16 Things everybody should know about email marketing

I was recently interviewed for a podcast.

The interviewer was the lovely Corine La Font of Between The Lines.

(Who was also a tad sweet on The Muscle I might add).

The topic was “How To Build An Audience Using Simple Emails”, and once the little red light flashed “recording”, the value bombs began to drop.

Peep the highlights:

*Why the old marketing adage “the money’s in the list” is only half true (6:33)

*Is email dead? (7:54)

*Email is more personal than social media (12:40)

*The #1 reason to build a responsive email list (13:30)

*How to have more loyal subscribers and customers (15:15)

*Why “unsubscribes” are GOOD (16:24)

*The truth about the best frequency for emails and why you should never worry about “bothering” people (20:55)

*A simple way to segment your subscribers (22:43)

*What metrics actually matter to your success (25:55)

*A sneaky way to use subject lines to identify new marketing and product avenues (27:08)

*How we made a health clinic an additional 14K in the first month (30:16)

*How I use email to grow my business (31:21)

*The power of “soft” offers in every email (32:24)

*Why Marvel movies do better at the box office than DC Comics movies, and how you can use their secret sauce to grow your business (34:00)

*How in 15 minutes and with 6 simple questions you can discover a new way to make a lot more profit in your business (36:07)

*Keys to success (38:16)

Enjoy them a la carte or watch the full interview here:



Happy emailing,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  Want me to take care of all of this “marketing stuff” for you?  Get your stress-free brainstorm call to find out all that is possible for your biz by booking here:


Why I drink breastfeeding tea

This week:

In honour of Valentine’s Day and women everywhere…

A story so estrogen-filled it should come with an image of Trump’s head at the center of red ‘no’ sign.

(Fun fact: a woman’s body does pump out more estrogen when she’s nursing because it boosts the immunity of both mother and baby during this crucial first stage of nurture.  But I digress.)

When I was in Bulgaria last summer I wanted to stock up on herbal teas.

Bulgaria boasts a broad menu of healthful herbs sourced from the mountains.

The resulting teas are both delicious and great for you.

On this particular day I was in an apteka (which is a pharmacy, but most of them carry supplements, herbs and teas as well).  One tea in particular listed herbs I thought I would like, but I was unfamiliar with the Bulgarian term karmachki.

I was going to ask but there was lady playing fifty million questions with the pharmacist, so I eventually lost patience, paid for my tea, and left.  A bit later I picked up the box only to discover there was an English translation on the other side which read…



Karmachki are breastfeeding women.

That makes sense.

Oh well, it still has good ingredients I reasoned, and put it in my suitcase.

I hadn’t touched it since then for the mostly irrational fear that it would turn me into a eunuch.

(Although if it promotes prolactin release, as is my guess, that’s bad for testosterone.  Hiking prolactin is one of the mechanisms by which some anti-anxiety drugs whack your t-levels.  Another aside.)

That’s until last Saturday.

With no other tea in the house, and badly wanting a tea…I cracked.

With quite a flavorful outcome I might add.

Besides that, it did make me feel motherly which was nice.

And I skipped right past the whole sore nipples thing.

Good day all around.

Those “lost in translation” moments will happen any time you try to learn something new.  Accept it.

Give yourself permission to be a beginner.

In any case, things will either go well…

OR you’ll get a good story out of it.


Happy Translating,

Conor Kelly


Use this Marvel Superhero secret sauce to Thanos your competition

“Hear me and rejoice.  You have had the privilege of being saved by The Great Titan.  You may think this is suffering.  No.  It is salvation.  Smile, for even in death you have become children of Thanos.” – Ebony Maw in Avengers: Infinity War

A few months ago, I took my daughter to see Aquaman.

I love superhero movies.

But lately I’ve felt a clear preference for ones produced by Marvel (e.g. The Avengers, Thor, Ironman, Black Panther) vs. the other of the big two comic book legacies: DC Comics.

