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3 Psychology Hacks for Writing Emails People Will Want to Read


Don’t you hate it when clients don’t read your emails?

You’ve spent all morning drafting a sales email and it’s … a masterpiece. 

They really ought to issue Pulitzers for perfect emails. 

When you press send you expect to watch your open rate soar.

But the numbers don’t budge. You wrote the “Great American Email” and no one even opens it.

It’s hard not to feel frustrated. But instead of tearing your hair out, take five minutes to up your email game.

If you want to write emails people can’t wait to read, you don’t need to be a mind reader — you just need to understand how people think.

How to Write Great Sales Emails Using Psychology Hacks

The human brain is an interesting place. It’s estimated that we feel over 400 emotions every day. Combine that with over 70,000 thoughts, and you have a complex machine that is trying to conserve its energy on the things that are important. What does that mean for emails? Let’s explore what psychology can tell us about writing kick-butt content for your next sales email sequence. 

1. Demand Attention with a Good Subject Line

If you want a client to open your email, you only have a few words to get their attention. Here’s how to make your subject line count:

Open a Story Loop with an Unfinished Subject Line

Have you ever binge-watched a whole Netflix series because you just had to find out how it ends? Human beings don’t like to leave things unfinished. These “open story loops” make us uncomfortable. 

According to psychology, incomplete tasks help people remember in greater detail. This is called the Zeigarnik effect and it’s one of the best secrets to better open rates. 

A perfect example of the Zeigarnik effect in action is an ellipsis. When you arrive at an ellipsis you can’t help but … keep reading …because your brain needs to discover what happens next.

Use an ellipsis in your next subject line and readers will finish the thought by opening your message.

An Emotional Subject Line Instantly Grabs Someone’s Attention

An emotional response is five times faster than conscious thought.

That means if you create a sense of excitement or urgency without being melodramatic, your emails will have a much higher open rate. 

For example, what if you saw this subject line at the top of your inbox? 

“Don’t miss out…”

In just three words, we’ve built curiosity, anticipation, and urgency. Chances are, you’d open that email. Nobody wants to miss out!

Speak Directly to Clients Using the Personal Subject Line

To understand why a personal headline is effective, imagine you’re at an office party — a loud office party. Your friend is telling a hilarious story. 

Then suddenly, you hear your name in another conversation across the room. Your attention vanishes in a snap and you miss the punchline of your friend’s joke because the instant you heard your name, you couldn’t focus on anything else.

In psychology, this is known as the cocktail party effect. Certain pieces of information — like your name — immediately grab your focus whether you were paying attention or not. 

When you call people by their name, they’re more likely to listen to what you have to say. Use a first name field in your subject line to make your email stand out.

2. Clarity is Everything

Once you can write attention-grabbing subject lines for your sales emails, focus on clear content. You don’t want your potential client to open the email and immediately blacklist your email address because your copy was confusing.

Create a Stress-Free Experience

Your inbox is a major stress hotspot — it’s like a never-ending to-do list. As the number of unread emails spikes, so do your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones.

You don’t want to add to the “stress factory” that is your client’s inbox.

Minimize mental strain by keeping your emails brief and your copy clear. Emails that are short and easy to read always perform better.

Steer away from big blocks of text. Instead, use “popcorn information” like bulleted lists and subheadings.

Words that are easier to say are considered more trustworthy and valuable, so don’t try to sound smart. Just be helpful.

Stand out

If it looks different, they’ll remember it. According to the Von Restorff Effect, when multiple options are presented, people choose the one that stands out.

To bring attention to your message, utilize white space, emphasize main points by underlining them, and use bold language. And remember to use a color that contrasts with the background for your call-to-action button to make it stand out.

3. Finish your sales email strong

Just because you’ve reached the signature at the bottom of the email does not mean it’s time to press send. Make sure you end on a high note.

Give them something to remember.

Use a Post Script (P.S.) paragraph at the end of all your emails. Not only does it stand out but it makes good use of the recency effect.

People remember the last thing they read.

End your email by restating your call-to-action in a strong P.S. section and your clients will remember what they are supposed to do long after they close your email.

Now Go Write Emails People Will Actually Want to Read!

When you put all these techniques together, you’re left with a very interesting and persuasive email that people actually want to read. 

Using these key psychological tips, you can avoid being another name in the spam folder. When you put good emails in your clients’ inboxes, you’ll start seeing great leads in yours.

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