Brain Science Secrets Behind Powerful, Persuasive Emails

July 21, 2021

If you want to write emails that are powerful and persuasive and if you want to write emails that have great engagement and garner a response, you are in the right place.

You need to know one thing: Everyone relies on decision defaults. 

A decision result is an automatic, instinctive, reflexive response. This is a way for us to conserve mental energy. This is a hardwired behavior. We cruise through life on autopilot, and when we encounter a certain situation, we default to these hardwire behaviors, giving them little to any thought. There are hundreds of examples of this automatic behavior. They influence what we read, who we trust, and when we buy — and that’s why they are so important for email marketers. 

There are seven ways you can trigger these automatic responses in your emails. 

#1 Words That Work Like Magic In Subject Lines (1:35)

People write in a linear fashion. But that’s now how people read. They skim and they scan and if something catches their attention, then they will read the entire thing. 

There are some words that can “leap off the screen” and attract eyes like a magnet. 


“New, Now, Introducing, Discover,”
“Secrets. Sneak peek, The truth behind”

DO THIS: Front-load your “Eye magnet” words 

#2 Two Ways To Position Your Message For A Fast Response (6:25)

Social scientists have found that if you tell your audience that something will not always be there, or it’s available to some people and not everyone, that can change how they react. People overvalue things that are scarce. 

The principle of scarcity: Use urgency and exclusivity.

Examples for urgency:
Including a countdown clock
Use of a flash sale

Putting a deadline or expiration date

Examples of exclusivity:
”Be the first to register…”
“New credentials just for…”
“You have been selected for your expertise” 

DO THIS: Make people feel special or time-pressed. 

#3 The Ripple Effect Of The Consistency Principle (10:48)

Social sciences found that when people make a decision, they like to keep consistent with it when future opportunities arise.

As an email marketer, if you can get someone to say yes once, you’re much more likely to get them to say yes again and again. That first small yes leads to subsequent, larger ones.


“Thanks for your ongoing support. Want to help out again?”
“Thank you for registering with VistaPrint.” 

DO THIS: Escalate your asks. Remind people of their earlier yes. 

#4 Why You’ll Sell More Using Social Proof (14:27)

Social sciences found that when people aren’t sure of the decision to make, they look around for what other people are doing. 


“Almost sold out: see who’s attending ad age digital conference”
“So many interesting people are coming to Boston!”
“What your colleagues are reading now”
“Discover what your peers are reading” 

DO THIS: Show your target that others have already done what you want them to do.

#5 When “Negative” Can Deliver Positive Results (18:24)

Social sciences have identified “Loss Aversion”. These people are twice as motivated to avoid pain than to achieve gain. Email marketers can remind people of the pain they want to avoid. 


“You have no idea what you’ve missed”
“To keep your registration active… log in…”
“…do nothing and your registration will expire”
“Don’t pay an extra $300+ for INBOUND”
“Why your conversions suck (and how to fix it)” 

DO THIS: Help people avoid mistakes 

#6 The One Thing To Say To Increase Response (22:07)

Behavior economists have found people are more likely to do what you want them to do if you give them a why. The word “Because” is a compliance trigger 


“Because you are part of our family”
“…because we thought this information might be beneficial to you”
“Since you are a valued member of our community” 

DO THIS: Legitimize your request with a reason

#7 The Journalist’s Secret That Boosts Email Readership (25:08)

Using Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How 

You’ll get readership when you answer these five questions in your content. You can also get readership pointing out the gap in the knowledge of your reader in what they want to know 


“Who doesn’t want to make their marketing easier?”
“What does 99% of your audience have in common?”
“Where to get good headlines?”
“When to A/B test website redesign”
“Why an online marketing suite is a game changer”
“How to guarantee a meeting”

DO THIS: Offer to fill the gap

Secrets Behind Powerful Persuasive Emails - Nancy Harhut - HBT Marketing Speaker Nancy Harhut – Chief Creative Officer HBT Marketing 

To hear from him and other amazing experts, check out our full 2021 calendar, with 14 in-person events scheduled this year!