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“What would Martha do?”

That’s what I ask myself whenever I invite people over.

(I’m talking about Martha Stewart, btw.)

See, I imagine that when Martha has people over, she greets her guests with a seasonally appropriate drink.

She invites them to have a light (homemade, locally-sourced) snack.

And then she gives them a tour of Bedford Farm and her ridiculously wonderful greenhouse.

Of course, no one can came close to Martha’s exquisite type-A-ness and culinary skill…

Mere mortals like me can only try and fail. :’(

However, we CAN replicate that kind of greeting–so carefully planned, so inviting–in our onboarding sequences.

It’s the difference between a warm and fuzzy welcome that makes you wanna stick around…

Versus throwing open the door…and then just walking away…

Uh…hello? Should I just…show myself around?

So today we’re going to look at an example of someone who’s doing onboarding right: The Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

In this video, you’ll discover:

  • How they avoid overwhelming their new subscribers (and making them want to hit UNsubscribe)…
  • How they surprise and delight their list newbies…
  • The powerful thing everyone is scared to do with new subscribers (but not these guys–they do it TWICE)…

Plus, I have three suggestions on how to improve their sequence even more, including:

  • Why they should have TWO onboarding sequences…
  • How to make their calls-to-action stronger (so more people will take action)…
  • Plus, one simple trick to make their bulletpoints even more click-worthy…

Check it out, right here:


PS. While you watch THAT video, I’m gonna watch Martha explain how to season with salt. Cause apparently WE’VE ALL BEEN DOING IT WRONG!


Like a lot of copywriters, I keep a swipe file for inspiration.

However, instead of keeping it to myself, I thought I’d share the subject lines I’ve been swiping lately.

Basically, if a subject line stands out amongst the 100 emails I wake up to, and makes me actually click, I save it in a Google doc. (Especially if it can be adapted for the health and wellness market, since I work with so many health practitioners.)

Now, open rate isn’t the most important metric, of course. Sales is most important.

However, people DO have to open your emails before they can click through and buy. So subject lines matter.

First up…

11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger (No. 5 is Insane)
The “list” subject line is well known. 5 Silent Killers… 3 Flat Belly Myths…

However, there are two things that struck me about this particular “list” subject line, which comes from a site called Authority Nutrition.

First, it takes the typical list subject line we’re used to seeing and it breaks the pattern. The part in parentheses makes it different.

Second, it piqued my curiosity. If it had just said 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger, I wouldn’t have even noticed this email. And, as a health nut, I’d assume it’s nothing I don’t already know. However, by calling out one of the items in the list, and calling it “insane,” now I’m curious. Do I know about this “insane” benefit already? Maybe I don’t! So I clicked.

Is an Ultra Low-Fat Diet Healthy? The Surprising Truth
This subject line questions the status quo.

Lots of people think that low fat diets are healthy. That’s what we’re told by the media and by nonfat diet food marketing and even what we’ve been told by our government (at least here in the U.S.).

So questioning something so widely believed to be true, even by medical professionals, makes it pretty clickable.

In other words, slaughter sacred cows in your subject lines. Speaking of cows, next up we have…

How to Win an Argument With a Vegan
Authority Nutrition is very much in favor of eating meat, basing that recommendation on a slew of studies.

So since the audience is going to be primarily meat-eaters, this subject line creates an us versus them dynamic. There’s you and your tribe, then there’s “those other guys.”

Plus, it’s kind of funny, because vegans tend to have strong feelings about their diet and lifestyle choice. (Not hating–I was a vegetarian for a long time, and I had very strong feelings about it, too!)

Also, a vegan site could easily flip this subject line around: How to Win an Argument with a Meat-Eater.

Point is, draw a line in the sand and rally your troops. People love to click on stuff that’s going to reinforce the beliefs they already have.

Back By Popular Demand
This one didn’t come from the health and wellness market, it came from a shoe company called Sole Society. However, it’s adaptable. It would work any time you reopen a course or get a product back in stock.

The reason I clicked? FOMO. Fear of missing out.

“What was so popular that they ran out, and THEN brought it back?”

(It was a nude and black heel with gold studs, btw.)

Another one in this same vein is In Case You Blinked, from a clothing company called Everlane. It implies that I missed something, and so makes me curious enough to click.

I also love Everlane, and they run out of stuff a lot, so the built-in scarcity is definitely a factor. You could even add scarcity into the subject line:

In Case You Blinked (Expires Today)

Next up…

My Wife Went to My Competitor
Okay, full disclosure. I wrote this subject line, I didn’t swipe it.

