“Every customer is different,” said many a business guru. And, to a degree, they’re right.

Only, if you live solely by this rule, you’ll miss out on a huge number of opportunities to engage your audience and have them begging for more.

In email marketing, engagement is the holy grail, which is why it’s vitally important businesses pay attention to the common needs of their customers. Sure, they are all different, but they do share common wants and desires.

Distilling these common elements of a customer into actionable points of reference for every marketing campaign is actually a lot easier than you might think. In fact, it’s so easy that we’ve managed to boil them down into just six elements.

What follows is five desires we all have as human beings. On the surface, they may seem obvious, superficial or even selfish, but by harnessing them in email marketing, you can drive engagement levels through the roof.

So, without further ado, here are five things every single customer you’re ever likely to gain will want:

1. Contribution to a greater good

We all want to feel as though we’re doing our bit for our friends, loved ones and the planet, therefore email marketing communications need to take advantage of the recipients’ desire to contribute to the greater good.

The email from River Island below is a perfect example of this. If I decide to take their survey, I’ll clearly be helping the shop, it’s customers and – consequently – myself, by improving their shopping experience in the future. Yes please!

2. Love

That warm feeling you get when someone outwardly admits their love for you is made all the better when the feeling is mutual.

Marketing is the perfect place for relationships of this kind to develop, and the one you have with your email subscribers is vitally important. To ensure it results in nothing more than long-lasting, mutual appreciation, you need to make them feel loved – instantly.

Check out the email below. Talk about laying it on thick (although it did make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…):

3. Security

As humans, we possess a fierce survival instinct, although it’s one that we rarely want to have to call upon.

That’s why its so nice to feel secure, and beyond the things we can do each day to secure our own happiness and safety, a little helping hand from a third party never goes amiss.

I’ve chosen an example from PayPal, because their use of the subject line “Take control of your finances with PayPal Credit” and accompanying, reassuring, calm imagery makes for an email that confirms I’m in good hands:

4. Variety (it’s the spice of life, don’t you know)

Short attention spans are all too prevalent in today’s society, and when it comes to email, it’s easy to fall into the trap of sending out the same, re-hashed message every couple of weeks.

You may not even be aware you’re doing it, but if inspiration is thin on the ground, you need to start looking elsewhere for email marketing ideas.

The following email from Firebox is a great example of variety in marketing, because they usually send me details on a particular product. This time around, however, they’ve dispensed with product imagery for something quite different and very eye-catching. It’s unlike any other email the’ve sent, and consequently, I’m rather tempted to click the button…

5. Feeling like the only person in the room

When something is presented that is solely for you and no one else, it’s quite a feeling. Be it a wedding ring, new car or favourite bar of chocolate, the feeling of being significant – even for a short period of time – is to be treasured.

You can capture this feeling in email marketing with the simplest of messaging. Check out the following email from Flipboard, which uses the words ‘your’ and ‘personalised’ to make the recipient feel very special indeed:


We’re a needy bunch, us humans, aren’t we?

Absolutely! And that’s exactly how you should think about your subscribers: they only care about themselves. That doesn’t make them selfish or unpleasant – it just makes them perfectly normal consumers and, hopefully, significantly engaged customers for your business.

Play to their wants and desires and your email marketing campaigns will benefit considerably.