How does the halo effect affect your email marketing efforts?

|by Amy Birch

According to the halo effect, our impression of a company or individual in one area can affect the way we perceive them in another.  

The theory was first created in 1920 by Edward Thorndike after he conducted a study with the army. The study found that officers who thought soldiers had one good quality were more likely to rate them highly in other areas of their work. Furthermore, Thorndike found that the same correlation exists for negative qualities. 

The halo effect is a relevant example of a behaviour bias which can be observed across the marketing industry.

Read the article below to find out how the halo effect can impact your email marketing campaigns.

How can the halo effect impact email marketing?

Email marketers will see the results of their emails improve if they're perceived positively by an email recipient, hence why many businesses place such importance on brand awareness. 

The halo effect can also improve the impact of email campaigns which aren't opened by the email recipient, as the presence of the email alone causes them to take action.

Conversely, if an email recipient has a negative opinion of your company, their opinion of your email campaigns will be affected.  Effectively managing customer complaints and suggestions can turn negative opinions around. Resolving a complaint in the public domain can act as good publicity of a company’s customer service.

How to harness the power of the halo effect in your email campaigns

Give the customer a reason to like you. 

Email recipients who can see the value in your campaigns are more likely to view your company positively. 

You can use techniques such as automation, segmentation, and personalisation to endear your customers to your brand. 

Sending relevant and timely communications improves the quality of your email campaigns. Customers who value your company highly are likely to become sticky, improving the customer’s lifetime value.

Let's take a look at some simple ways you can improve your emails:

Segment your email list

Sending campaigns to very specific segments of your email list is likely to increase the email’s relevance to the recipients. 

According to a report by Marketing Profs, campaigns sent to email list segments have higher open and click-through rates

They also found that segmented email sends had lower bounce, abuse, and unsubscribe rates. These statistics demonstrate that segmentation impacts all aspects of campaign performance.

Use a killer subject line

Simply seeing the email arrive in the inbox may influence the intent of the recipient. Although an email recipient might not take action immediately after receiving an email, they might act as an indirect consequence. 

A subject line indicating that a company is offering a sale or discount on their website may trigger the user to visit the website later in the day. It's therefore important to write a strong email subject line and preview text. Although the recipient might not open your email, you still have an opportunity to get them to take action.

Here's an example we recently received from Miss Selfridge that uses the subject line and preview text to encourage action, regardless of whether the email is opened:

Learn how to write better subject lines by downloading our Subject Line Swipe File.

Be personal

Write the email with the intention of creating a positive connection with the reader. 

Email personalisation isn't just about using the recipient's first name in the subject line. You should be delivering personalised content and product recommendations based on your subscribers' behaviours.

Examples of personalisation include:

  • Demographic data, such as location
  • Buying habits
  • Previous purchases
  • Abandoned carts
  • Browsed categories

If you really want your emails to land in the inbox at the perfect time, consider setting up automated email workflows.

Schedule campaign sends carefully

Schedule your email campaigns carefully to ensure that you stay at the forefront of a customer’s mind. 

Sending regular, high-quality email campaigns increases the likelihood that you will have a lasting impression on the email recipient.

Use data that you have collected on previous email sends to determine when your email recipients are most likely to see your email campaigns. Remember, customers who view your brand positively may not open your email; yet the presence of the email in their inbox alone is enough. However, ensuring that your recipients are active when you send the email is still important.

Limitations of the halo effect in email marketing

Companies can't measure how much they have been affected by the halo effect. Furthermore, people aren’t always going to react in the same way. 

You could have sent an email campaign at a time when the recipient was ready to make a purchase, meaning that the halo effect was evident in the particular scenario which may not apply in the future. Furthermore, individuals are likely to perceive the quality of the emails differently according to their personal preferences.

Marketers shouldn't rely on the halo effect for an extra boost to performance. People’s perceptions and interests in companies wax and wane over time. You can increase the chances that your customers will respond to the halo effect by maintaining good customer relations over time.

An email subscriber may have viewed the company positively as a result of a promotion or free trial offered in the subject line. It may be unprofitable for the company to continue offering the deals that the customer initially reacted positively to.


All companies aim to have a competitive advantage in their industry.  The halo effect can have a significant impact on how a subscriber perceives a company. This creates more opportunities for a company to profit. 

To put your company in the best possible place to take advantage of the halo effect, maintain good customer relationships, provide good quality email campaigns, and treat your customers as individuals.

Want to boost your email marketing results? Try out Wired Plus.

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