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The psychology of email marketing – what makes people click?

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 11 Sep, 2013
Essential Essential topic

Ideas to trigger an emotional response from your campaigns

The use of psychology in email marketing is often not at the front of many Marketers’ minds. This fascinates me since we’re so used to seeing the effects of overtly psychological marketing everywhere else we look; on TV, the radio and on public transport. It’s become part of the scenery of our daily lives. Why then is such an effective factor often overlooked when it comes to designing emails? Surely we should be doing all that we can to engage with people?

An important factor to consider is that everything we send to recipients will generate an automatic emotional response; be it positive or negative, large or small. The reason for this is because of the way our brains are wired.

We have so many decisions to make on a daily basis that it would be impossible for us to make a fully informed decision at every turn, so our emotions are called into play to make a judgement for us.

A great example of this in action is someone’s inbox. There is no way I’d have time to properly sit and read every single email that I receive and make an informed decision about the content of each one, it would take forever. Instead, when I open my email I skim through, making a quick judgement on each one; if something grabs my attention then I’ll investigate it further.

The trick therefore is generating enough of an emotional response in the limited time that you've got to grab recipient’s attention and convince them that your email is worth reading.

Tips on instigating an emotional response for your email campaign

There are a few ideas that you can employ to help with this:

  • 1. Use of language and tone

First of all consider the language that you’re using, particularly in the subject line and any pre-header text, but also consider headers, links and call to actions as key. While the success of this is completely dependent on your own recipients and what they will respond to, as a general rule, just telling someone the name of a product and a link to where they can buy it will not go that far.

Instead, generate an emotional response- 'protect your family with a new home alarm system' for example.

  • 2. Colour

Consider the colours and styling that you’re using in your emails; remember that different colours will trigger completely different emotional responses with people. For example, in the West black is seen as a very sleek and powerful colour and is associated with luxury products. Blue is seen as trustworthy and professional and will often be used by banks or financial institutions to convey this message.

rbslogo  halifaxlogo  barclayslogo

Source: BarclaysHalifax  RBS

Consider what you’re trying to convey to your target audience and what kind of emotional response you want to trigger.

  • 3. Relevant Images

Remember that even if you can persuade someone to open your email the next challenge is to get them to read over it thoroughly as opposed to quickly skimming over it.

The use of relevant and striking images can really have a positive effect on your engagement and encourage recipients to digest the content of your email.

Make sure all the images are clear along with any links. If you’re using lots of stock images that have no bearing on the content, it will be obvious!

One of the best techniques to employ is to use images of people’s faces, as it’s been shown that our brains are wired to emotionally connect with these.

You should already know the audience that you’re trying to connect with, so work out what you think will trigger an emotional response with them, but most importantly, the very best technique to employ is simply to test everything, and then test again. While there are general rules about what colours will work best for different audiences and what type of language is the best to use, the only way you’ll really work out what your recipients engage with is to try different things and measure the results. Do this and your results are sure to improve.

For examples of these principles in practice, download the Pure360 Guide to the Psychology of Email Marketing.

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By Expert commentator

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