The Psychology Behind Using Intersting People In An Email Campaign

It has long been known that using people of interest helps to sell products and services. Back in the mid to late 1800s, Queens and Popes were used to endorse new medicinal products for this very reason. Since the late 1800s, companies have studied and applied the psychological experiments, which uncovered links in the brain to purchases made. Nowadays, the Queens and Popes have been replaced by celebrities and people of interest who endorse all kinds of things. Let’s take a closer look at the psychology behind using these kind of people to sell services and products.

Classical Conditioning

This is a psychological concept first devised by a Mr Ivan Pavlov in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Even though his experiments were (almost) exclusively used on dogs, his principles and ideas stand true today. It is also true to say that the methods used to elicit desired responses have evolved with time. Mr Pavlov succeeded in creating an association in the minds of dogs between the ringing of a bell, and an expectancy of food.

In modern times, his experiments can be broken down as such:

  • A conditioned stimulus – this elicits a natural and automatic response.
  • An unconditioned stimulus – does not produce an automatic response.
  • A conditioned response – a desired response gained by pairing both types of stimulus together.

To apply it to an email marketing campaign, a company will hire a celebrity (unconditioned stimulus) to endorse a brand (conditioned stimulus) which will hopefully make the recipient of the email purchase the goods endorsed by the celebrity (conditioned response).

Psychological Attraction To People Of Interest

People who are considered ‘of interest’ can hold a massive amount of sway over the general public when it comes to purchasing behavior. This is to do with their achievements and credibility. Consider, for a moment, film producer and director Quentin Tarantino. Having made several critically acclaimed films, his credibility, as well as his own personal ability to make a movie, are unquestionable. He is perceived to be a very successful director, and is at the top of his field. These are attractive attributes (successful, wealthy) which appeal to the general public. To have Mr Tarantino endorse a brand of camera will link, in the customer’s mind, these attributes to the product. Clearly, the person of interest has to have some affiliation with the product they endorse; having Mr Taratino endorse, for example, a set of kitchen knives, won’t make the psychological links in the minds of the customer as strong (and therefore, easily ignored) as the camera endorsement, as he is not known for his cooking abilities.

Applying This To An Email Marketing Campaign

It is important for a company who is using a person of interest in an email campaign to match up their products and services with the qualities of the celebrity. If a person of interest is heavily promoted in the media for their perceived attractiveness, it stands to reason that the product they endorse will ‘take on’ this attractiveness as the person of interest endorses it. Therefore, using them to promote perfume, or clothes, will make the link in the consumer’s mind that the product is itself attractive and desirable. The email can simply be a picture of the person of interest and a few lines of quotation. This elicits the conditioned response from the consumer. Of course, it is down to the company in question about how they wish to approach a person of interest to endorse their products and services, but all the available information shows that it works, and works very well.


It is about creating a powerful impact in the minds of consumers regarding an email they have read, which features a product or service which is endorsed by a person of interest with similar attributes. When out shopping, the consumer is able to recall the email with ease, thus influencing their purchasing behavior. Mismatching a celebrity with a product will not have such a powerful effect.

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