Email Marketing 101: Part Two – Psychology in Email Marketing

In part one of this Email Marketing 101 series I discussed the importance of identifying objectives for an email marketing program. Moving on from there, how to use strategy and tactics to help achieve your objectives.


In part two I am going to focus on marketing psychology and how it can be applied to the email channel.

I recently attended an International Email Marketing Summit (#IEMS) online webinar hosted by @kathpay and she highlighted the effect psychology can have within marketing activities. Marketing and psychology go hand in hand yet with our busy work schedules these days it is sometimes hard to stop and think about the best way to influence people with our email activities.


Email is no different from any other marketing channel. Consumer (‘recipient’ in email) behavior will always dictate how we market – what messages we display, prices we offer and frequency of communication – but the savvy, proactive marketer realizes that behavior can be psychologically influenced and conditioned. Here are three little ideas to help you plan your email message:

1)      Scarcity

As with general economic and capitalist principles, the more scarce a resource or product is (or seems), the more desirable it becomes. If you are circulating a white paper for download or sending around an event invitation why not use a time based call to action to get the audience to take immediate action. Why not suggest that event places or white paper downloads are limited to only a select few.


We have all seen the success with ‘Voucher Emails’ emails using the before it’s too late psychology, it is time to start utilising successful tactics in professional email.

2)      The Rule of Three

Grouping items into three has always been a successful and powerful tool to instil a memorable message. The Holy Trinity, The Three Musketeers, Goldilocks & the Three Bears, and my favorite: The Three Amigos.


Studies have shown that grouping content into threes is highly effective – both in terms of engagement (clicks) and in terms attitudes towards email. Gone are the days of the long newsletter email or hundreds of offers, the world has moved on from that particular culture, it has moved on to smaller emails used to drive recipients back to a web page or landing page. Prioritise your content and use your top three articles only. If you have more good stuff to send, save it for another email – you don’t have to give everyone everything all at once!

3)      People are egocentric – show them the value

People are self-centered, especially in the work place as they are the only ones looking out for their own career. When people see a message or a call to action THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE TO act upon, their initial thought is ‘What is in it for me?’ Create and underline value propositions with every email. Explain to your recipients how they will be better off by reading your content, downloading your white paper or attending your event. YOU, the creator, may think it is obvious but your recipient may just require that one little nudge to get them interacting.


In part three I will touch upon using persuasion - how the copy you use can aid in attracting attention and getting recipients to perform the actions that you want(the last post that email guru @kathpay helped to influence from her online webinar).

Related Articles

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

Email Marketing 101: Part Four: Email Relationships