Email marketing

21 proven ways for getting your emails open and read…

Email marketing
Concept of sending e-mails from your computer

When it comes to writing emails most people have it all wrong.

They focus on what they want to say and not on the reader.

Or what the reader needs.

That’s like asking a boring person to your party.

You know they are only going to talk about themselves, right?

The truth is simple.

When people look at their inbox, they want novelty, entertainment or answers to problems. Not in your face marketing.

Which reminds me…

Back in the day when French Farmers wanted their eldest son to take over the farm, they used the back of their hand.

They would take their son to the furthest corner of the farm and whack him on the side of the head.

Then, the son would be marched to the next furthest corner of the farm and receive another whack on the side of the head.

This would be repeated at all four corners of the farm.

When the son finally plucked up the courage to ask why he was being punished, his father explained that the whack on the side of the head was so he would never forget where the boundaries of the farm were.

In this article I’m going to take you to the “four corners” of email messaging.

That said, let’s go….

In Corner #1 we have the readers five core drivers (aka emotions).

There are 5 you must cater too if you want your emails opened and read.

In Corner #2 we have 5 types of subject lines you can always rely on.

In Corner #3 there’s 5 ways to entertain your readers so the keep reading and, more importantly, read your next email.

In Corner #4 there are 6 strategies you must use right before you ask for the click.

That makes 21 proven ways to get your emails open and read.

Why should you listen to me?

Rather than give you some bloated puffery that says, “Look at me I’m wonderful,” look at the stats from a recent campaign I wrote.

They speak louder than ever I could.

Corner #1.

Have you ever read a “Jack Reacher” novel?

The writing is almost invisible.

It’s the emotions that shine through.

I mean, no one stands outside a shop window and admires the glass.

No, they look at the goods inside while their greed glands swell up.

In the book, “Emotionomics” by Dan Hill introduces the four core drivers of human action.

Influence Intelligence

There’s the need to bond. The need to defend. The need to acquire. And the need to learn.

I’ve added a fifth one, curiosity.

Let’s explore core driver 1. Bond.

No not James Bond.

Bonding as in having a good relationship with people.

We are hard wired to be social. To form relationships and bond with others who are like us.

We come equipped with “mirror neurons” that help us feel what others are feeling.

We are in fact, social creatures.

We crave others attention.

And we enjoy it when others want our attention.

How can you use this in your emails?

In your first few emails to new subscribers tell them who you are and why you’re here to help them.

Give a little of yourself through stories about why you’re doing what you’re doing.

“In a world where you can be anyone – be yourself.”

Every online influencer has an “Emergence” story.

So does every superhero.

Ever wondered why?

It’s simple.

You bond with the influencer or superhero through their backstory.

Spiderman and Batman are the two best examples I can think of.

Here’s a “back story” template you can use to get your readers to know, like and trust you from the start.

What was your original problem or challenge? (The same one your reader is going through right now.)

What were your internal struggles? (How did this make you feel inside?)

What were your external struggles? (What observable things happened in your business?)

What was your change event? (At what point had you had enough?)

What was the spark? (The catalyst.)

Who was your guide? (Your mentor, your discovery, your ah-ha moment, etc.)

What was the result? (When you finally solved the problem.)

The answers to these questions will help you put together your “origin story.”

If you read fiction, or watch great movies, the main character almost never reveals themselves in one go.

You get glimpses of their past scattered throughout the movie.

That’s the same with your early emails.

You reveal bits of your story over several emails.

Core driver 2. Defend.

Have you ever been lied to, tricked, or deceived?

How did that make you feel?

That’s the feeling you must avoid in your emails.

We have all been duped at some point in our lives.

More than once.

And I suspect, more than twice.

That causes us to defend ourselves.

And defense a powerful emotion.

If you can’t get past peoples defenses, they will never buy what you offer.

The best way I know is to admit a flaw.

Influence Intelligence

When I self-published my book, “Influence Intelligence” it had some typos, but I never noticed them.

