The human brain has three parts. You're just going to explore
one part today: The lizard brain. This is the oldest part of our
brain. It takes care of our basic needs like remembering to
breathe. It is where fight-or-flight decisions are made.
Understanding the lizard brain is really important if you're
The lizard brain is the part of the brain that decides to open
and read an email.
The lizard brain is the first responder. Imagine you're crossing
a busy street and you hear a car sound its horn. Your lizard
brain causes you to turn in the direction of the noise. Your
lizard brain helps you decide "Am I in danger"? This time, it's
The lizard brain is hard at work when you're scanning new emails
in your inbox. The subject line "Account overdrawn" from your
bank will probably set off alarms in your lizard brain. You
should probably open it, read it and get that resolved.
But most companies like yours and mine will rarely be delivering
messages of great urgency like a bank account being overdrawn.
And sending messages designed to alarm users into opening them
gets tiresome quite quickly.
How should you stimulate the lizard brain?
Beyond responding to alarms, the lizard brain is also curious.
The lizard brain (when not sensing danger) is stimulated by the
new or interesting.
Here's an example:
A dating tips mailing list (I sign up for A LOT of newsletters)
sent me an email with this subject:
What never to say to a woman
My lizard brain couldn't resist that email subject (even though
I'm happily in a relationship).
But that's just the subject line, what about the rest of the
You'll find that a great way to structure emails is to use a
technique created before email by the wizards of direct mail.
When you write emails, create them using A.I.D.A. That stands
You've got 2 seconds to capture and hold the lizard brain's
attention. Use the subject line and the first few lines to suck
"The human brain has three parts" is an example first line that
captured your attention
This is where you educate the user and share the details of the
email. Make sure to focus on the benefits to the reader. Don't
spend the whole time talking about you!
If you've made a feature update, talk about benefits of those
features in the "interest" section.
If you're trying to recruit people to an event, show them why
they should go to the event and give them details the event -
where it will be and when.
Write at least one line to build up to the action you want the
reader to take.
* "Your clients are going to personally congratulate you on the
improvements we've made in this release"
* "Tickets are going fast, and will increase by a dollar each day
until they're all sold out"
Try your best to limit what you're asking people to do. Stick to
one action per email.
* "Log in and see the changes"
* "Reserve your spot today"
This week see if you can stimulate some lizard brains.
Take a look at one of your emails and rewrite it today by
breaking it in to Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.
Next time, I'll show you how to wow your readers with emails
written just for them by using really clever segmentation.
Until next time,
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