Talk about finding the right subject line or font type all day long. Fuss over the arrangement of content, the size of the box in the header, and whether or not that shade of red in the call-to-action is too bold. All of that can have an impact on click rates and conversions, thus affecting the success of a campaign. In the end, though, what we’re talking about is triggering emotion. Do it consistently — even, sometimes, negatively — and your email marketing is going to see significant results. Fail to do so, and it’s likely you’ll wonder why your email ROI isn’t matching your competitors.
Some of the emotions you’re trying to trigger in readers are subtle — the nearly subconscious reaction to blue rather than green, or why “Sale” in the subject line might prompt a delete while “Free” draws readers in. But much of it is more overt. The content you include in emails could bring a range of emotions. You could seek to make readers curious by asking questions. Happy with positive images. Anxious with time-sensitive deals. Angry by pointing out the bad that will happen if they don’t donate. Proud by talking about what’s great about their hometown.
The list of possibilities is as endless as the range of emotions people experience. But the key is that you look first at audience identification — Who are we talking to? — then at what makes them tick. What are they passionate about? What do they like to do? And, of course, what do they spend their money on? Here’s what asking these questions and triggering emotion with your emails can accomplish:
Emotion gives people more connection to your brand
One of the most well-known and recognized examples of this is Apple, starting in the Steve Jobs years. They seemed to understand more than most of their peers that people didn’t just buy technology based upon how useful it was, or how informed they were about it. They made purchase decisions based upon psychology and emotion they didn’t even necessarily recognize themselves. Jobs wanted to build a brand that customers felt good about buying. He wanted them to feel like they weren’t even buying a brand when they bought Apple products, but buying into an identity. Owning an Apple computer, iPod or — eventually — an iPhone said something about you.
What does owning your brand or subscribing to your email list say about your customers? Do you offer a lifestyle like REI or Huckberry? Comfort like Southwest or HermanMiller? Fun like Happy Socks or Chubbies? Figure out what your customers’ new identity is with your brand, and embrace it.
People are more likely to remember your emails
Think about the last email or advertisement you saw that made you happy, sad, excited, or angry. Chances are, you can remember at least one. Probably more. Why? Because it had an impact on you. Even if the brand itself doesn’t stick with you, the joy of watching the Energizer Bunny or the ironic amusement of watching the Chick-fil-A cow hangs around in your mind. You remembered it. And that’s a big win for the brand. Your emails can accomplish that too, if you can give them content, imagery, stories, and calls-to-action that stir something inside of your subscribers. They’ll remember that email. Do it enough, and they’ll begin to associate your brand with that emotion.
People are more likely to buy from you
In the end, of course, this is what matters. And it’s been proven time and time again that emotion can turn prospects into buyers better than most tactics. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, surprise, or anger that you’re triggering in your subscribers, the key is to get them to feel something from what you’re sending them. That doesn’t mean to go overboard with it, and trigger emotions that don’t draw from your company values. And it certainly doesn’t mean being provocative just for the sake of being provocative.
It needs to feel natural for you and your audience. Chick-fil-A sending emails to make their customers angry would seem out of character for them, and would likely turn off their subscribers. Trigger the right emotions for your customers. If you do, they’ll find they want to buy from you, and they feel good about doing so.