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Does it ever feel like no matter what you try you just can’t seem to improve your email click-through rate?

You write great subject lines, the design is eye-catching, and the copy is well written. Yet for some reason your click-through rate is still lower than you’d like it to be.

The answer to your worries could lie in psychology.

Psychology and marketing strategy have gone hand in hand for years. Think about it: the better you understand how your audience thinks, the more effective your campaigns will be. It just makes sense.

We’ve gathered three ways to improve your email click-through rate that are backed in psychological theory and studies.

1. Invoke curiosity

When you use an information gap to invoke the reader’s sense of curiosity, you’re more likely to increase your click through rate – simply because the reader wants that missing piece of information. The curiosity needs to be satisfied.

Buzzfeed’s article is a good example of creating an information gap:

The idea of a hair clip saving someone’s life in an emergency isn’t something most people have heard before, so their curiosity as to how it works is invoked.

Backed in theory

A study by Psychologist George Lowenstein looked into the human tendency to be curious and found a strong, innate need to close an information gap.

In the same vein, the Zeigarnik Effect shows that when information gaps exist without closure, it causes a sense of distress and suspense—and people will pursue information as a way to eliminate those feelings of unrest. Ever not being able to remember a trivial fact and just had to look it up on the web to find out the answer? That’s the Zeigarnik Effect in action.

If you want to improve your email click-through rate, structure the subject line and body copy to invoke the reader’s curiosity and make them feel like they’re missing out on something valuable or interesting if they don’t click through.

2. Use social proof

It’s a simple truth that people are prone to accept recommendations from trusted resources (friends, family, peers, experts) as a stamp of approval. If we are referred to a certain business by a trusted source, it takes the legwork out of vetting a product or professional.

So, calling on the psychology of social proof (i.e. testimonials) in your email marketing campaigns is a great way to eliminate uncertainty and add ethos to your call to action.

Take this example from Franklin Rd, who feature customer reviews of different music tracks to encourage readers to click-through and listen.

Backed in theory

Dr. Robert Cialdini’s teachings demonstrate that social proof is a powerful tool when it comes to persuasion. When soliciting charitable donations door-to-door, researchers found that people were much more likely to make a donation when shown a list of neighbors who had already contributed.

Similarly, in a study published in the Wall Street Journal, researchers tested how powerful social proof was as a powerful driver of human behaviour. They used 4 different messages to try and convince people to use fans instead of air conditioning:

  • Message 1: Informed the customer that they could be saving $54/month on their utility bill.
  • Message 2:  Told customers that they could prevent the release of 262 pounds of greenhouse gasses every month.
  • Message 3: Encouraged customers that saving energy was a socially responsible thing to do.
  • Message 4: Let customers know that 77 percent of their neighbors were already actively using fans to save energy.

The study found that Message 4, the one that invoked the positive social proof, was the most effective. It was even more effective in getting people to take action than the messages about saving money or protecting the environment.

If you want to increase email click-throughs in your email marketing campaigns, include forms of social proof such as customer testimonials to show that other people have taken similar actions and reassure readers the offer you are making is worthy of their time.

3. Cater to the ego

Even if we don’t always want to admit it, the truth is: we’re all a little self-centered. We like things that have a direct benefit to us.

How can you apply that fact to increase your email click through rate? Try changing a word or two so that your message speaks to the ego; more clicks and conversions should follow.

Backed in theory

Sigmund Freud would tell you that the Id, Ego, and Superego all cater to self-centered desires. Therefore, people are more likely to act (and in this case, click) on something that invokes a self-centered benefit.

For example, ContentVerve conducted a study in which they changed ‘your’ to ‘my’ on a CTA button—catering to the concept that humans are more apt to act when they are called to act on something that is already theirs:

This quick little change increased their click-through rate by 90%

If you want to increase your email click-through rate, try A/B testing your button and link copy. A simple change from something like ‘Create a free account’ to ‘Create my free account’ could make a big difference.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, there’s one fact is the same for every audience—we’re all human. And as the field of psychology continues to grapple with understanding our complex minds, they are generating useful information that can help you better understand what motivates your email subscribers.

So invoke curiosity, use social proof & cater to selfish desires in your next email campaign, and you just might find you get that boost in your email click-through rate you’ve been striving for.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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