Scientists and marketers alike have been researching neuromarketing for years – and it’s absolutely fascinating stuff. As people, we’re naturally curious about the secrets that hide within the human mind. And as marketers, we’re always looking for ways to better understand what makes our audiences tick.
But our synapses really start firing when we think about how brain science can be applied to email marketing to boost conversion rates. Here are 8 brain science facts complete with tips and examples on how to use them to get better results in the inbox.
1. We Make Snap Judgments In 3 Seconds Or Less
We all have a primitive part of our brain called the amygdala that controls our gut reactions – and it works much faster than our conscious mind. If you can light up the amygdala, you’ll immediately have your subscriber’s attention before they even realize what’s happened.
It’s the “caveman” part of the brain, so try tapping into our “fight or flight” response with subject lines that create urgency and excitement. Or, choose images of food, open landscapes, and danger (in moderation) that appeal to our more basic instincts
Mario Batali’s emails are tailor-made for the amygdala because they’re all about food. You want that pizza. You’re going to click on that pizza.
2. If It Stands Out, We’ll Remember It
This one’s pretty obvious, but there’s an actual scientific reason for it. The Von Restorff Effect says that anything that stands out like a sore thumb immediately becomes more memorable to us. Marketers have been taking advantage of it for years: Think of how many ads you’ve seen where everything is in black and white, except for the product they’re selling. It’s also why something as simple as a CTA button can increase your email click rates. A big, bright CTA button performs better than a text link because it stands out from the uniform text and background around it.
3. Remind People Of The Good Ol’ Days
Nostalgia is a powerful, powerful emotion – we all love to look back at old photos and video to relive the glory days. But did you know that nostalgia actually impacts how our brains make purchasing decisions? Recent studies have shown that the positive feelings created by nostalgia actually make a person more likely to buy.
Here’s an example of nostalgia showing up in the inbox. The old-school computer in this fun email from Loft brings back fond childhood memories and puts subscribers in a good mood to buy.
4. We Process Images 60,000 Times Faster Than Text
It’s no secret that we’re visual creatures. Over 90% of all data that the brain processes is visual, and as a result, we remember text when it’s accompanied by an image more than text alone. So if you’re still sending super copy-heavy email newsletters, stop. Like, right now. Most of your busy, on-the-go audience is likely only scanning your email anyway, so deliver content that caters to that behavior. Try imagining your email without the supporting copy – if you’ve told your story with just images and headlines, you’re on the right track.
5. We All Tend To Follow The Crowd
Social Default Bias says that when we’re having difficulty choosing a product, we’re more likely to go with the one that others have bought. But it’s not because we’re all just a bunch of followers. We trust other people to vet products for us. 15% of people trust recommendations from brands, while a whopping 84% trust recommendations from people they know (WeRSM). It’s why social proof and user-generated content are so powerful in email marketing.
This email from Stitch Fix is all about playing into our Social Default Bias. The “Don’t take our word for it” headline sets the table nicely, and the quotes and photos from real customers hammer home the point.
6. Different Colors Send Different Signals To The Brain
Color choice is about more than what looks great (though that’s certainly part of it). The colors you choose actually evoke different responses from our brain. For example, we associate the color blue with trust, which makes it the color of choice for a lot of financial institutions and insurance companies. Orange is a very action-oriented color, which makes it a great option for CTA buttons asking your audience to buy, subscribe, or join. And, of course, we all know “green means go.” Also consider using a contrasting color for your CTA button to tap into the Von Restorff Effect and really make it pop.
7. We’ll Buy More From Brands That Do Good Things
The Noble Edge Effect says that consumers believe the products of “companies who care” are superior – and they’re willing to pay more for them. 53% of people say they would pay 10% more for products from socially responsible companies (Havas Media). Sharing your company’s philanthropic mission can have a positive effect on your community and your bottom line as long as it’s authentic (today’s consumers can smell a PR stunt from a mile away).
Goldieblox is a company that does an excellent job of incorporating social responsibility into their products and marketing. Their toys teach a variety of engineering and problem-solving skills with the goal of inspiring the next generation of female engineers. And that empowering message carries through to their emails – inspiring thousands of loyal, toy-buying customers.
8. We’ll Look Where Other People Are Looking
Eye-tracking studies show that we’ll follow the gaze of someone to see where they’re looking (we’re predictable like that). When designing your next email, take advantage of this tendency by including an image of a person looking in the direction of your offer or CTA. You’ll lead your subscribers right where you want them to click.
One Last Thing: Test, Test, And Test Again
Every audience is different, so test out these concepts to see what works best for your brand. Your subscribers could respond best to the color purple or maybe smaragdine. The more you test and pay attention to your results, the more you’ll hone in on the right email strategy that spikes conversions for your brand.
What brain science principles have you tried in your email marketing? How did they work?
About The Author: Cynthia Price is the vice president of marketing at Emma, where she can be found geeking out about everything from subject lines to audience segmentation.