The email monkey’s kiss of death

As soon as I opened the email, my eyebrows shot up.

“Well that’s DEFINITELY not gonna work,” I thought.

The email in question was one I’d written for a client who was looking to stir up a little interest in his consulting services.

To that end, the client had partnered with an organization that agreed to endorse him by sending out an email to their list.

I wrote the copy and handed it off to my contact at this organization.

The copy was pretty straightforward: It introduced my client and asked the recipient to respond if they had any interest in his services.


I didn’t have any control over what happened after I sent in the copy.

As a semi-control freak copywriter, I didn’t like that.

And as a semi-control freak copywriter who knows all to well the infinite ways that clients find to screw up campaigns, I DOUBLE DOG didn’t like that.

The concern was well justified.

The person who was responsible for actually sending out the email took my copy—which was written as a personal endorsement from the public face of the organization—and slapped it into a fancy-pants template from MailChimp.

The result looked like a quarterly newsletter you’d get from your CPA.

As soon as I saw it, I knew we were dead in the water.

The email went out to around 1,100 executives who had participated in a program that was right in line with my client’s services.

Guess how many responses we got?

Yup, zippo. Nothing. Nary a peep.

For emails where you want people to read and take action, I swear these templates are like the kiss of death.

Simple, basic, black text on a white background, plus a little HTML magic to make the text wrap into readable columns on large screens.


Not complicated.

P.S. Later I asked the organization to share contact info for their “top picks” from the list of 1,100, and I sent out an email myself that was very similar to the first email—17.6% reply rate.