Aquaman is a DC Comics character.

The movie was OK, but I kept thinking, “why is this just not as good as a Marvel movie?”

Fast-forward a few days.  We hit the play button on Avengers: Infinity War which had recently come on Netflix.  I knew the second I heard the first few lines of script what the difference is…


Marvel has superior writing.

(Quoted above are those opening sentences, which in the scene are pronounced magnanimously by the sorcerer Ebony Maw, as he steps over bodies in the wake of Thanos’ attack.)

It’s not even that DC’s writing is bad.  It’s not.  But Marvel’s writers have that slight edge that, when repeated throughout the film delivers a better experience.  The jokes are just that little bit funnier.   The story lines, just that little bit more imaginative.  The dialogue, just that little bit cleverer.

These are big, blockbuster movies.

And even though, in my opinion, anyone who enters the theater is under an implied contract to suspend disbelief, the challenge for the writers (especially over several movies) is to keep one-upping themselves without it getting too…well, wacky.

One way Marvel’s writers get around this is by poking fun at the genre, as seen in this brief exchange:

Dr. Strange: “If Thanos gets his hands on all six Infinity Stones he’ll be able to wipe out life on a scale hitherto undreamt of.”

Tony Stark: “Did you seriously just say ‘hitherto undreamt of’?”

It lets the tension out of the big scenes and keeps the audience on side with the characters.

Let’s go to the scorecard.

Here’s Marvel vs. DC by the numbers (domestically):

*Average gross revenue per release: $247M to $224M in favor of Marvel (keep in mind Marvel has produced almost double the number of movies DC has.  Thus, higher output AND higher average.)

*Percentage of releases grossing over $200M: %58 to %48, again in favor of Marvel

*Opening weekends: Marvel, 6 of the top 15 (and 3 of the top 6), DC, 5 of the top 15 (highest at #5)

*Critically, Marvel movies tend to have many more favourable reviews than DC movies (with the exception of the three Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan, those are truly special)

All this is despite DC having, arguably, more iconic characters – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

Internationally, Marvel is more popular as well.

What does this all mean for you?

Words matter.

If you had even slightly higher-converting words throughout your business (in your email newsletters, in your print ads, on your social media, in selling situations, in the scripts you give your employees – you do give them scripts, don’t you?) not only would you be more popular in your niche, but you’d steal market share faster than a bandit in a Bugatti.

That’s where I come in.

If you’d like to find out how email helps you convert more leads and sell more to your existing customers, go here to request your stress-free brainstorm call:


Wipe out your competition on a scale hitherto undreamt of.

Then, rest and watch the sun rise on a grateful universe.

Happy Thanos’ing,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  If you have an interest in writing and story-telling, I urge you to study what Marvel’s writers do.  I’d start with Thor: Ragnarok, followed by Avengers: Infinity War.

The amazing true story of Whitney Houston’s epic superbowl performance

On Monday it will be 7 years since Whitney Houston’s death.

And since I just watched Whitney, the Kevin MacDonald documentary of her life on Netflix, here’s a story I think you’ll find interesting.

First, a little context.

I was never a fan of her music.

And I’ve never had any particular fondness for the U.S. national anthem either.  When well sung it’s rousing, to be sure.  What I’m less about is its war imagery and vague undertones of neo-imperialism.

That said there’s one clip of Whitney Houston I’ve watched at least 50 times…her singing of The Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Superbowl.  I think it’s one of the most insane vocal performances mine ears doth heard.

I get chills every time.

I never knew the story behind it, though.

To hear her music manager tell it, they gave her rendition some serious thought.  You see, African Americans have also had an iffy relationship to the anthem because it’s about some of the state organs of violence that – at times – have been targeted toward black people.

The song is typically a waltz performed in 3/4 time.

So what they decided to do was adapt it to 4/4 time.

They reasoned this would give Whitney more space to hold out the big notes.

Plus, all black music is in 4/4.

