heya,

I’ve seen a lot of terrible ideas over the past 22 years…i mean, i’ve owned and operated some kind of online business since i was 16 so i’ve seen some stuff.

Many terrible ideas have been so widely practiced they’ve become norms used without questioning. When someone comes along and does things differently from these norms, and it works out, it’s suddenly so obvious to everyone.

Why didn’t we do it this way from the start?

I think back to the earliest days of junk mail. When it was normal for respectable businesses to advertise themselves using unsolicited email. Or when respectable websites used keyword stuffing of sexually explicit terms to rank in search engines (eg, maktoob was bought by Yahoo after it gained popularity by stuffing their mail site with sexual keywords).

Or, not so terrible an idea, because it WAS innovative for its time, but a costly failure to see beyond a norm…

Back when hotmail first came out and made their free accounts limited to 1MB of email, after which you’d receive no more email until you deleted something. All the other ‘free mail’ websites who imitated used the same limitation. It was only after Gmail came out and gave nearly “unlimited” space when suddenly it made so much sense for everyone to lift their limitation. This was YEARS after the inception of hotmail when we started questioning the silly space limitations. And i remember even at the time, Microsoft raised the free hotmail inbox limit to only 10MB in a failed effort to compete…which was a REALLY stupid idea, because with that one stingy move, they lost their 10 year lead on Gmail.

Anyway, we’re not here to reminisce about the olden days of the internet.

It’s just i continue to see some ridiculous ideas being taught as really clever ways to increase response or make money…and then people cheer for these dipshit ideas, like, “OH MI GOSH that’s absolutely brilliant!”

One such example was in a Mailerlite sponsored post i saw on Facebook Ads.

Mailerlite is an email marketing provider. And i think in general, email marketing is an area where there’s a LOT of stupid ideas floating around, misinformation, and misunderstanding. I’ve had to research quite a few email marketing providers as part of my academic research too, and even in the academic community, the research is all grossly misguided.

So this sponsored post for Mailerlite, was meant to be a brilliant idea on how to boost open rates and “engagement”. Both are vanity metrics. Only fools worry about them. In reality, they have no value beyond diagnosis.

In fact, and i know i’m digressing, in my machine learning email marketing platform, i use engagement as a “feature” to train the system, but i make no assumptions to reinforce the automatic optimiser about whether any sort of engagement is a POSITIVE or NEGATIVE signal toward conversion and revenue. The learner needs to figure out for each engagement metric what sort of effect it might have on revenue.

This approach actually had me shunned by the academic community, because wtf, everyone knows interaction and engagement = revenue. (which is not necessarily true if you’re in the trenches doing this thing)

Onto the bullshit…

Mailerlite teaches the following trick in their sponsored post:

After sending some email to your list, create a segment of all the people who received the email but did not open it. Then, target that segment and send them the SAME email again. You can try messing with the subject line to make it appear like it’s a different message. But the content remains pretty much the same.

According to them, doing this sequence when sending a message boosts response by i dunno like 15 or 30%…who knows…who cares! This is a TERRIBLE idea. I can’t believe a self-respecting email marketing provider is actually TEACHING people to do this!

Oh i know, you’re probably reading this and going, hmm…sounds pretty clever to me…i should probably try this…and wtf is up Yaghi’s ass? What’s so wrong about it?

If you’ll give me a few minutes, i’ll explain, and then you can decide for yourself if it’s an idea worth trying or not.

From the outset, let me go ahead and tell you that i am pretty convinced that if you do use this approach, more of your subscribers WILL open your emails, and more people will “interact” (click, unsubscribe, complain, and reply). And VERY VERY VERY possibly, more of them will even buy your stuff.

So doing this trick can and probably will boost your revenue!

It makes sense, because yes, sometimes you send a message, and people miss it or ignore it the first time. So sending it again is kind of like when you ring your friend, they don’t pick up, then you call again in a few minutes and they do.

Logically speaking then, sending twice means more people will open, then more will read, and more will respond.

But it’s kind of a dick move isn’t it?

Like, i don’t know about you, but if i call a friend and they don’t pick up within a few rings, i hang up and give them the week to get back to me. I don’t even bother to let it ring to voicemail.

I assume they’re in the middle of something, asleep, unavailable, their phone is on the charger or on silent, or something…not my business. But i also know that even if they were not near their phone when i rang, they will see the missed call in their call log. If they want to talk, they’re going to call me back. If they don’t, they won’t. And i’d rather not be the dickhead friend who won’t take a hint.

That’s me–considerate, dignified.

With email, it’s the same thing. Sending the same message again is like leaving 2, 3, and 10 missed calls. It shows that you’re URGENTLY trying to get in touch and it’s really important they answer you soon. But what’s so fucking important?

You got a sales pitch for them to read?

You got an article you want them to like?

It’s not so important to them. Surprise.

Besides, i’ve often head from some of my best subscribers and customers, who would have JUST read and replied to a message i sent a WEEK before. And you know what they’re writing? “This is one of your BEST emails yet,” or “i really want to get this product, but i have a few questions…

I know for a fact, i have subscribers who bookmark my emails and put them in a special folder so they can read them at a time when they can give their full concentration to what i have to share. Which, one, OMG that’s like the biggest compliment ever.

And two, this is TOTALLY understandable. 

I write long fuck-you type emails, i spend the entire day writing them and thinking about them, and i don’t expect you to read them on my time. You’re probably going to read them on yours. That’s ok by me.

If you’re doing email right, you should enjoy a similar type of readership. People should WANT to read your email, so badly, that they check in with you to see if they’d been accidentally unsubscribed if they don’t hear from you in several days.

Or they don’t want to miss a single message EVEN when they’re pressed for time, to the extent they’ll put your email in a special folder which they make the time to get to.

