We Read This Crap So You Don’t Have To: “Bad News” E-mails

October 13, 2011

There’s an interesting blog on the AWeber site by Danny Iny titled “Can ‘Bad News’ Lift Response Rates?” You know: The subject lines in e-mails that announce “Bad News.” Iny suggests that it meets three criteria for effective headlines:

  • It’s question-based, rather than answer-based.
  • It’s problem-based, not solution-based.
  • It evokes curiosity.

But Iny notes that the technique doesn’t always work, and that there are two major problems with “bad news” subject lines:

  • No context: You might receive bad news from family, friends, business partners, or clients. There’s already care, concern, and a relationship. You don’t care about e-mail marketers, you con’t care enough about them for any news to be particularly bad.
  • Destroys credibility and trust: You run the risk that your audience will stop trusting you. Often the audience will feel (correctly) that either you’re manipulating them or you’re lying to them.

Iny says he’s used “bad news” twice in his career. It failed once and worked once. He’s planning on using it a third time. He advices: “Use with care.” Iny argues that “Bad News” subject lines can work if you’ve built up a solid relationship with your audience, provided lots of value, and that you actually have news to share that could be legitimately seen as bad.

Yeah. Right. And marketers who share legitimately bad news occurs about as often as pigs flying.

We read this “Bad News” crap so you don’t have to. Here are some excerpts from just a few recent offenders:

Lots of Bad News today: 1st Warning: Closing down in 8 hours

#1 I just spoke to Nate again. There’s good news and bad news. Good news is Nate has about 10 – 15 spots open for his MONEY MATRIX PLATFORM which funds and sells your properties for you to his buyers.

#2 I also just spoke with George and Gary. Today is also the very last day to watch the webinar training I did with George about “The Bankers Code” Way To Building Passive Wealth Thru Private Lending.

Josh Cantwell

*****************************************

BAD NEWS

This is an urgent update for my long time subscribers only.
Please read the entire email carefully as it is time sensitive.

We ALMOST had to deliver you some bad news, but it looks like we had a small (but high impact) miracle occur that you need to know about now. [Comment: I wonder if Larry did an A/B test with the headline “It’s A Miracle!”]
You want to do more deals and create more freedom right? Keep reading…
You ALMOST lost your chance at free VIP passes to an exclusive event where deal makers are born. It happens only once a year and is invite only.
Bad news is there’s only 10-15 spots open and he’s closing down as soon as they are filled so YOU HAVE TO GO NOW to get a spot in the Money Matrix. If a complete wealth building platform is what you have been looking for then here you go

Larry Goins

***************************************

Bad News.

If you have a 401K that is now a 201K, believe it or not, you can still safely earn above-average double-digit
returns
in this market. How you ask?

By being, “the bank.”

Too good to be true? Think again.

Now, while this might sound a little strange right now, let me assure you that many folks just like you
across the US, are self-directing their investment dollars into things like, real estate, or small businesses etc., and they are earning very high returns.

Craig Fuhr

[Comment: I couldn’t find even a whiff of bad news in this one.]

************************************

Good News, Bad News . . .

Over the past three days I’ve shared a short video presentation about the most valuable skill any entrepreneur, business owner, or marketer can possess.  Today I’ll share some good news and some bad news.

First some bad news.  It took me 10 years to develop and hone the skill of creating copy that sells.  10 years of studying and testing to figure out what works (and what doesn’t work). [Comment: That’s the bad news? That it only took you 10 years to become a copywriting expert, and a very, very highly-paid one at that? I’d have thought the bad news was the decades you spent selling suits before you moved into marketing.]

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a decade of hassle and frustration wasting your time and money figuring out what works.  I’ve already done that for you and I’ve created a “step-by-step” system that removes all the guesswork, waste, and frustration out of “Creating Copy That Sells” Once and For All so you can be creating profitable marketing campaigns FASTER than you imagined possible.

All you have to do is click on the link below to watch this short video presentation:

=>WATCH THIS NOW

More Bad News…this video will be removed at MIDNIGHT EST on Monday night so I recommend you watch it NOW.

