Pucker Up Email Marketing Campaigns: Using Old Techniques in New Ways

Do you remember KISS?

I’m not talking about the once face-painted legends who always encouraged us to “rock and roll all night and party every day.” I’m talking about the now very cliché Western proverb that encourages readers to "Keep It Simple Stupid", or if my four-year-old son was an avid reader of the blog (or a reader at all), Keep It Simple Silly – since he would remind me that “stupid is not a nice word.” Cliché or not, the proverb reminds us all of some very vital truths when it comes to some everyday B2B practices - especially when it comes to email campaigns.

For example, a few years ago a company (whose content marketing I use to manage) launched a marketing campaign targeted at qualifying new leads that were constantly being generated via some automated marketing software.Since most of their leads were simply a reference to the name of an organization that might be interested in their product and an email associated with that group, the company was plagued with the daunting task of sorting through a load of garbage in order to find some real gold. The problem was, when it came to these leads no one had any clue about who the decision maker might be, or what their sales process might look like - we didn’t really know anything, other than the slight suggestion that these people might like what the company had to offer. I was hired to find a solution to this problem.

My solution was to combine two very old ideas: first, send out a semi-personalized mass email in order to interact with our prospects, and second, Keep It Simple Stupid. What we ended up with was something both very new and very exciting.

Up until this campaign, this company had mostly done “email marketing” by scripting a 2-3 paragraph message that included:

  • a quick blurb about who they were and what they did
  • some sort of “special offer”
  • a weak call-to-action encouraging readers to reach out if they were interested

On a lucky day, the response rate came back at around 8-12% and the quality of the response was lukewarm at best.

For all that work, our team was often left wondering why we bothered in the first place.Inspired by Aaron Ross’ Predictable Revenue, I decided to try something a little different, something simple.

What if, instead of a long email that aimlessly fished for semi-interested prospects, we got really direct and politely explained who we are and exactly what we’re looking for, i.e.:

Hi John,

It’s Ethan Fenton here, from Cageless Content - we offer B2B content marketing services for companies all across Canada & the US.

I am sorry to trouble you. I am hoping to connect with whoever handles your purchasing/management decisions there and I am wondering if that might be you? Thanks for any and all of your help!

Talk soon,


This email draft is less than 60 words long - it’s practically a tweet! However, the email explains everything a prospect would want to know, like who you are, what you do, and what you want.

Anything else is just a waste of prospect’s time.

Initially, after just a few weeks of experimenting with the new technique, my boss was skeptical. 

“This idea is all great and it’s definitely simple. But, I’m sorry, email campaigns are what they are. There is no way an email like this will ever yield profitable results.”

A real quote, I promise... However, after a consistent average response rate of 35% or higher, keeping it simple started to make a whole lot of sense. Not only did this new campaign more than double our response rates, the quality of the leads were much more sales worthy.

The replies either consisted of something like:

No, that’s not me. That would be our CEO, Greg. His number is (902) 555-5555 and his email is greg@whatevercompany.com.

Or, if we happened to guess right the first time around:

Yep. That’s me, Ethan. What can I help you with?

As a company, we were able to, first, establish that this organization was interested in our product enough to reply to an email and, second, we were able to either receive an internal referral to, or a direct response from, their decision maker!

Once this level of interaction was established and the information was placed in the capable hands of our sales team, it became an extremely effective qualification procedure that often resulted in a streamlined sale process.

Within the first six months, our newly launched email marketing campaign had already generated more revenue than all of the other email marketing campaigns ever sent in the history of the company. Email marketing, as a sales technique, has been practiced ever since we invented the technology that makes it all possible. The problem is, people are so used to our traditional means of communication that their eyes begin to glaze over the moment they spot that “click here for more information” button.

CEO's simply want something they can read & reply to quickly on their phones as they run from one meeting to another.

So, the next time you start scripting your upcoming email campaign, or you begin to sort through a large pile of lead-gen - try and remember that decision makers are practically begging for companies to pucker up first...

If you keep things short, simple, and easy read, you might just find that more & more companies are willing to jump into bed with you after you've done a little kissing first.