sly : marketing

I Expect People Will Open My Emails When I Use This Trick

Sometimes, when I read a blog post, I just don’t want to stop reading. And, when I finally finish reading the post, I just get back at the top and start reading every single word again. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened this wednesday.

I read The #1 Trick for Increasing Email Open Rates by Steve Scott. And as I was reading it, I was thinking, why on earth haven’t I thought about this before?

I love watching movies. I love reading books, and I’m currently writing a novel – but I never thought about adding open loops or cliffhangers to my emails.

What are cliffhangers?

If you’re as old as me, you have probably watched the movie Cliffhanger starring Sylvester Stallone. If you have, think about him hanging by one hand on a cliff, and the height is enourmous. And, we have no idea what’s going to happen next. Now, a real cliffhanger is when an episode (of a series) ends with a shocking revelation or a difficult dilemma. Ending the episode with a cliffhanger is a way to ensure that the audience will want to watch the next episode.

So, writing a novel, I should have understood the importance of cliffhangers already. I am doing my best to add cliffhangers to every chapter of the novel. If I do it right, people won’t be able to stop reading. But, I haven’t given this much thought when it comes to emails and marketing.

A great example of a cliffhanger comes from the TV series Criminal Minds, when season 4 ends with one of the stars of the show, Aaron Hotchner, is shot in his apartment after returning home from work one night. As a viewer, we have no idea what will happen next. And, since I had been watching all four seasons of Criminal Minds, and I have been watching Aaron Hotchner for what seems to be hundreds of hours. I just couldn’t wait to see the next episode.

The real reason why cliffhangers are important to get people to open up your emails

I use email to create relationships with my visitors, and I believe that sending emails are very important in order to be successful selling anything online. The reason that it’s important, is because of lead nurturing. Very few visitors comes to a website and are ready to buy. They come because they are looking for information. That’s almost always true.

We need to give them the information they are looking for, but we should also provide them with more information, and better information. And, not just one time. Keep them updated, and keep sending high quality information about the product. This is the best way to turn a prospect into a customer. But, the emails you are sending won’t matter at all, if people are not opening them.

What we need to be doing is to create relationships. That’s the important part of sending emails. We start by providing them with information on a blogg, then, we do our best to get them to subscribe to our newsletters.

Regarding relationships, we can use lead scoring, and assign points to each prospect, in order to categorize them. For instance, a person who visits your website for the first time is less likely to buy your product, than a person who have been to your website many times, and have received many emails about your product. And, a person who have already bought one of your products, is a lot more likely to buy more products from you. By adding points, and keeping score, you will now what type of prospect or customer you are dealing with.

But again, nothing works if they’re not opening the emails.

An example of how I can use a cliffhanger

The first email, in my 21 days to marketing success, is all about finding, connecting and interacting with the right people. I am talking about why it’s important to create relationships, and who I am currently ”talking” to. I am actually listing the top people I recommend that you should talk to and connect with when it comes to marketing. And I am telling you exactly how you should do it. But, that’s it. I am not saying anything about what the next email I’ll send will be about, and I’m not saying when you’ll be receiving the email.

So, the only reason why you’ll be opening the next email is if it has an interesting title, or you’re already a friend of mine.

There are two things I could, and should be doing in order for people (who are not already my friends) to open up all my emails.

First, I should let them know exactly when they can expect to see my email in their inbox.

Second, I should give them a cliffhanger. For instance, in my first email of the 21 days to marketing success, after listing all the people you should connect with, why, and how you should do it, I could add a sentence like this:

But, one of these brilliant people did a huge mistake and lost $1,900 in sales in 6 hours… I’ll let you know all about the mistake tomorrow. Look out for day 2 of 21 days to marketing success.

Two questions for you

I haven’t added any cliffhangers or open loops to my emails yet. But, I’m definitively going to. Are you using cliffhangers in your emails? And, do you have any examples from reading a cliffhanger in an email lately?

