The Bandwagon Effect: 5 Ways to Use This Psychological Bias to Boost Email Subscriptions

On March 30, 2021
6min read
Gert Svaiko Writer

Have you recently purchased the latest tech gadget based on the popularity and great reviews? Or watched a trending series on Netflix that other people are also watching? What about subscribing to a newsletter that’s already attracted thousands of people? If so, you probably have been influenced by the psychological bias known as the bandwagon effect.

Psychologists define this bias as, “The bandwagon effect refers to the tendency people have to adopt a certain behavior, style, or attitude simply because everyone else is doing it. The more people that adopt a particular trend, the more likely it becomes that other people will also hop on the bandwagon.”

Furthermore, since this effect plays on trends and popularity, it can be somewhat fragile. Just as people are willing to “jump” on the bandwagon, they’re quick to “jump off” as well. The most common example is the fashion industry, where trends adopted by a large customer base are quickly abandoned for the next fad.

The bandwagon effect can be attributed to anything that has the potential of attracting crowds. This bias also applies to both physical and digital products, making it an effective technique that you can use to boost email subscriptions. 

Let’s take a look at five actionable ways you can use the bandwagon effect to your advantage.

Add Social Proof to Your Emails

The bandwagon effect is generally a positive bias because the increased demand for a product or a service indicates that other people find value in them. Thus, users are also more likely to purchase a product or a service since others validate it. The same principles apply to email subscriptions as well if we add social proof in the mix.

According to a study, showing reviews of a product or service increases conversion by 270%. Furthermore, displaying at least five ratings increases the purchase rate by up to four times. However, only letting the users see the positive social proof or “five-star” ratings can make them suspicious and negate the bandwagon bias’s effects. 

How star ratings, number of reviews, and price influence purchase behavior

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So, how can you use these facts in your favor to build a more extensive subscriber base? The most straightforward way is to ask your existing subscribers for a testimonial about what they think or have learned from your emails. 

Another way of getting social proof is by getting a celebrity or an influencer on board to promote your email subscription. For example, if you’re creating a new line of products, you can ask for a video endorsement from the marketers using the product. You can then have them promote the email subscription as a tool to get more updates about the following developments.

Once you have enough social proof from users that find your emails valuable, you can add their reviews to your sign-up page and include them in the emails you send to the existing list.

Show the Subscriber Amount

WordPress powers around 30% of the web, and numerous influential companies have built their websites on this platform. Since they can throw the large numbers around, it naturally creates a bandwagon effect due to the sheer market size. But that’s not all; it tells new users that WordPress is easy to use and widely available thanks to the enormous user base. Thus, people trust the service and go with the trend, which only grows bigger.

Like social proof, showcasing the number of active subscribers brings about a type of groupthink that’s essentially the bandwagon effect. If there are many people already subscribed, other people are more willing to sign up because of the widespread recognition. Essentially, the choice is made for the individual by other people who signal that it’s safe or beneficial also to follow suit.

However, depending on the size of your particular market area you operate in, displaying a small number of subscribers might have a reverse effect. In this case, you should only stick with the social proof until you’ve built up a larger audience.

There are several ways you can include the subscriber amount to trigger the bandwagon effect:

  • State the number of subscribers on your site
  • Create a post about reaching subscriber thresholds
  • Show a live count of the subscribers
  • Prompt live subscriber names while a user is on your site

Adding interactivity with the last two ways can catch a user’s attention because the moving element attracts the user and fortifies the feeling of getting in on the action as they see in unfolding.

You might want to try different methods to learn which one works best with your end goals.

Add Interactivity to Encourage Email Sharing

The latest technology to shake up the email marketing industry is the interactivity that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) allows to build into the emails. While it benefits the eCommerce capabilities with scrollable displays and best-match product recommendations, you can also use interactive emails to broaden your subscriber base.

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A study revealed that 96% of users who start a Buzzfeed quiz finish it. The quizzes are short but intriguing enough to catch the visitors’ attention. However, using the interactive element increases engagement, leads to higher conversion rates, and delivers valuable data.

With AMP’s capabilities, you can now build interactive quizzes, votes, and questionnaire right into the email without the user having to open a browser window. However, encouraging people to share the email leads to more answers, and hence the cycle repeats itself. You can also have the number of participants displayed live in the email itself and get the wagon going; so to speak.

To take email interactivity even further, you can use segmented lists to create different interactive elements to separate groups and increase your reach. List segmentation is one of the automation tools that’s available with nearly every email marketing service. It’s also best to test out the emails with Mailtrap before sending them to your list, so you can be sure that everything renders correctly.

List Values for the Subscriber

One of the key roles in the bandwagon effect is the fear of exclusion or the fear of being the odd one out. The psychological state of falling behind someone else due to them getting more relevant information, better tools, or guidance can affect people. Therefore, they are more inclined to follow suit and go with the crowd.

While you can simply list the values that your email subscription offers to new users, you can also include how your content have helped or informed other people. Using the values works in combination with the previously mentioned reviews and the number of subscribers.

Let’s look at two examples.

“You’ll get the latest knowledge of major market movements and trending tactics.”

“Join the 10,000 subscribers who get the latest information on major market movements and trending tactics. Meet Paul, who used the information from our email subscription and grew his portfolio by 45%.”

The second one plays into the psychological bias. First, you want to hop on the bandwagon with these 10,000 people. And secondly, you don’t want to miss out on information that potentially increases your chances of earning more wealth. While this example is for a stock market newsletter, you can add the same principles to your industry’s newsletter or email campaign. 

Furthermore, you can also combine the values with the reviews. For example, “Here’s why 20,000 subscribers think our newsletter delivers value,” and list the value propositions that you’ve received as testimonials.

However, there’s a lot of experimentation involved as people see value in various aspects and also experience the bandwagon effect differently even though the circumstances remain the same. Getting the right message through requires some A/B testing and careful consideration about the target audience your message wants to attract.

Capitalize On Calendar Events

Some of the biggest holidays in the U.S. are Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day. And then we have famous shopping holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday. Furthermore, many calendar events receive widespread attention, and you can use them to encourage people to sign up for your email subscription.

There are various creative ways you can use calendar events to boost your subscriber count. You can create unique offers to encourage email sign-ups, exchange event-specific content for an email subscription, or target your existing subscribers to pass on holiday greetings to their friends. 

The content and the messages themselves depend on the holiday you’re targeting. For example, you can create a list of unique gifts as part of your eCommerce email marketing campaign for Valentine’s Day and Christmas, but it doesn’t work for Green Monday or Spring Break. Instead, you can create another piece of content or an email campaign around environmental friendliness or surviving the Spring Break during a pandemic.

Again, the specific strategies to use here really depend on the kind of email subscription you have and the people you target. But, on the bright side, opting to experiment with the well-celebrated holidays is a great place to start.

Get On the Bandwagon of Using the Bandwagon Effect to Boost Subscriptions

Psychological biases are essential when building your email marketing strategy and gathering subscribers. The bandwagon effect is not an exception as it plays into what other people think and what they do.

However, the bandwagon effect isn’t just capitalizing on trending topics and seeing where the action is. You can also bring about this effect by creating an interactive email campaign, showing other people’s input, and encouraging them to share the email with other people.

You can start small and build upon this psychological bias as you go. However, using all of the ways above increases your chances of creating a successful bandwagon effect.

Article by Gert Svaiko Writer

Gert Svaiko is a writer passionate about digital marketing, cybersecurity, and copywriting. Say “Hi!” on Twitter or LinkedIn.