10 Psychological Hacks To Boost Your Email Marketing Efforts (With Examples)

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing


Savvy marketers spend a lot of time in trying to perfect each and every aspect of their emails – right from the subject line to the call to action button. A considerable amount of time, money and resources are expended to make sure emails are effective in getting opens and click-throughs. However, the end-goal of an email is always to get the recipient to take the desired course of action.

While carefully planning and connecting the various elements of our emails, we often fail to weigh the factors surrounding human psychology – how humans work, how they make decisions and what prompts them to take certain actions. We may think that as humans, we always take decisions logically, but years of research and studies prove that wrong.

Humans tend to make decisions based on a number of factors, and a lot of them can be influenced by external stimuli. Which is why it is essential to understand human psychology, and how to it can influence consumer behavior. In this article, we’ll discuss a few psychological hack in email marketing that can be used to make it more effective:

1.  Apply The Principle Of Reciprocity

In social psychology, the principle of reciprocity is a law which states that humans pay back what they receive from others. Reciprocity is something which is ingrained in us because of how much it is emphasized upon in various cultures. Ever since we are kids, we are taught to give back to others, and the society in general.

By applying the principle of reciprocity in your emails, you can get people to give you something of value in return to your offering. Take a look at this example from Pinkberry below. By giving their customers a free yogurt, they’ve now put the imperative on the customer to return the favor by visiting the store.

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

2. Capitalize On Your Readers’ FOMO

Fear of missing out, or FOMO as we know it is anxiety which occurs when one feels they are going to miss out on something great. It gets created in the mind of a customer when they observe certain triggers, such as a sense of urgency or scarcity and then act upon their impulse to buy as quickly as possible.

It is easy to elicit an immediate response from your customers by your emails, by including certain cues in the copy which would create a fear of missing out. This example from the Banana Republic below is a great example. Notice the use of words like “ends today” which could be effective in getting the customer to act faster.

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

3. Use Colors To Your Advantage

Different colors trigger various emotions and responses among people. According to studies, colors can influence a person’s buying decision by up to 60%. Color has been used by business psychologists and marketers to influence user psyche for almost a century. Choosing the right colors can elicit the response that you desire from a customer, and hence should be taken into consideration while creating promotional email campaigns.

Before making use of this effective psychological hack in email marketing, it is important to know the feelings which different colors evoke. One other thing of importance is that the color scheme you choose in your emails should always complement your brand colors, otherwise your people might have trouble recognizing who you are.

You should pay special attention to the color of the button of your CTA, as it is important that the customer does what you intend him to. Here is a great example of how choosing different color of your CTA button can increase engagement. In the following email, the email with Red colored CTA got 22% more click-throughs.

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

4. Include Compelling Imagery

The human brain responses to images in a similar way to colors. According to research by 3M Corporation, the human brain processes visuals 60,000X faster than text. Given the above facts, including compelling images & visuals in your email can be an effective way to persuade your customers by eliciting the desired response.

Including pictures of people, especially ones looking happy can generate a positive response in your recipients’ minds. One common tactic used is to direct the reader to a particular part of your email by using a picture of someone pointing to looking in the same direction. This welcome email from Crocs below is a great example of how to use a picture of people in an email:

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

5. Persuade Using Social Proof

People look for other people’s decisions before taking one for themselves. In consumer psychology, social proof has been a crucial phenomenon which influences buying decisions. According to studies, 63% of online shoppers look for other customers’ testimonials or reviews before buying a product.

E-commerce stores have been successful in leveraging the potential of social proof, and hence it becomes essential to be used in email marketing as well. Although, the use of social proof in emails needs to be done subtly, without being ‘in-the-face’ of the reader. This email from Ann Taylor nails it quite well:

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

6. Make Use Of Reverse Psychology

Reverse psychology caters to a human psychology quirk called as reactance. Reactance is when someone has a strongly negative emotional reaction to any persuasion and therefore selects the option which is being persuaded against. It is an approach of selling to customers by NOT selling to them at all. Lady Gaga used this technique by asking her fans to not buy her album, Artpop, as she was “no longer relevant as an artist”. The result? the album sold over 300,000 copies in its first two weeks of release.

Lady Gaga is not the first one to leverage on the potential of reverse psychology, numerous brands have been doing this for years. Here is an example of reverse psychology at work.

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

7. Leave An Air Of Mystery

Using your email to create an air of mystery around your readers is a great psychological hack in email marketing as it makes them want to know what happens next. This email from Forever 21 is a great example of how to do it. In this email for Black Friday, the brand creates a mystery around the discount that a customer would be provided with their purchase. It hints at a possible 15% off, enough to entice the customer to check out what’s in it for them.

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

8. Make Your Customers Feel Exclusive

Making your customers feel special by making them a part of something exclusive is quite an effective psychological hack in email marketing. This technique works well because humans can be self-centered, and we love things that have a direct benefit to us. This email from Dorothy Perkins is a great example of how you can make a user feel special by sending an exclusive email, in this case, for a birthday.

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

9. Pique Your Readers’ Curiosity

In 1959, psychologist R.W. White suggested that “curiosity results from a motivation to master one’s environment”. It is human nature to find out answers to the questions we don’t know but are intrigued too. Using this as a psychological hack in email marketing can very well work to your benefit. By leaving the customers to know more about something, you can elicit a desirable response.

The best way to use this hack is in the subject line of your email since it is the first thing that the recipient reads and decides whether or not to open the rest of it. Here is an example from Canva, and how the subject line intrigues the recipient to open the email.

Subject line: “Ever had this problem? Tell me about it.”

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

10. Personalize Your Emails

Personalisation has a direct impact on getting the user to elicit the required response because it plays directly with human psychology. This is because humans have a want for control and personalisation makes us feel the same. According to Venture Beat, including personalization in emails increases click-through rates by 2.5 times and sales by 6 times.

A very basic form of personalization tactic is using the recipient’s first name while addressing them. If you’re a Betaout customer, you can easily personalize your emails using dynamic user properties like first name, last name etc.

Take a look at the email from Crocs India below. The subject line and the copy, both include the full name of the customer who just signed up on their online store.

Psychological Hack In Email Marketing

Wrapping Up

Humans by virtue are not highly rational beings and their mind does work eccentrically based on certain cues, especially while indulging in gratifying activities like shopping. Marketers should use this human quirk to their advantage. By incorporating elements of human psychology which can potentially influence buying decisions, brands can make sure that they get the desired result from their email marketing campaigns. Using the various psychological hack in email marketing shared in this article is a good way start.