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Just Say No To Shitty Emails: 5 Tips To Revitalize Your Emails

by Doug Davidoff | Jan 25, 2019 11:00:00 AM

jsn-emailsWelcome to the first in our series of Just Say No to Shitty Sales & Marketing videos. Today, we're tackling shitty emails. There's probably no tactic that creates more anxiety among marketers, salespeople, and sales executives alike than the topic of email.

Email is a critical linchpin to managing relationships. If we don't have access to our target prospects’ or leads’ inbox, then we're going to be at a significant disadvantage to be able to connect, influence, or generate any type of action. We have to remember that email is a push communication tactic in a pull communication world. We can't do email the way we've always done it.

We have to realize how our target prospects and leads engage with email. How do they manage things so that we can position ourselves to be successful with our email communications?


There are five key criteria for an effective email, regardless of the type of email that you're sending:

  • Effective email must be relevant.
  • It creates value--and you must realize that's defined by the recipient. Value is in the eye of the beholder.
  • It's personalized and contextualized.
  • It's consistent. When I talk about consistency, I don't just mean frequency or cadence. I mean voice and style. If I read your email, then when I talk to you, when I visit your website and I read your content or I look at your sales collateral, is it consistent? Does it all fit? If it's not consistent, that's going to create friction and that type of friction is going to have a drag, a negative impact on all aspects of your communication strategy and efforts.
  • It must be easily consumed. Now, I'm going to get to this later, but easily consumed is not necessarily about the length of the email. The mantra of the buyer today is “Don't make me think.” Be clear, be easy.

Email has negative value unless it gets into the right person's inbox at the right time. Now, what's the right time? The right time is when is that recipient most likely to engage with the email. Don't look at email as a low-cost or free communication mechanism. It's actually a very high-cost medium.

In the following 5 tips, my goal is to give you the code, give you the combination so you have the keys to making your email communications effective.

1. The Limbic System Drives User Behavior & Engagement


If you want to get noticed and acted upon, you have to understand that email is like every other communication medium. It is the limbic system that drives the behavior and the limbic system is basically asking one question, does this impact me?

To meet the demands of your recipient’s limbic system, you must:

  • create an email that is different enough to be noticed,

  • relevant enough so that it matters

  • conversational enough so that it feels natural.

Write your emails like you're a human being, don't write them like, you're a high-volume sales development rep or some marketing buzzword major. Be conversational! Our goal is to have human conversations regardless of the medium, regardless of the channel.

2. Be Sure To Address Contextual Misalignment

Email suffers from tremendous context misalignment. When you're creating and you're sending your email, you are extraordinarily clear what it's about. It matters to you. You're totally clear.

But no matter how important or crucial you think your communication is, the likelihood is that when it gets into the recipient's inbox, well, they're probably thinking about something totally different. They're probably not even thinking about what you're communicating.

I hate to tell you this. You're probably not even on their mind. The event that you're talking about is probably not on their mind. They're focused on their day and what they're doing. Your email has to create context. Your goal should always be creating alignment between you and the people that you're trying to communicate with.

3. The Bottom Line on Email Length

Let's talk about the length of your email. There is probably no conversation around email. I’ve got to tell you, I'm getting tired of seeing blind advice that shorter is better. In fairness, if you give me two emails where all things are equal, I'll take the shorter one. So, if you're writing a crappy email, it’s better that you write a short crappy email than a long- or moderate-length crappy email, but the length is not the driver.

Length is actually a substitute for something a whole lot harder to create--what I like to call tightness. How tight is the email? What's the right length for an email? Well, the right length is the fewest number of words possible to communicate clearly what it is you're trying to communicate and to achieve the objectives that we've talked about up to this point. Now, I'm not suggesting that you should have to write a 1500 word email, but if your email goes 200, 250, even 300 words; if it's tight, if you're judicious with the words that you're using, if you're communicating something that's relevant, if you're creating context, then that email can be very effective.

Now, if you start getting longer than about 300 words, I might challenge whether or not you're trying to communicate too much at that given time. You might want to break up your communication or focus on something more narrow, but even then if that's what it takes to communicate effectively, you’ll still be alright.

Think of it this way, if you want someone to engage with your email, you've got to give them something to engage with. If you want someone to act on your email, you've got to give them enough so that they understand why they should take action. Why does it matter? So yeah, be tight. Be judicious with your words, but length is not the driver of successful emails.

4. Be Direct With Your Call to Action

It might feel intuitive that a soft call to action feels less threatening so it might be more effective for a new audience--but the reality is that a soft call to action makes the recipient have to think and if the recipient has to think, the likelihood of a quality action virtually disappears. Be direct.

Let them know what it is you want them to do. Better yet, give them more than one option. Don't just make it: click here to book a meeting or reply to this email.

Make it easy for them to visit your blog. Maybe highlight a white paper or a specific post that's relevant. Give the recipient multiple ways they can begin to advance and decide what level of engagement they are ready to take with you.

5. Solve For The Recipient

The most important tip of all is: solve for the recipient. Stop thinking about what’s in it for you. Instead, ask yourself if you were receiving this email, would you act on it? If you wouldn't, don't send it.  Solve for the recipient and you're going to be really happy with the results.

One Last Note

The less engaged your intended audience, the more you have to pay attention to these tips when creating a strong email. If you're sending something to a prospect that you've having ongoing conversations with, you don't have to follow all of these rules.

If you're communicating with your fan base, you don't necessarily have to follow these rules. Now, you’ll want to be careful that you don't lose that engagement, so I would encourage you to spend the time creating strong email. However, writing emails to people that are already engaged is relatively easy.

The hard work is getting those people that aren't already engaged to engage. This is where email can be a tremendous opportunity for anyone seeking growth. Your ability to create and deliver emails that attract people who aren't yet engaged with you will provide momentum and a “tailwind” to all of your growth-oriented efforts. If you follow these 5 tips, you'll see some really good progress along the way.

Thanks for joining us on our first edition of the just say no to shitty sales and marketing and go out and make your email's great.