The Brain, Your Name and the Best Email Marketing


The way our brains work is fascinating. Different stimuli affect us in different ways. These stimuli cause specific brain patterns, and this leads to the behaviors we experience in everyday life. Sometimes these cognitive behavior patterns are conscious, sometimes they are unconscious. By understanding the relationship between our behavior and the way our brain works, we can perform the best email marketing. We can use marketing tactics as stimuli that lead to specific brain patterns, and lead audiences to a desired outcome.



Personalized Email Marketing Strategies



The Effect of the Name on Cognitive Behavior Patterns



In 2006 a study was performed by the Institute for Study of Child Development. The study found that hearing your own name is a self-representational behavior. Self-representation is defined as how a person thinks of themselves in relation to others. This affects how a person thinks, feels, behaves and constructs their identity. Other behaviors of this same nature include recognizing yourself in the mirror, describing yourself with adjectives and discussing your mental state.



According to the research, when a subject heard their name during the study it led to the activation of the medial prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for many different processes including, but not limited to, creating emotions, establishing perspectives and developing theories-of-mind. These are mainly subconscious processes happening in the background of a person’s awareness. They are not processes that a person can actively control; nevertheless, the brain reacts to them in predictable patterns that help develop a person’s identity and personality.



Looking more closely, researchers found that the brain creates a unique pattern in the medial frontal cortex when a subject heard their own name. The patterns created are similar to the ones created during self-representational behaviors. This means when people hear their own names their brains react as if they are engaging in thought patterns or behaviors that serve as some of their core identity and personality markers. The reaction is so strong, in fact, that patients in vegetative states demonstrate similar brain patterns when hearing their names.



Using Names in the Best Email Marketing



So what does this mean in layman’s terms? And, more importantly, what can marketers do to use this trait in human consciousness to create the best email marketing strategies?



To answer the first question, the research shows that humans respond positively to hearing their name. It makes them feel connected to themselves and creates a positive sense of self. This usually happens in the unconscious mind and people do not realize this reaction is occurring.



Marketers can use this reaction in people to their advantage. By creating marketing material that uses their audience’s names, they can create positive associations between a person and the marketer’s brand. This will increase brand awareness and increase sales.



Using Names in Email Marketing



The best place marketers can use names is in email marketing. The best email marketing offers the capability to personalize campaigns to an audience. Using name tags throughout a campaign can create the personalization needed to generate medial frontal cortex activation in audience members (reading and listening is processed similarly in the brain). Each audience member will receive a campaign tailored to them—with their own name in the campaign.



Performing email marketing in this way can increase open rates and click through rates. This strategy has been proven to be true. A report by Experian states that when companies sent out personalized email campaigns, they received 29% higher open rates and 41% more unique click-through rates. This means users connected more with personalized email marketing than non-personalized email marketing.



To begin creating the best email marketing and more personalized email marketing strategies, try putting your reader’s first name in the subject line of your emails. This will help your email catch their eye within their inbox. By immediately creating a personal connection with your audience, you can create more positive associations with your brand. This will increase campaign success and drive audience members to purchase your products or services.






The way our brains work affects the way we live our lives. Whether brain processes are conscious or unconscious, they lead to the reactions we have daily. Understanding these different processes is a relatively new field of study, but one with many rewards.



Taking these principals out of the academic world and into the real world has many benefits. For marketers, learning about human behavior can help them learn to shape it toward the marketer’s goals. Understanding cognitive behavior patterns can lead to higher brand awareness, create a more engaged audience and lead to more sales conversions as well. This is especially true in email marketing, where names can be used to generate specific audience goals.


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