However, I’m including it because the engagement it got during a launch last week was crazy.

The email was mainly about how this guy’s business failed because he never talked to potential customers before his launch.

So the subject line could’ve easily been Why My Business Failed. Except that it’s not going to leap out at the audience of startup founders.

Instead, I played up the part of the story with the most shock value: My Wife Went to My Competitor.

I mean it’s bad enough as an entrepreneur to have a failed business. But to have your own WIFE use your competitor’s product? Ouch. You gotta hear that story. Why would she do that? Did she know what she was doing? WHO GOT CUSTODY OF THE DOG?

The open rate on this one was so high that I added this note to my swipe file: Find the juiciest bit of the story, the most painful and gut-wrenching part, the “nail in the coffin,” the unbelievable shocking surprise, the insult to injury, the thing no one saw coming…and turn it into a subject line.

What are some subject lines that have been making you click lately?

Check out my latest post, over at Copy Chief!

Screencap, yo!

In the article, you’ll discover:

  • Why your copy raises red flags, even if you’re being 100% honest and selling a proven product…
  • How to use the “Yeah, Right” test to find those red flags in your sales materials…
  • How to replace those red flags with the right form of proof, making you more trustworthy in their eyes…
  • Why it’s ABSOLUTELY critical that you talk about your story or your company’s story, and how to make it all about your customer…
  • 3 specific strategies you can use right away to remove doubt from their minds and inject more proof…

Get all those things right here.

Some marketers freak out if they get too many unsubscribes.

And some will even follow up with each and every person who leaves their list…

I guess to beg them to come back?

It seems kinda obnoxious. And bad for business, too.

Because really, you should welcome unsubscribes.

In fact, do you remember the Total Bastard Airlines skit from SNL?


That should be your attitude when people unsubscribe…give ’em a big BUH-BYE.


Well, number one, they were never going to buy from you anyway.

If they’re annoyed that you’re selling them things, they were never. gonna. buy.

Best to just part ways…it wasn’t meant to be.

Also, while most of your subscribers are lovely people…

Prospects and customers who want to hear from you…

Some of them will zap your energy.

They complain that you’re sending too many emails…

They don’t like your subject line…

They want tons of free advice, or they ask for Skype calls to “pick your brain”…

These aren’t fans or real prospects or customers we’re talking about here…

So if they unsubscribe? You guessed it…BUH-BYE!

In fact, expert marketers will unsubscribe those people themselves.

They know that it saves time, money, and frustration to clean up their email lists.

Remember, your goal isn’t to make every email subscriber happy…

It’s only to serve your target audience.

And THAT is how you grow your list with more prospects, customers, and raving fans.


Blacksmith at Work by Derek Key http://tinyurl.com/nr9b5oe

This blacksmith just got a new email subscriber…


That’s what many new subscribers hear after signing up for an email list.

And the thing is, those businesses are missing out on a HUGE opportunity.

After all, the subscriber is warmed up. They’re interested enough to let you into their overcrowded inbox.

But tomorrow? Tomorrow they may have forgotten all about you.

So, why aren’t more businesses carpe-ing the diem?

I wrote about this in-depth in a blog post for KISSmetrics. But to quickly summarize, the answer is usually fear.

Fear of coming off too sales-y.

Fear of annoying their new subscribers.

Fear of unsubscribes.

However, the thing to keep in mind is that your new subscribers WANT to hear from you.

If they don’t, it’s like that scene in The Dark Knight Rises…

The one where Catwoman basically does a superhero drive-by and kills Bane…

You know, anti-climatic.

Now, that’s not to say you should hit new subscribers over the head with a sales pitch. There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to strike while the iron is hot.

First, set their expectations.

If you’re going to email them a series or an e-course, let them know that in the very first email.

And if you still get unsubscribes (and you probably will), realize that those are not your ideal customers. Better for you and for them that they leave your list now.

Then, for most businesses, the next step is an autoresponder.

The email autoresponder is a series of emails that will automatically go out after someone subscribes to your list. They go out on a predetermined schedule, so everything is automated.

The goal of these emails is to orient your new subscriber and to warm them up before you pitch a product, service, or sales call.

There’s a lot that goes into that, but the biggest tip is to make sure you’re providing value in these emails. Otherwise your subscribers will just see them as more noise in their inbox.

For more on this, check out my full article on the KISSmetrics blog: