Can swearing be part of your email strategy?

“Thou whoreson zed , thou unnecessary letter!”

King Lear.

I’ve seen a lot of email launches. They range from 12 to 60 different emails, depending on the size of your list, your subscriber segments and purchase journey. That’s a lot of copy to get through and you need to keep your reader’s interest, even when you are repeating the same information about your course (or shop, or group…you get the idea).

So, your emails need to entertain, otherwise people will not open them. They also need a personality to set them apart from the 50 other unopened messages in your reader’s inbox. This is where being controversial, unapologetic – even offensive – pays dividends.

Watch your tone, ya filthy animal.

Adapted quote from Home Alone.

Email marketing is tough. For the best results, you need a short subject line of 7 words or 41 characters[1] and the ideal copy length of 50 – 125 words[2] You can go over that – some of my favourite Substack newsletters run up to 1,000 words – but they are in-depth topics, designed to be text-heavy. Plus, most of the authors are damn good writers. 

You need to make an impact as quickly as possible. On top of that, it’s much harder to convey emotion via text, so your choice of words has to be carefully crafted to make your audience feel something. Yes, you can use imagery – but you can’t substitute your entire brand voice for a GIF featuring Ryan Reynolds. 

For example:

“The damned typewriter was stuck again” (world-weary).

“I don’t teach marketing bullshit. Just the honest kind” (defiant).

Who the fuck do you think you are?” 

Take your time to answer, because you are letting everyone down, when you think you are not enough.” (outraged).

Swearing is designed to elicit an emotional response. However – like salt in your food – a tiny sprinkle is better than a lot. If you start saying “fuck” all over the place, people will edit it out, rather like those banner ads in the early days of the internet.

What if people unsubscribe?

That’s the risk you take. When you stop being anodyne, mass-market and bland, some people will sign off from your email list. However, a lot more will remember you. As long as your swearing is timely, useful and aligned to your personal brand, you will be attracting the people you want to work with.   

Give it a try. 

Send an email that demands attention. 




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