8 Psychological Techniques to Improve Email Campaign Results

John Davier
John Davier

Last updated on

April 4, 2024

For your business to succeed, the best interests of your customers must be in the center of your sales strategy. To better understand and appeal to your target audience, it’s important to understand how human brains work. This is when science-based selling comes into play.

Science-based selling is a selling method backed up by research and employed by leading marketing and sales professionals. This selling method includes implementing neuroscience, behavioral economics, and psychology into your strategy to achieve better results. We’re here to help you make sense of using psychology in your email efforts.

Understanding human psychology is extremely important to improving your sales practices. That’s why we’ve gathered a list of the top 8 psychological techniques you should add to your email campaign to avoid poor sales.

1. Personalization


Personalization is highly effective in improving sales via email. Did you know that 98% of marketers cite personalization as a major factor that improves their customer relations? While 90% of customers themselves say marketing personalization is very or somewhat appealing.

Many professionals harvest the benefits of adding some form of personalization to their marketing or sales practices. However, not all of them know that personalization has a lot to do with how our brains work. Let’s figure out why.  

As humans, we are fond of receiving personalized messages. This is explained by selective attention. The concept suggests that when we focus on a particular object (like a conversation or an email), we tend to tune out everything else. However, some words have the potential to break through the background noise and get into the spotlight, which is called attention.

Back in the 1950s, Colin Cherry, a British cognitive scientist, conducted a series of experiments intending to understand how selective attention works. After observing the dynamics of a crowded party room, he discovered a concept known as a Cocktail Party Effect.

Amid the noisy cocktail party, experiment subjects were invested in interesting conversations while tuning out everything else. Yet, they were still able to recognize and respond to a single word. That word was their own name.

So, what does the Cocktail Party Effect have to do with increasing your sales? Given the research, it makes absolute sense that many professionals use customers’ names to grab their attention and make their message more personalized. Something as small as referring to someone by their name has the potential to make your customers feel more important and significant. As a result, customers will feel more satisfied with your brand.

Besides, you can add different personalized elements into your email pieces. For example, you can include personalization in the subject line. In fact, personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Segment your audience to understand them better and tailor more personalized email content.

2. Consistency

Consistency is another effective psychological trick you can include in your email sales strategy. How does it work? If you repeat your idea (like an image, word, phrase, or symbol) consistently over time, your customers will subconsciously memorize your message. Consistent repetitive messages facilitate learning and help draw associations between the messages you present and your brand.

Craft email pieces with consistent ideas, visuals, and tone of voice. This will help your recipients connect these ideas to your brand, and as a result, develop strong associations. When you repeat the same idea over and over again, the message will get a special place in the long-term memory of your audience.

3. A foot-in-the-door technique


Even though the old days of door-to-door selling have gone, some tricks continue to live on in the digital world. Have you ever heard of the foot-in-the-door technique (FITD)? It’s a compliance technique based on the idea of making gradually more demanding requests to get a person to agree to a larger request. Here’s how it works. You start by asking something small (like which product your prospects prefer better). If prospective customers agree to conduct small actions, they are more likely to agree to the larger intended request (like providing their email or making a purchase).

FITD was first discovered in the 1960s by Stanford University researchers. They conducted an experiment aiming to understand what makes people comply with something they would rather not do. First, they asked a group of people to make a small request by phone (asking subjects to tell what kind of household cleaning products they use). Later, the same people asked subjects for a second larger request in person (asking subjects to allow research into their homes to examine the household cleaning products they use). Do you think these subjects allowed strangers into their homes just because they've first asked them about the cleaning products they use?

You’ll be surprised to learn that subjects agreed to let the research into their homes. In fact, compared to the control group, subjects who positively responded to the first request were 135% more likely to respond positively to the second and larger request.

Researchers have repeatedly studied this phenomenon, and all findings go back to the fact that FITD works. Psychologists explain our compliance with the idea that agreeing to requests seems much easier than refusing them. In other words, when we comply, we simply avoid unwanted confrontation.

