May 22, 2019

Psychology meets email marketing: The best-seller effect

Susanne Eberl

Bookstores publish bestseller lists, music portals create charts, and McDonald's advertises in the USA with the slogan 'Billions and billions served': popularity as a sales argument. What millions buy is an incentive for millions more. We call this the bestseller effect.

In psychology, it is also known as 'social proof'. It's based on man's 'herd instinct'. Without thinking, we imitate the behavior of others ' the group only has to be large enough. The individual assumes that the group is doing the right thing. Following the majority is a strong motive for action. An experiment published in the Wall Street Journal proves the effect: business psychologists were interested in the sales argument that convinced Americans who normally buy air conditioning systems to buy a fan.

  • Argument 1 ' Save up to $54 a month with one fan.
  • Argument 2 ' Think about the environment! Avoid 119
  • kg of greenhouse gases with a fan.
  • Argument 3 ' 77% of your neighbors already use an
  • energy-saving fan.

Most sales were generated with argument 3: it provided social proof. The behavior of the majority is more convincing than the possibility of saving money or doing something for the environment. We will tell you in three steps how to effectively use the bestseller effect for your email-marketing to help you to increase subscribers and sales figures.


Does your newsletter already has a considerable number of subscribers? Make the high number of subscribers visible with a subscription counter. Address your target group directly.

For example when it comes to fashion, 'Check our weekly trend news like 8,763 fashionistas already did', or as a financial service provider, 'Follow our financial tips like 6,195 experts'.'Take advantage of the contagious effect of popularity. It is an indicator of quality and in addition gives potential subscribers confidence.


Besides a large community, also a high number of interactions on your pages in social networks is convincing. If your expert tips, trend news, or offers receive many likes, shares, and comments, then you should definitely spread this proof of your popularity. Social share buttons can be integrated on any product page, above your subscription counter, and even in your promotion mail.


Show when products are in demand and communicate high sales figures. Combined with decisive product advantages, they are the most convincing sales argument ' for example with shaping jeans:

Already 1,457 customers love their shape in their new Form- Fit and there are more enthusiastic customers every day. The sales figures of your cash register hit are not yet convincing? Simply argue with percentages: 76% of our customers opt for the new Form-Fit jeans from XYZ.

Identify high-turnover products. This turns top sellers into bestsellers. [FF]

Susanne is an online editor at CleverReach' and a true fan of clever newsletter marketing.

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