Dedicated to Creating Copy That Sells,

Bill Glazer

***********************************

All “bad news” e-mails are crap. I don’t think I’ve ever received a legitimate one. Even ones with “Only 4 slots remaining” isn’t bad news . . . except for the promoter who hasn’t yet filled up the program.

As I said, those are only a few samples of the muck that gums up my in-box. As for Iny’s blog, the only criterion a marketer should use when deciding whether to put “Bad News” in the subject line is: Is it really bad news? Truly bad news? Honestly bad news? If it isn’t, don’t use it.

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Some Truly Stupid Email Subject Lines

July 23, 2010

Do you ever feel that “enough’s enough” as far as stupid, misleading, or just peculiar email subject lines are concerned? I know I do. And it seems like I’ve been receiving more and more of them recently dealing with real estate investing. (Well, not really real estate investing. More like selling products to would-be real estate investors.) I guess it’s because the “ordinary” or straightforward subject lines don’t work as well any more.

It’s gotten like the headlines you see (if you choose to look) on tabloids like News of the World. Sort of a “Can you believe this? Can you top this?”

Here are just a few recent ones that have slithered into my in-box:

Scandalous Mexico Photographs exposed [Greg Clement. February 23, 2010. First line of e-mail: “I will unveil dozens of scandalous pictures from Team Realeflow’s recent trip to Mexico on Thursday’s “Wealth Protection” webinar with Jeff Watson.””]

My wife is scamming my brother and I. It’s B.S.! [Josh Cantwell: June 18, 2010.” In addition to being grammatically incorrect (should be “brother and me,” Cantwell’s e-mail doesn’t make any sense vis-a-vis the subject line: “I put together some free training videos and an ongoing case study of a REO that we just bought, and that my brother Mark is rehabbing with my wife Lisa’s IRA funds. This deal has some super cool, and one not so cool, twists to it, and it going to be a great case study for you to follow and learn from.”

My friend Lee has lost it… [Mike Ochsner: April 23, 2010. “I’m not sure if you were on the webinar last night, or if you came and left, because you were unsure exactly what you were seeing, but I’ve got to say, I was shocked by the whole thing. Lee has never, I repeat NEVER, done anything like this.” As in Casablanca: “Shocked! Shocked, I say.” In this case, Mike was shocked that Lee offered the some sort of discount  on an overpriced program–probably along the lines of the “$37,000 value for only $1,995” pitch.]

**Newsflash** Google Is Run By COMMUNISTS [Preston Ely: July 21, 2010. Explanation: “you’re not gonna believe this … so the other day, Google shut half my advertising campaigns down.  They wouldn’t even give me a reason.  Apparently they are communists who don’t like their advertisers making actual money. But that’s not all … Then I’m at lunch with this dude who tells me that Google secretly accepts bribes (I mean payments) from companies to ensure they get top organic rankings! Can you believe that??? Freakin crooks!” That’s a long-winded attempt to promote a book and a product that tells you how to get high rankings from Google.]

“Minnie Mouse Caught Cheating On Mickey With Preston Ely!” [Preston Ely: July 1, 2010. Here’s the explanation: “I used to love Minnie Mouse.  So much so that I wanted to punch Mickey in the whiskers and steal her.  There is a relatively good chance that you can’t relate.   I tell you this for the same reason I tell you anything, which isfor no reason at all.  I just happen to be hosting a huge real estate / internet marketing event in Orlando July 22-25, and it reminded me of my youthful Disney character crushes, of which there were many (*cough* Princess Jasmine *cough*).” Well, that may be more than we need to know]
 
“Caught On Tape!”  Preston, Britney Spears, & Marilyn Manson! [Preston Ely: July 5, 2010. OK, this is another one, though not quite as peculiar as Ely’s fascination with Minnie: “Don, I’m gonna be honest … the video you’re about to see if maybe one of the most scandalous I’ve ever made.  I almost wasn’t going to send this to you, but you’re going to learn soooo much that I just have to. It’s over two hours of me teaching marketing and motivation at the Freedom$oft event I hosted in March. You’ve never heard anything like this before in your life – I promise you.” I’m still not sure what Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson have to do with this.]
 
