So Bad They’re Good: Use the 7 Deadly Sins for More Persuasive Copy

I stood on my building’s front steps, freezing, digging through my purse. I don’t know why. I didn’t know where my keys were, but I knew they weren’t in there.

Eventually I gave up and sat on the freezing stoop, angry at myself and whoever made me lose my keys. While I waited for the locksmith to arrive, I searched for and ordered a tracker to attach to my keys to avoid this annoyance in the future.

Why am I telling you this? To illustrate that emotions drive action. That’s why those Sarah McLachlan commercials strive to make us all teary-eyed before she even starts in on her pitch.

Did I really need that tracker? No. A cheaper (and smarter) solution would be to figure out how the rest of the world gets by without losing their keys. But I was angry and ticked off, and I wanted to do something about it.


Since emotions drive us so strongly, your landing page copy needs to evoke them.

You want more of your audience to take action? You could try changing the color of your CTA button. But you could also try making your copy more emotional, or rewriting it to appeal to an entirely new emotion. For example, excitement instead of fear.

If you’re not sure how to get started, just think about the seven deadly sins. They’re easy to remember, and they each correspond with an emotion you can draw on in your marketing copy.

Sin #1: Lust
Appeal to: Desire

Desire is an emotion most marketers are comfortable conjuring up. We know how to make people want our products – after all, that’s kind of what marketing is all about.

But you don’t want to conjure up a little desire – you want your audience dreaming dreams of excess. Instead of mentioning “more revenue,” give your reader something they can really picture. Something that they’ll point to and say, “want.”

For example, look at this landing page from Demandforce.

demand-force-lp copy

Pay close attention to their testimonial: “Responsible for an additional $30,000 in revenue in its first six months.”

Who doesn’t want and desire $30,000? It’s a concrete object to lust after, rather than an idea (more money) that just seems appealing.

When you’re writing your landing page copy, translate your unique selling proposition into what your audience really wants. Focus on benefits, not features. Your audience doesn’t really want or desire the features you offer. They’re a middleman, a means to an end. What your audience really wants is the results those features make possible.

Sin #2: Gluttony
Appeal to: Self-interest

We’re all selfish in one way or another. And there’s nothing wrong with caring about yourself – to an extent. We’re all seeking something, whether it’s prestige, money or respect from those we admire.

How can you use this in your landing page copy?

Have your customer’s back. Look out for them – they’ll appreciate a break from looking out for themselves. Make your customers and prospects feel taken care of, safe, and like you always have their best interest in mind (since it should be true anyway).

A great way to do this is with trust indicators, testimonials and social proof. Consider testing items like ratings or accreditations, quotes from happy customers, and cold hard numbers on your landing pages to make your audience feel safer choosing you.


For example, look at how Azure highlights its accreditations to the left of its main landing page copy.

320 TripAdvisor uses rated their properties as “excellent” and they received an excellence award… although highlighting an outdated award makes me wonder why there aren’t new awards to boast receiving.

Sin #3: Greed
Appeal to: Possessiveness

Our consumeristic society means that people really care about things. Objects. Possessions.

There are some things we really need: a certain amount of food and drink, enough wealth to pay the bills, etc. And other things we want: good food and drink, enough wealth to also have some fun and “treat yo self.”


So when it comes time to translate your features into benefits, focus on framing those benefits as tangible objects or possessions.

Not only does this really put the benefits in perspective, it also makes them easier to process.

To move that over into copywriting, this is especially applicable when talking about discounts or saving money. Instead of saying, “20% off,” you can translate that into a specific amount, or something customer could buy with the savings.

For example, look at this Chili’s landing page.


Let’s say a kid’s meal is $5. This could just as easily have promoted “$5 off your meal.” But Chili’s knows that its customers are families, so it translated the offer into something relatable and concrete: a free meal for one of the kids at the table.

Sin #4: Sloth
Appeal to: Laziness

I’ve always said there’s nothing wrong with being lazy (mostly to justify being lazy). But a lot of it makes sense. Sure, I could do that thing, but if I don’t need to, why should I?

People want their lives to be made simpler. They want as many things as possible to be done for them. And for the things they actually do to be clear cut and manageable.

