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Maximizing Engagement: The Power of Email Hooks

Learn how email hooks work to your business’s advantage. Find examples and best practices to help you write successful email hooks for subject lines and more.

Are you looking for greater engagement with your email campaigns?

Maybe you have spent all-nighters doing A/B testing. Maybe you have tried personalization to the nth degree, writing different emails for each prospect.

Chances are that the most important conclusion you have drawn from all of your hard work is this: Emotional triggers are the secret to success for email campaigns.

The art of researching, writing, and executing emotional triggers in emails takes time to master. Fortunately, in this article, we will tell you what you need to know about the art of writing the email hook.

What is an email hook?

Every email needs a hook. A hook is nothing more than a sentence that grabs the recipient's attention so they take action.

Usually, a hook triggers an emotion. It can be something that makes you laugh. It can be something that addresses the recipient's pain points or even something offensive.

Email hooks appeal to the limbic brain. They invoke an immediate response that the recipient doesn't have to think about. They can be a call to action, moving the reader further down the sales funnel. More often, they pose a question that the reader will say "I don't have a good answer for that," motivating them to read the rest of your message.

Where do you place the hook in the email?

Hooks can be anywhere in the email. The best practices for writing subject lines encourage writing an email hook in the subject line to get the recipient to open the email.

In the subject line

A statistic—or even just a number—or an interesting fact is a great way to write a catchy subject line. It doesn't even make any difference whether you explain that fact or number or statistic in the email itself—if your reader can quickly scan down to the next hook.

In the opening sentence

Another place for an email hook is the first sentence in the email. Surprisingly, people are more or less likely to respond to your email if you don't answer the question you pose at the beginning of the communication. After all, your objective is to get your prospects more interested in your product or service than in the teaser line at the beginning.

But an even better hook in the lead sentence is some fact or statistic that relates directly to the reader. As you learn more and more about how to write an email and build up a strong following, more and more of your prospects and customers will build their own strong digital presence with your brand.

Throughout the body of the email

Flattery often gets you to a sales decision. Place personalization hooks throughout your copy. The reason this works is that email recipients love to be acknowledged as individuals, not just as anonymous members of a market segment.

By integrating Mailchimp with Linkedin lead integration, for instance, you can customize your marketing by your prospects' job titles, their professional and personal interests, and their activity on the LinkedIn platform.

You don't have to do a lot of talking about your value proposition or your product to persuade the recipient of your email to want more information on what you have to offer. They will take control of their search for information about your company and ask you what you can do for them.

You can also build a database of postings and comments by your prospects and customers that you can use to create a highly personalized hook that you can use anywhere in the text of your email.

In the postscript

Once you have written an email that converts, you will feel more confident about placing hooks throughout your emails, even in a PS. Don't overdo the calls to action, or your copy might across as excessively sales-y.

Different types of email hooks

To win at writing emails, you will use a variety of emotional hooks in your writing. You don't have to overthink email hooks. But you do have to place them strategically.

Emotional hooks

Emotional hooks, as we mentioned earlier, appeal to the limbic brain. And very few emotions are more positive than a sense of belonging, which you can evoke by personalizing your emails.

You can also activate interest in your emails by encouraging:

  • Fear. Warn the reader of something that will happen if they do not take the appropriate action.
  • Greed. Appeal to the reader's desire for money.
  • Guilt. Help the reader understand they have an opportunity to make something right.
  • Hope. Create a sense of expectation of a favorable outcome.
  • Lust. Motivate the reader by appealing to their need for physical intimacy.
  • Vanity. Praise the reader's taste and intelligence.

Scarcity & urgency hooks

Scarcity hooks address pain points. They provide the remedy the reader seeks. And they also convey that the product, price, or service the reader needs is in short supply, so immediate action is required.

How do you operationalize a scarcity hook?

  • Use numbers. For example, you might lead with a sentence like "We only made 250" or "We only have 100 in stock." Numbers like these are easy to understand.
  • Invoke the possibility of selling out. An example of this kind of hook is, "We just can't keep these jeans in stock." Or the seller might mention a waiting list.
  • Add an incentive. Offer a discount code or a cash-back offer for customers who sign up by a certain date.
  • Focus on exclusivity. Show your prospect that you have a product that they can't get anywhere else that might run out.
  • Use power words. Some customers just won't enter a discount code. But they will respond to an offer of "free" shipping or service, especially if it is only available for a limited time.

Scarcity marketing isn't all about discounting. It's really all about conveying the fact that your customer will be more satisfied if they purchase now rather than later.

Personalization hooks

Mailchimp's email writing tools give you personalization tokens from across the contact information in your database. You can address your recipients by name. You can use their address information, birth date, employer name, and more.

Make sure that your email is set up to take gaps in information into account so your emails make sense. Even better, use Mailchimp tools for monitoring social media for a perfect match of your email to your prospect's online presence.

Curiosity hooks

Some marketers get great results with existing customers by following the 2-1 rule. List two things the recipient expects to be together with a third that doesn't fit. The discongruity may be obvious, but it does not have to be.

Many copywriters use hooks to implement AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. They use hooks to get the reader's attention just to open the email. They stimulate interest to keep the reader engaged until they can realize their desire for the product, process or new idea. Then they include their CTA, which isn't always to click on a link, congruent with the goals of the campaign.

How do hooks boost engagement?

The Cleveland Clinic has published a statistic that our brains process around 70,000 thoughts a day. The goal of email marketing is to make sure that just one of those thoughts results in opening an email and just one results in taking a call to action.

How do email hooks change two thoughts a day to boost engagement?

  • Personalization. Most of us spend 12 to 13 hours a day in front of screens. Personalization gives us a sense of the conversation we miss in our daily lives.
  • Reciprocity. This is the secret of the motivating power of the word "free" with most customers. When someone gives you something, you want to give them something in return. Your customers can reward you with a purchase.
  • Social proof. Customers who see others buying online feel validated in making their purchase decisions.

How to write effective email hooks that resonate with your audience

To write an effective email hook, you will need to identify your target audience. You will need to understand their needs and wants to create a hook that appeals to their emotions. But for all of that to work, you need to follow one basic rule:

Send more emails at the beginning of your campaign and fewer as your campaign goes on.

The best email marketers avoid inoculating their prospects to their sales pitch. On the first day, an email, a touch on social media, and even a cold call by phone are fine. But the more times you contact the same customer in the same campaign, the farther you need to space your contacts apart.

Measuring the effectiveness of hooks

Now you know how to write effective hooks for your next email campaign. But how will you know how well they worked?

Mailchimp offers a complete suite of tools for evaluating the success of email campaigns to help you understand the results of your email campaigns.

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