3 Science-Backed Email Marketing Psychology Tricks to Increase Your Sales

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This is a guest post from Bernard Meyer, content marketing manager at Omnisend, the e-commerce marketing automation platform made for smarter marketers. He’s passionate about researching amazing marketing techniques to help e-commerce businesses succeed.

Understanding the role that psychology plays in email marketing will help you to not only increase your open and order rates, but also improve your customer relationships.

Today we’ll look at 3 science-backed psychology principles you can use in your email marketing or omnichannel marketing strategy.

3 ways to employ email marketing psychology

1) Price anchoring: Influencing perception of value

Price anchoring leverages the fact that most consumers aren’t 100% sure how much an item is worth. Usually, they’ll look for financial (comparative prices) and emotional cues (how much they value the product or service).

Experienced marketers can take advantage of this by giving a financial cue in the form of a reference price. The best way to sell a $2,000 watch is to put it next to a $10,000 watch.

For example, if you want to sell popular sneakers for $150, make the first item the customer sees more expensive, such as luxury sneakers for $350. Comparatively, the $150 shoes look like a steal.

Researchers Northcraft and Neale showed how this worked by supplying study participants with pamphlets to help them estimate the value of houses in a certain neighborhood. The pamphlets were filled with both real and inflated prices, which led to all the participants wildly overestimating the actual price of the homes.

How to implement this in your own email marketing

To use this in your own email marketing campaigns, simply add a higher-ticket item as the first product or service your customer sees. After that, list the item that you actually want to sell.

2) Foot-in-the-door technique: Ease customers into the sale

If you want someone to do a big task for you, you’ll have more success after asking them to do a smaller task first. This psychological phenomenon is known as the foot-in-the-door technique.

In 1966, Freedman and Fraser called housewives in California and asked if they could discuss the household products they used. Three days later, they called again and asked those same housewives if they’d agree to having their kitchens inspected. The women who agreed to discuss household products were twice as likely to agree to the bigger request.

How to implement this in your own email marketing

To use this wisely, you need to think larger strategy. Instead of expecting your shoppers to buy from you the first time, get them to complete smaller tasks first.

You can start with a simple quiz, where you’ll email them the results. Taking the quiz would be their first task. Adding double opt-in will require them to do the second, bigger task. If they like your Facebook page or share your post, that’s a third small task.

Each contact not only warms them up to your brand, but also makes it more likely that they’ll buy from you.

Then, start introducing a medium-sized task. For example, you can provide an ebook with a one-time offer, or a free item where they’ll have to pay shipping (at a reasonable price).

After that, they’ll have bought something from you and will be more likely to make a bigger purchase.

3) Reciprocity: Providing value first

This particular psychological oddity involves the societal (or internal) pressures individuals face when they receive a gift. Though happy, they tend to feel an urge to pay it back in one way or another.

Although it’s been a known phenomena for eons, it was shown practically in a 1976 experiment by researcher Philip Kunz. Kunz sent out 600 Christmas cards and received 35% of those back (about 210 cards). Everyone he sent a card to was a complete stranger, yet 210 recipients felt compelled by the principle of reciprocity to send a card back.

You can use this powerful social imperative in your own marketing efforts. All you have to do is give something away for free. Most likely, you’re already doing something like this, although not as effectively as you could.

How to implement this in your own email marketing

Many e-commerce marketers send out emails with free shipping, discounts and coupon codes. However, the offers might be so ubiquitous that they’ve lost meaning to the potential buyers.

Remember, reciprocity requires that the person receive something for free, and then they “pay it back” in some form or another. With Kunz’s Christmas card experiment, the payback was easy: another Christmas card.

If you’re giving away free shipping or coupon code, make it easy for them to buy from you by suggesting what they should use the free shipping or code for.

You can go further by giving them a free ebook with suggestions and prompts for action. For example, you can write about the 25 hottest summer color combinations, linking to your own products inside the pages.

These are only some of the many psychological principles you can use in your email marketing to make sure you get great sales.

Good luck!