Don’t Leave Out the What and the Why

Plucked this gem out of my subscriptions recently: Tell Customers What They Are Missing.

Strictly speaking, the article talks about selling a product and explaining the benefits of that product, but I see at least two instances where being specific leads to better email marketing:

  • Getting Visitors to Sign Up to Your Email Campaign
  • Getting Subscribers to Read Your Messages

“Why Should I Give You My Email Address?”

Give visitors a reason to become subscribers.

That’s what your subscribers are asking. And something vague like “see what you’re missing” won’t cut it — tell them what they’re missing!

Most of us feel like we get enough email as it is. So we’re protective of our inboxes. We want to know “what’s in it for me?” before giving you our email address. If you don’t tell us, why would we subscribe? Curiosity may suffice for some people, but most will bypass your form, blissfully unaware of what they’re losing out on.

“Why Should I Read Your Email?”

Tell Readers Why Your Email Is Worth Their Time

Remember, you’re competing for time and attention with a ton of other messages. People make snap judgments about whether they should read your latest newsletter or just trash it and move on to the next inbox-clogging email.

Many subscribers do this using their email program’s preview pane. They see the first part of your message and based on that, either keep reading, file it for later or delete it.

If your message doesn’t quickly tell the reader “Hey! Check out this great content I have for you today! Here’s why you should read me now!” there’s a good chance that some people who would have benefited from that message will delete it unread.

A couple ways to tackle this:

  • Put an “In This Issue” or Table of Contents section near the beginning of your emails
  • Write a brief introductory sentence (could be as simple as “Hi, today you’ll learn about _____”) before jumping into the meat of your message.

How Else Can Being Specific Help?

Where else in your email marketing campaigns have you found being specific to help? Do you think it’s always better to be specific (with your opt-in forms, messages and elsewhere), or are there times when it helps to be vague?



  1. Matthew Glanfield

    9/11/2007 11:47 am

    Thanks for the great tips.

    I have found that an extra minute or two of work on your email turns into a much higher open and click rate, drastically increasing sales.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Allan Spencer-Stewart

    9/11/2007 3:11 pm

    I agree being specific from the outset is an important part of enticing them to read not delete. Having enticed them you need to deliver on the promise as concisely as possible. Finally, you need to be brutally specific about the call to action. Idiot-proof specific. After all the hard work of crafting an email campaign that entices the reader in and gets them to read more you want to leave nothing to chance about what you

  3. Margareta

    9/12/2007 5:39 am

    I every day receive a lot of e-mails. 90% from tham include –
    GO QUICK there ……
    GO QUICKLY there

    After 3-4 e-mails not like read more – feeling wery bad and put peoples on stress.

  4. Lori Titus

    9/13/2007 11:09 am

    I always include my business name in the subject line, so people know the email is from us. We try to send out emails twice a month – one with a recipe (with links to recommended honeys), and one with product updates (we just got in…., we are almost out of…..)

    One of the best recommendations I had (and use) is to include a table of contents at the top of the informational email, with links to the appropriate parts of the email message. That way, people can quickly skim to see if there is a topic of interest to them.

    Another good suggestion I had was to keep paragraphs short and sweet – typically no more than three sentences. If I want to offer a more detailed discussion or explanation, I offer a link to an information spot on my website.

    Nobody likes or reads long emails!

  5. Justin Premick

    9/13/2007 2:45 pm


    Great point – vagueness is a luxury in that it requires less writing from us. And the reduced conversions (whether that be opens, clicks, orders, signups or whatever else you’re shooting for) that come with vagueness make it a particularly costly luxury.


    A Table of Contents is a great way to help people quickly determine what’s in your message and whether they want to read it. The short paragraphs definitely help, too – I try to keep mine as short as possible.

    Great points all… keep ’em coming!

  6. Hector

    9/17/2007 10:33 pm


    Lori wrote :

    "One of the best recommendations I had (and use) is to include a table of contents at the top of the informational email, with links to the appropriate parts of the email message. "

    How can I include links to the appropieate part of the email message using the aweber follow ups and broadcast interface ?

  7. Justin Premick

    9/18/2007 9:53 am

    Hi Hector,

    Two quick steps to link to sections within your broadcast message:

    1. When editing your HTML message, place your cursor in your message where you want the link to jump to and click the bookmark icon . Give a name (such as link_1) to the bookmark.

    2. Highlight the text/image that you want to link from, and click the insert/edit hyperlink icon . In the box that appears, click the "place in this document" button on the left, then click the name of the bookmark you created in step #1.

  8. Abdul Rehman Mayet

    7/29/2009 12:23 am

    Totally agree.

    Great article.

    The first lesson for any budding internet marketer. Headline, headline, headline!!