The Falsehood of email open rates

Why should you ignore your email delivery service reporting system for email open rates?

Because they are notoriously unreliable.

if they were valid then I would agree, they ‘might’ have some value.

But unfortunately many of your customers email reader clients block images. Supposedly for the user’s privacy. Alas tracking the images is the only way the bulk email senders have to measure opens.

How it works:

You enable opens tracking on your delivery platform. The delivery software will make an invisible addition to each email it sends in the form of a single pixel image. It is transparent.

This means that no-one would ever see it. But it has to be loaded by your customer’s email software from the email delivery service’s server and this is how they count the opens.

When the email client software is set to block remote images by default, it is not possible to record that open.

You therefore can have no real idea what the open rate is.

What you can do about it.

Clicks, however are a different matter. When you place a link in your email, the email delivery platform will replace your link with one of it’s own. Your prospect is redirected to your website. The click is registered on the service providers server.

Yes, you can rely on clicks, but these are pretty useless unless you know the opens which you don’t and won’t know.

All you can track are clicks and more significantly, sales.

All you need to know if your email did a good job or not is to look at the sales it generated.

And that’s where you should focus your efforts, after all it’s all about the sales at the end of the day, so why not just measure that?

If your email content is rubbish = Sales Go down.
If your email content is great = Sales Go UP!

The moral is; don’t worry about things you cannot control and put your efforts where you can control things like great content.

Stop worrying about your email open rates and start looking at the end result. The payback is amazing.

How Old Skool techniques can help us with prospecting email

In the old days (before the internet came upon us). A lot of sales were done face to face.

Someone had to go out and visit the client or customer to make the sale.

That was traditional salesmanship at work.

Particularly if you were selling COLD from door to door.

You would learn pretty quickly what you had to say in order to start a conversation.

Before you had the door SLAMMED shut in your face.

You had Seconds to convince them to allow you to keep talking and hopefully ask you in.

In the same vein but much more like we have to deal with now was direct mail, where hundreds of thousands if not millions of mail pieces were sent out to try and make sales.

This, above all is closest to what we try to do today on the internet.

Though Direct mail had its own problems because as the Late great Gary Halbert gave us was the A pile B pile theory, where he said that everyone stood over their wastepaper basket and tossed anything they weren’t interested in, and the only things that were usually kept were bills, personal letters or things that looked like bills and personal letters.

Anyway, again, you had maybe a couple of seconds to convince someone to keep your mail.

Keep mind, you haven’t convinced them to open it yet.

Anyway, I digress…

Exactly the same thing has to be done if you are cold/prospect emailing.

Except instead of a few seconds or maybe one or two, you have less than a second to convince them to not click that delete button (which their mouse is hovering over anyway).

You need to say something pretty extreme but at the same time grab their interest, so it cannot be trite or rude and it definitely shouldn’t be clickbait, all of those things will later trip you up.

To break through the noise you need to get funky.

You don’t want anything like the following

“I’m sorry to bother you”

“I had this offer and thought you might be interested”

“would you be interested in”

“50% off”

None of that. That kind of thing will get your email deleted faster than an icecube melts in a volcano.

What you need is something like…

“We’ve never met (Hi, I’m John) and…”

“Would you make me a cup of coffee if I”

“What’s the hardest thing you encounter in…”

Do you see the difference, and besides, it lets the person you have sent it to know that you are a ‘real’ person and not a robot.

Difficult market? Zany facts might be the answer.

Sometimes finding a zany fact or two can really help us get our message across.

Say for instance you are a company who produces IT security products and you want to promote your retinal and fingerprint user verification systems.

How might you do this?

Well, to a security minded IT manager this might seem like ‘going a bit too far’ as he probably believes that his password and two step authentication techniques give him a robust solution.

We have to shake that belief to get our message across.


Subject / Headline: Why 99p chocolate is dangerous to your IT security

You probably feel that you have your IT system locked down and secure. Many IT managers do, but in a 2016 study done by the University of Luxembourg they found something different.

It seems that the weakest element in any IT security are the actual users themselves.

After all, they are human and prone to make mistakes, sometimes catastrophic ones as we will see shortly.

Looming over most Security minded managers are the threats of phishing, malware and infected memory sticks brought in from outside the organisation.

And we all know that just one breach can lead to catastrophic breakdowns in IT security and leave your network and systems disabled and unusable.

But over at the University of Luxembourg they wanted to know if there was another way and the results were quite alarming.

They found that, when asked for their passwords, 48% of respondents gave them up in return for a bar of chocolate.

Worse than that, they also discovered that 30% of people gave up their passwords with NO chocolate.

So it follows that a criminal gang or other determined individual need only ask a few members of your staff to obtain their passwords.

Which is quite shocking. After all they need just one to break into your systems.

Can you imagine what effect that might have?

The simplest solution therefore is to do away with passwords completely.

That might seem a bit crazy to you but it isn’t, because there is solid technology behind that thinking.

Let me explain:

New Biometric systems can address nearly all security issues like this and they can be easily retro-fitted to existing IT systems quickly.

You can lock your system down for good by implementing fingerprint readers, facial recognition systems and even retinal scan technology if necessary.

To help us help you find the right solution for your enterprise and start you on the road to a truly secure system, make your enquiry now before someone goes shopping for chocolate.


That’s a slightly more technical problem than most clients have but I think it demonstrates very well how we can take an entrenched position and find something to make the prospect wobble enough to make the enquiry.

Good question to ask a prospective copywriter

Have you ever done any face to face selling?

That’s it.

Why is this important?

Well, if you are hoping to hire a copywriter to increase or multiply your sales then, surely it makes sense to hire someone who has sold something.

Someone, who understands the process, the meanings behind common objections and how to counter them in their copy.

How to trial and alternate close.

How to channel the desires of the prospect towards your product.

How to use proof elements to support your claims.

For instance; I myself have sold many things, but probably the hardest was Pork Scratchings (Chicharrones, Pork Rinds) these are a traditional snack sold in Pubs and Bars here in the UK, and my delightful job was to go into these Pubs and Bars, cold, and sell them.

Generally, I would have an audience. Plumbers, bricklayers, scaffolders, you get the idea. All goofing off their jobs for the afternoon to get loose in the pub. I had some entertaining exchanges over the years, let’s just say that.

Selling is hard, and successfully selling in print is harder, choose your bedfellows wisely because there is no more expensive copy than copy that doesn’t work.

What actually is a direct response copywriter.

A Direct Response Copywriter is concerned with Salesmanship.

Oversimplified, I agree, but essentially, Salesmanship.

It was first defined as “Salesmanship in print” By John E Kennedy in 1904 but it was later re-defined as “Salesmanship Multiplied”.

So, it’s been around far longer than the internet.

The funny thing is that most people would run 10 miles if asked to make or endure a sales presentation, it’s the very last thing they would volunteer to do.

Most people think of salespeople as pushy, and very obnoxious.

And if given the choice between talking to one for a half hour or having our wisdom teeth removed we would rather have our visit to the dentist.

But that’s bad salesmanship.

Good salesmanship endeavours to discover what the client’s motivation to buy is before offering a solution to that problem (which hopefully we can fulfil).

Our problem is a communication one.

Let me explain…

Clearly, being a salesman in print is a bit tricky, we cannot ask the prospect what their urgent problem is, and we cannot change our presentation to align it to that problem.

These are big advantages real face-to-face salespeople have over us.

But there are things we can do.

We can wave a big flag (our headline) that promises to solve an urgent problem in a marketplace.

We can give something valuable to gain interest and trust.

And we can unquestionably prove our promise.

Then, if we make a proposal based on urgency, we have a very good chance of making a sale.

The thing is: to achieve all of that, all at the same time is very difficult, which is why advertisers need a trained direct response copywriter. Preferably ones who have actually done some real sales.

Then test, test, test.