Thanks a lot for reading.

Signature of Jens P. Berget

49 responses to “I Expect People Will Open My Emails When I Use This Trick”

  1. Extreme John says:

    I also read Read Steve’s article and had almost the same reaction. The emails we send out for my small business seem to have killer open rates, but we typically offer our email subscribers deals that none of our other customers ever hear about. Now, on the flip side it made me realize how pathetic my last email was for my blog/brand, I’ll be kicking it up a notch on my next mailing.

    • jens says:

      Hi John,

      That’s interesting how different your emails are. It’s probably a lot harder for your blog/brand to keep people interested, if they’re not being offered killer deals on products. At least that’s my experience. My open rates for generic content are very low, but as soon as I have an invite for something new (like G+), a lot of people are interested… I can only imagine what it will be like offering killer discounts and new products 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment John. I really appreciate it.


      • Extreme John says:

        My pleasure.

        I also very rarely mail my personal list, I think the one I sent out 2 Saturday’s ago was my first one in 3 years. haha. Not like people are use to seeing emails from me either.

        • jens says:

          Wow, your first in 3 years. I don’t usually send emails very often either, but I try to send out once a week in order to keep the relationship on a personal level. On the other hand, I usually don’t publish more than once a week on my blog 🙂

  2. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, I love Cliffhangers. I love the movie (the most intense opening scene ever, I think) and I love the concept. As a long time viewer of soap operas, I understand the importance of cliffhangers. “Always leave them wanting more.”

    I hadn’t thought about cliffhangers with email though. That makes perfect sense. Your readers will be very eager to read your next email when it arrives in their inbox!

    Thanks so much, Jens, for sharing your brilliant secret with us! 🙂

    • jens says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      I still remember the opening scene, and I haven’t watched the movie since 1993. So, I have to agree with you about it being the most intense opening scene ever 🙂

      I haven’t added any cliffhangers to my emails yet, but I’m working on it, and hopefully I’ll find some that will be working and leave my readers wanting more. The problem is that the cliffhangers should be related to the content, and I can’t just add something that people “don’t expect” 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your awesome comment Carolyn.


  3. Dawn Kay says:

    Hi Jens

    It’s my first time to your blog and I like what I see.

    I came here from Adrienne Smith’s blog and I’m really glad I did because I luvvvvvv how you use cliffhangers in your emails to create curiosity so they can’t wait to open your next email.

    That’s definitely a good tactic and one that I’m gonna try out so thanks soooooo much for sharing.

    Take care

    • jens says:

      Hi Dawn,

      Thanks a lot for stopping by. Adrienne is awesome, everything she does is brilliant. I read every single blog post she publishes. I’m so glad that you found cliffhangers useful. I’m going to use them too 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I hope to see you again.


  4. Eddie Gear says:

    wow, you have gone really into emails. I do not and have not even though about these things. I just write emails and hope they are read. Thats it Jens.

    • jens says:

      Hi Eddie,

      I have also just been writing emails and hitting send. But, so far, this hasn’t worked for me. I have tried to be personal, and create relationships with my readers, and I’m getting better.

      Now, I’m working on a way to get more people to open my emails. And hopefully cliffhangers will do the job 🙂

      Thanks again for your support.


  5. jens says:

    Thanks a lot for the feedback. I haven’t tried Cliffhangers yet, but I’m going to soon… and I love Cliffhangers on movies and in books 🙂


  6. Adrienne says:

    Wow, another great tip from the master himself. Don’t you love learning? Okay, I’m a BIT of a cliffhanger junkie. Love those types of movies and like your love for Criminal Minds, mine is CSI! When they leave us hanging and wanting more. Dang it, I’m on the edge of my seat and can’t wait until the next episode.

    It never even crossed my mind to do the same for my emails. I guess one main reason is I don’t necessarily write my newsletter emails that way but I can see why I need to.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Jens. I’m updating my opt-in gift right now anyway and will be revamping my emails so this will be a perfect time to incorporate this as well.

