Email Designs People Can't Resist

According to Emma, ( a provider of email marketing software and services, in a new eMail study, you don’t have to be a neuroscientist to do genius email marketing, but it certainly helps, says the report. The report shows how top brands are using the secrets of the human mind to design and write email (consumers) can’t resist. The report presents eleven “methods” that, when applied they’ll “spark ideas to help get better results in the inbox.”

METHODS: (Transcribed directly from the report text)


“Thank-you” emails average twice as many opens and clicks as other mailings. (Hubspot)

The Trivialization Effect says that rewarding purchases with financial gifts (like an extra discount or cash back) makes the relationship feel more trivial. Instead, try a good, old- fashioned, heart felt “ thank you” making your customers feel much more appreciated.

Choice Paradox

“Emails with a single call to action” increase sales a whopping 1617%! (Wordstream)

Choice Paradox tells us that when faced with too many decisions, we won’t make a decision at all. So rather than cramming a ton of content into a single email, break it up into several emails, each with its own super clear call to action.


“72% of millennials would pay extra for products from companies dedicated to social change” (aka, companies that do nice things). (Nielsen)

If someone does something nice for you, you’ll naturally want to do something nice for them, says the report. It ’s no different for marketers, and smart brands like Anthropologie have been using this principle to inspire customer loyalty for years.

Motivating Uncertainty Effect

“The subject line is the perfect place to try this: 33% open email based on subject line alone.” (Convince & Convert)

Think back to game shows where people select the mystery briefcase rather than the $100 cash in hand. We’re more motivated by the possibility of a reward than by a certain payoff, says the report. Add some mystery and uncertainty to the email, making it almost impossible not to click.

Temptation Coupling

“69% of consumers say that they’re more likely to try a brand if it gives ‘free’ rewards.” (Social Annex)

Humans are much more likely to do something difficult, says the report, when it’s paired with something tempting. Tightly bundle your offers with a special bonus gift to add some extra incentive.

Ben Franklin Effect

“The average response rate for email surveys is 24.8% – almost a quarter of your audience!” (Fluid Surveys)

According to the Ben Franklin Effect, humans believe that we do favors because we like the person (or brand.) It ’s part of our inherent need to justify our act ions. So don’t be afraid to ask for favors from your email audience.

Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon

“42% of consumers prefer emails that contain products based on browsing behavior.” (Email Monks)

That feeling you get when you see something once, then you start seeing it everywhere is called The Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon. It’s why ad retargeting works, and it ’s why automated emails based on website browsing, are so effective at making casual shoppers complete a purchase.

Framing Effect

“Positive framing is three times more persuasive than negative framing.” (Neuroscience Marketing)

Marketers like to subtly invoke fear, anxiety, and stress to stimulate a sense of urgency. But science suggests we should frame our copy around positive outcomes for the best results. It’s all about framing, so pay special mind to the words you use and keep them positive. (Nike)


“Subject lines that create a sense of urgency have a 22% higher open rate.” (Email Institute)

Better known today as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), humans instinctively put more value on things they feel are scarce. But using it too often can make your brand seem disingenuous, so save it for when you really need a boost, and when what you’re saying is actually true.

Loss aversion

“The average sales cycle has become 22% longer due to increasingly risk-averse consumers.” (B2B Inbound Marketer)

People would rather avoid a loss than gain something; in fact, it ’s been suggested that losses are twice as psychologically powerful. So figure out what your audience is worried about losing (like time, security, or money) and solve that pain point in your email .

Unconscious processing

“Lightboxes increased our email signups by 371%.” (Emma)

With Unconscious Processing, if you can get people to commit to a small action (like signing up for your email list), then it’s much more likely that they’ll later commit to a larger action (like buying something).

“Now put it to work,” says the report. 

To download the complete report, please visit here.





2 comments about "Email Designs People Can't Resist".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 27, 2016 at 7:15 a.m.

    A simple thank-you is very nice, but I'm more likely to be a repeat customer with a discount or cash-back offer instead, regardless whether I click on a follow-up. It's a false dichotomy because you can be effusive in your thanks while you offer something more tangible. Do you want clicks or repeat business? The first finding seems more a rationalization to save money than a justification to only offer thanks. It's like the restaurant that merely apologizes for a really bad experience versus the restaurant that peels off a gift certificate for the next visit. Talk is cheap.

  2. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, September 27, 2016 at 8:13 a.m.

    Here I thought Baader Meinhof referred to a terrorist organization of the late 70s. Then I looked it up and found that this phenomenon is named after that same terrorist group, because their name came up so much that people remembered it. There ought to be a better name for that situation.

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