Skip to content
Winning The Inbox Battle

Winning The Inbox Battle

There’s no denying that email is still a very viable part of a company’s marketing plan. Great emails are short, purposeful, visual and at a glance, deliver a message to your subscribed recipients. But a good subject line can mean the difference between an email that gets opened and checked out and one that gets deleted right out of the gate. So how to cut through the clutter? By learning the science behind what’s behind a desire to click.

According to email source Emma and, brands are turning to how the brain processes messages to get better results in the inbox.

1. The Zeigarnik Effect. In essence, scientists have found that people tend to remember and focus on uncompleted tasks rather than those already crossed off their lists. That nagging feeling and anxiety signals the brain to continue to focus attention on the task until it’s resolved. This works for email, too. For example, a great email leads the recipient to continue clicking instead of seeing the complete message, and the payoff, right away. For your next email, consider trying an incomplete phrase as a subject line. Upcoming sale? Try out “Here’s the deal…” or something similar to add some intrigue.

2. The Amygdala. This portion of your brain is responsible for fight or flight response and those “gut instincts” that help you make decisions. The amygdala can kick in a response in just 3 seconds. Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and excitement can trigger the amygdala, and therefore your response. Be careful to not pollute your emails with too many messages, keeping one area of main focus.

3. The Noble Edge Effect. In a nutshell, the noble edge effect states that if a company does good things, the audience will return the favor. Think Tom’s Shoes and their buy one, we’ll give one philosophy. Their powerful company mission builds loyalty. Keep in mind that the noble edge effect only works when the message is sincere. Savvy customers can see through sales gimmicks, so if you decide to partner with a charity, do so because your business values align with theirs.

4. Nostalgia. Bruce Springsteen sang about glory days, and savvy marketers have discovered that tapping into a desire to relive moments is very powerful. Studies have found that people are willing to spend more on products that bring back fond memories than ones that help us make new ones. Universities are very smart when they tap into putting alumni back into a place in time when they’re trying to glean donation dollars.

5. The Von Restorff Effect. 80% of people only scan email. The Von Restoff Effect stops people in their tracks and grabs attention. If you want to do this with your email messages the best way to accomplish it is by employing lots of white space with your messages in bold, active language and big, bright call to action buttons. For instance, ModCloth sells cute rain boots and a recent email showed them off on a cute dog’s front paws. Cute dog+odd placement for rain boots=memorable message.

6. The last way to make your email message more successful is through something called Social Default Bias. When people have trouble deciding between two products, we’re more likely to buy the ones others have chosen. I personally do this at restaurants when I’m torn between the salmon and the pistachio encrusted halibut. I ask the server which is better and see if he or she not only voices their opinion but the popularity of the dish as well. An email that includes photos of a customer wearing a product or a testimonial makes it an easier decision for someone to purchase or consider. 15% of people trust recommendations from brands, but 84% trust recommendations from people they know. (WeRSM). In addition, adding social follow buttons to email can lift click rates by 150%. (SocialTimes)

Before you send out your next email, try one of these tactics and then check out the corresponding performance report. One (or more) is sure to “click” with your customers.

Cart 0

Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping