Imagine you’ve got this great new feature you’re about to announce to your subscribers.

You know they are going to love it, and you can’t wait to tell them it’s finally here. You draft up the email and everything looks great; you’ve written a compelling subject line, structured the email for scanners and written the perfect CTA.

But when you look at the results, you notice your click-through rate is lower than you’d like and very few people are clicking through to your website to learn about more the new feature and buy your product.

So what went wrong? It could be that the tone of your email wasn’t quite right.

In this post, we’ve pulled together some interesting research to show you how using positivity could help increase your email click-through rates.

How positivity affects us

Positive language affects our brains ability to receive messages in a very specific way.

Research shows that when positive action verbs like “Go. Jump. Attack.” were read by individuals being monitored by an MRI, brain activity spiked. However, when negative verbs such as “Stop. Sit. Surrender.” were read, that reaction switched off and the brain became less active.

When you incorporate positivity into your email copy, you engage your reader’s brain in a much more powerful way, enabling them to easily understand your key messages and increasing their motivation to click-through and purchase your product.

How positivity increased our email conversion rate by 22%

We recently ran an A/B test comparing positive and negative language in an email campaign for our post on using autoresponders to onboard new employees.

The aim of the email was to get people to click-through and read the post, and in Version A we utilized negative language to emphasize the not-so-great realities of starting a new position.

As you can see, we specifically chose language like ‘difficult’, ‘don’t know many people’, and ‘not familiar’ to create a strong sense of negativity in the email and deactivate the reader’s brain activity.

In Version B of the email however, we deliberately chose positive words like ‘exciting’, ‘new, intelligent people’, and ‘learn a whole set of new tools’ to give the email a much more positive feel.

The results? The email copy filled with positivity had a 22% higher click-through rate than the negative version.

Like the research suggested, the negative copy in Version A caused people to switch off, become disengaged with the copy of the email and not click-through to read the full story.

However the positive copy in Version B had the opposite effect. People remained engaged with the copy, increasing their motivation to read the full story and therefore making them more likely to click-through.

How you can apply positivity to your email marketing

Now that you’ve seen the proof that positivity can improve your email click-through rate, it’s time to look at a few ways you can apply it to your next email campaign.

Use positive framing

The frame in which you present your product or service can strongly influence the perception your reader has of your product or service.

In fact, research shows that positively-framed messaging is more persuasive than negatively-framed messages.

To illustrate, compare these two versions of email copy written for the exact same product but with positive and negative framing applied.

Positive: There’s no better feeling than a sparkling clean house. With the help of our lightweight floor steamer, you can have sparkling surfaces in minutes!

Negative: Cleaning your house can be hard, dirty work, but our floor steamer can help knock out a tough job in no time.

Notice the difference? The positive framing reinforces the good feelings that come with a clean house, while the negative framing focuses on how unenjoyable the actual cleaning experience is.

By using positive framing and focusing on the desirable benefits of your product or service, you increase people’s desire and encourage them to click-through to learn more or purchase.

Use positive imagery

The imagery you use in your email campaigns can also influence the perception your reader has of your product or service.

To illustrate, let’s take a look at how Apple and Microsoft use imagery to portray their competing tablet products.

Rather than showing a static image of the product, Apple shows the iPad being used by a real person doing something she loves. The image is beautifully shot and leverages the positive emotion of travel and the stunning destination of Ha Long Bay to create desire for their product and encourage people to buy.

Microsoft, on the other hand, shows a picture of the product sitting on a desk with a spreadsheet open on the screen. The image fails to create any sense of positive emotion around the product or show how it could benefit a potential customer life, and ultimately does little to create desire for the product. It’s probably not surprising then that the iPad dominates the tablet market.

So when creating your next email campaign, include imagery that showcases your product in the context of how it would help improve the user’s life and be sure the images stir positive emotions in your reader. By doing so, you’ll create desire for your product and increase conversion rates from your email campaigns.

Use the right colors

There are many perspectives on how different colors affect human emotion, but one color study interestingly found the that most positive emotional responses came from the primary color group: Cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Of this group, each color was selected for a specific reason:

  1. Yellow was the most popular (chosen by 93.9%) because it elicited feelings of happiness and excitement.
  2. Cyan came in second (with 79.6%) for its associations with water, sky, and feelings of relaxation.
  3. Magenta was third (64.3%) for feelings of love and romance.

So alongside your copy and imagery, also consider the colors used in your email template as the right colors can have an effect on the emotional response people have to your campaign and increase conversions.

In conclusion

Leveraging the power of positivity in your next email campaign is a simple way yet effective way to increase conversions.

So in your next email marketing campaign, try using positive framing and the right colors and imagery to help stimulate reader’s brain activity and get your messages heard and actioned.

Your turn: Did our positive copy in version B appeal to you more than the negative copy of version A? Did Apple’s beautiful imagery make you want to purchase more than Microsoft’s dull product images? Let us know your thoughts on the power of positivity in the comments below!

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  • Stephen Coles

    It would be interesting to see if positivity had the same effect worldwide. It’s been said that Germans and Russians, for instance, are less persuaded by positivity than Americans.

  • Rodí

    I second Coles comment.

    I too wonder if those in the US response better to this type of language than other nationalities? Speaking as European, I feel we’re quite often a little more cynical of language we perceive to be overly ‘enthusiastic’.

    Having said that, the tone of this particular email didn’t trigger that response in me. As with everything, I guess there’s a sweet spot.

  • Carl Carey

    As a European I’d echo the comments above. We seem to be much more pragmatic. You can see the difference in US TV/Film/News etc.. vs. European equivelents.

    I’m not sure how Austrialians might view things though.

    It’s always worth a split test in any case.

  • Aaron Beashel

    Hey guys

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and I really appreciate the insight.

    I think it’s a really good point you make and i’ll see what we can do about testing it and report back.

    Thanks again!

  • Jaina

    Positive and inspirational imagery goes a long way these days. Especially as we’re in the era of Instagram and Pinterest – it’s what people love to see.

    I always sway back and forth with positive copy. Like a few of the other guys have commented here, I think a certain amount of positivity is great for certain regions. In the UK, depending on your brand guidelines, you can be a bit more cheeky, sarcastic or even negative and make it work. Or sometimes you may just want to highlight some real negatives to almost bring a shock tactic to your customers. I’m not saying charities reduce themselves to using shock tactics, but they definitely have to use more negative copy in their emails to make your sympathise for their cause and to, almost, play with your emotions.

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