An Email Tip for Getting Higher Responses - Christine Kane

One is a scary number in your business.

In fact, one of anything biz-related can be a surefire path to failure.

One employee running the show?   What happens when that person has an emergency or has to quit for some reason?

One major client who brings in 80% of your revenue?   If something happens to that person’s business, then the impact on yours will be devastating.

Great to remember.

However, there is a place where avoiding the number one is NOT the best option.


Email (and all marketing and communicating you do with your peeps) is where you MUST elevate the number one to royal status!

ONE purpose.

ONE call to action.

ONE story or angle.

Many businesses (and yes, that includes the lone self-employed person) drive away responses and customers because they give too many options on their websites and especially in their emails.

I was chatting with someone who leads a neighborhood association and who was complaining that no one responds to his emails. And once I read his email, I was not at all surprised!  In that email alone, I counted six different calls to action!

When people get that many choices, they end up doing the one thing that feels easiest:


So, why do we business owners do this? Why do we feel compelled to give people so many options and choices?

Two reasons.

1 – Assumptions.

We assume everybody remembers who we are.  We assume they’ve read every email we’ve sent.  We assume they know we’re in the middle of a membership drive/launch/campaign.  We assume they know why they’re on our list.  We assume they know why they do anything.  We assume they know how to find us or what to do next.

Assumption is the enemy of all marketing. (It’s the enemy of all communication.)

2 – Fear.

Many business owners come from a “lack” mindset.

A lack mindset makes us try too hard. It makes us “grab” at people.  We try to tell them too much.  We give them every possible option because we’re scared we might lose SOMEONE.  So we try to get everyone.

This is acting from a mindset of fear and lack.

And here’s the problem with both of these things:

Everyone is just a click away from leaving your site or your email.If they’re confused, they have other places to go, other sites they can visit — someone else who is NOT going to confuse them.

So, from now on, every time you communicate with your clients or prospects ask yourself, what is the one thing I want them to do?

What is the one thing I want them to do when they come to my site?

What is the one thing I want my prospect to do when they read this email?

What is the one next step?

Don’t fire-hose them. They’ll go away if you do.

Just focus on the rule of one and you’ll be surprised at how much faster your clients and customers respond!

“Yeah, but what about if you have lots of great stuff to say??”

If you have this problem, then most likely you’re not communicating regularly enough with your peeps!

Consider communicating much more often – but in smaller doses.  If you’ve been sending a monthly newsletter, try moving to a weekly format.

When you do this, your customers will be able to consume your information. They will know what to do next.

And they’ll love you so much more for making their lives less confusing and for serving them at a higher level.

So, here’s what to do next:

In the comments, tell me your #1 biggest question or challenge about composing and sending emails to your list.

  • Varina

    I struggle with regular posts and emails. It just seems that, since I’m a “one-woman show” who does it all, I’m struggling to be consistent with the social marketing aspect. I’d like to make a schedule and stick to it. Just wondering if there is a day that seems to be best for sending out emails, blog posts, etc…….

  • Jeanette Henderson

    This is a subject I LOVE, Christine. My latest blog post deals with Autoresponders and Broacasts and when and how to use them in your email marketing.

    I usually link people back to my blog to read the article, but I’m wondering if it’s more effective to have an HTML template style newsletter … or just a plain text email format? Which one typically has higher click-throughs? Is it better to provide a paragraph or two of your article in the email or just give the link?

    Right now I’m using a plain text email format and getting a good open rate, but not necessarily a good click through rate.

  • Krystal

    I don’t want to bombard people. My question to you is:
    if you send out a weekly newsletter that doesn’t focus on promoting events, does that mean you send more than one a week to promote your events, or run a launch, ALONGSIDE the weekly newsletters?
    (See how much I’ve been paying attention to what you send out when… that’s what you talked about with the assumptions, never assume).

  • Lynn

    Email “newsletters” or “calls to action” are my number one problem. I have no idea why. I love to write, that’s not the issue. Just can’t seem to get myself into the mode of sending out a regular communication. I’ve never been able to figure out what I want it to be – mostly I’m worried I’m just annoying people.

    If you ran a lesson about emails, I would definitely be there! So happy to have found you Christine!

  • Lisa Van Ahn

    Christine, I typically have 3 sections of my weeklies. A video with a few words and a ‘Click to see more’, an inspirational post with the first few sentences and another read more link + my scheduled classes for the week.

    Is this too much? I blog at least 3-4 times a week and my weeklies usually only include one of these posts plus a video. I am trying to figure out how I could only offer one of something when I have so much great content on my blog?!….also, curious, what is GAC?
    Thanks Lisa

    • Christine Kane

      Sounds great Lisa! A GAC is a “Get Acquainted Call” for people who are attracting new clients.