4. Storytelling

Our desire to hear stories reflects the basic human need to understand patterns of life. Moreover, hearing a story has a major impact on human brains. When we hear a good story, our attention shifts, we memorize more, and become more emotional. Our brain reacts to the story characters in a similar way as it reacts to the real people in a real-life experience.

Besides, narratives evoke a strong neurological response. Studies concluded that human brains produce the stress hormone cortisol during the tense moments of the story. This allows us to better focus and memorize information. When humans hear a story about something cute and adorable (like puppies), our brain releases oxytocin which is a feel-good hormone that makes us feel empathy and connection. A happy ending to a story triggers our limbic system (which is our brain’s reward system) to release dopamine, a hormone that makes us feel optimistic and hopeful.

Given the research, no wonder so many businesses employ storytelling into their email marketing strategy for better customer engagement and sales boost.

Your brand’s narrative is a strong tool in the arsenal of persuasion. Use the names of actual people (like your employees) to narrate your emails. It’s always great to give your company a voice, a narrator who will guide your customers through experiences with your brand.

Create narratives to describe your products and their journey to the customers. For example, Amazon does a great job telling the story of how packages get to their customers.


5. Simple solutions

‘Simple solutions’ is a persuasion technique that implies persuading by offering easy solutions to relatively complex problems. This principle works because humans try to avoid anxiety at all costs. Guess what is the primary cause of anxiety? That’s right, our problems. So, when you offer your solution, you offer assurance and a feeling of relief.

When crafting your emails, emphasize that your solution is easy, quick, and beneficial. Also, describe the relief your customers will feel when you solve their pain points. Emphasize that you’ve already done the hard work so that your recipients don’t have to worry about it.

For your email campaign to be successful, it must be filled with the magic of easy solutions. It must make your recipients feel like all they have to do is click the magic button and all of their problems will disappear.

6. Social proof and peer pressure


The Social Proof Theory implies that a person who doesn’t know how to behave in a certain situation will look at other people to imitate what they’re doing. In other words, humans use social proof to recognize that what they’re doing is correct and socially acceptable. What this means for you is that you can use social proof to influence the buying decisions of your prospects. You can use experts, celebrities, or plain folks to testify about the quality of your product.

Customer testimonials and reviews are the most common form of social proof employed by email marketers. Your sales message is more compelling when someone but your sales reps deliver it. Since prospects don’t perceive your customers as salespeople, they’re seen as being trustworthy and reliable. That’s why it’s crucial to share customer testimonials and reviews via email.  

7. Bribery

Bribery is another persuasion technique that’s highly effective in increasing sales. The idea behind bribery is to persuade prospects by offering extra benefits in return for something. In the contest of email marketing, bribery is anything that is extra and free. Here are some common forms of bribery:

  • Sweepstakes
  • Special offers
  • Coupons
  • Contests
  • Savings
  • Discounts

Besides, you can offer your free content as a form of bribery. Use email to invite your prospects to check out your blog posts, videos, or infographics. For your content to be persuasive, it must be well-written and backed up with research. Using dedicated services, like a grammar checker and business writing service, will help you ensure the top quality of your content pieces.

8. Group dynamics

Group dynamics is a persuasion technique based on a sense of community and solidarity. People can be carried away by the feeling of a shared community. A common example of the group dynamics principle is when politicians deliver their speeches to the live audience during campaign rallies. So, how do you use the very same principle that got presidents in office in your email campaign?

When crafting your email, use power words (like we, us, our) to build a sense of togetherness. Customer testimonials are also great community builders. When creating your email narratives, appeal to the shared values and experiences.

Majority belief is a version of the group dynamics principle that works on the assumption that if most people believe something, it must be true. That’s why many content makers and marketers use polls and survey results to back up their point and persuade the audience.

Final thoughts

Email success is a vital part of any sales strategy. Use these 8 psychological techniques to improve your email efforts and boost sales. Never stop improving your email strategies and employ science-based methods into your marketing efforts.


Author Bio

John Davier

Content marketing guru at Mailmunch. I’m passionate about writing content that resonates with people. Live simply, give generously, stay happy.


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