Sustainability is a hot topic – and rightly so. As consumers, we’re more aware of the consequences that our choices have on the planet. 

Buyers expect brands to be transparent about where they source their raw materials from, the conditions under which their products are manufactured, how their products are shipped and packaged, and what processes the business has in place to promote sustainability and fair working conditions. Buyers take all of this information into consideration when deciding who to buy from.  

It’s not enough to detail the facts on a page. To convince buyers to buy into your vision and mission and to part with their cash you need to talk about your seriousness for sustainability in all your communications. Emotive writing can help to get this across with clarity. 

What is emotive writing? 

Emotive writing is a specific type of writing; it uses words, phrases, and content design to make readers feel an emotion. 

Using emotion in writing can be very effective, but it’s tricky. You need to understand what emotional feeling you want your writing to trigger. And, this is a challenge in itself. Emotions are typically placed into four categories; happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. But many think this is too simplistic and believe emotions cover a broad spectrum. As demonstrated by Robert Plutchik’s ‘Wheel of Emotions’. 

Source: Study.com

Narrowing down what emotions you want to influence will guide your writing and make your CTAs – call to action’s as effective as possible. 

Travel companies, for example, are particularly good at emotive writing, as this example from Jet2Holidays shows:

Source: Jet2holidays.com 

After a crap year, Jet2Holidays are tapping into people’s optimism, particularly anticipation of a better summer. 

Compare this to the Ryanair ad below, which unleashed feelings of anger and annoyance. The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) received 2,370 complaints about this ad – the third most complained about advert ever.  After reviewing it, the ASA ordered Ryanair to pull it. 

Source: Ryanair

Why sustainable brands should be using emotive writing

Sustainability is big business; the US sustainable product market could hit $150 billion by the end of 2021 (Forbes). The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how fragile our connection to the planet is, which is pushing more brands to change to sustainable practices. 

These factors present amazing opportunities for sustainable brands, but it also means consumers have more choices. The good news is that content that includes emotive language typically performs twice as well as content that’s feature-based (Neuroscinece Marketing).

In marketing, we often talk about marketing to B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer). In reality, you’re marketing your product to humans. We as humans are emotionally driven – it’s said that we experience at least one emotion 90% of the time. 

By tapping into customers’ emotions, people start to feel that you understand them and that you’re connected through a common cause. This leads to trust in your brand, and when people trust you, they’re more likely to buy your product(s). 

How to include emotive language in your writing 

Getting the message and tone of your emotive writing right isn’t easy; go overboard with it and your writing can come off as lecturing, offensive or fake. To avoid this, here are seven things to consider when creating emotive writing for your sustainable brand: 

1. Use a strong headline

80% of people read the headline, but only 20% read the rest of the text (Copyblogger). You need to target the 20% group of people with your headline. 

To create a strong headline; keep it simple, reflect what the article is about, consider posing a question, offer X number of tips or using facts to create intrigue and make it obvious what people will get out of reading your copy. 

2. Use familiar language

Applying a conversational tone to your writing makes the reader feel like you’re talking directly to them. To do this you first need to know who your customers are. Creating customer personas helps you understand what your ideal customer’s needs and wants are. 

Once you’ve got these pinned down, you can start planning your content and writing it in a conversational tone. This can include keeping sentences short (under 20 words is perfect), and avoiding complicated words – if you need to explain what a word means, don’t use it. 

3. Include trigger words

Trigger words or call-to-actions as they’re more commonly known, are words or phrases that persuade people to take a specific action. Example trigger words for sustainable brands include; Eco-friendly, Sustainable, Kind, Amazing, New, Ethical, You (this makes it seem like you’re talking directly to them), etc. 

Sales driven trigger words include; Discover more, Find out, Buy, Save, Want, etc. 

Which trigger words you use will depend on the purpose of the copy. For example, a blog article’s aim may be to inform and educate, so your trigger words may guide the reader to related articles on your website. Whereas a product landing page is sale- focused and your trigger words will be gently pushing the customer to buy. 

