Cultural stereotypes can be useful marketing tool, analysis reveals

No one likes to have assumptions made about them because of the country they come from, or the demographic they fall into. This is, however, how modern marketing works. The quest for ever-more personalised customer journeys often means putting people into neatly defined categories.

New research from AI marketing company Persado seems to show that, when it comes to email marketing at least, playing up to cultural stereotypes can be an effective strategy. The company analysed the subject lines of 3,500 emails sent out by 142 global brands like Dell and British Airways to try and understand the emotions that most correlated with increased engagement.

Each email was sent out to an average mailing list of 1,544,594 people.

For UK consumers, the results are not particularly inspiring.

The data showed that, for the brands surveyed, the best way to illicit a response from UK consumers to invoke fear and guilt. For Europeans meanwhile, the best way to get a response is to offer gratification and gratitude. Consumers in the US are particularly responsive to language that invokes achievement and anxiety.

Top level

For UK consumers, phrases such as “don’t forget” or “important update” were effective in creating a response. Other subject lines likely to be effective with UK consumers are those that imply they will regret not taking action such as “don’t miss out” or “don’t ignore this”.

For consumers in the US, subject lines that talked about achievement proved to be most effective. Examples include subject lines that feature text such as “you’ve earned it” or “here’s your reward”. With regards to anxiety, messages titled “did you forget” or “read this carefully” also proved good at generating responses.

European consumers, on the other hand, were most likely to respond to subject lines like “we are treating you” or “thank you”.

“These data points lay bare the fact that there is more than an element of truth in some of the broader stereotypes associated with consumers across the UK, USA and Europe,” said Assaf Baciu, Co-Founder and SVP Product & Engineering, Persado.

“Of course, while this should prove useful at a top level, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Marketers should look to put themselves in a position to share a message that resonates not just by country, region or town, but on an individual basis. Ultimately, the better marketers can engage with every customer, the more successful they will be.”

It is also worth noting that these results could be influenced by ongoing events in each place. For the UK, uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process could be making consumers more receptive to anxiety, while the Trump presidency could be making American consumers think about what they could achieve. And Europeans, it would seem, may be looking at the turbulence in the rest of the world and feeling pretty good about themselves and their position.

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14 Dec 2017, 5:52 a.m.

I would have to say for the US cause that is where I am from. Emails that do grasp my attention do sometime have those type of heading in the email. I believe more so that it is still to be based of that individual mindset at the time the email is received. If say subject( 1 )is going through some hardships and is looking for a way to make away for him/her family and the email comes off as if they forgot something that might lead to them losing income or other means they are more quickly to open the said email. So subject( 2) really just is at the point of trying to discover themselves and the email is catered to how to achieve a better life or be the first to get this, then that will trigger them to open it. As far as the subject (3) that feels like they will be getting something or feel more that they deserve it is another thought process in it own. If the are really no issues for subject (3) and just looking for the next great thing to generate more money then it really is just based off what peaks their interest. But make not note that this is a fact , this is only just my thoughts on the subject. I think success is driven on many factors, but more importantly the more you engage with customers on a less technical level the more you we see a difference.