He redid the arrangements.  Had the orchestra rehearse it.  And they hated it.  Nevertheless, he sent Whitney the recording, “what do you think”?  But never heard back.  It wasn’t until a week before the big game that he saw her and she admitted she hadn’t heard it.

She said, “play it.”

Then leaned back, closed her eyes, and listened intently.

When it was over, all she murmured was, “got it.”

What the world heard that day was the unrehearsed first take. 

 Watch it here:




For anyone who knows anything about music, let alone performing, that is…CRAZY.  It’s genius on another level.  Here she was this young woman with a big voice, on the world’s greatest stage, letting it all hang loose.



Indeed, freedom is ultimately what the lyric is meant to convey.

And it’s what you feel as she sings it.

I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the power of this moment.  I may not be her #1 fan.  But for that alone, damn if she wasn’t one of the most badass singers to ever walk this planet.

Hats off, Ms. Houston.


One more thing…

Genius and talent played a role.

But that level of command, both musically and over her performance, would never have happened if her mother Cissy – herself an accomplished vocalist – hadn’t drilled them into her from a young age.

What if she hadn’t?

Happy Inspiration,

Conor Kelly

3 ways to get your emails opened faster than a vegetarian pizza at Al Gore’s house

She’s a doozie of a post today.

I’m going to share with you three subject lines that got high open rates and the psychology behind why they worked.

Here’s why you should care:

One client, a fitness boot camp, saw their average open rate go from 14% to 25% when I took over.  On a 3K subscriber list, that’s 300+ additional peeps reading your offers – without any new marketing.

No time to waste then…

  1. Is Your Health Preventing You From Losing Fat?

I’ve used this one twice now and both times it was money.  Whenever you can put contrasting ideas together it provokes a lot of curiosity.  And curiosity is one of the marketer’s most jealously guarded tools.

(If you look carefully, you’ll notice ALL of my examples today have an element of curiosity to them.)

Back to contrast for a second.  Jay Abraham likes to say, “Paradoxes excite interest.”

In this case I certainly mean ‘lack of health’.  But at a glance the phrase still does its job.

How could health prevent you from losing fat?

Read on…

  1. Try this unusual health tip

Again, curiosity: what’s so unusual about it?  Also, anytime you can say ‘try this’ or hint at a tip of some kind, by implication there’s actionable content inside.

It’s therefore perceived to be valuable.

Once you have a proven winner, rip off or recycle that sucker with gluttonous zeal, as I did this one.

“Try this unusual healing method” is a variation which also pulled an above average open rate for the client.

  1. PRIVATE PHOTO: How to feel beautiful, right now

This one is admittedly tactical.

And stealthy.

People are voyeurs.  And we naturally yearn to be on the inside.  That’s one reason tabloids sell so well even though they’re light on substance.

Anything with the words *private* or *personal* will generally outperform most openers.

So will adding *do not share* or *for your eyes only*.

I wouldn’t use these types of subject lines very often.  And make sure whatever the hook is, it’s paid off early in the body of the email.  Don’t leave ‘em hanging, wondering where that dang private pic is.  That’ll erode trust.  Other things being equal, sprinkling in a tactic here and there spices things up and keeps the interest high.

Alright, a lot of meat here.

Go back and read this one a second time to let it sink in.

There’s a lesson to be found between the lines.

Did you catch it?

What am I doing here?  I’m sharing valuable content, to be sure.  But while doing so, am I demonstrating my expertise?  Yes siree Bob.  And by using client examples I’m invoking proof of my wordsmithing prowess.  Unconsciously, you’ve accepted (a) that I have clients I do this for (which makes me credible) and (b) that they’ve gotten results, notably the instant, profit-boosting hit of more eyeballs on their emails.

I know, very “meta”.

The lesson inside the lesson.

Model what I’ve done here, Grasshopper.