4. Stick to a consistent message

How annoying is it when you’re reading something, and the language and messaging is all over the place? Very, right? 

Inconsistency in the words and phrases you use and also the message you’re putting out, makes your text hard to read and it’s a sure way to make the reader click away. If you’re writing an in-depth blog article or a snappy Instagram post, stick to one theme per piece of content, make sure your use of grammar (capitalisation, Oxford comma, the spelling of numbers v figures etc) is consistent and write in your brand’s tone of voice

5. Avoid negativity

In an ideal world, customers would spend a good amount of time researching your company to understand its purpose and mission. In reality, you’ve only got seven seconds to make a first impression. (Forbes)

You need your first interaction with potential customers to be a positive experience. To achieve this, avoid using negative words and phrases. Instead, look at how you can rephrase the text, so it triggers positive emotions. For example, the phrase ‘Plastic is killing our oceans’ is accurate, but it brings on negative emotions. Whereas, ‘Where helping to reduce the damage to oceans with our plastic-free products’ feels uplifting. 

6. Tell a story

The most successful brands intertwine stories into their marketing and advertising. Why? Well, here’s a few stats (you know I love a stat or two); people can remember stories 22 more times than they can facts and figures (Stanford University) and storytelling boosts conversions, on average by 30%. (Atomic Reach)

Storytelling is fantastic at influencing emotions as the reader is able to emphasise with the character, the situation and the outcome. Also, we’re trained to enjoy and engage stories from a young age. 

7. Provide a solution

Yes, it’s important to highlight the ‘why’ behind your brand – the reason why you started your sustainable business, but don’t forget to include the ‘how’ – what it is about your brand that improves the situation you’re describing. 

Positive emotions heavily influence our buying decisions. These emotions can be brought on by showing that there is hope and detailing how your brand is part of the solution. 

Examples of sustainable brands doing emotive writing well 

I’ve covered what emotive writing is, why you should be doing it and how to do it. It’s time to look at two sustainable e-commerce brands that are great at using emotive writing to get people to pay attention to their brand (and products), engage with their marketing, and ultimately, buy from them: 

Who Gives A Crap

You can probably tell what this company sells by their name? Of course, it’s toilet paper and associated products like tissues and paper towels. The main product line is toilet rolls made from bamboo and recycled fibres. Who would think that a strong and sturdy plant like bamboo could be turned into bum soft toilet paper? 

Who Gives A Crap has also has a strong social ethic; 50% of its profits goes towards helping to build toilets in disadvantaged regions. The lack of access to clean and working toilets is a serious issue – it kills people, but Who Gives A Crap pushes this message with humour. It works because of the products they sell, their company values, and because they cleverly pair text and imagery to get the message across without being preachy. 

Source: https://uk.whogivesacrap.org/

Not your typical way of announcing the launch of your blog, but it works for them because it’s in their brand’s tone of voice. Paired with the toilet imagery, the message is spot on. 

Smol

Smol sells high-performance, eco-friendly cleaning products that are delivered straight to your door. Included in their product range are laundry capsules, dishwasher tablets, fabric conditioner, and surface sprays. Smol’s overall message is that big brands aren’t always best and that small brands can also help you to use less be plastic. 

I love the messaging used on their website. They even state that they speak no bullsh*t; they talk to their customers as they talk to each other. So, you’d expect straightforward messaging across all their communications? And, that’s what you get, as demonstrated in this Facebook ad for their laundry capsules. 

Source: Smol Facebook ad

A strong headline is used – ‘together we saved over 20 tonnes of plastic last month’. This clearly outlines the benefit of buying their laundry capsules.

Work with a copywriter who shares your vision 

If you’re looking for a copywriter who gets your vision and is passionate about protecting the planet just like you are, stop looking. I am that copywriter. Want proof? Check out my portfolio to see examples of messages I’ve written for a wonderful Danish sustainable startup.  

About me: I’m Emma a copywriter and content manager based in Harrow, London. I have a passion for content and for creating amazing content for brands that have a strong social and ethical ethos.