Let’s Get Emotional: Conversion Writing and the Client’s Heartstrings

One of the most beautiful things about writing in general is how it has been used over the centuries to express human desires and emotion.  “What light through yonder window breaks?” asked Shakespeare.“It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”  Francis Scott Key encapsulated the soul of America by calling it the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Sun Tzu taught us about war through the movement of poetry.

The writing that most of us remember has pulled at our heartstrings in one way or another.  Shakespeare made us swoon, Francis Scott Key made us patriotic (assuming you’re American; if not, no doubt that the national anthem of your country has words that move you), and Sun Tzu made the movement of armies sound like philosophy.  The words move you, the words make you remember.

While nobody is going to realistically sit around and compare copywriting to Shakespeare, there’s something to be said about the power of words to trigger emotions; and instead of evoking feelings of romance or patriotism, the emotions make the reader reach for their wallet.

Sounds slightly underhanded, but the point of copywriting is to get the reader to do something, whether it’s buying a product or download a white paper or sign up for email marketing.  What better way to grab the customer’s attention than by pulling on the heartstrings?

On the other hand, you might be wondering just how to pull at the customer’s heartstrings when you’re writing about widgets and not the tortured love of 13-year-olds.  Well, that’s where your experienced copywriter comes in handy.  Grab a tissue and get ready to cry your way to conversion.With tears of joy, of course.


John Hoff talks about the importance of the connection with his post at Copyblogger.  No doubt that your client does have what’s known in business as a “pain point,” or a reason why they might be in a market for a particular product.  People buy food, for example, because they’re likely to get hungry.  This isn’t a particularly romantic concept, but it can be.

For example, take Tyson Chicken’s current Thanks Mom!campaign.  It doesn’t sell you chicken nuggets because you might be hungry: it uses children to recite all the foods that they don’t like, and then ends by saying Tyson Chicken Nuggets is what kids do like.  The commercial ends with lots of smiling children happily eating chicken nuggets.

This is an emotional connection.  It connects a mother’s desire to make her kids happy and put food on the table with imagery of happy, eating children.  This is emotional copywriting at its best.  A mother’s connectionwith her children is powerful and this ad campaign centers on just that.

Imagine a beautiful future if

John Lennon captured us all with his imagery of imagining a perfect future where all mankind lived in harmony.  Copywriting can do this as well.

This Ron Paul commercial centers in on just that – but rather than playing to the idea of a utopia, it does quite the opposite.  The opening lines are “Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas, there was a large foreign military base.”

You don’t even have to go any farther into the commercial to realize where the copy is going. Yikes!  It’s a scare tactic, which certainly plays off of invasion-related fears.  It’s not just politicians that do this;you can imagine life without debt with this video.

Centering in on your customer’s pain points and then expanding outward is a great way to write emotional copy.  You can invite your readers (or viewers) to imagine a future that is either substantially better (in the case of being debt-free) or substantially more frightening (in the case of foreign military occupation) that hammers on your customer’s emotions and compels them to do what the copy suggests.  Namely, vote for Ron Paul or sign up for the debt seminar.

Focus on the “Why”

At the end of the day, conversion-based copywriting is all about connecting the reader/listener/watcher with the whyWhy should I buy Tyson chicken nuggets?  Why should I sign up for a debt seminar?  Why should I vote for Ron Paul?  In the above examples: you should buy Tyson chicken nuggets because your kids will be happy; you should sign up for the debt seminar since the seminar is undoubtedly the key to a financially-stable future; you should vote for Ron Paul if you don’t want to be invaded.

Connecting the customer to the “why” by means of emotion is extremely effective.  Or, at least, Ron Paul’s approval ratings seem to be high enough.  While you might not be able to tap into the fear of foreign invasion with your product, taking a leaf from the pages of emotion-based copywriters can help you cry tears of joy when your copywriting produces conversions.


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Laura Hancock is a co-owner of ContentEqualsMoney.com. She has also been a long time writer for us. She writes with a passion for accuracy and flow. While her administrative duties have grown, she is a still a big piece of our content writing services team! Currently pursuing a certification in Technical Writing at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle. +Laura Hancock

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