It’s not easy to explain why we enjoy scary books and horror movies so much. Some say it’s because they are the products of curiosity and fascination. Others claim that they are a reflection of our societal fears. Either way, the genre has brought into the popular culture a great deal of truly amazing characters. Halloween is fast approaching, so I decided to reflect on some of my favorite horror stories and see how they can inspire email marketing.
Horror helps us face our fears
It is said that the most successful horror stories address our archetypal fears. Perhaps, if we wanted to look for some good email marketing advice within the genre, we should start by defining the email marketers’ archetypal fears.
There are seven archetypes of fear according to Varda Hasselmann and Frank Schmolke. To my surprise, all of them could be the driving forces behind successful email marketing. So what exactly are we talking about? Here are the seven archetypes of fear:
- Fear of inadequacy. Have you ever felt that your email marketing efforts weren’t good enough, or that you didn’t plan them well enough? I bet you’ve been in a situation when you actually doubted if your recent email marketing campaign helped achieve any business goal, at least once. Well, for a lot of us it might be the reason for checking statistics and optimizing the campaigns.
- Fear of joyfulness. It’s the feeling that you shouldn’t get too comfortable, because something bad is about to happen.
- Fear of worthlessness. When out of control it might be demotivating or paralyzing. But this one makes you think carefully about your target audience and proper segmentation of your email list. This sneaky feeling might as well make you build your list organically only with people who are really interested in reading you emails.
- Fear of unpredictability. When you fear what you cannot control. This feeling might push you towards the tools that provide you with reliable data and insights into the minds of your subscribers. We all want to make better – data-driven – decisions, right?
- Fear of privation. The logic behind all email marketing decisions is usually quite simple – to bring the highest ROI possible. Maybe this is why email marketers want to get as much as they can of everything they do?
- Fear of vulnerability. As children we are open to new ideas and therefore we eagerly make quick decisions. As we grow older and gain experience we learn that we are expected to bring certain results, mistakes are costly, and we bear the consequences. It’s not easy but you have to step up to the plate. I guess the trick is to learn from the past experiences and remain open to trying out new tricks.
- Fear of omission. Do you test your email several times before sending? I thought so. You probably start with checking copy, links, and spam score. Then you inspect the layout in different email clients, and check if the message looks good on desktop and different mobile devices. You often run A/B tests to see which color of the CTA button brings better results. Yet, after pressing the send button you still have the uneasy feeling that you might have forgotten about something.
“Horror as a vehicle for growth”
Now, we know that there might be a correlation between fear and successful email marketing. And there is a chance we could even use it to our advantage. It seems that I’m not the only one who thinks that people could learn from scary stories.
I found an interesting article at filmmakeriq.com on the psychology of scary movies. The author refers to the study of Ernest Hartmann, the professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, who sees dreams as the brain’s sorting through the bits of information it’s gathered throughout the waking hours and concludes with the following words:
“So perhaps watching a film is somewhere between being awake and being in a dream state. Much like play – films are a safe place where we can sort through stuff, learn skills to apply in everyday life. How do you defeat the slow walking Jason Vorhees – you can’t outrun his slow stride. The only way is to face him straight on. Though a zombie apocalypse is a far fetched reality, the survivorship skills on display in a zombie horror film have some practical merit in our normal every-day world.”
Well, I’m sure that creative people (and all email marketers are highly creative) can find inspiration pretty much everywhere – including horror stories. This Halloween I suggest going through your horror collection and pumping up your creativity.
Read the infographic below in order to learn the 9 email marketing tips from some of the most popular horror characters. Surprisingly, it seems that the authors like Jules Verne, Bram Stoker, L. Frank Baum, or Robert Louis Stephenson could teach us a lot about email marketing! Remember to share your horrific and terrific moments in the comments below!
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