porn isn’t the answer [Preston Ely: March 25, 2010. Talk about a killer app: “Did you know that pornographers used to be the #1 generator of $$ on the internet?  True story.  Feel free to use that little fun fact at the water cooler today in the office.  Thankfully they’re not anymore.  Guess who is? We are.  You may not have known this, but my friends and I make more money on the internet than anyone in  the world.  We literally dominate it.  Google my name if you don’t believe me.  (preston ely)”

Do you think DC is sexy? Or does it look like he got beat with an iPad? [Than Merrill: May 11, 2010. “I know DC Fawcett really well…and he is decent looking guy, but he is definitely not Brad Pitt. And seriously look at this picture?  Who takes a picture like this? Who I say? Nobody normal that I know… However, today DC must be wearing some special cologne or milkbone underwear because I have never seen such madness. We ran a webinar with him this morning about his “Commercial Short Sale System and Partnering Opportunity” and as soon as the webinar ended the phones in my office blew up.”

Greg Clement & Jeff Walker Are Gay [Preston Ely: August 9, 2009. “Web definitions for gay: cheery: bright and pleasant; promoting a feeling of cheer; “a cheery hello”; “a gay sunny room”; “a sunny smile” What’d you think I meant? You’d be gay and cheery too if you had the bad ass SIMS system working for you like they have for themselves!’] 

COFFEE ENEMAS OR IRS ENEMAS…WHICH ONE IS HEALTHIER? [Dwan Bent Twyford: June 8, 2010. Honestly, Dwan and her husband Bill seem to be two of the more straight-shooting folks, and they send out far fewer e-mails than the folks above do. And perhaps the subject line isn’t misleading. From the e-mail: “If you have ever been on the receiving end of an IRS enema, you know how much control they actually have once they set their sights on you. Having personally gone through this. Join me on WEDNESDAY EDUCATIONAL DAY which is on THURSDAY this weekI never want to see it happen to you!
.
In a related category are the “Apology” e-mails. Often, these “apologize” for supposed computer crashes after an all-to-successful product introduction, or apologies for not having enough inbound lines for a webinar. You’d think these folks would get tired of playing the village idiot.

I am so sorry about what happened last week. [Greg Clement: February 9, 2010. This one almost sounds legitimate: “Last Thursday’s very important INTERNET training webinar was cancelled.  Jeff Walker got sick and couldn’t make it.”]

FW: sorry my fault [Greg Clement: February 2, 2010. “The email I sent yesterday had a link in it that didn’t work for a lot of people.  SORRY.” This sort of thing seems to happen a lot.]

Sorry, I sent you the wrong link. [Greg Clement: January 19, 2010. “I just sent you an email and it had the wrong link in it. Ignore the link that I sent you in the previous email, it won’t get you on the early bird webinar.”

*whoops* no links in that last one … (How to HIJACK Your Buyer’s Brain For Billions) [Preston Ely: June 3, 2010]

That’s the sort of e-mail subject lines being sent out now to try to capture the public’s clearly waning attention. Wonder what it’ll take next year? And, perhaps more seriously, it’s becoming more and more difficult to take these folks, their pitches, and their big buck products seriously. I’ll admit: McDonalds sells hamburgers with Ronald McDonald as a pitchman. But there’s a difference between a 99 cent hamburger and a $1,995 real estate program.


We Read This Crap So You Don’t Have To: Preston Ely for Dave Durell

June 16, 2009

Our trusty Crap-O-Meter has been flirting with a perfect “10” score for awhile. That is, a marketing pitch that’s not just misleading, not just over-the-top, but blatantly inaccurate. Well, friends, we’ve hit the jackpot. Today’s a solid “10.”

The pitch is by Preston (or Pre$ton as he sometimes signs his e-mails) Ely for an exercise and fitness program by Dave Durell. (Yes, this is a real estate blog, and the pitch has nothing to do with real estate. But what we rate here is the marketing, not the underlying product. And Preston promotes a lot of real estate products. Don’t get us wrong: Health and fitness are admirable goals and Durell’s product may very well be worth every penny. It’s the pitch we have problems with. Yes, here we’re “shooting the messenger,” not arguing with the message.)

