How to apply the 6 principles of persuasion to email marketing


Back in 1984, Robert Cialdini published a book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”.

Today, the book is famous for its exploration of factors that affect the decisions that people make, notably when it comes to sales, marketing, and purchasing.

These factors can also be incredibly powerful when utilised within email.

That’s why in this blog post we will introduce you to Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. And show you how they can be used to supercharge your email marketing.


As humans, we value equality. Meaning we don’t like to feel that we owe other people or vice versa. And generally, when debt is faced, we want it resolved as soon as possible.

In terms of email, as brands, we are in the position of reciprocating when a recipient hands over their details so that we can contact them. This means offering the recipient as much relevant, useful, and delightful content as possible.

This can come in the form of dynamic personalisation, exclusive promotional codes, or discounts and vouchers on special occasions.

However, reciprocity can also be used by email marketers to build up social obligations owed.

The more marketers offer within their emails, the more the recipient will warm to the brand and feel obliged to reciprocate. Ideally, by making a purchase.

So, keep your recipients warm and engaged with genuinely useful nurturing campaigns, promotional offers, and product recommendations that are of interest.

















We’ve all heard the saying, “we always want what we can’t have”.

Isn’t it curious how irresistible a product or experience becomes once we no longer have access to it?

In terms of email marketing, brands can base their strategy around limiting the number of products that are available. Triggering that sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) in recipients. And encouraging them to buy before it’s too late.

This can be achieved through email campaigns that promote a limited run of an item. However, brands can get really smart by implementing dynamic content into their emails to show the latest pricing and availability of items.

This means, when an item is selling out, the dynamic availability will automatically refresh to show the latest sales figures, such as “6 sold today” or how many items are left.



















Brands and individuals who hold authority, credibility, and are well respected in their field are far more influential than those who aren’t.

That’s because authority equals trust. People assume that those who have authority know exactly what they are talking about, and therefore their advice and suggestions can be relied upon.

For brands, this is an essential tactic. All brands should strive to be experts in their industry. And this is something that can be filtered into email marketing too.

Firstly, building trust in email begins with proper data collection and management. If brands are sending unsolicited emails to recipients, they will immediately lose their trust and any authority. Therefore, brands should collect data and send out marketing campaigns in a way that strictly follows GDPR protocol. You can find out more in our blog post.

As well as using data correctly, brands can use email to share content that positions them as industry authorities.

This could include working with other experts in your industry and piggybacking on their authority. Or, offering your own guides and reports, blog posts and tips, videos and social posts, and of course customer reviews and testimonials that reinforce how great their brand is.


Commitment and consistency

This concept suggests that by getting others to make some kind of commitment to you, they will be more invested and supportive of you.

For brands, this means encouraging consumers to give a little to you to feel part of your brand.

In terms of email marketing, recipients have already started this process by handing over their data and opting in to receive communications from you. Which is already a very good sign.

But you can promote other ways to encourage commitment through your email marketing.

Something relatively small and free can make a big impact, such as getting them to enter a competition, fill in a customer survey, or follow your social channels.

These small increments of engagement build up over time, encouraging recipients to see themselves as your customers. And as part of your community.



We hate to state the obvious, but customers are more likely to buy from a brand that they connect with.

And when it comes to email, recipients are more likely to open and engage with emails they actually like.

Key to this is email personalisation. By sending out email communications that are relevant and targeted, it immediately appeals to the recipient. And can also suggest that the brand has something in common with them by understanding their desires and offering them the products to meet their needs.

Personalisation can take so many forms. Brands can begin by running segmented campaigns based on basic demographic data. This can include first names in emails and subject lines.

But to get really smart, brands can use dynamic content to ensure that every email communication is tailored to the specific individual.

This could include recommended products based on browsing and purchasing behaviour. Suggested items based on the weather. And even local stores and events based on location.

















Humans are social beings. We like to feel part of a community. And find reassurance in others’ opinions when it comes to decision making.

In fact, 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth or recommendations above all forms of advertising and marketing.

When it comes to email marketing, the key to achieving consensus is to promote your other happy customers. Whether it be your fantastic ratings, customer quotes, or case studies.

Social media is a fantastic source of content to achieve this. Brands can pull in dynamic social feeds which update in real-time. Or they can feature user-generated content in the form of their customers’ social media, images, and videos.


Want to flex your powers of persuasion?

Apply the 6 principles here to your next email campaign. Feel free to reach out to me with questions or to learn more my about tried and true strategies and tactics. And be sure to let me know how it goes!