Write Remarkable Copy To Keep Leads Engaged

Disrupt expectations with your email copy and get better results.


The most recent email tracking statistics pin the average number of emails sent per day at around 205 billion. 205 Billion! Those same reports claim that the number of worldwide email users sits at about 2.6 billion, which means the average emailer is sending about 80 messages every single day. That’s a whole lot of signal noise coming through the same channel.


It’s in this context that an important question naturally arises: How in the hell do you plan to stand out from the crowd in this type of world? Your success as an email marketer may very well depend on the answer. But a secret weapon exists to help navigate this space and chances are you’ve already been using it without consciously knowing.

A Word of Mouth Marketing Primer


Here’s a brief behavioral psychology lesson that I promise you’ll catch yourself repeating to friends. The human brain is designed not to think. Yes, you read that correctly. Our brains are built to be as lazy as possible in order to conserve energy for crisis situations so we can continue to survive. Constant thinking = more energy used = increased danger of extinction. So, the brain creates something called schemas, which are basically mental models we use to make sense of the world in the easiest ways possible.


When you pull up to a stoplight, you don’t have to think about what red means; you just know it’s signaling you to stop. That’s because your brain has made a mental model – or memory – of what a stoplight looks like and how to interpret it, so you don’t ever have to use valuable energy deciphering it again.

Disrupting the Norm

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about schema:


Schemata influence attention and the absorption of new knowledge: people are more likely to notice things that fit into their schema, while re-interpreting contradictions to the schema as exceptions or distorting them to fit. People can organize new perceptions into schemata quickly as most situations do not require complex thought when using schema, since automatic thought is all that is required.

What does this have to do with email, you might be asking yourself? Well, consider what would happen if that stoplight was blue instead of red. After checking to make sure you weren’t dreaming, you’d probably feel the need to tell somebody about what you just witnessed or maybe even tweet about it. You’d certainly stop and take a nice, long gander, wouldn’t you?

An unexpected experience that disrupts the norm has a significant effect on our brains. We immediately come to attention to assess the situation for potential dangers and to form new schema, if necessary. We focus on the experience in order to make sense of it.  

They Never Expect the Unexpected

There’s something to be learned from comedians and traditional joke structure that strongly applies to word of mouth marketing. Most jokes have a set-up and a punchline. The set-up established the premise of the joke by providing the audience with necessary background information. The punchline is often a twist, capitalizing on the element of surprise that the audience wasn’t really expecting. The setup leads the audience in one direction and the punchline suddenly veers off into a totally different one.

At its core, word of mouth marketing follows a very similar path to connecting with an audience as comedic jokes do. The set-up in this case is the already established schemas and expectations for what a consumer will encounter when he or she opens an email. You expect that stoplight will be red. An effective punchline, then, requires marketers to study these expectations and creatively disrupt them while maintaining a balance between entertainment and business messaging.  

A Path to Disruption

Anyone can do this. Effective email writing that capitalizes on word of mouth principles can come in many forms. Be original. Be relevant. Be playful. Be thought provoking. Be quirky. No matter what approach you take, you must find a way to disrupt the everyday expectations of your specific audience in an authentic manner if you want your emails to be effective. A good dose of fearlessness doesn’t hurt, either.


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