Happy Enticing,

Conor “Sensei” Kelly

a.k.a  The Muscle @ Marketing Muscle

P.S.  I’m looking for one more case study to add to the collection.  If you’d like me to do all this marketing stuff for you, reply with “Case Study” in the comments, and I’ll get you the details. 🙂

1,448 Million metric tons of my peeps blessings upon you

I’ve been pondering my roots…

Did you know that The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer?  This relatively unknown West-African nation gifted the human race with 1.448 million metric tons of its yummy goodness in 2013 – 31.6% of the world’s total.

What does this have to do with my roots?

41 years ago (yesterday), Lil’ Baby Conz breathed his first breath of the warm equatorial air in Abidjan, The Ivory Coast’s second capital.

Two civil wars later, she boasts a fast growing economy, a stable democracy…

She’s the jewel of West Africa.

Her rich, tastelicious resources are one reason.

Let’s be that way, too.

Let’s find one thing we’re good at – a gift, something we contribute to the world – seed it, grow it to the max, then harvest its fruits and share them as broadly as possible.  That’s where I’m at these days.  Hope you’ll accept my challenge and join me there.

So this is 41, huh?

Not quite what I expected.

Then again, that’s the journey.

I figure about five more years and I’ll have this “life” thing figured out.


To Your Gift,

Conor Kelly


How long should your emails be?

Let’s do a little Q&A action today.

Ok, first question…

QUESTION: Hey Conor, what’s the ideal length for an email?

CONOR: Short answer…as long as it needs to be.  Personally, I aim to keep them around 300 words or less – most days.  Look, folks are busy.  And a lot of them are reading your emails on their phone.  By keeping things short and tantalizingly sweet, you train them to open your emails because they’re not expecting some big commitment.

That said I’m not against using 500-600 words if the message is good and it serves to do so.

I just wouldn’t do it very often.

I also want to make a distinction between articles vs. emails.  I find many business owners are confused about this.  Articles are content.  The idea of email is to ask your customer to engage with you in some way, whether it’s to reply, book an appointment, or click through to a longer piece of content that serves your marketing strategy.

Alright, next question…

QUESTION: Conor, any tips on using cold emails for B2B prospects?

CONOR:  A few years ago I booked close to sixty talks at various companies by cold messaging HR people on LinkedIN.  I was offering a free talk on health (which I’d then use to promote my services).  HR people have a mandate to do a certain number of those, which I knew.  And ‘free’… well, the price was right.

That’s the simplest way I know to do it: straight benefit.

Still, you have to play the numbers.

Most people won’t respond.

I recently rebooted this practice for my business – and again, it worked.  My revised 2.0 strategy for attracting cold prospects is twofold: (1) be utterly transparent, and (2) if you can, be funny.

Both of those things defy expectations.  And you want to stand out.  A smile is a good reaction!  Many people are too formal, especially when talking to high-level business execs, like they somehow lost their sense of humor when they became successful.

Your potential customers are human.  Don’t be afraid to be human with them.

Final question…

QUESTION: I don’t have an email list, any tips for getting started?

CONOR: When I started, I told everyone I knew I’m doing a free newsletter with fitness tips and did they want to be on the list.

Start with people you know.

Then, I collected emails at each of my talks, usually 20-30 at a time.  That, together with leads coming through my website helped me build my list to 2,500 in less than three years.

NOTE: If you’re a local business that sees customers every day, the fastest way is to get them to join your list.  We provide you the exact scripts you give your employees to get people to say ‘yes’.  Plus, we handle the tech involved in setting up your Aweber account and entering the data.  See the P.S.

Well, that does it for today.

Stay tuned for next time when I break down the power of subject lines and pull back the curtains to reveal what works to get your emails opened!

It’ll be a fun time in the Olde Towne, indeed.

Happy Prospecting,

Conor Kelly

a.k.a  The Muscle @Marketing Muscle

P.S.  I have great news for those who have been asking.  I recently freed up time in my schedule to take on one more local business.  If you’d be interested, book your stress-free brainstorm call here: