Slay them sacred cows

Recently the hosts of the Maze Marketing podcast invited me on their show. In the interview I tackled a bunch of email marketing tactics that don’t work the way most people think. Inactive subscribers: Should they stay or should they go? When to nurture and when to sell in your emails How […]

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Headhunters in the crosshairs

Last week I mentioned how I like to ask my copywriting clients about the enemies in their industry. I got a question from a subscriber who got the basic concept but was a little fuzzy on the implementation. After a little back and forth, I realized his confusion boiled down to: WHOSE enemies to write […]

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The RIGHT kind of attention

Yesterday’s email about AIDA and the perils of chasing attention first generated some good dialog. Lead generation maestro Ian Brodie shared a quote from “mad man” Bill Bernbach: Be provocative. But be sure your provocativeness stems from your product. You are not right if in your ad you stand a man on his head just […]

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Where AIDA goes awry

Right now I’m working on several outreach campaigns (aka “cold email”) with a client. This client creates highly targeted campaigns to generate leads with executives in B2B niches. To date they’ve had success with an email format that makes heavy use of some eye-catching personalization techniques to get the recipient’s attention. When I first saw […]

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Who’s the enemy?

In a few minutes I’ll be jumping on a call to with a client to talk about the “avatar” for their ideal client. One of the most productive questions that I like to ask is: Who are their enemies? This often sets my clients off into “rant mode.” The results are always entertaining, and I […]

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Grow plants, grow!

Rhubarb is a favorite around my house. My wife loves rhubarb pie in particular. So this year I bought a packet of seeds and started half a dozen rhubarb plants in little peat pots. The plants are outside now soaking up the sun. They’re still pretty tiny but growing fast. Rhubarb requires some patience, because […]

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Paper, Rock, Scissors

When you’re running an offer with a hard deadline, is it better to extend the “open cart” window so that your email subscribers have time to more time to fall under the persuasive spell of your launch content? Or should you go with a shorter deadline and send several emails a day (aka “Shock ‘n’ […]

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Longer vs. shorter?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to making a deadline-driven offer to your email list. One approach says: People need time to consume all the content you’re sending out. Setting a longer “open cart” window allows your subscribers time to get more value from the content, which generates more interest in your […]

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Handsaw massacre

The other day a massive thunderstorm blew through my neighborhood—wind gusts up to 70 mph and dime-sized hail. No major damage, but the storm did shear a massive branch off of one of the black cherry trees behind my house, sending it toppling into my backyard. Actually this “branch” is more like a mid-sized tree. […]

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Mash them hot buttons

One of my favorite types of stories to use in emails are “hot button” stories. When I’m interviewing a client, or a client’s customer, I’m always on the alert for topics that get their dander up. Example: I was interviewing a mortgage guy, and he went off on a rant about how real estate agents […]

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Deleted scenes

Just because the P.S. in your emails isn’t the Thor’s hammer of persuasion that some seem to think, doesn’t mean you should never include one. There are two ways that I regularly use a P.S.: For “deleted scenes.” An email really should be about ONE thing. Tell one story to make one point. Sometimes […]

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Guardians of the Inbox

Last weekend I watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2. (Yeah, I know—it’s been out for quite a while.) Thoroughly enjoyed it. One thing I’ve noticed about all of the Marvel movies is there’s almost always a “bonus scene” or two during the credits. Often these short clips are critical to the bigger arc of the […]

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Do more people read the P.S.?

Copywriting lore says that the P.S. gets the highest readership of any part of your message. If that’s true, then the P.S. is the best place to highlight a call to action. This is something I’ve experimented with. One time I tried a “clean” A/B test to see if moving the call to action into […]

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Brad proves me wrong?

My recent experiment with “early bird” pricing seems to show that it’s not a great fit for a product launch with a short sales window. Reader Brad Farris has a counter example: I have a client who offers live, in-person, courses. They have a much longer on-sale period (3 months). Adding an additional deadline significantly […]

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Is it done yet?

Ever see a pressure cooker? There’s a popular one now called the Instant Pot. In a pressure cooker, all of the seams seal up tight so that the steam is trapped. The air pressure builds up inside, and it raises the boiling point of water. A hunk of beef that would normally take 6 hours […]

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Early bird gets… the sale?

In the past I’ve been pretty skeptical of “early bird” offers. The goal with early bird offers is to create multiple deadlines—first as the price is going up, and again when the real deadline is looming. Now deadlines ARE one of the most powerful tools in marketing. However the idea that you could effectively use […]

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Early bird sales—yay or nay?

Q: What’s twice good as a deadline when it comes to getting people to take action? A: Why, two deadlines naturally! At least, that seems to be the theory behind offering “early bird” pricing. Now, the early bird thing makes a lot of sense for events. With an event, you start the promotions months ahead […]

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Fingerpaint Picasso

Last time I described how you can easily be led astray by asking your email subscribers whether your idea for a new product is any good. I mention this because you frequently hear the advice to start a pre-launch list as a way to “validate” a new product idea. This is a solid approach. The […]

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Would you test this in Finland?

I just finished reading Confessions of a Direct Mail Guy by Gordon Grossman. While Grossman isn’t well known today, he was one of the brilliant marketers who made Reader’s Digest one of the biggest magazines in the world in the ’60s and ’70s. Grossman had a saying: “Don’t make tiny tests.” Reader’s Digest and the […]

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The Quest

I just started reading The Hobbit to my boys at bedtime. Bilbo’s story was among my favorites when I was their age. They’ve been a little slow to get into the book though. The main reason for this is that we just finished up the 18-month ultra-marathon that is the Harry Potter series. My middle […]

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“I don’t want to be a pest”

The shiny premise behind automatic resends is: You avoid “bugging” your subscribers by segmenting out people who have already seen an offer, and only sending the offer a second time to the non-responders. The assumption here is that everyone who saw the offer the first time around has already made up their mind about whether […]

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The danger of automatic resends

A popular tactic for increasing your email open rates is “automatic resends.” This isn’t a bad idea at all. However it can cause you to miss the biggest opportunities in your email list. With an automatic resend, you create a segment of your list that didn’t open a specific email, and then resend them the […]

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One word

Subject lines are important, right? Just switching up the subject line can often swing open rates by a pretty wide margin. Thinking about subject lines in terms of open rates is a trap though. Here’s why: I recently ran a simple test on an email list of around 80,000 subscribers. I was promoting a free […]

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Small but mighty

Longtime reader Peter John Reilly reacts to my crazy idea of turning off the email automations and interacting with your audience in a more personal way: This is gold advice. I’m just starting out and every subscriber I get is literally talked about over dinner, the whole family gets excited. By dumping the automated response […]

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Ninja AI segmentation voodoo?

One of the new subscribers I interacted with during my “hand crafted welcome email” experiment was CJ McDaniel. He read my email yesterday about this, and replied (sharing with permission): That is insane! I was wondering how in the world you knew I was into book marketing. Man that must be time consuming though. Your […]

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