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Taking a psychological approach with email marketing

The use of psychology in email marketing is often not at the front of many financial advisers’ minds. We’re all used to seeing the effects of overtly psychological marketing everywhere we look: on TV, the radio and public transport. It’s become part of the scenery of our daily lives. Why then is such an effective factor often overlooked when it comes to designing emails? Surely we should be doing all that we can to engage with clients and prospects?

An important factor to consider is that everything we send to recipients will generate an automatic emotional response, be it positive or negative, large or small. The reason for this is because of the way our brains are wired.

We have so many decisions to make on a daily basis that it would be impossible for us to make a fully informed decision at every turn, so our emotions are called into play to make a judgement for us.

A great example of this in action is our email inbox. A lot of us do not have the time to properly sit and read every single email we receive and make an informed decision about the content of each one. Instead, we tend to skim through our emails, making a quick judgement on each one; if something grabs our attention, then we investigate it further.

The trick therefore is generating enough of an emotional response in the limited time that you’ve got to grab recipients’ attention and convince them that your email is worth reading.

There are a few ideas that you can employ to help with this:

1. Use of language and tone
First of all, consider the language that you’re using, particularly in the subject line and any pre-header text, but also consider headers, links and calls-to-action as key. While the success of this is completely dependent on your own recipients and what they will respond to, as a general rule just telling someone the name of a product and a link to where they can buy it will not go that far.

2. Colour
Consider the colours and styling that you’re using in your emails; remember that different colours will trigger completely different emotional responses with people. For example, in the West, black is seen as a very sleek and powerful colour and is associated with luxury products. Blue is seen as trustworthy and professional and will often be used by banks or financial institutions to convey this message. Consider what you’re trying to convey to your target audience and what kind of emotional response you want to trigger.

3. Relevant images
Remember that even if you can persuade someone to open your email, the next challenge is to get them to read over it thoroughly as opposed to quickly skimming over it.

The use of relevant and striking images can really have a positive effect on your engagement and encourage recipients to digest the content of your email. Make sure all the images are clear, along with any links. If you’re using lots of stock images that have no bearing on the content, it will be obvious. One of the best techniques to employ is to use images of people’s faces, as it’s been shown that our brains are wired to emotionally connect with these.

You should already know the audience that you’re trying to connect with, so work out what you think will trigger an emotional response with them, but most importantly the very best technique to employ is simply to test everything and then test again. While there are general rules about what colours will work best for different audiences and what type of language is the best to use, the only way you’ll really work out what your recipients engage with is to try different things and measure the results. Do this and your results are sure to improve.

Paul Bearman, Senior Editor, Goldmine Media

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