OK. Here’s the pitch:

Preston Ely's Pitch for David Durell's Exercise Program

Preston Ely's Pitch for David Durell's Exercise Program

Preston begins by explaining that he was rushed to the hospital after complications following back surgery. We’ll accept that at face value. That’s serious, and our best wishes truly go out to Preston.

But he uses that to set the stage for what he writes next:

This could have all been avoided had I been smarter with my exercise routine when I was younger. As it was, I made a ton of mistakes which basically cost me my health.

It didn’t have to be that way.

My friend Dave Durell (ex-physical therapist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) just released a special report titled “The 7 Deadly Workout Mistakes & How To Avoid Them.” I highly suggest you read this right now and spare yourself this pain. Do it for yourself. Do it for your kids. You’ll thank me.

Note that Ely seems to be linking his workout routine to his present poor health. Now, while it’s certainly possible that a poor workout routine can negatively affect one’s health, 99 times out of 100 it’s the lack of a workout routine that leads to poor health.

Further, Ely is pushing a report titled “The 7 Deadly Workout Mistakes & How To Avoid Them.” Uh, oh. Deadly workout mistakes? Like ignoring the signs of a stroke or heart attack? Like dehydration? Like not using spotters when lifting weights? Deadly?

We’ll get to those in a moment. But you get the picture. This is serious.

Problem is, ol’ Preston has a bunch of his facts wrong. He claims that Durell is “ex-physical therapist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” Umm. No. Durell isn’t a physical therapist at all. Never has been. In fact, he doesn’t even claim to be. On the sales page, he states, correctly, that he’s a physical therapist assistant. The educational requirement is a 2 year associate degree, generally from a community college. In Durell’s case, he earned his associate’s degree in 1995 from Housatonic Community College. He then passed an exam to become a physical therapist assistant. And that’s fine. Problem is, to become a physical therapist today requires a clinical doctorate. Back in 1995, it generally required a master’s degree, not an associate’s degree.

Beyond that, Ely claims that Durell was a physical therapist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A double “nope” here. Not only was he not a physical therapist. His role with Tampa Bay was not connected to physical therapy. Durell’s sales page explains that he was a “strength and conditioning assistant” with Tampa Bay. Again, that’s perfectly fine and perfectly respectable. But he sure as heck wasn’t acting as a physical therapist (or even physical therapist assistant) with Tampa Bay.

Here’s the top part of Durell’s sales page:

Dave Durell's sales page for his exercise program

Dave Durell's sales page for his exercise program

Now, as for Ely’s linkage of his poor health to his former exercise routine–and his promotion of a report dealing with “The 7 Deadly Workout Mistakes,” there’s a–ahem–slight problem. True, that’s the title of Durell’s “Special Report.” But the report has nothing to do with “deadly” workout mistakes. It’s just seven pieces of advice–good advice, but pretty basic–on how to maximize an exercise program.

Here are the “deadly mistakes”:

  • Working out for too long
  • Not working out hard enough
  • Not working out progressively
  • Not recording your workouts
  • Working out too frequently
  • Not having a positive attitude
  • Not making a commitment

Even the few items that might conceivably be “deadly,” such as “working out for too long” or “working out too frequently,” don’t contain any major fear-inducing points. So, there’s room to fault Durell for the name of his report, but let’s chalk that up to a bit of marketing hype. And as you’ll see, the program that Durell is selling is designed to help you “Get The Lean, Healthy, Sexy Body You Want In Only Minutes A Day…
… Discover The Proven, Easy-To-Follow System That Will Get You Into Awesome Shape, Despite Your Jam-Packed Schedule!”

On the other hand, Ely’s pitch–tieing in “deadly mistakes” with emergency surgery and leaking spinal fluid–coupled with a misrepresentation of credentials is enough to earn this pitch a 10 on our Crap-O-Meter.