So, every time I sold a copy to a client, I told them the book has typos that I missed.

Once I told them that, they never looked for them.

Instead, they gave me compliments on the content of the book.

I know most really good copywriters never see their own typos, but if they have an excellent product to sell it doesn’t matter.

How can you use this in your emails?

Admit a flaw that doesn’t really matter.

Make it trivial.

No one is ideal.

That reminds me of a book title, “I may not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent.”

Flaws make you more human, more relatable, and more believable.

Tell them that you stutter when writing.


Being “private in public” helps readers bond with you and it gets past their defences fast

Core driver 3. Acquire.

Everyone loves to buy, but no one likes to be sold.

Everyone loves to be seduced but they hate being chatted up with slick one liners by a guy who brushes his hair with buttered toast.

The late, great copywriter Gary Halbert once said that when someone buys something, they want to buy the exact same thing again.

Hmmm, sounds like having sex, doesn’t it?

If you’re anything like me, you’re a hoarder.

You’ve probably got more than one of something that you don’t need.

I have two laptops, two tablets and three iPods. Yet I can only use one at a time.

I had a friend who collected watches. He had over 50 of them.

Another friend had six guitars.

He could only play one at a time.

Why do you think women have so many shoes, and men have so many shirts?

They can only wear one at a time.

And don’t get me started with stamp collectors.

As Canadian comedian Stuart Frances said, “What is it with these train spotters? I counted 28 of the losers today.

My record is 43.”

How can you use this in your emails?

Offer people the opportunity to buy more from you.

Most online guru’s have upsells or cross sells to encourage buyers to buy more.

Make them relevant to the problem they are trying to solve, or a desire they want fulfilled.

When I sold my first health product, I offered them a book that showed them how to get the most out of the product.

The result?

I sold almost as many books as I did the health product.

Core driver 4. Learn.

One word comes to mind.


We never stop learning.

Like giant sponges we soak in everything around us.

Some of us wanted to know as much as possible about this pandemic.

The News – fake or real – is big business.

These people tap into our need to learn by making the trivial sound urgent and important.

That way we keep paying attention.

How can you use this in your emails?

Play off news articles.

Look for stories in the news that’s relevant to your readers problem, then tie it in with what you offer.

Have your own ‘spin’ on them.

I do this when I update older jokes.

“You know, it was so cold this morning I saw a politician with his hand in his own pocket.”

Another strategy you can use is to pick any news story that’s relevant to your readers and take the opposite stance.

Copywriters do this with the concept known as “the case against.”

“Why you must stop drinking water.”

“Get rich slowly.”

“What never EVER to eat on an airplane.”

You get the idea.

I know there’s a few dead cats that won’t agree with me on this, but curiosity brings life to any subject.

Core driver 5. Curiosity.

Especially useful in subject lines.

Anyone who doesn’t use curiosity in their subject lines are as ignorant as an egg.

We will revisit this in more depth later and give you some amazing ways of building intrigue.

In fact, what’s coming up soon will be the most important section of this entire post.

When you understand this one thing, you don’t need to be a good writer because of one sneaky little trick that works every time.

If you’ve ever watched series fiction like “Vikings” or “Game of Thrones” this is the one thing that makes them addictive.

And creates binge watchers out of ordinary, decent folk like you and me.

First you need to know a little about my background in hypnosis.

Not the traditional type.

I mean hypnotic language.

In 2007 I paid $15,000 to join an elite coaching programme.

What I learned was the structure of language that bypasses the conscious mind and directly influences the other-than-conscious mind.

From that I partnered up with a musician to create a hypnotic recording that makes you more confident in any area of your life.

Can you use hypnosis in your emails?

Years ago, Joe Vitale wrote a book called “Hypnotic Language,” in it you learn the basics of ‘language patterns.’

It’s an enjoyable book, but a little complicated for most people.

I’ll give you a couple of ways to use “hypnotic” words in your emails.

The single bind.

