)

3. When you do it right, you’ll keep your prospects’ attention throughout the copy because you’re continually yanking on their emotions, just like in a movie.

4. If you’re going to err, my experience suggests erring on too much emotional intensity rather than not enough. Your copy may sound “over the top” but test it and see. I think you’ll be surprised.

6. The more empathetic or emotionally sensitive you are by nature, the better you’ll do.

7. More is not necessarily better. There may not need to be many emotional copywriting words in your copy. Just one or two may do the trick. Play with them.

PS: Thanks goes to copywriter Joe Ditzel who found this tool.

File under: Emotional Copywriting Words


Rick Duris is CopyRanger.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Dennis Bridges

    Greetings, Rick!
    In talk-show parlance, I would describe myself as a long-time listener, first-time caller. I really like your treatment of emotions in copywriting, and many thanks to you and to Joe for putting up this emotion “color wheel”. Should this be dubbed “The Ditz Wheel” in Joe’s honor? Seriously, I’m gonna blow this up and stick it on my wall. Great tool–thanks for providing it, and thanks for all that you consistently provide to put more money in my pocket!!
    Best regards,
    Dennis Bridges

  2. CopyRanger

    Thanks Dennis. A lot. Good to hear from you and glad you enjoy the show. 😉

    Admittedly, I don’t post much. But when I do post, it’s something I hope will be super useful to copywriters.

    Be sure to sign up for the blog updates to keep updated.

  3. Ramaji

    Hi Rick, whats the story on this amazing wheel? would it be permitted to use it for other purposes? for example, i teach meditation. it strikes me it could be used in the other direction, too, as a way for people to move into those emotional cascade sequences consciously. as an aside, that might help copywriters, too, of course.

    thanks, peace, Ramaji

    1. CopyRanger

      I never thought about that Ramaji!

      I would say try it and see. In a previous life, I did NLP-based counseling for a while.With NLP, there’s all sorts emotional processes, chaining one emotion to another, ultimately leading to a point providing people relief from emotional trauma.

      What I like about this wheel is gives you more precision what people are specifically feeling or what you want them to feel.

      Try it Ramaji and then report back, ok? Love to hear.

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