  • Cena Block from

    Hey Christine (and others I recognize from UYB last year!)
    I’m working on it… My goal for 2013 is effortlessness… I guess for me – the biggest difficulty is over-delivering. I somehow have ‘ezine’ connected to ‘newsletter’ and in the old corporate days…newsletters were – well, newsy. This year, I’m focusing on writing a personal letter, connecting the dots to my blog posts for the month (and providing links), sharing a client testimony and an upcoming program… TOO many options? Would love your thoughts! Happy spring and much love from the Pocono Mountains! – Cena

    • Christine Kane

      Cena – Hey there girlfriend!

      What you described is still a newsletter! 🙂

      It’s all a matter of what you call it and how you position it. But it sounds a LITTLE bit like too much stuff going on. How often are you planning on sending this?

  • Marisa

    Perfectly timed piece – thanks, Christine! Our struggle is where exactly to send readers i the midst of a launch. We have an hour long video that we’d like them to watch that concludes with an announcement of our course that starts next week. But, ultimately, we want them to sign up for the course, not just view the video. Does the CTA push them to the intermediary step or to the sales page? Thanks so much!

    • Christine Kane

      Marisa — My first thought is, why not make this a campaign – and break the hour long video up into 3 20 minute videos? That’s a long time for someone to watch a video. The key to selling anything is that you have to build the relationship and the value first. So definitely don’t just drive them to the sales page — that sounds a little bit fear-based to me. I would suggest that next time, you map the entire launch out first, break it up and give smaller chunks of value and THEN announce the launch and send them to a sales page. Make sense?

  • Mindi

    I am a resource creator for churches and clergy, and I sent out a weekly newsletter with three parts, besides my general introduction of who I am and what the newsletter contains: the weekly content I am sending out (my free stuff), a section of links to articles I’ve written on other sites or other references I want to point people to, and the third section about my retreats and workshops. I keep the last two sections short and have links. For the weekly content I link whatever is going to be longer than three paragraphs so as not to overwhelm people. I use MailChimp and it’s easy, and I can write it when I have time and schedule it to go out weekly at the same date/time.

  • Nina Porter

    I think for me, the toughest part is editing it down so that it’s not too wordy, but has the content, has something that resonates, and something that “hooks”, causes that click. I’m a story-teller…. which in some situations is good…. but not in an email. Thanks for all of your insights Christine, and others who have commented. We learn from each other!

  • Roxane Lessa

    Funny you should ask. Today I am working on a warm email to send to interior designers to introduce them to me and my custom commissions. I used the business to business warm letter format from earlier this year to get me started. First draft seems too wordy. I used the see if this rings true part. Then I described my last project, and I included a brief testimonial from the designer who I worked with. the CTA is my calling them to talk further on how I could help them create a deeper relationship with their client via the custom art experience. Should I break this up into smaller letters? Thanks Christine!

    • Christine Kane

      Roxanne, It’s not that LONG is a bad thing. You can send a long email and get great results if it’s written well. Most, however, are just boring and hard to read. So, there’s not a stock answer to this. It just sounds like you’re being a little splattered and trying to do too much in one email. At first blush I’d say to break them up. Hope that helps!

  • Andrea Mock

    I just sent out two long-ass emails to two dancers and one long-ass email to an arts admin. Both were to get a new project off the ground, a dance story workshop called “Move and Be Moved”.

    Luckily I did have one call of action in both emails. The first to see if the dancers were interested in being teaching artists the second to get listed in the schedule of a large dance space where the workshop would be held.

    What I should have done was connect them to my blog that had the gory details about the workshop.

    So why didn’t I think of it this time?

    I didn’t think to do that.

    Why didn’t I?

    I was unconsciously afraid they wouldn’t click through.

    Next time I will make the short email so fun and in their immediate interests they’d be thrilled to click through.

    Ah, live and learn. Thanks for your wisdom Christine!!!! I consult you weekly and tell all my peeps about you.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Andrea! And yes, it’s always better to write a short email that makes them really WANT to click through. (without being smarmy or weird, of course.)

  • mary b

    My challenges are admin…I get feedback that my links don’t work sometimes or how to set up the “read more” function and where it is supposed to take them (a blog on my wpress site?)-plus photos? ARGHH.
    I use Mailchimp for a small list (150) with a good open rate (and the writing content part is great)

    • Christine Kane

      Mary B — I set up a MailChimp account for our neighborhood assn — but I don’t have those same issues. Sounds like you might need the help of a good Virtual Assistant to get in there with you and see what’s happening as I am most certain that this kind of stuff is NOT your genius work! 🙂

  • Maria

    Do you find that one call to action works best for e-commerce sales emails?