    Enjoy your day my friend and thanks again for your awesome info.


    P.S. Great to see Dawn over here too! Glad she followed you, it was worth the trip.

    • jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I love CSI as well, but it’s been a while since I watched it. Like you, I’m a bit of a cliffhanger junkie too. Many times I have bought the whole season first. I just can’t wait a week for the next episode.

      I’m waiting for your opt-in gift, and I hope you’ll add some cool cliffhangers 🙂


  7. Gabriella says:

    I’ve never really thought about Cliff Hangers in emails, but now I’ve realized there are! How cool 🙂 I’d like to implement this if possible

    • jens says:

      Hi Gabriella,

      I still haven’t started using cliffhangers in my emails… but I keep telling myself that today is the day… but I guess it will be tomorrow 🙂


  8. Terry Conti says:

    Hi Jens,

    Thanks just came over from Dawn Kay’s blog. Thanks for reading and commenting on my quest post.

    Learning something new everyday and taking action is what makes us move forward toward achieving our goals.

    Good post about cliffhangers, a good eyeopener. Providing quality information and leaving your readers hanging for the next is a very good strategy not to forget.

    Keep on keeping on Jens,

    Terry Conti

    • jens says:

      Hi Terry,

      Your guest post was awesome. And, I have now subscribed to both your blog and Dawn Kay’s blog.

      Learning and relationships are what I find the most exciting part of being online 🙂

      Thanks again for stopping by and leaving a comment.


  9. Eugne says:

    I’ve added a few to my mailing list for a niche site I own (still working on building the autoresponder).

    The cliffhanger example you give for day 2 is awesome by the way. I’d definitely be waiting in anticipation to read that.

    • jens says:

      Hi Eugene,

      I’m still waiting to see your niche sites. I haven’t started building mine yet, but I’m going to… but I have no idea what niche I should start. I know what you’re saying, it should be related to pizza right? 🙂

      Are you in New York yet?


  10. carucior says:

    interesting informations. can i use for my romanian website?

  11. Susan says:

    Very good idea. I’ll need to see how I can incorporate a cliffhanger into a newsletter series I’m working on.

    • jens says:

      Hi Susan,

      That’s great. I am thinking about adding the cliffhangers to my own series of newsletters right now. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.


  12. Ryan Critchett says:

    Hmmm, I really like this. As simple as it sounds (like you said), it’s something I didn’t do when I was doing email marketing!

    Love the idea.

    • jens says:

      Hey Ryan,

      Thanks a lot for the feedback. I believe that this idea is so simple that we just don’t think about it. We watch it all the time in movies and in TV shows, but maybe we just take it for granted that it only fits in fiction? 🙂


  13. tap says:

    the information you have shared is indeed a lot of help! i haven’t heard cliffhangers before but i really am glad that i have come to know about this!

  14. Mike Maynard says:

    I understand what you mean, but I call them ‘teasers’; perhaps because I’m English. I teased my readers to read on all through writing my novel. I even tease readers frequently when writing a comment like this so they will pay my blog a visit. I write on thrifty and frugal stuff but also Neodigital Art. I write a blog every day and often time them to be published at 9am the next day.

    Very interesting blog, I’m on but will self host soon.

    • jens says:

      Hi Mike,

      Ah, teasers. That explains it just by looking at the word.

      I have never thought about adding teasers to my comments in order to drive traffic to my blog, but that’s a great point.

      When will you self host, and have you bought a domain and a host?

      Thanks a lot for your comment.


  15. Faith says:

    I am new to this post.thanks for sharing this with us, it’s informative indeed.

  16. boylie says:

    So that means you keep your post hanging for us to visit you often? kidding aside you got great post. It’s very i8nformative.

