Psychological hacks for a better email marketing experience

Email marketing a very effective channel, but making your emails stand out is not an easy task. Most people consider the inbox as their personal space. Email marketers need to dedicate time and effort to understand the psychology of recipients. This will help them connect on an emotional level. Here are psychological hacks to influence your consumers’ decisions.

82% of B2B and B2C companies use email marketing technology, making it one of the popular marketing channels out there. The reasons behind it are:

● From an ROI perspective, for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38.
● More than 34% of the people worldwide use email.
● It is fairly easy to set-up and run these campaigns.

Email marketing a very effective channel with a lot of competition. Most people consider the email inbox as their personal space. They get annoyed easily when it is being bombarded with marketing emails (especially when it sounds like a bot).

Making your emails stand out is not an easy task anymore. Email marketers need to dedicate time and effort to understand the psychology of recipients. This will help them come up with campaigns that connect with their recipients on an emotional level.

Here are a few psychological hacks to influence your consumers’ decision and tilt it in your favor:

1. Pay close attention to the colors you use

According to, each color has an association with a reaction our brain has when we internalize it. Colours are so influential that almost 90% of purchase decisions made about certain products are based on their them alone.

Marketers need to be careful about the email layout and the font colour. Each colour has different psychological properties – it represents something or it evokes a particular feeling, etc.

Let’s have a look at the some of the positive and negative values major colours represent.


Here are 4 tips to use colours to your advantage in email marketing:

1 Make sure the colour of the email layout and the font fit with your email’s purpose. For example, if you are providing a discount offer, having a lot of green or gold makes sense, as it represents money and growth.


2 Make sure the colours are consistent with your brand’s identity. This fosters top of mind recall. It also shows that you brand is trustworthy.


3 Characteristics of your target audience – take into account your variables like gender, age group, location, etc of your target audience. Make sure the colour combination used fits with the values they believe in.


4 The colour of your CTA button should be something that contrasts or stands out against the background colour. Additionally, the text in the CTA button should be in alignment with colour of the CTA box.


Emotional value leads to more conversions
We often are persuaded to think people buy from us because they have carefully weighed a fixed set of rational reasons. What are the best Features, Top Quality, etc, etc.

This is far from the truth.

The majority of customer decisions are based on the emotions they feel at that time. Emotions sell and lead conversions. If we look into the primary emotional systems, there are seven main types based on the emotional values illustrated. Here is the Limbic map taken from Emotion Sells & Magnifies Lead Conversions at the Statusbrew blog.

So besides the technical aspects of good email marketing UX design, make sure that the emo-factor is all there.

2. Make them feel special and exclusive

Everyone wants to feel special. People want to possess things that make them part of a select few. Many consider it as a way to improve their self-esteem. Marketers often highlight exclusivity because it often makes a product even more valuable in the eyes of customers.
Email marketers can use these phrases that imply exclusivity in their email copy.
Along with that, marketers can try the following:

● Invite them to join/apply for exclusive membership. Make sure to mention the special benefits they will receive and how their treatment will differ from other regular customers.


● Provide special offers to customers who have completed a milestone – usage limit or for being a loyal customer, etc. You could also provide personalized offers to customers on their birthdays or any other important days.


3. Arouse curiosity

According to a research by George Loewenstein, curiosity occurs when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know. This gap is what makes us eager to learn.

Marketers can apply this concept to email marketing by writing a subject line and a preview text that teases them to open the email or an email body that makes them curious enough to go ahead click on the CTA.
Here are few points to keep in mind while applying curiosity to email marketing:

  • You can use questions as headlines or indirect headlines to arouse curiosity.
  • Readers should have some idea about what you are talking about. Otherwise, they may not open your email or click the CTA.
  • Give a tiny glimpse of what the reader can expect and ask them to signup or subscribe to see the full content.
  • Mention what readers will learn or how will they benefit from the content on the landing page.

4. The first and the latest element should have a lasting effect


According to this concept, when people are presented with a list of items, they are most likely to recall the first few (primacy effect) or the last few (recency effect) items.
Designing your email campaigns with these concepts in mind will help ensure that the important messages are being noticed and remembered by the readers.
Check out this email from Kissmetrics, they used the P.S line to take advantage of the recency effect.

Here are a few tips to help you apply this concept effectively:

  • Ensure that the subject line conveys the most important aspects (offers, deadline, what can the reader expect, etc.) of the email.
  • Make sure the preheader text is personalized.
  • The one message that you want all readers to know should be placed at the beginning of the email body.
  • If it is a newsletter which has links to different articles or products, the most important/valuable one should be placed at the top.
  • If the email is long or has a lot of content, you can add a P.S. line to leverage the recency effect. Use it to repeat your CTA and underline how important it is.

5. Make things rhyme a bit

The rhyme-as-reason effect (or Eaton-Rosen phenomenon) is a cognitive bias whereupon a saying or aphorism is judged as more accurate or truthful when it is rewritten to rhyme.
In simple terms, when a statement rhymes, people generally tend to believe it is true. This is due to the fact that our brains find it easier to process such statements. Rhyming statements are also considered to be more aesthetically pleasing.


This is an old marketing trick, it has been used in advertisements since time immemorial.

Email marketers can apply this effect by making the subject line, the preview text, the key points of the copy or the CTA text, rhyme. This will make your emails more trustworthy, impactful, and memorable.

Here’s an example:


6. Persuade people with social proof

Wikipedia defines social proof as a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation. According to Robert Cialdini, social proof is one of the six key principles of influence used to persuade people.


Incorporating social proof to your marketing emails can significantly improve its credibility. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

  • Use transactional emails to collect customer feedback as they are more likely to give feedback after a checkpoint – signing up, upgrade, subscribing to your blog, etc.
  • Showcase testimonials where customers have explicitly mentioned the benefits (savings, growth, etc) they have received after using your product/service.
  • Sharing user-generated content (videos, images, articles) is a great way to convince your prospects to go ahead and check your product.
  • Add a review or a testimonial written by the prospect’s friends for the same product.
  • Add badges or one-liners (taken from reviews or testimonials) that you received from a third party (could be a rating agency, an aggregator, an influencer, a leading magazine in your niche, etc).
  • Influence the reader’s decision by highlighting the most popular or highly rated products/services.
  • Add the logos or names of reputable brands that you have as customers.


Merely doing A/B testing and analyzing the data is not enough to succeed in email marketing. At the end of the day, you are sending these emails to humans, not bots. Appealing to their feelings will surely make your campaigns more attractive.
There are many psychological concepts that you can apply to email marketing. But the above-mentioned ones are effective as well as easy-to-implement. They will help you get started.

Niraj Ranjan Rout

Niraj is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. When not working at Hiver on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar. Niraj can be reached on Twitter @nirajr.