    • Christine Kane

      Maria – Yes. But I don’t like calling them “e-commerce sales emails.” The goal is to try to CONNECT with your list. When we use language like “email blasts” and “sales emails” (even though it’s just words – it still has energy), we are thinking outside of connection and most likely, our writing will reflect that. Make sense?

  • Shawnee Kilgore

    My biggest challenge is consistency as well. People sign up for my list through music, so I get stuck thinking I can only send out an email when something cool is happening for me musically. But I’m also a photographer and do other cool things that are probably sometimes more interesting to hear about than my music career! I’d like for my list to be all-encompassing, but to do that, and stick with a weekly format as I’d like to do, I need to commit and be clear about my whole Self. Worst thing that happens is some people leave right??

    • Christine Kane

      shawnee – yup! (and i think you may be overthinking it a bit! 🙂 )

  • Alexandre L’Eveille

    My biggest challenge is whittling down the post so it’s less wordy without leaving out too much so that it is useless. My goal is “to make a long story short.”

    • Christine Kane

      Alexandre — rewriting is key on this one! My stuff is always rambly and way too long when I first write it.

  • Nneka, Working Mystic

    My biggest challenge is headlines and subject lines – the thing my peeps see first. Can you write a post or add a recommendation for this outside of copyblogger?

    • Christine Kane

      Nneka – (Where’ve you been, girlfriend? We missed you in Asheville!!!)

      I will be working on something about emails. I have pretty extraordinary open rates and people have been asking me to do some kind of training on email – which is why i’m asking people what their challenges are. But copyblogger does some great stuff for sure!

      • Nneka, Working Mystic

        In a word – burnout.

        I ran a group program which was successful, but a ton of work on top of the other stuff going on with my life. I’m back on the bandwagon though. Going back to basics with peeps and offer. Getting back to my why.

        I’ll be at the retreat in July:-)

        I would deeply appreciate a training on headlines and email subjects.

  • Jennifer

    Christine, could you give us some thought process behind your own newsletter and how it implements this wisdom? Was your one purpose to get us to this post or to get retreat registrations?


    • Christine Kane

      Jennifer – Great question! I see the newsletter as a “stay in touch” tool. I don’t use it as my only way to announce things (like the Uplevel Your Business LIVE retreat) – so the call to action for something like that isn’t the main thing. The main thing is the article and adding value.

  • Ursula-the crafting gypsy

    Hello Christine,
    my biggest struggle – being consistent. I know it is key, but find it very hard to stick to some sort of schedule.



    • Wendy Robinson

      My problem too, Ursula! I have tons to say but find it hard to get in the mode of writing it on a consistent basis. Guess I have to exercise my “writing” muscle more…

    • Christine Kane

      Ursula – Do you make a schedule for your emails? Have you ever tried writing a week out in advance so that you’re not feeling “reactive” each week? If you have a VA, you can ask her to hold you to a strict schedule and stick to it.

    • mary b

      I replicated one of my fav mailchimp emails, replicated it a dozen times and prescheduled it to go out every the same time every week for the next 3 months (this only took 15 mins). Now I have to go in each week and edit the old content-but I have the template set up. This gets my ass in the chair ’cause I don’t want my old email to go to people’s inboxes; I haven’t missed a week since.

  • Andrea

    Hi Christine, I never know how much information to give them. My peeps are short readers, so I tried to get them used to click. So the link sometimes directs them to my Blog. Sometimes to a special page on my site( a launch). But can I include the offer for a GAC every week or do you consider this as too much? What do you mean by exactly 1 call to action? Website or Bloglink = one. Website Link+ GAC = too much? Thank You, Andrea

    • Christine Kane

      Andrea – for a solo emailer, I like to stick to one call to action. I’m not into offering the GAC any and all times. That cheapens it. I would test out different things if I were you and see what works best!

  • Miriam Simons

    I always am uncertain whether to make the focus of the email a marketing invite, an educational mini-lesson, or asking for feedback. I just sent one out yesterday that was “overloaded”, I see.

    Also, I don’t know what day of the week would be best for my peeps.

    Thanks, Miriam

    • Christine Kane

      Well, it’s great to have that awareness now, Miriam. I used to send out LOOONG emails once a month because I was scared to bother people – I’ve been doing it weekly now since 2008, and it’s much easier on my peeps, and on me!

      What day of the week are you sending out now?