How to Write a Persuasive Email | The Psychology Behind Marketing


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Do you ever notice how marketers are usually a certain breed? They are more personable, persuasive and great communicators. They have a natural tendency to greet you at the office and usually bring an fun energy to wherever they are. When it comes to writing a persuasive email, this is where they excel.

In my experieince, marketers have to comprehend human psyche on a different level than most people. Technical types have a knack for how things are setup, how to troubleshoot issues, and the math and science behind it all. While, creative types think outside the box and help bring ideas to life. Marketers constantly need to channel both types and put themselves in other peoples' shoes in order to communicate messages clearly and concisely, while also creating interest. They bring empathy to the workplace that resounds with prospects, customers, and their co-workers.

The answer of how to write a persuasive email is along those lines of understanding human psyche and what we’re all naturally drawn to and away from. If you can master the AIDA copywriting formula described in detail below, then you can master persuading your prospects to buy from you and work with you.

AIDA-email - Persuasive Email

AIDA has been taught in universities for years, as in a hundred years. It goes back to the early 1900’s and has stuck around because…well, it works! Don’t mess with a good thing, right? Right! Here’s a closer look at each level of this formula.

May I Have Your Attention?

Attention is placed at the top, filling the most space because absolutely nothing else can happen unless you get your reader’s…attention! That is your first and primary goal when creating a persuasive email.

Attention-Grabbing-Headlines-Persuasive Email

One simple, yet effective way to grab attention is to use the name of the person you’re sending an email to. If you use a generic greeting or no greeting at all, you run a higher risk of your email getting deleted immediately or even worse, being marked as spam.

Another way is to optimize your subject line to really speak to your reader’s pain points and situation. If you don’t have those exact details, no worries. You can still improve the effectiveness through best practices. Check out 9 Tips for Writing Email Subject Lines That Work and maybe even consider using emojis in your subject line. This may not be for every brand, but it sure is proven to grab attention.

In addition to grabbing the reader’s attention, the subject line and greeting also needs to draw the reader in…

Michael Scott Interest - Persuasive EmailSay What? Hmm Interesting…

Once you’ve grabbed their attention, you now need to be interesting and relevant enough to make readers listen to you. The subject line along with the first few sentences in your email will be your interest drivers and make sure to implement images that align with your message.

In order to generate interest in your email, it helps to be a good story teller. People react from hearing other people’s stories and are often emotionally invested from the beginning. When possible, put the art of story telling at work, but don’t write a novel. Short and sweet while driving readers to the full story will be a more effective option.

It also doesn’t hurt to talk about a problem or address pain points that your readers are especially familiar with. If you can spark interest on a subject that worries them daily or makes them lose sleep, they are sure to pay attention to what you have to say and even act on it.

Shock also creates a desired effect on readers, making them ask the question, “Really? How is that possible?”. If you can make a bold statement or promise that elicits this type of response while following through, then you have readers right where you need them to be for the next phase of the formula.

Yep. I’m In!

Receiving an email is perceived as an obstacle for many. The email interrupts their day, they read it (or quickly lose interest), decide whether or not to click on the call to action, and then finally ignore, delete, or respond to it.

When creating a persuasive email, you have to think about how you’re helping readers overcome those obstacles. Make it incredibly easy for them to decide if they’re interested and if they should actually do what you’re telling them to. Before they click or download, there should be no doubt on why they need what you’re offering.

There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but make sure you test the different ways to see what works for your industry.

  • This Benefits Me Why? Always answer the question why should your reader care by listing out the benefits of your offer. Numbers are great, but make sure to also tap into the emotional benefits, such as less stress worrying about inaccurate data or more confidence in leadership abilities after reading this eBook.
  • Sense of Urgency: Creating a sense of urgency or instilling the fear that they may miss out makes people respond and respond much faster. In order to do this, make offers for a limited time or a limited number of giveaways. Looking at the psychology of this, when things are all around us, people naturally take it for granted. With this, you don’t want to lie about the scarcity. This threatens the trust you’re creating with your readers and you never want to lose that.
  • Prove It! Proving your bold statements that elicited shock with before and after photos or sharing nice social media testimonials about your products and services only help build the case of why readers should work with you. 

Walk Me Through This, The Basics of a Persuasive Email

Finally, action is what makes marketing emails worthwhile. When readers click the sign up button, marketers rejoice! It’s still possible for readers, however, to get to this point and delete the email. There are best practices to help avoid inaction with your call to action (CTA). Here are just a few of my favorites:

  • Keep it Short! Clear and concise is what your CTA needs to be. You’ve developed the why, now make the how extremely easy to figure out for your readers. Hold their hand and literally spell it out!
  • Location. Location. Location. Statistics vary on this one. Should it be above the fold or below the fold? I’ve found the best place is to have it toward the bottom of the email and if you want one above the fold, place it in a left sidebar. When in doubt, test it out with A/B split testing.
  • Visual Appeal. This is a great place to bring in more design elements. Instead of just using a button, use an arrow or image of your eBook to entice a click.

If you’re a naturally empathetic marketer, this AIDA formula will seem like second nature and now, you can apply even more best practices to writing persuasive emails to your prospects and customers. Just remember to keep that human psychology in mind. After all, we’re just people working and communicating with other .


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