So highlight how you’ll make the visitor’s life easier — how much time they’ll save, what tasks they’ll no longer have to do, which processes will be easier.

Unbounce is all about making lives easy on this landing page I found through a PPC ad.


Look at those phrases like “without I.T.” and “quickly & easily.” They’re clear on the fact that using Unbounce means less work for you: no sitting in long meetings with developers, and no learning the complicated coding languages yourself.

The landing page is very specific about exactly how it will make your life easier. As I was reading the copy, I sat and imagined all the items that would no longer be on my to-do list. If they had used vague copy about saving time, I still wouldn’t know how Unbounce would save me time.

Don’t make your reader try to figure it out for themselves. That takes more work that could stand in the way of you and a conversion.

Sin #5: Wrath
Appeal to: Anger and annoyance

Emotions drive action – especially heated emotions like anger and annoyance. Remember the gif at the top of the post?

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”

Luckily, you’re probably appealing to anger and annoyance already – I bet you’re already working to highlight your prospect’s’ pain points and problems in your copy. Just think about what annoys and angers your audience.

Have a look at this example by Vonage:


Would you look at that? Phone service “without contracts!” I think those are rarer than glitter unicorns. But Vonage has them, and wants you to know it.

They clearly know their customers well – pretty much everyone hates phone contracts. With a fiery passion. They speak directly to that pain point by placing “Without Contracts!” in their big, bold headline.

Sin #6: Envy
Appeal to: Jealousy

We can all relate to the feeling of not getting what we want. It sucks when we can’t have something.

“I have something you don’t have!”

Doesn’t that grate on your nerves? Or have you ever passed over buying something, only to find yourself second-guessing your decision once you see someone else with it?

If you want more landing page visitors to convert, make visitors jealous of converters. Highlight what people won’t get by converting on your offer – milk the “FOMO” (fear of missing out) for all that it’s worth.

Don’t let the visitor forget that they’re missing out on an exclusive offer or limited time savings. Or combine this tactic with trust indicators by mentioning how many other webinar attendees will walk away with your secrets to success.

A niche you’ll see this a lot in is fitness: brands use super buff models in marketing campaigns. People see those idealized photos, get jealous and go, “I want to look like that and this product will help make it happen? Take my money!”

Take a look at how IdealShape is marketing IdealShake:


See? Jenna lost 67 pounds and looks so happy! Don’t you want those results?

Write copy to frame visitors who convert as an exclusive “in-crowd” of people who are somehow better off now. Make non-converters jealous – their desire to be part of the club will have them clicking your CTA.

Sin #7: Pride
Appeal to: Confidence

Flattery will get you everywhere, right?

One of the easiest copywriting strategies is to appeal to your audience’s ego – up their confidence, make them feel good about themselves.

This will put prospects in a good mood, but also make them more likely to be persuaded.

When someone’s in a bad mood, they’re more likely to see the negatives of something, as well as to delay making a decision. Happy people are in the better mindset to make decisions and are more open to seeing the positives in your product, making them ripe for conversions.

Have a look at this page by AroundMe:


Right under the app’s name is a big, encouraging statement: “Because you’re going places.”

I love this sentence for two reasons. It’s a clever pun – the app helps you locate a variety of things around you – but it also compliments the visitor.

It’s saying, “Hey, you’re going to be successful, and that’s the kind of user we want. You’re special.” That’ll give their visitors enough warm, fuzzy feelings to try the app.

So emotional

Making someone feel “more” is a quick way to get more conversions. Sometimes it’s as simple as replacing one verb with another. Other times, the key lies in the overall tone of how you speak to your visitor.

When writing, think of the ideal emotions your offer will evoke and how you want your customers to feel. Do you want them to be proud to be your customer? More confident in themselves? Part of an “in-crowd” of other important customers?

Picturing the desired outcome will help you determine which emotions you should play up in your landing page copy.

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About Brittany Berger
Brittany Berger is the PR & Content Marketing Manager at Mention. On any given day, there's a good chance you'll find her reading, writing, or Netflixing (yes, it's a verb). Follow her on Twitter @bberg1010
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