photo by brendan-c

We’re bombarded every day with marketing messages.

Think about it.

How many email lists are you signed up for right now?

And how many of those do you actually open and read regularly?

That’s exactly what your audience is doing too.

So how do you become the person who sends the emails that people can’t wait to open and read?

The Secret to Creating Sizzling Emails

Just getting someone’s email is tricky (here’s one way to go about getting it).

If someone decides to invite you into their email inbox because you’ve convinced them you’re honest, competent and human, then your email content must reflect those qualities.

Crack copywriter and marketing consultant Michel Fortin says:

"Email is the most personal marketing medium on the planet. You trade emails with your friends and family . . . You read those emails. You trust those emails"

The whole point of email marketing is to nurture a relationship with your audience and establish trust.

The worst thing you can do is blitz your audience with sales pitches or cold, hard facts.

If you don’t want to see your open and click-through rates drop, or worse, your unsubscribe rates go up, your emails need to sing.

Your audience wants you to get real, get personal and spark a connection.

So what’s the secret to creating sizzling emails that people will open, read and click through to whatever action you want them to take?

You got it.

You tell stories.

If your current email marketing efforts lean theoretical or tactical, take heart. I was in the same place as you not long ago.

Twenty years of marketing experience didn’t prepare me for the dismal results of my own email marketing efforts when I first started out.

I’d spend hours crafting what I thought was quality email content.

Then I’d anxiously hit that send button.

I’d wait. And wait. And wait.


Why wasn’t anyone responding?

Every time I sent out my newsletter, it was like the scene from the apolocolyptic 80s TV movie The Day After, you know, when that eerie voice crackles over the airwaves and asks “Is anyone out there? Anyone at all?”

Then one day, I banged out this email to friends and family, and decided share it with my subscribers too.

Subject: Down & Dirty

Hi there,

I wanted to drop a quick fun line to let you know about something a little crazy I'm doing in just over a week.

I'll be getting down and dirty.

No, really. I'm talking mud, sweat and, possibly a few tears.


Well, earlier this year a friend lured me into signing up for the Tough Mountain Challenge at Sunday River in Maine.

What's the big deal about this Tough Mountain Challenge anyway?

For one there's lots of dirt. And water. And mud. Oh, and 95% of the 5K (that's 3.1 miles) is up mountain; not uphill.

We're talking up a 1,000-foot-vertical peak.

And let's not forget about a dozen obstacles along the race course.

With names like Tsunami, Suicide Sprint, Trench of Terror, Hole of Horror and Slip Slide & Die, these obstacles make basic training courses look wimpy.

So when do I strut my tough?

Saturday July 21. Pray that I make it back in one piece, OK?

Within minutes, half my (albeit tiny) list replied back.

WOAH, I thought, what the heck just happened here?

The answer struck me hard when I read this response:

Your story is so contagious. I feel like running, climbing and jumping - YES! It's wonderful to get out of the comfort zone.

I had stumbled quite accidentally into the power of story.

I didn’t send this email with the intent of providing instruction or information or even a call to action.

I just thought, here’s a crazy thing I’m doing  . . . maybe I’ll share it.

And yet, there was a lesson in that email. There was an emotional and aspirational appeal.

Even better, I had actually inspired a different person to start running road races, which inspired her husband and kids to run with her too.

I’m still blown away that this email could actually change the lives of four people – three of whom never even read it.

That was more than a year ago and I’m getting choked up right now just thinking about it.

You have the same storytelling power at your fingertips. You can have these kinds of results too.

Because stories are all about engaging people on an emotional level. They are personal, they are aspirational and they are remarkably disarming. [Click to Tweet]

That’s why stories are incredibly effective when it comes to transforming subscribers into loyal fans and customers, even if you think your email list has gone dormant.

So how do you use stories to nurture the relationship with your subscribers, or revive a lifeless email list?

How to Use the Power of Story to Nurture Email Subscribers or Revive a Lifeless Email List

Start with a clear goal in mind.

What action do you want people to take?

Do you want them to read a blog post?

Fill out a survey?

Buy a product or service?

Once you know what action you want people to take, think about how taking that action will fulfill an emotional need of your audience.

Do they yearn for confidence? Love? Belonging? Creativity?

Think about their aspirations, as well as the related self-limiting beliefs your audience wants to change.

Now, tell a story that connects to the lesson, tactic or message you’re delivering to help them actually make that change.


Because doing so will transfer the aspirational emotion from your story to what you’re offering.

It allows someone to connect with an idea that might otherwise seem impersonal or boring.

And it makes your call to action feel like the next natural step for your audience.

Are you small business owner, consultant or coach who wants to engage with your audience on an emotional level, but you’re struggling to market yourself in a personal and compelling way? Schedule a complimentary 60-minute consultation with me today and learn how you can make your competitors irrelevant and supercharge your marketing from this point on.  


  1. Catherine Storing on December 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for writing about this Gayle, I unsubscribe from lists daily, because all they want me to do is buy something and provide no value at all. I wish more entrepreneurs knew about genuine story telling like you.

    • storystylist on December 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Catherine,
      Yes, email marketing really is a balancing act of offering high-quality content AND making offers. Telling stories is elevates your content,plus I personally think it makes writing content more fun. Thanks for the great comment.

  2. Denise Costello on December 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Loved this post! You have inspired me to go back and tweak the current post that I’m working on it. Thanks!

    • storystylist on December 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks Denise, So glad you found it helpful!

  3. Krista on March 14, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Wow! No surprise here, Gayle, you’ve put together another great post. Thank you for sharing and most importantly, thank you for being you! There is a GREAT lesson in this message and I appreciate it!

    • storystylist on March 14, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks Krista. Always love to hear your feedback and I know you quite the story spinner with your content.

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