You don’t need to have studied psychology or consumer behavior to know that human beings have both an emotive and rational side. Our process is essentially reactive, then proactive. We eat with our eyes, don’t we?
In an interesting article by Nielson Norman Group, Kahneman describes two specific ‘modes’ in which people process information – System 1 is our involuntary and automatic self, whereas System 2 is our attentive and analytical self. By default, the former is fast and effortless, whereas the latter is “slow and effortful”.
This psychology can easily be applied to email marketing, as our response to a campaign (i.e. open, click, purchase) is indicative of many factors: first our brain will register emotionally and then rationally; this occurs without us even registering. Therefore, as marketers it’s important to get the look and feel of an email just right, along with delivering content that’s super-relevant to the recipient. These elements are the make-up of a successful campaign that encourages the user or customer to take the desired action.
Putting this knowledge into practice requires a careful balancing act; as email marketers, we’ll often major on trying to capture our audience’s emotions, but this comes at a price if we forget to cater to their rational side.
3 tricks on how to seduce the consumer’s emotional side
Beautiful email design – sexy creative will tap into System 1 – and builds a strong foundation for System 2. A well-design email trumpets brand credibility and strengthens trust amongst subscribers. According to the Nielson Group, UX design (be that a website, email, social etc.) determines the credibility of a brand in 50 milliseconds. Similarly, the attention span of so-called ‘digital surfers’ – those that adopt a multi-channel browsing approach – is around 8 seconds. It’s therefore important that your email is polished and concise, while being 100% on-brand. If you’re wondering how you can go about optimizing your brand’s email design, we’ve got a free cheatsheet which’ll send you in the right direction.
Stunning images and a powerful call-to-action (CTA) – for a positive action to occur, imagery and CTAs must be eye-catching. Although images are said to speak a thousand words, it’s key that they complement your copy to signpost the reader and aid scannability. If you get the former right, you’ll set things up nicely for the all-important CTA. The CTA needs to be well-positioned, inviting, and not alarming. Nielson details the positive and negative outcomes of CTAs, depending on how our System 1 interprets them. For instance, avoid fierce, ‘in-your-face’ CTAs in favor of subtle yet influential ones. Too many variations, colors and options can cause disorientation, negative impressions and unnecessary delay. Minimal ingredients drive better conversions – so don’t over-complicate it!
Relevant friendly from name and a personalized subject line – personalization will always tap into our emotive side – but remember, getting it wrong can cause upset and belittle the overall message. Ensure that your data is top-notch, your segments are set up correctly, and you’ve tested the personalized elements of your email (such as subject line, pre-header text and dynamic content, etc.). Consistency is also key if you’re trying to build brand trust, so ensure that your friendly from name is recognizable throughout your email communications.
3 tips on how to win the consumer’s rationale
Granular segmentation and targeting – brands should tailor messages to subscribers’ interests to ensure the fluidity between their emotional and rational side – otherwise they’ll fail to engage in future. We ultimately want people’s System 1 to override their System 2 – i.e. the relevancy of the message will avoid scrutinization and suspicion. Segmentation and targeting is therefore your best friend; never forget the mantra of email marketing: the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
Superb content – according to Email Acid, 80% of your audience is scanning – rather than reading – your email. This ties in with the time-sensitive nature of online channels. Your content needs to be on point and you can do this through a combination of personalization: by crafting copy that oozes personality (reflecting your brand’s tone of voice) and good formatting that lets your content breathe. And, if you can make your email relevant to moments in your customers’ lives, you’ll be winning. Check out our cheatsheet on how to nail your copy.
An irresistible offering – to engage with email, there needs to be something worthwhile for the recipient, or else their System 1 will lose momentum and their System 2 will wield rationality. Consequently, it’s necessary for brands to scope the product offering in a way that reflects the needs of consumers and provides them with a solution to their pain points. This could be anything from an anti-wrinkle face cream (I’m in my 50s and anti-ageing cream is one of my preferences), to a whitepaper on healthcare (I’m a senior social researcher), to an undergraduate degree course in History (I’m a prospective History student).
As an email marketer, it’s your job to captivate the subscriber, and prolong that captivity for as long as it takes to drive a positive action or conversion – all the while affirming brand loyalty. It’s important to iterate that the success of your email marketing is ultimately up to the psychology of the end recipient and how they process the message you’ve sent them. Although there’s always an element of logic in our response to an email campaign, emotion is – nine times out of ten – at the steering wheel.