Bernard Meyer
September 26, 2018

Ramp Up Your Email Campaigns with These 4 Psychology Hacks

Psychology Hacks for Email Campaigns

An email campaign is like a first date.

In almost all cases, you’ve got one chance to make a good impression and move the relationship forward.

Unlike a first date, you can’t simply rely on the good manners your mother taught you, superior eye contact, or a slick new hair-do.

Email marketers must utilize all tools available to them in order to organize and execute a successful campaign.

Many of these tools stem from some basic rules of human psychology and behavioral economics. When used correctly, they can significantly increase the effectiveness of your email campaigns, and ultimately, conversions.

Using even one or two of the below concepts can help tap into these unconscious biases for better results.

Foot in the Door

In a 1966 study, researchers Freedman and Fraser showed that by asking participants to assist with a small favor, they are more likely to agree to perform a larger favor in the future.

This is based on the idea that even a trivial agreement creates a (however small) bond between the requester and the requestee.

A common example is this: A friend asks to borrow a bit of money. Later, you’ll probably be more likely to lend her more money. After all, you have already established you are willing to comply, and have previously established trust.

Surprisingly, this happens even if the friend still hasn’t paid you back the initial sum.

In marketing terms, a simple request, such as asking for an email address or getting a sign up for a newsletter can act in the same way. These actions are examples of small compliance, which can be followed up by a larger sales proposal by the marketer.

One of the best ways to do this is by offering an exit intent popup. This is a tool that detects when a visitor’s behavior indicates they are about to leave the site.

This popup may offer a discount, a free ebook, a user experience survey, or the promise of future promotions.

When used correctly, this may be used to drive a future conversion using the Foot in the Door technique.

Price Anchoring

In 1987, a study by Northcraft and Neale [pdf] solidified what every used car salesman has known since the first second-hand model T.

The basic premise is this. If you want to sell a product at a certain price, you can make that product more attractive by “anchoring” it to a similar, but higher-priced product.

Though the initial study utilized real estate to prove this effect, it has been reproduced using countless other products and services.

Utilizing price anchoring in your email marketing strategy is as easy as it sounds.

The product or service that you want to sell should be listed below a more expensive, seemingly less attractive option.

No matter how unattractive, the price of the first will act as an anchor in the mind of the reader. And this raises the value of your intended sale.


Commonly embodied by the acronym FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, scarcity has always played a role in people’s behavior when things considered valuable and limited.

It is partially the reason why humans have revered gold for thousands of years. It is also the primary reason for the Dutch Tulip Bubble and The Beanie Baby craze of the 1990’s.

This effect is epitomized by a 1975 study by Worchel, Lee and Adewole in which undergrads rated similar jars filled with cookies in terms of desirability.

It was only when some cookies were removed from one particular jar that the students began rating this jar as significantly more desirable.

This is translated very simply into marketing strategy. When offering a limited amount of something – whether it is the number of items available or the amount of time they a deal is available – scarcity is introduced into the mind of the potential customer. And this drives increased conversions.

Less is More

Like many of these other psychological hacks, the Less is More hypothesis can seem counterintuitive. After all, who doesn’t want more options for everything?

The answer to this is almost everyone, according to the 2004 book The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. Schwartz argues that an excess of choices can be paralyzing for a consumer’s decision-making process.

When it comes to an email campaign, the trick here is to not keep the emails simple for the sake of simplicity, but to use simplicity as a rule to curate your emails.

This involves knowing your demographics and having proper segmentation with targeted choices. It not only provides simplicity, but tailored options for better success rates.


The human mind is a fickle piece of biological machinery. A cursory understanding can be incredibly useful in developing a successful marketing campaign.

With these four proven psychological sales hacks, there should be no reason why the success rate of your next campaign shouldn’t dwarf the previous.

Your Turn

Do you have any favorite sales hacks not mentioned above? If so, please share them with your fellow readers in the comments section, below.

Happy Sales!

Bernard Meyer is a content marketer for Omnisend, an eCommerce marketing automation platform dedicated to helping eCommerce stores build strong, lasting relationships with their customers. He also has a passion for good research and helping eCommerce businesses with their multichannel marketing needs.  You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

You may also want to readEmail Marketing Is Still The Best – Especially For SMBs

10 Most Common Email Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Featured image: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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