Quick question, which of these emails (a or b) looks like it contains the most exciting content?



You probably made your mind up quite quickly. Our brains make a fair amount of assumptions about the worth and value of an email based on first impressions. Things like subject lines, email banners and fonts can make the difference between an email being eagerly read and it being swiftly carted off to the junk folder.

We know email marketing is super effective in theory. We know that psychology is integral to creating brain-pleasing content. It’s time to find out how to put these two together and create psychology-fueled, unbeatable email marketing.

1. Color psychology

Brains like color. Psychologists have dedicated their lives to figuring out the effects of different colors on the mind and agreed that the mind learns to associate certain emotions with certain colors. As Leslie Harrington from The Color Association of the United States puts it:

“We react on multiple levels of association with colors – there are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors. You also have an innate reaction to color. For example, when you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It’s a stimulating color. This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm.”

What does this mean for your emails?

It means that if you want to provoke a particular reaction from a reader when they first open your email, color might help you steer their brains in the right direction. Consider choosing bright, fiery colors like red and orange if you’re looking to provoke a sense of urgency in your email. Alternatively, go for a mellow green and blue if you want to encourage calm and pause.

This topic is huge and worth digging into to learn about the complexities of how your logo and brand colors might make a reader think. One thing’s for sure though – if you want to grab someone’s attention as soon as they click on your email, adding color is the way to go.

2. Font psychology

Who actually likes Comic Sans? 52% of British adults according to a YouGov study. Just like colors, fonts make an impact on how we perceive the value of an email. There are associations which come with every typeface, here are a couple of the main groupings:

Serif fonts

Think of something like The New York Times. The publication needs to appear professional and trustworthy. Their logo establishes that with a serif font. Common academic fonts include the Word-favourite Times New Roman which is generally used for more formal writing.

Sans serif fonts

Next, think of a company like Microsoft. While still needing to look professional and trustworthy, the brand also needs to look modern and cutting-edge. The sans serif font of their logo promotes this. Popular sans serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica and this one we’re writing in now.

What does this mean for your emails?

Think very carefully about the font you choose for your emails. If your company is trying to establish itself as a trustworthy, industry authority then Comic Sans might not entice your reader to continue to read what you have to say. Alternatively, serif fonts may not be the right choice if you’re sending a light-hearted, comedic email.

3. Curiosity 

As humans, one of the things we’re motivated by the most is FOMO. Look at anything from shopping online to exclusive events and you’ll find how much curiosity and scarcity drives us. Time-limited shopping increases clothing sales by a huge 226% and Amazon are experts at pushing the idea that free shipping runs out if we don’t make our purchase as soon as possible.

What does this mean for your emails?

It can be tempting to swamp clients with emails. However, the answer to better read-rates might lie in using curiosity creatively instead. Keep FOMO in mind when you’re writing your subject lines and opening email paragraphs. Should your opening lines intrigue and motivate your reader, they might make it all the way down to the sign-off.

Want to learn more about using psychology to make your content and experiences more persuasive?


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