If you listen closely, some people will say things like, “The more you drink our coffee, the more you’ll like it.”

If you’re not listening too intently, your subconscious mind agrees with what was just said.

The pattern is, the more you…(x) the more you…(y).

“The more you read about hypnotic language, the more fascinated you become.”

That was a simple – easy to spot – version of this pattern.

I prefer, “the more you (x) the simpler (y) becomes.”

The more emails you write, the simpler it is to come up with great ideas.

You could even get sneaky with this one.

“The more you read about my competitors the less you like them.”

Have fun with these because they will create curiosity in your reader’s mind.

More on curiosity heading your way soon.

Corner #2. The 5 types of subject lines you can always rely on.

Think of subject lines as “fascinations.”

They fascinate the reader, so they want to open and read on.

Like this…

“How a stopwatch is more accurate than your doctor at assessing your health.”

You want the answer to that.

Or how about…

“How a pickpocket can cure your back ache.”

Or even, “What never EVER to eat on an airplane.”

Fascinating, aren’t they?

I bet you want the answers to these.

Okay, I’ll see what I can do.

Subject line type 1. Open loops.

Back to my study of hypnosis.

One of the ways you can almost “force” readers to open your email is called an open loop.

Hypnotists use open loops to prevent the critical mind resisting what’s being said.

An open loop is a phrase that doesn’t come to closure.

Like, “The safest seat on an airplane and the scary reasons why.”

If you plan on flying anywhere soon, you want the answer to that.

One from our recent campaign.

“Real men don’t write content”…

You instantly want to know what they do instead.

It creates an open loop in your mind.

It also prevents your “logical” mind from criticising what’s being said.

At least until the “loop” is closed.

It’s also known as the “Zeigarnik effect.”

One reason why this works so well is because your brain needs to get to closure so it can go on with something else.

When you open a loop in your subject line it makes it difficult for your reader to ignore.

One of the ones we used just recently was, “SEO is for suckers.”

If you’re a world-class SEO guy or gal you want to know why SEO is for suckers.

Hence the high open rate.

How can you use this in your emails?

I’ve just shown you how to use this in your subject lines.

In you emails the principle is the same, but with an added twist.

Did you spot what I just did there?

Yes, that was an open loop.

In your emails you open a loop, and right before you close it, you open another.

That’s what I did earlier in this post.

(Hint: You may want to reread this post to see how I did that.)

Subject line type 2. Implied benefit.

To entice readers to open your emails promise them something in return.

Professor Robert Cialdini calls this technique, “Reciprocity,” in his bestselling book called, “Influence.”

The internet was based on the “something for nothing” mentality.

That’s why you’ve seen so many “opt-in” offers to get a free “widget.”

A good opt-in offer will be gobbled up faster than a bowl of rice in an African orphanage.

Once you get people on your email list use the “implied benefit” subject line to “train” them to open your emails.

How can you use this in your emails?

I kinda like words with “est” on the end of them.

One of my favourites is, “The quickest, easiest way to…”

See how I’ve implied a benefit?

You can also use words like, fastest, simplest, and effortless.

Yes, I know that last word ended in “ess,” but you get the idea.

Subject line type 3. Reveal a secret.

We all love to learn secrets.

We all believe the grass is greener on the other side.

Even cats want to get on the other side of the door!

One from our recent campaign…

“What is the greatest secret in all of content creation?”

How can you use this in your emails?

Look into your product, service or information and see if you can find something, anything that’s not common knowledge.

It must be something you can hold your hand on your  heart and say, “This is a secret very few people know about.”

Typically, it’s the “how” your reader will benefit from your product.

“Little known secrets that can steer your profits in gold… even if bullion drops to $250 an ounce!”

Subject line type 4. The number formula.

You’ll often see this subject line in your inbox if there are several ways to solve a problem or achieve a desired outcome.

How can you use this in your emails?

Think about the many ways your product helps your reader.

“Four ways to stimulate the body to release its own natural pain-killers.”

