Avoid This Common ‘Dead Fish’ Email Opening Line

Check this:

One of my students from the 4-week email copywriting workshop I taught last fall, a software developer named Jason, is launching his first product now (a course on 3D game development).

He’s been giving me blow-by-blow updates, which I’ve enjoyed immensely.

He’s kicking butt with his launch emails too—

Until, that is, he hit the skids with this opening line:

Hey Josh,

Sorry to bug you but I just got an email that I really wanted to share.

I see similar statements from new email marketers pretty often.

(It’s especially common among bloggers, for some reason.)

Now I get what’s going on here in the writer’s mind.

The idea of waking up one morning, puking out an idea and blasting it to 2,000 inboxes all over the world is intimidating.

You naturally feel a bit like an intruder.

Like your subscribers are just minding their own business, and BOOM! Suddenly you show up uninvited and bring their day to a screeching halt.

The “sorry to bother you” line begs forgiveness for the rude interruption.

While the intention is to be polite, it comes off instead as a complete lack of confidence.


You go to meet with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to seek his help on a million-dollar business partnership.

And when you walk into his office, he mumbles “sorry to bother you” while staring at the floor and offering a limp “dead fish” handshake.

That’s the effect that an apology like this has in an email.


This is YOUR email list.

YOU are never an intruder.

Your subscribers are on your list because they’ve decided that they want to hear from YOU.

You are the wise master at the top of the mountain.

And if they’re going to buy from you, they have to see that you’re CONFIDENT in the value you provide.

This doesn’t mean acting like an arrogant jerk.

It does mean holding your figurative head up high, looking your subscribers in they eye and projecting an air of confidence and professionalism through your “tone of voice.”

Your subscribers will find comfort in your confidence.

It’s like saying to them in a subtle way, “No worries, I got this.”

And it makes everything else you say more persuasive.