So sending the same email twice to someone who didn’t open within a day or two, it’s a symptom of a shitty emailer who knows their emails aren’t so popular and they have a reluctant reader.

Plus, it’s annoying. Not the kind of behaviour that makes people want to bookmark your messages. Not the kind of behaviour that gets loyal readership.

It might have a short-term payoff with some of your less engaged, less loyal subscribers, but it has the long term side-effect of ensuring you NEVER get this sort of loyalty from any subscriber.

Ever.

So if you like bragging about a few vanity metrics, and maybe even a handful of sales, using cheap trashy tricks, go ahead. But if you want to have an online business with which you can reliably retire, and build security for yourself and your family, you’re going to need loyal subscribers to get you there. So you better respect them. Respect their intelligence. Respect their choices. Respect their inbox.

Another important point…

I’ve had people, FRIENDS and colleagues, not just any old subscribers, writing in to complain about receiving doubles and triples of my emails. NOT because i deliberately emailed them twice and three times, but because THEY had subscribed twice and three times with different email addresses…and they assumed it was some kind of glitch in my system.

They’re complaining when it’s THEIR fault they’re getting duplicates of my emails!

So imagine, if i’m deliberately sending the same message twice, with two different subjects. Don’t you think that’s gonna piss some people off?

Don’t think for a moment that doing a segment of people who didn’t open guarantees in any way that someone will not receive AND open both messages. Because you see, the segment of who did not open, is ONLY guaranteed to be accurate at that moment you do the second send.

If someone opens the first email later, after you created the segment and sent the second email, they won’t be filtered out. They will see both your messages and see what a dick you are for sending two copies with different subject lines.

Also, did i just say “gauranteed to be true?” LOL. No, scrap that. Opens are by nature inaccurate. There’s no guarantee about anything.

I’ve built my own email marketing platform, the one i’m sending you this message from. I can tell you, there’s generally two ways open rates can be APPROXIMATED.

These are the techniques used by ALL email marketing platforms:

   (1) EXPLICIT OPEN: by including in the message an image that forces a reader’s email program to make a unique request to the mail server to load the image. That unique request identifies the reader and the message they’re reading. The request to the server at that moment of opening is logged, then the server sends back an image. To the reader, it looks like a normal image was loaded (or if it’s a transparent pixel, it will look like there is no image), but they also just told the server they’re here and they’ve opened.

  (2) or, IMPLICIT OPEN: If the reader clicks any link in the email, the open can be implied. Presumably, the reader FIRST opens, THEN reads, THEN clicks a link they’re interested in seeing. They cannot click a link without opening first. Links in emails are uniquely hyperlinked back to the server’s tracking service, which tracks both the click and the implied open, before redirecting to the link the reader is trying to reach. My system also uses tracked replies, complaints, and unsubscribes as markers of implied opens.
 
 
If a reader opens the email but neither loads the open-tracking image nor clicks any link in the message, the open happens without leaving a trace.

Meaning, it’s untrackable.

Keep in mind, most email programs, for security reasons do NOT load images in emails by default, so the scenario i describe is very, very plausible.

Which means, when you create the segment of “non openers”, you will inevitably always include some openers in it who never got tracked.

So that’s a WHOLE bunch of people who are going to expose this dirty little trick of sending the same mail twice. Many of them did not deserve to be mistreated this way. And it makes you look like a dick.

Personally, rather than obsess over one message being read by bloody everybody…like my words are so freaking golden the same thing cannot possibly be said any other way…that everyone must read everything i ever produce, because like omg i’d die if i just wasted all that time writing something everyone didn’t read…

NO. i’d rather spend the time writing a new email.

I’d rather produce more useful content.

Writing is my business. Reading is yours.

There’s other bad email marketing ideas i’ve seen too. Like this “preheader” nonsense…it’s basically an HTML email feature where you give the email a “window title”.

In many email programs, the TITLE tag is used to build a snippet that appears beside the email’s subject line, which acts as a preview of what’s inside the email before opening.

Many marketers use the preheader to increase opens by writing something enticing to make it appear like the email contains content it does not.

In fact, i’ve noticed Facebook using this trick in their notification emails. And i distinctly remember being really pissed off with the user experience. Because it makes me WANT to open the email, even though i know it is a Facebook notification. The snippet would be, for example, a few words from a comment someone left me on a status update or photo i posted. Curious, i click the email expecting to read the comment. Upon opening, all i find is a prompt to visit Facebook to see the content of the comment (even the snippet is missing).

So it works right?

But it only worked a couple of times before i figured this shit out.

I find the practice dishonest. And i feel fooled. Thus, i ignore their notification emails now, no matter how enticing the snippet it looks. Because i’m not going to fall for the same dumb trick twice.

And that’s YOUR email reader too.

Just because something “works”, doesn’t mean you should do it.

There’s a lot of things that work but are actually wrong (like selling crack, or shoplifting), annoying, disrespectful, immoral, bad, or just dickheaded. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do them.

I don’t love money enough to lower myself for it. If i can’t earn it with dignity, i don’t want it.

There IS a payoff in being respectful to subscribers. It’s just not one that’s tangible, and directly measurable in dollars and cents. Most of the best things in life are this way.

Anyway, that’s all i wanna say on this today. If you wanna do email marketing right, without cheap tricks, to create loyal readership. Readership that enables you to have an online business you can RELY on for your retirement, and for your family’s long-term security and happiness, come join me in the Super Traffic Machine.

User Manual 7 (Follow-Up) covers this topic in great depth, includes a few of my favourite email structures, and shows you how to write the kind of emails that create loyal subscribers and customers.
 

Read all about it at the link below…

~jim