Email Marketing 101: Part Three – The Art of Email Persuasion

This is the final post of the @kathpay inspired email trilogy from her online webinar at the International Email Marketing Summit.


In the previous two posts I discussed objectives and psychology, and in this post I hope to merge those points together so we can get start to craft some really successful email campaigns. The subject of persuasion is oft cited in sales books, blogs, political histories, psychology journals and even in job descriptions and interviews but Google ‘email persuasion' or 'persuasion in email marketing’ and on Page 3 the material starts to run thin. Here is a brief introduction to the Art of Email Persuasion to help those cogs to start turning.

We do not send emails without a reason, there is always an objective or goal* so with this is mind, how are we going to get our recipients to do what we want. How do we get recipients to look at our email, to click on our links or to sign up to our seminar?


*(but if this is not the case stop sending now, look in the mirror and come up with a strategy)

1) Great Subject Lines, great view rates

Subject lines give you a small number of words to grab your recipient’s attention. Using a standard subject line (Newsletter/update/alert) is so run of the mill, inert and boring that it is not going pique anyone’s interest. Make your subject lines fun and engage peoples’ emotions:

a) Fun:

Here I am going to make a tenuous link between fun and video BUT as the advent of email based video is on us it has been shown that using the word video (and subsequently providing links to a video) can increase opens by 20%! Video is ‘so hot right now’ so why not use them even if it is a link to an old stock company video.

b) Engage emotions:

Nothing gets someone going more than thinking something will help make them look good or help progress their career. We use our emotions to make initial decisions (whether it is about an email, product or person) and then rational logic to justify and complete that decision. Therefore your subject line needs to engage emotions to get recipients to open your email – and subsequent content needs to be rational and logical to justify the decision.


As always test, test and test to see which trigger words work with your own mailing list(s).

2) Crafted content creates clicks, circulation and custom

So you have emotionally engaged your recipient and they have opened your email; what next? AS aforementioned above, in order to achieve your email’s desired goal you have to persuade your recipient with logical information that backs up their emotional decision to interact with your email. Tell them a story and make it exciting and simple with the language you use:

a) Story Telling:

Since the dawn of civilized time we have been brought up with stories – it is how we relate to one another, how we express our experiences and how we pass on information and ideas to society. By telling a story that your recipients can relate to this will justify their decision to open and convince them to the action you require. Do not forget to smatter the story with value:


‘By downloading this whitepaper you will have access to the most up-to-date industry information which will aid in your business transactions during Q3’

b) Lead people using simplicity:

Everyone is busy: fact! Keep things short and concise. In email, using numbers lower than 10 helps to indicate a shortness of time to people and emphasize how easy it is to click, share or download. People don’t have time to work out what to do for themselves so be specific and lead people in the right direction. Use verbs at the beginning of sentences to grab attention and to direct:


‘Share this content in 2 simple steps: click on the twitter icon now!’


Above are 4 simple ideas to help you to start thinking more deeply about every email action that you take. These ideas are not prescriptive but designed to develop and focus efforts with each email sending. The next few parts of my blog series with focus on reporting. How to check that all your psychological and tactical techniques are working!

Related Articles

Email Marketing 101: Part Four: Email Relationships

Email Marketing 101: Part Five: Newsletter Content