    • jens says:

      Hey Boylie,

      Yes, that’s exactly what it means 🙂

      So far, I haven’t added any cliffhangers, but I’ll start adding them to my autoresponder fairly soon. I think that this is very important to get people to open the next emails I’m going to send. But, high quality is what’s really important.

      Thanks a lot for your comment.


  17. Bishwajeet says:

    Haven’t really tried email marketing yet. Just using the normal feedburner solution,but maybe in future will give it a try

    • jens says:

      I have also been using Feedburner for a while, but then I changed to AWeber. To me, email marketing is one of the most important parts of creating long and sustainable relationships online.


  18. Mae says:

    I would love to give i try to this new application, it seems very easy to use.

  19. sanjay says:

    I didn’t know about this cliffhangers thing. Haven’t tried this either, btw where will you use this in an email? In the email title?

    • jens says:

      Hi Sanjay,

      I haven’t added cliffhangers to my emails yet, you can use them in the title, but I think it’s even more powerful if I add them to the end, as to what they’ll expect reading in the next email I send. This way they’ll be waiting for the email and will open it and read it when they receive it.


  20. Samuel says:

    Hi Jens!
    Awww i must say Steve is just an awesome person,i always admire his techniques,this idea of adding Cliffhangers to an email is really firm and well fabricated,it is already been used in an entertainment industry and print industry,it is an art to make your visitor curious by adding cliffhangers,mostly we all know about this but the thing is that we hardly think about it like this before,that is call attentiveness.I admit this fact that it is very difficult to say that your all mails gonna be open by your visitors.Only any curiosity generator phrases or pre-relations can do this miracle and adding Cliffhangers to an emails can make differences like this.I also haven’t did this experiment with my emails yet but i reckon that now i should do that.Thanks to Steve for revealing this idea and thanks to you for spreading this idea through your platform.Thank you for sharing such a great,valuable,interesting,considerable and educational content with us.

    Good Luck and God Bless!!

    With Regards!
    Samuel Joshua.

    • jens says:

      Hi Samuel,

      Absolutely, Steve is brilliant, and I’m so glad that he’s sharing his ideas with us. Adding cliffhangers will hopefully make me emails a lot more powerful than they have been, and the results should be a lot better as well 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment Samuel.


  21. srinivas says:

    hi jens..

    firstly i would like to appreciate u !!
    u r at ur best now !!

    secondly about cliffhangers,
    i think while adding cliffhangers one should be very carefull..let me explain,
    readers ll be in a wrong impression that he wanted to read his hez is using cliffhangers and so on..

    my suggestion is to use the cliffhangers in such way that one should not give scope to criticize..!!

    what do u say??

    • jens says:

      Hi Srinivas,

      Thanks a lot. I absolutely agree that we should be careful using cliffhangers in emails. We’re not starring in an action movie or a thriller, and we don’t want our readers to understand that the only reason we are doing it is to trick them into reading more. It should be a natural part of the story. But, that’s very hard 🙂

      Thanks a lot for the comment.


  22. Susan says:

    Very sneaky, Steve Scott! Yeah, I really should use my list better and getting them to open…..and then open the next email I send sounds like the bets idea I’ve heard in a long time. Thanks for the great reminder!

    • jens says:

      Hi Susan,

      Cliffhangers works great when it comes to autoresponders, and probably works great with blog posts as well. It keeps us waiting, thinking and wanting more.

      Thanks a lot for your feedback 🙂


  23. James H says:

    Really nice concept there, one thing I am trialing at work at the moment is sending an email to people who have bought making them think its about their order but with a cross sell. Its working a treat.

  24. Alex Blaken says:

    Heh, as you said just reading an interesting post that can’t let you go is what i’ve noticed with your blog post, its kind of interractive and captivating with very lucid words that gives a clear understanding what you are talking about. thnks once more nad keep it!

  25. Andrew says:

    very interesting post thank you for sharing it with us i really enjoyed reading it.

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