You have a Lead Magnet on your website, and you’ve been building your list of warm prospects.

You sent a few emails to your list, but then life got in the way a few months ago… and keeping in touch fell by the wayside. But now you’ve got some spare time and you decide to send out a newsletter… to share the details of a really exciting promotion you are running this week… but the results are shocking… low open rates, and zero sales.

What’s happening?!

Last week I received an email from a friend of mine, let’s call her Kate. Kate used to send emails regularly but stopped a couple of months ago as she was too busy. Last week she was running a special “clearance sale”, and sent out an email containing the details.

I winced when I read the email, but privately I asked after the stats. As I thought, the results weren’t good.

I figured that you’d also benefit from understanding why that email tanked, so I’ve broken down the key errors that Kate made, so you can avoid making the same mistakes in your own emails, and ensure you’re building effective customer relationships.

#1: The apologetic subject line:

Email Subject Line png

The first error Kate made was one of presumption. You see, the likelihood is that Kate’s subscribers HADN’T noticed that Kate has not sent them an email for several months.

But they know now, because Kate herself has just told them – it’s right in front of ‘em in the subject line.

So now they’re aware of the lack of the communication, what do they see next? Oh yeah, it’s a big ol’ “buy my stuff” request from Kate!

Interpreting the subject line from the perspective of the reader, it translates into “I couldn’t be bothered to email you before, but now I have something to sell, I want you to buy”

Hmmm… that’s an email you want to open isn’t it? No, thought not. Most of Kate’s subscribers felt the same way.

#2: The header image:

Header Image

If the subject line wasn’t shouting loudly enough, then the next thing they see is the big ol’ header image with “SALE” written all over it.

Let’s suppose you’d seen a good friend every week until a few months ago, and today was the first time you were meeting for coffee in 2 months. Would you turn up to meet your friend, and instantly ask them to buy something, BEFORE you’ve spent some time catching up on what you’ve both been doing since you saw each other last?

No? So why do it in an email? Think of everyone who is connected to you as a friend, and treat them the way you would treat a good friend.

#3: The opening paragraph:

Email Opening Paragraph png

Ok, now we’re at the opening paragraph of the email and Kate goes straight into another apology for not keeping in regular contact (see #3 in above image). And then it’s followed by ANOTHER mention of the “Clearance Sale” (#4 in image above)

NEVER commit publicly to a schedule for your emails if there is even the slightest, most remote possibility that you won’t be able to honour it. It sends a big message to your subscribers that you are flaky… untrustworthy.

People buy from those they know, like, and TRUST!

If you are unable to honour your usual schedule, most people won’t notice unless YOU tell them! So never alert them to your flakiness by apologising for your absence.. unless you have a VERY good reason for it. If there is a very good reason, explain it… just as you would to your friends in the “real world” if you’d gone “off radar” for a while.

#4: Be trustworthy

After a prolonged absence, it will take time to re-establish the relationship again – just as you would with a “real world” Trustworthy Customer Relationships | Veronica Pullenfriend.

So, if you haven’t emailed for some time, don’t make the sale the focus of your email. Start slowly by adding value; sharing a funny (relevant) story, a tip they can apply… anything that adds value to THEIR life in some way. They don’t care about you or your offer… yet!

To recap, there is nothing wrong with promoting an offer in each email you send. However, for the majority of emails you send to your subscribers, your intent should be to “add value”, so asking for a sale should not be the primary focus of your email.


This is the first in a series of three blog posts on the topic of continuing the relationship building and nurturing your subscribers via email. Next week I’ll talk about what you can include in your email that will build your subscribers’ trust in you, and lead to you having a strong community of subscribers that become customers, referrers and raving fans.