Starter templates for you include,

“The world’s two most powerful…”

“The seven little known signs of…”

“3 often overlooked…”

Here’s a fun one we used in a recent email campaign.

“50 shades of content…”

Don’t laugh, that got us a high open rate.

Try fitting “50 shades” to what you offer.

You will be laughing then.

All the way to the bank!

Subject line type 5. Start in the middle of the action.

If you can pull it off, stories are the best way to begin any email.

Earlier we looked at crafting your backstory.

Here is where you can make it pay off for you.

How can you use this in your emails?

We used this on in a recent subject line.

“I still remember the doctor walking into the room and giving me the alarming news.”

If you used the “bonding” strategy from earlier, a subject line like this makes it almost impossible to ignore.

Corner #3 The 5 ways to entertain your readers so the keep reading and, more importantly, read your next email.

If I could whack you around the head, this is the one corner I would do it on.

The five ways to entertain your readers are…

  1. “Infotainment.”
  2. Metaphor.
  3. Analogy.
  4. Simile.
  5. Alliteration.

Let’s work backwards with these.

(Did you notice that open loop?)


Any two words that start with the same letter are instantly memorable.

Like these…

  • ChemClear
  • Influence Intelligence.
  • Double Your Dating.
  • Creating cashflow.
  • Inbox Income.
  • Accountable Advertising.
  • The Relaxation Response.

Spend time coming up with names for your product or service, the pay back is worth the effort.


One of my favourites comes from Daniel Levis.

“Faster than a cheetah on Red Bull.”


Never use trite similes like, “Its not a bed of roses.” Or “Monkey see – monkey do.”

Instead use phrases like this one.

“He must have had his rear end grated on to his mouth right before he said…”

It’s original.

But more than that, it’s entertaining.

When you entertain your readers, they will keep reading.

And they will look forward to your next email.

How can you use this in your emails?

Call me weird I don’t care.

I dunno, maybe I should get out more.

Last year I started the nerdiest habit I could think of.

I began collecting funny sayings to use in my emails.

Yep, I admit it – I have my own strange sayings captured in a journal.

There – I’ve said it.

Now the whole world knows.

Well, you and a few others.


Here’s two sayings to get you started down the insanity I call “silly similes.”

“He’s got more money than God’s ex-wife.”

“About as well equipped as a pair of monk’s underpants.”


Because I’m as wild as the wind, I decided that as a copywriter, writing about analogies is about as daft as fitting the heart of an elephant into a mouse.


Did you know that there are over 33 books about the bible with the word “metaphor” in the title?

Well, that’s what I found back in 1990 when I went to the local library.

At the beginning of this post, I used a metaphor to coax you into reading.

Do you remember the whacks on the side of the head?

How can you use this in your emails?

Find stories like “The Stone Soup” and tie it into your product or service. If that story doesn’t appeal find other unusual stories like “The Donkey Smuggler,” then segue into your offer.


The definition?

Information plus entertainment.

It’s what’s going on here.

What do I mean?

When you read sentences like…

Here’s two sayings to get you started down the insanity I call “silly similes.”

What happens in your mind?

Glad you asked.

There’s something so satisfying about sentences that sound like this one.

In those two sentences I’ve used lots of “s” words.

In your mind you feel good about reading them.

It’s the same with the letter “F.”

Forget fortune hunters, focus on the future.

I know that didn’t make much sense, but you get my point.

Every now and then put in a sentence with lots of “F’s” or “S’s” because it entertains your readers.

But wait there’s more…

Throughout this article I’ve been “Info-taining” you.

Using facts you didn’t know.

Stories to make you think.

Silly similes.

Analogies like, “If you think communication is all talk then you haven’t been listening.”

And even going as far as adding my own (sometimes weird) humour.

It all adds up to and interesting experience you find yourself enjoying.

How can you use this in your emails?

If you are naturally witty, use that.

“I got where I am today using only my wit, charm and perfectly symmetrical features.”

