The Not So Secret Email Formulas Every Business Should Be Using

They’re On My Email List, Now What!?

This is one of, if not the most common question that I get regarding email lists and how to use them.

People often come up to Scott and I and say “I listen to what you guys are talking about, I understand the importance of an email list, I ran a giveaway and now I have all these emails and I'm overwhelmed with what I need to do to actually send an email.”

In fact, we get asked so much that it's one of our biggest focuses inside of Brand Creator's Academy

Thankfully, the process isn't nearly as complicated as most people think it is.

The Absolute Worst Way To Send An Email To Your List: 

I think the reason that most people get confused and overwhelmed when they think about sending an email to their list is because they see the types of emails that come from large companies like Best Buy or Amazon.

They see these emails that are beautifully designed, they've got lots of colors, lots of images, lots of links and they look just a little bit like the catalog that you used to get in the Sunday paper.

 A lot of people think that this is the type of email that they should be sending, and they would be absolutely wrong.

In fact HubSpot, a marketing Automation and email marketing platform, ran a study which has been repeated multiple times now across different platforms and industries. 

What they found is that while people will always say they prefer these fancy kinds of emails their behavior is actually very different.

 According to the study, nearly two-thirds of people surveyed said that they prefer these fancy HTML and image-based style emails. However, in every single test run in the study the simpler the email was the better it performed on the metrics that actually matter (open rate and click through rate).

The Insanely Simple Email Writing Process

So now that we're all able to breathe a collective sigh of relief, knowing that we don't have to do anything fancy to send an email to our list, the real question is….. what do we actually send?

The answer is so simple, you might actually laugh (it’s ok, I would too).

All we need to do to send an email, is find or create something cool and share it. The thing we all seem to forget when we're sending emails to our list is it's no different from sending an email to a friend.

If we approach it from this mindset and write the email the same exact way that we would if we were sending it to our closest friend ( or in some cases our mom) this process becomes super simple and extremely effective.

Really, what we're trying to do with the vast majority of our emails is provide some value to the audience, to help them with their Journey or to just brighten their day.

Then when you’re ready…you’re able to ask them for something in return (you can sell them something!), without having to use a complex sales process or writing the worlds best email.

The Big Marketing Secret:

The “big secret” in email marketing is that there really are ONLY 3 kinds of emails you can ever send to your list (really closer to 2.5, but who’s counting) and if you follow the “find something cool and share it” model, you can master all 3 in no time.

Content Based Emails:

Content-based emails are going to be the bread and butter of the emails that you send. Meaning the vast majority of your emails  will be a simple email designed to have the person receiving the email open a piece of content.

This can be as simple as a piece of content we find to share, like a YouTube video, or it can be a piece of content we wrote to share specifically with the audience.

 These emails are perfect for showing off your Brand's personality and in doing so creating a connection with each person that opens and reads the email.

Since we're writing the email the same way we would to a friend, our audience gets to know who we are as a person and as a brand and because the content we're sending them is useful they develop an even deeper connection with us.

The end result of this deeper connection is that sales emails, which we will talk about in a minute, become even more effective.

I know this sounds great in theory (and it is in real life too!) but what does one of these “so-called” easy emails actually look like?

Let’s take a look at two really quickly.

Examples Of Content Emails

As you can see, this email is literally 4 sentences long (it’s so short in fact….that your high school english teacher is probably screaming…..but that’s ok).

That’s all you need to write!

Afterall, if you found the video and were going to send it to a friend, the email would look pretty much exactly the same, right?

But having a little bit more to say is ok too.

Even this example is only a little more than 6 sentences long AND we were able to give the person a great idea of what we were going to teach them when they click through to view the video.

Sales Emails:

Once people have a basic understanding of how easy it is to actually send emails and engage with your list, the single biggest place I see people struggle is crafting a good “sales” email.

For whatever reason, we as business owners are HORRIBLE at actually asking people to buy the stuff we sell, no matter how much “good will” we’ve built up in the past.


Just like with the content emails (which did the good will building for us) sales emails can be extremely easy to write.

Sales Emails (emails designed ONLY to tell people about a product or promotion that they should take advantage of), should make up the smallest percentage of emails that we send, but are extremely powerful for calling our lists to action.

 Especially if we need to launch a new product or run a holiday promotion (think Black Friday!).

