Four Ways Psychology and Email Marketing Tie Into Each Other

Before you hit send on that next member email, consider the role psychology plays in getting your message across.

You could write and design the best email in the world, but unless you consider how it will be received, its ability to resonate with your audience is slim.

That’s because email isn’t just about your message. Like other forms of communication, email is meant to connect with people—which means you have to appeal to your audience’s state of mind.

Before hitting send on that next message, consider how psychology plays a role in these four email-marketing elements:

Frequency. It’s an email tale as old as the internet: Bombard people with messages, and you’ll frustrate them enough to unsubscribe. And while you don’t want to overwhelm your members, you also  don’t want them to forget about yo. Consistency is key, but here’s the tricky part: There’s no perfect frequency formula to keep subscribers engaged and open rates high.

In fact, “surprisingly little is known about the attitudinal and cognitive effects of message repetition,” according to research from the American Psychological Association. That means it’s up to your organization to test email campaigns at varying days and times to get inside members’ heads and determine their preferences.

Color. Think the hues in your email designs are just for aesthetics? Think again. Business psychologists estimate that color can account for up to 60 percent of the acceptance or rejection of a product or service.

Color can also trigger an emotional response, with some tones improving moods over others. Blue, for instance, can evoke a sense of calmness and safety, while red can conjure a sense of urgency.

Visuals. Like color, images can play on readers’ emotions, pulling them in and compelling them to read text they might have skipped otherwise. The power of visuals is so strong that, when paired with relevant content, people can remember 65 percent of the information three days later, says molecular biologist John Medina in his book Brain Rules.

Social proof. Member testimonials may seem like a warm and fuzzy part of your newsletter, but they have a business purpose, too: Adding testimonials can increase sales by 34 percent.

The reason? Social proof, a psychological and social phenomenon where people copy the actions of others because they perceive it as correct. It’s the same reason that many people check customer reviews before buying a product: to validate their purchase and make sure it’s worthwhile.

So consider giving more space to testimonials and other member-generated content. If you’re looking for volunteers for a project, for instance, highlight previous volunteers’ experience. Members will see firsthand the value in lending their time, which can prompt them to join in too.

In the end, there’s no wrong way to send an email—only best practices. And when you craft emails with psychology in mind, your message is more likely to resonate with members, improving the connection they feel to your organization.

(nzphotonz/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!