If not, study your favourite funny guys and girls and learn from them,

Feel free to “steal” any stories, similes, satire, or anything else you can use to “Infotain” your readers.

Corner #4 The 6 strategies you must use right before you ask for the click.

  1. Show a benefit.
  2. Give a useful piece of information.
  3. Make the reader feel good.
  4. Prime their mind to take action.
  5. Show scarcity.
  6. Create urgency.

1. Show a benefit.

People buy benefits not products.

They buy the feeling of a new beginning not a product.

And they also “buy” you.

That’s why your backstory is so important.

Show the benefit of working with you or doing business with you.

How will you take care of them after they become a client or customer?

2. Give a useful piece of information.

One of the best acronyms to embrace is…


“Because Of You People Think More Of Me.”

Have you heard the term “social currency?”

It’s when you pass on useful information that your friends or family don’t yet know but are glad you did.

The rule is, they must be able to pass on to their friends the ‘juicy’ piece of gossip you just gave them,

That evokes the “Because Of You People Think More Of Me” rule.

If you do this right before you ask them to click through to another page, they are more likely to do so.

It’s that old reciprocity thing again.

Jokes are also a form of social currency.

And viral videos.

3. Make the reader feel good.

In NLP there’s a term I like called, “Future Pacing.”

It’s more than just a sexy name.

It implies what their future will look like when they buy your product, service, or information.

Legendary copywriter John Carlton calls this “Painting Pleasing Pictures.”

You can tell he’s a huge fan of alliteration.

How can you use this in your emails?

Use no more than three sentences to show your readers descriptively and vividly what their new life with your product will look like.

“When you hire me as your copywriter, you’ll get a rush of new customers every day. Each one will buy from you many times. And you’ll increase your profits without having to do any more than you’re doing today.”

4. Prime their mind to take action.

Professor Robert Cialdini follows his first book success with the book, “Presuasion.”

This book is all about what you just before you ask someone to do something.

How can you use this in your emails?

Dimensionalize a benefit for your reader.

“The first thing you’ll notice when you put on these running shoes is your run seems almost effortless. It’s as if you are gliding through the air with your feet off the ground.”

“Hurry because there’s only 3 left in stock.”

  • Show scarcity.

I think we’ve all fallen for something like this in our time.

But what if there was real scarcity?

In business you only have a limited amount of time available.

Tell your reader that.

It makes it genuine.

How can you use this in your emails?

Figure out how you can legitimately describe why there’s a limited amount of what you have.

Then in the middle of your sentence use the word “because.”

You know that professor I keep mentioning?

Well, turns out he discovered the word “because” bypasses people’s critical mind.

No idea why.

But it works!

I think it has something to do with the illusion of reason.

Or something similar.

  • Create urgency.

Urgency is like scarcity in that you must give a real reason why your reader should click the link in your email.

If you don’t create urgency, then your readers decision making process will be slower than the second coming of Christ.

People are inherently lazy.

I once heard someone say, “Most people’s idea of exercise is pulling out the bath plug and fighting the current.”

How can you use this in your emails?

Never try to force anyone to take action.

Instead, encourage them.

Remind them what happens if they do nothing.

Better still, put them at a crossroads and show them two choices.

One choice without you, and the better choice with you.

You just learned The 21 Proven Ways for getting your emails open and read. And that means you can now write compelling subject lines and entertaining email copy.

Now, let’s quickly recap what you gained while enjoying this article.

  • In “Corner” #1 You learned the readers five core drivers (aka emotions).
  • In “Corner #2 You found out how to write 5 types of subject lines you can always rely on.
  • In “Corner #3 You read about the 5 ways to entertain your readers, so they keep reading and more importantly read your next email.
  • Plus, in “Corner #4 you even discovered six slick ways to get readers to click through and buy what you’re offering.

If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and take notes ready for your next email campaign. Then give yourself a pat on the back because you’re now all set to get more sales and make more profits.

You can thank me later…

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