Sales thought leaders agree that one of the most important takeaways from psychology research for successful conversions is the limitations of the attention span. HubSpot calls attention a commodity in marketing, and marketing experts and SEO gods have run with the idea for decades that 7 seconds are just what it takes to win or lose a customer.


It doesn’t matter if you use an AI tool to uncover demand, identify accounts, and segment your email lists because if the email content doesn’t hook your reader’s attention, all your effort will be for nothing.

To do email marketing successfully, you must take advantage of persuasive techniques to make your cold emails engaging and enticing enough for your prospects to give you a positive response.

What are Persuasive Techniques?

Persuasion in marketing and advertising used psychological strategies to influence the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of leads to convert them into customers. There’s a good chance you came across persuasive techniques used in marketing today.

For example, social media and email promotions use psychological techniques all the time to play on customers’ mindsets. An Instagram story reading “Limited Offer! Up to 50% off on selected items!” or a promotional email with the subject line, “Some things aren’t for sharing. But savings are!” use psychological techniques to persuade  prospects to take action.

So, what persuasive techniques work for cold email outreach?

5 Principles of Persuasion for Cold Emails

Bad pitches ruin good products. So, to positively promote your products and services and ensure your message doesn’t get buried under bad cold emails, integrate the 5 principles of persuasion in your emails:


  1. Reciprocity
  2. Authority
  3. Scarcity
  4. Social Proof
  5. Consistency


As you can tell, these are based on Dr. Robert B. Cialdini’s six Principles of Persuasion from his book titled The Psychology of Persuasion. His book covered a wider scope, however, so we’re focusing only on what the principles mean for a cold outreach strategy.

Here’s how you can apply each one in your cold emails:

1. Reciprocity

The idea behind the principle of reciprocation is that people return favors. For example, you buy tonight’s dinner, and your friend buys the next.

In the sales world, reciprocity in the form of advice and insights is a strong currency. It helps you establish a crucial element between you and your potential customers: trust.

You can integrate the theory of reciprocity in your cold emails by providing your prospects with free valuable content, such as e-books, a whitepaper, or a gift with exclusive discounts. This gesture shows that you’re willing to share helpful information with them even if they haven’t paid for it, making them more likely to give you their attention in return.


2. Authority

We’re all raised to respect authority. Parents, teachers, and doctors are among those whose orders we’re taught to follow because “they know what they’re doing” and do it all with good intentions.

And we bring that mindset to adulthood—we tend to trust authority figures in specific fields.

For example, if a doctor and a lawyer say that the best way to lose weight is by counting your calories, we’re more likely to believe the statement that came from the doctor. That’s because they know more than the lawyer regarding health issues.

The same goes for cold email marketing. Recipients should know that senders provide value based on their professionalism in their industry. So, confirm that your readers can believe what you say to be accurate and worthwhile by including verified statistics and data, press releases, customer reviews, or awards you’ve won that qualify you as a thought leader and an authority figure in the industry.


3. Scarcity

Scarcity sells, whether it’s a physical or virtual product. People are more likely to buy something in limited supply to avoid missing out on an opportunity.

Using scarcity as a persuasive marketing technique is based on humans’ fear of missing out on something essential and valuable. It works in marketing because people often fear loss more than they love getting.

You’ve undoubtedly seen scarcity used in marketing ads and messages.

  • “Limited time offer!”
  • “Only 5 left in stock”
  • “Available until supplies last.”


Phrases like these drive demand by letting your potential customers know that they have to buy now or that they might not be able to have it forever. Plus, you’re indicating your product or service is so popular that you can’t keep up with the demand—meaning customers are already buying the item they want.

For your cold emails, use scarcity to create urgency. Explain what they’re losing if they don’t avail of your offer right now—whether it be to sign up for your webinar, use a discount coupon, or buy a product with a low supply. Don’t be pushy, but let the recipient know what they’ll miss out on if they don’t take action.

4. Social Proof


Essentially, social proof is like the bandwagon effect, like the mantra you have from grade school, “All your friends are doing it so you should too.”

The same goes for marketing. If your prospects haven’t heard of your brand before, they’d probably look for other people’s experience to decide whether you’re legit. They’ll read reviews, check discussions, or ask their friends.

So, how do you translate that to sales? You can start by putting out case studies and customer testimonials on your website and emails. For example, a subject line like “CubicFood saw a 65% customer increase with ScaleUpSales” encourages readers to find out more because the data makes the emotional effect from the real-life example relevant to them.

When writing your cold emails, consider what your most prominent success stories are and how they can show the actual value of your business and the services you provide.

5. Consistency

No one likes to be labeled as a liar or erratic—people prefer to carry a reputation of honesty and steadfastness. That’s why when one makes a verbal announcement or promise, they must show up with a relevant action. In the world of psychology, it’s called the consistency principle.

People want to be and be seen as individuals who don’t deviate from their words and are persistent in their actions.

In cold emailing, you can think of consistency as a drip email campaign. From first contact with your brand to becoming a paying customer, your cold email recipients should receive relevant follow-up emails that respond to their progress in the buyer’s journey. 

You certainly can’t expect everyone to give you their full attention the moment they receive your first email, so help your leads remember your brand and why they should trust you by staying in touch.

Here’s an example of how you can stay consistent:


  • Engagement email: With your first email, you can engage with your prospects by asking about their opinion or experience with your service or product. At this point, you’re trying to build trust, so it’s best that you don’t include any sales pitch or links
  • Follow-up email: When your lead replies, ask for feedback about a blog post on your website or a LinkedIn post that talks about your company to encourage conversation and help you get to know them better
  • Sales email: If a lead is still interested after you’ve engaged and learned more about them, you may proceed with your sales pitch


But, of course, you can do it your way. The example demonstrates how you can be consistent with your prospects from engagement to the sales pitch. 

The technique here is to convince your prospects to say yes to small requests leading up to your sales pitch—focus on small steps to gradually lead your potential customers to your sales funnel and ultimately convert them into paying customers.

Persuade Your Customers and Boost Conversions

Leveraging the power of persuasion can be the best way to increase your conversion rates and boost sales. By integrating these persuasive techniques into your marketing efforts, you can tap into how potential clients think at different stages in the purchasing process or lead funnel.

However, it’s not always easy to enact these principles alone, which is why partnering with cold emailing professionals like ScaleUpSales can help make this task easier.

With us, you’ll have access to the expertise and experience of our team, and assist you in launching stellar cold outreach campaigns that effectively persuade your customers to transact with your business.

Take advantage of persuasive techniques with ScaleUpSales. Contact us today!