How Creators Train Customers to Open Emails in a No-Attention Era
If you want to send email, you’ve got to ensure they get opened
I recently watched a series of videos from a marketer I used to follow. The videos are seventeen years old. The audio is terrible and the quality is a cross between something my dog might shoot, and footage you might get if you gave a VHS video camera to a toddler. I paid a lot of money for this course — a lot.
But it wasn’t the cinematography I was after.
This was one of my original marketing teachers. And the email lessons of the wild west still apply today. If we want our customers to open our email, we’ve got to encourage them to do so — better yet, to train them there’s no better place to be than right here, with our letter.
I couldn’t believe the video was about email mini-courses (spoiler alert). It was a lost era of direct, online marketing — where all the old, print direct-mailers taught their best moves. So many creators haven’t been exposed to that kind of content they don’t know how well it works.
Most creators today are stuck in a “join my newsletter” loop. Which is why so many people think email is dead. Email is dead for them, because they don’t focus on the subscriber. So, they get stuck on the hamster wheel of social media.
But we know better.
We know we’ve got to give our subscribers a really good reason to open our content… and, like any athlete, it all starts with a good training regimen.
So, how do we get customers to open our emails?
We train them. Large corporate email campaigns train us to delete them. We know those emails will be nothing but coupons and sales pitches. Our customers don’t have time for that. We’ll give them something of real value.
And we won’t just flip them a half-assed blueprint, book chapter, or special report.Nope, if we want our readers’ continued attention, we need to give them more.
Enter the power of the mini-course.
Not only are these easy to create (automate a series of quality emails), but they’re also a valuable training tool. We develop the early habit of getting our customers to open our email.
If you send a free report on the first email, the customer knows the free part of the relationship might be over. We’ve all been on enough lists. Your customer is no dumb-dumb.
Once we send that free report, the customer knows she doesn’t have to open your email anymore — no matter how great your copywriting.
However, let’s say you create a five-day, or a seven day course. Each day is a piece of the course. The emails are numbered. The subscriber gets a new email every day.
The subscriber knows they’ll get a daily email, because we told them our course will take five or seven days to consume. We send. They open. We don’t like unfinished business. If someone starts your course, there’s a good chance they’ll open it all the way through.
Once the course is finished, subscribers will be accustomed to your daily emails.
You can throttle-back your sending rate, but you don’t have to. The more-frequently you send your email, the more sales you’ll make. If you send a daily course for five to eight straight days, you’re more-likely to keep a subscriber than you would had you sent a one-off, free report.
We don’t like open loops.
A daily email course is an open loop. You don’t give all the information in one shot. Instead, you drip the content over multiple days. Not only is it easier for the subscriber to digest the content (these are long emails), but we get them in the habit of opening our email.
We want the next step.
Our brains don’t like cliffhangers. We don’t like to be left with an internal question. When you send these first emails in a series, your subscriber will actually look forward to your next email.
Almost daily, I get subscribers asking me to re-send one of my emails because they deleted it by accident. These are an automatic email sequence done as an email masterclass.
Now, my masterclass is well-done. You can’t just send crap and expect people to open your email. But I know if I had sent the entire masterclass as a single pdf e-book or special report, I wouldn’t get half the open rates I do now (50–60% for every email)
Email courses are easy to edit.
I made a lot of mistakes in my course. I gave a couple pieces of advice that weren’t worded well. I’ve had subscribers email me and ask for clarification. I reply, give them the answer, and then I fix that piece of the course.
When you make an entire e-book as your email gift, you can’t change it on the fly. You’ve got to edit, and re-format the document, then re-save it to your distribution site.
With email, you can change it from your phone.
I’ve edited my emails while waiting in line at the grocery store. I wouldn’t recommend it, but the fact that it’s possible, makes email courses so flexible.
How to make an email course that gets opened
Start with the transformation you’ll give to your subscriber. In my course I show indie authors how to get their first 1,000 subscribers without paying a dime in advertising.
I don’t say “I’ve got a free book.”
I don’t say “sign up for my newsletter,” or “click here to keep in touch.”
Our subscribers don’t care about us. They care about themselves and the transformation you’ll give them if they enroll in your course. They don’t want to join your email list. No one wants to join your email list.
Joining your list is a byproduct of the transaction, not the purpose of the transaction.
So, we start with the transformation and we work backwards. Take them from where they’ll end up to where they are now. Divide that process in five to seven steps. Drip one step out per day as individual lessons.
You must fulfill your promise.
You must provide a course that has real value, not just something you ripped off the internet.
You must take the subscriber from where they are now to where they want to be.
If you can fulfill the promise in your mini-course, they’ll continue to open your email. And once those introductory days are over, they’ll keep opening your emails. Why not? The first emails were so good they might as well continue tuning-in.
This is how we earn our subscriber’s attention in the land of scrolling, clicking, and instant-gratification.
If we make our subscribers wait for the content — give them something to look forward to every day, they’ll keep opening our email.
August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. A self-proclaimed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indie authors how to write books that sell and how to sell more of those books once they’re written. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.