In reality, the writing process for sales emails isn’t really that different from content emails, with 3 small differences.

First, the “cool thing” that we’re sharing with our friends on our list is going to be the specific product or promotion (as opposed to a piece of content).

Second, rather than creating a connection with our audience based on the content we are sending them, we’re going to share a little bit more of a story to create the connection and help the audience understand the reason why we’re emailing them.

Third (and perhaps most importantly) we need to include a deadline. 

You may have heard it said that “the time it takes to complete any task will expand to the time allowed for it” (fun fact, that’s referred to as Parkinson’s Law) 

Nowhere is this MORE true than with people thinking about buying something. There’s a reason hordes of people line up in the darkness to score a great deal on Black Friday, they want to get it before the store runs out!

You will see the same exact behavior with sales emails, but only if you include a deadline. In fact, you’ll often see the largest number of sales come pouring in just minutes (or even seconds) before the deadline expires.

Examples Of Sales Emails

As you can see, the biggest difference between this email and the content style emails that we normally send is that we’ve changed the first few lines rom being about the content they would be receiving (in a content email), to the reason why we are offering them a discount.

In this case, Thanksgiving.

You’ll also see that we added in the deadline of Midnight “Tonight” into the email for all of the reasons mentioned above.

In this example, we are focusing ONLY on a single product and the reason we’re sending the email is because we’re launching the new product.

You will notice that again we have the deadline (in this case 72 hours) as well.

One big difference you’ll notice between these two examples is that this example FEELS longer (and it is…but only by a sentence or two) but it really isn’t any more difficult to write.

Rather than explaining all of the things that are on sale, the entire email is focused around what the press on garlic saver will do FOR the customer.

Sales emails, like all other emails, should always be written the same way we’d talk to a friend.

If your friend needed to keep his garlic fresh longer and you had something to help him….you’d let him know……right?

Hybrid Emails

The 3rd type of emails (or second and a half, depending on who you ask) that you should be sending to your list are Hybrid emails.

Just like the name implies, they’re a HYBRID of the other two types of emails (content and sales)……clever, right?

This type of email is PERFECT for those of you who are struggling with “pure” sales emails (although that really is a skill you need to master eventually), because they allow you to sell your products without feeling to you (or to your audience) like you’re “selling.”

When done correctly (and mixed with the other types of emails) they give you the benefits of both other types by creating a connection with your audience and at the same time, they deliver a consistent flow of sales.

Examples Of Hybrid Emails:

You’ll notice that this email looks almost exactly like the content email example you saw in that section, with one difference.

In this case all of the “content” that we are trying to get the audience to understand is in the body of the email and our call to action (the link in the email) leads them to buy our treat bag to use with their dog.

You can also use the P.S. Section to add a link to your product/service.

Either method works and because the MAIN purpose of the email is to help continue educating the customer, it’s not viewed as “salesy” by your customers, but can still be extremely effective at driving people to your product and generating consistent sales.

A Few Quick Things

If you’re anything like most business owners, even knowing the types of emails to send, you may still be worried about “sending too much” or “bothering people” and you’re not alone!

The simple truth is, if you have people on your email list and you’re NOT emailing them, they don’t exist.

We NEED to stay in contact with the people on our list, we need to remain helpful to them and if we do, we will be reward with more sales and RAVENOUS fans.

In order to do that we need to remember a few simple rules:

  • You should be emailing your list a MINIMUM of once per week, rain….hail…sleet…or shine! If you’re following the content creation schedule we talk about, you’ll never run out of ideas!
  • Always lead with content and treat them the same way you would treat a friend, but don’t be afraid to ask for the sale from time to time either. Afterall, if you’ve been helping your friend with something for months….they’d be more than happy to help you move your sofa this weekend, right?
  • Don’t worry if a few people unsubscribe. It’s going to happen and it’s something to be embraced not feared. It’s not because they don’t like you personally, it’s simply because they’re not interested in what you’re talking about and that’s ok!

What’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with when it comes to email? Let us know inside the comments section below.

Remember….as always, We’re here for you, we believe in you, and we’re rooting for you….but YOU have to TAKE ACTION.

Chris lives at the intersection of business strategy and growth tactics. Having consulted with dozens of different businesses (as well as building several of his own), he brings a unique perspective on what's working across the eCommerce world in businesses of all shapes and sizes.

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