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📩How to leverage mental shortcuts in your email campaigns

mental shortcuts

New here? This is Inbox Hacking, a Free Newsletter for fearless email marketers wanting to level up. Email marketing insights, tools, & tactics sent twice per week. Someone forwarded you our Newsletter? Sign up for your Free subscription. Today – learn how to leverage the mental shortcuts every one of your subscribers are taking.

Hope you all enjoyed friends and family on Memorial Day. Hats off to the Fallen and may peace find their loved ones.

Today I’m giving you access to the automatic actions your subscribers are taking every time they receive your emails. Whether they know it or not. These 5 mental shortcuts are part of being human and I’ll show you how to use them to make your emails get the reaction and engagement you want. 


Mental shortcuts are often called heuristics. So I’ll be referring to them as mental shortcuts. I don’t like the looks of ‘heuristics’— an automatic judgment on my part. 

People are busier than ever so they’re relying on mental shortcuts more than you imagine. It’s why some brainiac CEOs wear the same outfit every day. To keep from having to think… “Red or green polo?”

This possibly insane shortcut saves them brain power for crucial decisions.

Do the same for your readers. Don’t force them to think. Provide the path of least resistance. 

Example A) Make it a no-brainer to open your email with a subject line that gets an immediate response… not a line that lets a reader “get to it later.” 

Example B) Your call-to-action can’t depend on logic alone. Use emotion and proof (see #1 below).

5 mental shortcuts you can use right away to get more email engagement.

#1 Authority

People look to authority figures or proof of expertise when they can’t judge for themselves. It’s a mental shortcut to trust a guy in a Navy uniform explaining how an 80-million-ton ship floats!

Same with diplomas on my eye doctor’s wall. I’ve no idea if it’s real or how many years it takes to get a real one. But this fella’s in charge of my vision and that framed paper is comforting.

You don’t need a degree in Optometry to show your expertise and gain trust. Consider all avenues that prove you have deep knowledge of your industry or a subject. 

  • Awards
  • Memberships
  • Press coverage
  • Case studies
  • Charts and graphs
  • Dress the part

Are we there yet?

#2 Road Less Traveled Effect 

This mental shortcut fools people into thinking the most common path is the quickest, as opposed to a new route. 


So, why do you think it’s hard to convince your readers to try your new tech tool or coffee substitute?

They assume the old way is better or at least good enough and free from hassles. 

Overcoming this doesn’t happen overnight but can be sped up with the authority principle above, along with:

  • Social proof from other users
  • Easy-to-understand demonstrations
  • User-generated videos with your product in use

Next up… 

#3 Normalcy Bias

We all take this mental shortcut. We don’t plan for things that have never happened to us. 

It’s why basement-bound young men don’t bother with haircuts since dates now seem impossible. 

How does normalcy bias affect email marketers? 

One way… you may not foresee your email list decaying if this is your first year using email marketing. But in 12 months, you’ll find roughly 23% of your list is as inactive as XBox Bobby’s dating prospects.

Also, your offers may not pack enough emotional punch to get subscribers to take action. They are too comfortable and don’t believe things can take a turn for the worse. 

Get them to believe. Drag them into your reality!

Watch your back though.

#4 Survivorship Bias

This mental shortcut is built on human hope. A good thing when trying to convince readers that your course “can work for anyone… just look at our student success stories.”

Success stories automatically conceal failures. No one’s interviewing those who took all the steps but found little success. 

This mental shortcut is something to beware of when crafting email campaigns too. Using a step-by-step plan laid out by experts is not guaranteed to produce the same results for you. Neither is vague no-step advice from Gary Vee. 

Example: Mr. Beast claims anyone can grow a YouTube channel using challenges. Yet, one of his friends failed miserably in his YouTube efforts, despite access to Mr. Beast’s one-on-one advice. 

One more mental shortcut to utilize.

#5 The Google Effect

We can’t remember jack! Why? Because Google’s evil? 

Obviously, but mainly we don’t make any effort to remember information because we can just Google it. 

To me, this makes the best case for repeating your marketing messages. 

To me, this makes the best case for repeating your marketing messages. 

If you think your readers have heard enough of your taglines to last a lifetime, think again. They need triple doses because their brain is Google mush, same as the rest of us. 

Not to mention, new subscribers who have only read your key marketing points a couple of times.

See more mental shortcuts here. But those 5 above are a good start.

Read below for scary invalid email stats and a bit of encouragement on spam folders.

Knowledge Base

🔌Knowledge is power but first, laugh with a jackass.

Don’t leave your dark-mode visuals jacked up.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦What’s community-based marketing? (w/ examples to go on)

Summer’s just touched down so use these hot seasonal examples.

✅Does your sign-up page check all these boxes?

News Flash

You can stop stressing over subject lines 24/7.

This one strategy unlocks better open rates.

Inbox Mailers holds the key…

Triggered Emails. And this works for any industry.

  • Get open rates of 50% – 70%
  • Increase/Fix your reputation, deliverability, and inboxing rates
  • Increase/Fix Sender scores and IP Health
  • Re-engage your Dead/Unengaged list

Learn more with a Free Demo. Inbox Mailers is the only email tool with truly perfectly-timed emails.


book demo inbox mailers

Self Help

Fella named Roger ran the first 4-minute mile. 

Millions of runners failed before him. 

This feat became easier once others witnessed the impossible topple. 

Over 1,500 runners have done it since.

*Shout-out to Inbox Hackers:

🕸Felicity at Palo Alto Networks (security)

🩺Albert at Kind Health (coverage)

Facts and Stats

  • Spam trap email addresses caught in 2022→ Over 850,000 (ZeroBounce)

  • Only 57.21% of all emails submitted to ZeroBounce in 2022 were valid

  • New study— readers are more likely to share content if nudged by the fact it will benefit someone they know (Science Daily)

Bonus: How many people check their spam folders and how often? 77% of respondents and they do so once per week (Validity).

Send emails when people are in their inbox 

Mary Jane is like you and 99% of email readers.

She pops open Gmail. And runs face-first into a pile of emails.

A few seconds later a new email pops into MJ’s inbox.

She’s more likely to open that email that just arrived since it’s fresher info.

Inbox Mailers gives you the power to pop into the inbox just like this using triggered emails. MJ will notice your email because she is actively in her inbox.

This strategy is generating open rates of 50% – 70% and improving overall deliverability. And, with better deliverability, you’ll see a higher sender score, better inbox placement rates, and overall improvement in engagement. If you’re serious about leveling up your email marketing…

Learn more with a live one-on-one Demo of Inbox Mailers. 


Marketing Musings

We depend on digital intel too much.

“Hogwash! It’s powerful and lightning fast.”

In every case?

One of my best friends owned a beer store. Juicy gossip from social media was never news to him. He had his ear to the ground IRL and was days ahead on new information.

Talking with 200+ people a day gave him an information advantage. You only need to talk with a few people a day to have an edge over those who depend on digital intel exclusively.

Get Hacking

$100 says you can spend 2 hours browsing your email list and get a lightbulb moment on segmentation.

The most basic ESP data reveals lots.

You can learn about subscribers just by noticing the domain in their email address. Work trends, industry struggles, or innovations in the news that might be affecting those specific subscribers.

Effective segmentation begins by taking notice.

*Know other email marketers who could use Inbox Hacking? Hit that forward button. Thanks for reading.

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📝Please take survey below. Benefits misplaced pythons.