[Infographic] The Psychology of Email Sales

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the head of your average buyer when it comes to making buying decisions? And, how you can use the “what goes on” to optimize your emails and strike a deal? Pretty interesting, right? 😀

From my point of view, at the beginning of each outbound marketing campaign, a seller and a buyer stand at the two opposite ends of a continuum. The few strings that connect them are that they are both humans and that the buyer potentially has an interest in the seller’s product. Oh yes, and email as a means of communication. Not much, you have to agree. So, not only is the seller forced to establish a meaningful connection with a potential buyer (whom they have never met), but they also have to pitch a product so as to spark curiosity and interest, and ultimately (fingers crossed) sell.

How? By appealing to the mind, of course. Buying is a decision all of us make subconsciously. This means that buying is governed by certain psychological processes that only slightly differ from person to person. The research psychologists have conducted on human psyche and its patterns has yielded certain conclusions you can use to design your emails so as to appeal to the psychology of each individual. However, I’m not talking about manipulation since there is no definitive guide that can help you navigate the waters of the mind so that you always safely arrive at the port (I’m talking about making a sale via email).

infographic the psychology of email sale


#0 Know Your Prospects

Before using these psychological ploys, it is imperative that you take the time to get to know your buyer. Do the research, study, google around because that is the only way you can actually gather the information about your prospects’ needs, wants and motivation. The knowledge of these will only help you implement the triggers in your email sales campaign.


#1 Spark Their Curiosity

Each email you send should be crafted so as to ignite a sense of interest, inquisitiveness and wondering in a lead. Why is that? Well simply because, by nature, people are curious beings. They like to try out new things, they like to experiment, they like to be progressive. Just consider the development of humankind. It is the sense of “hey, what happens if I put this material into fire” that led us from using stone tools to building rocket ships. Pretty impressive!

In outbound marketing, you can spark curiosity with an enticing subject line and a first sentence of your email. For example, this is what a prospect sees upon receiving an email on Gmail:

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(Keep in mind that Adam and his company are a figment of imagination, fabricated for this article as an example 🙂 ) The point is that if your subject line and first sentence are attention-grabbing, the prospect will be more likely to open the email and read its content. Which, of course, brings you a step closer to making a sale.

You should probably have in mind that 69% of email recipients will report email as spam based solely on the subject line. Terrifying, right?


#2 Make Them Feel Important

In email sales, probably the best way of approaching your potential buyers is to make them feel significant. Why? Well, ask yourself, do you like to feel important?
According to Tony Robbins, the need to feel noteworthy, special and unique is one of the six basic human needs. People simply like to feel special, and not only in their own eyes, but in the eyes of the others as well.

In the world of email sales, this basic human need can be satisfied with email personalization. How can you do this? You can, for example, address your leads by their first name. Also, you can insert in the email some achievements you admire your potential buyer for, no matter how small they are. To do this, you will have to do some googling around to find information that you can use. It may take lot of effort, but it can be worth it. In the end, this might be just the thing that sets your email apart from all the other emails, getting you the click you need.


#3 Balance Professional and Friendly Approach

It is important to craft your emails in such a way that they successfully balance the thin line between professional and friendly. Why is that? Because, on one hand, people prefer doing business via email, which implies detachment and distance. On the other hand, they like to feel important, which requires personalization. And, personalization implies a certain level of friendliness and intimacy. Just imagine an email featuring this copy:

Dear Sir,

I would like to have a chance to discuss with you product X.

Loved your breakthrough in the research of AI in marketing by the way 🙂

Please let me know if you are interested to have a conversation with me at your earliest convenience.

Best regards,

Mr. Y


Let me tell you, the sale just ain’t gonna happen.

So, how can you achieve balance? Well, by making your emails conversational. If you addressed your potential buyer with “Hi FirstName”, you are on the right track. What you can also do is use the second person – you, your, yours. That way, the prospect will have a feeling that you are directly talking to them. They will immediately feel engaged in a conversation with you, which will propel them to somehow respond – subscribe, order, buy or simply answer your email.


#4 Explain Why

You should always try to provide a clear reason why you are sending an email. Why? Well, scholars say that the human mind is programmed to constantly search for reasons, explanations and meaning. This is a direct consequence of our inborn curiosity. The need to understand is so important that, believe it or not, people will accept even the most arbitrary reasons as valid. The famous Xerox machine experiment showed that 93% of the people accepted the statement “May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” as legitimate and let the person cut in line. It didn’t even matter that all of them were essentially there to do the same thing – make copies. Of course, this does not mean that you can provide a silly reason and expect the lead to buy it.

How does this work for you? Well, if you provide a clear reason in your marketing copy why you are offering a certain product, the potential buyer is more likely to acquiesce to your request.

There are also some tricks you can use to craft the reason for your outreach so as to leave the best possible impression. For example, you should try to use actionable language. By using active verbs, you will sound sure and leave the impression of authority. Finally, you should also try to present value of your product rather than advertise its features. This way, you are focusing on the prospect, you are offering a solution to the problem, and you are doing so in a compelling way.


5# Simplify Your Solution

Now that you have your prospects onboard with you, you have to make their path to action quick and easy. Why is this important? Simply because, people strive to find an easy way out whenever possible. According to Mark Sisson, this trait represents a survival mechanism dating back to cavemen. People tried to preserve energy whenever a situation allowed for it to be able to survive in the harsh conditions. In today’s terms, when the living conditions are definitely easier than those of cavemen, this trait can surface, for example, in using cheat sheets to help us with certain subjects at school. Why study when you can take the path of least resistance? 😀

Human inclination to take the easy way out can be translated into your marketing copy in terms of one simple Call-To-Action button per email. If your potential buyer clearly understands why you are writing and what you have to offer, the logical next step is to explain how they can accept your offer. For example: “In order to start your free trial,”


6# Make It Short, Sweet and Concise

However you choose to craft your email, it is very important to make it short, sweet and concise. Why? Simply because people have very short attention spans. As Leon Watson reports, the length of an average person’s attention span has shortened from 12 to 8 seconds in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, in the sea, there exists a creature that is believed to have a larger attention span than an average person. The latest studies in marine biology show that goldfish can focus attention for 9 seconds. Let that sink in.

How can you navigate around this? It is important to go straight to the point in your marketing copy. Address your prospect, clearly state the purpose of your email, offer a clear path to action, and all of that in less than 10 sentences. This should not represent a problem if you already have in mind what you want to accomplish with your email. In the end, your prospect will only benefit from this approach – they will be able to scan the information quickly, and take action easily.


It is undeniable that our minds govern our buying decisions. Human inclinations towards discovering, the need to feel important, to have answers to everything and to take easy ways seem to represent the inborn patterns our subconscious follows in all spheres of our lives, including buying. So why not use them to help our outbound marketing and email sales?

Author: Jovana Petrovic

I'm a researcher and writer at Etools – a toolkit that lets you find the exact contact details of any business.

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