The Author Factor Podcast

The Art of Crafting Emails That Get Opened (w/ Scott Hartley)

May 11, 2023 Scott Hartley Season 5 Episode 176
The Author Factor Podcast
The Art of Crafting Emails That Get Opened (w/ Scott Hartley)
Show Notes Transcript

On episode #176 of The Author Factor Podcast I am having a conversation with email deliverability expert and author, Scott Hartley.

Scott is a serial entrepreneur and founder of MasterPlan4Success, where he helps small business owners with marketing strategies, systems, automation, and optimizing their email deliverability to maximize profits.

He just published a short book on this topic titled Hit The Inbox: How To Avoid The Spam Folder & Grow Your Business With Email Marketing.

Learn more about Scott by visiting

For more details about our short, helpful book publishing program, visit

Mike Capuzzi [00:00:00]:

Welcome to another profitable episode of The Author Factor Podcast. I'm Mike Capuzzi, and I want to thank you for joining us. My guest today is Scott Hartley. Scott is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Master Plan for Success, where he helps small business owners with marketing strategies, systems and automation, and in particular, optimizing their email deliverability to maximize profit. It's. He just published a short book on this topic titled Hit the Inbox how to Avoid the Spam Folder and Grow Your Business with Email marketing. Scott. Welcome to The Author Factor Podcast.

Scott Hartley [00:00:37]:

Hey, Mike, glad to be here.

Mike Capuzzi [00:00:39]:

I appreciate your time today. And when I saw your book come through, I thought it was a great example, Scott, because it's such a focused book, an important book for sure. Right. I think a lot of business owners really don't think about, hey, I'm just sending out email. That's good. They don't go that next step and think, oh my gosh, what about deliverability?

Scott Hartley [00:00:57]:


Mike Capuzzi [00:00:57]:

I love the specificity and the tight focus. We're going to talk about that more in a moment, but I'd love to hear a bit more, Scott, about your business, who you serve, how you serve them, and then why you decide to write this book.

Scott Hartley [00:01:11]:

Sure. Great question. So really, with Master Plan for Success, which is my company, I really have a passion to help service based business owners really get the success that they desire. We've all had that dream when we started our business of like, oh, this is what I want my business to look like. And then a few years in, it's turned more into that job right. That we've created for ourselves. And so I come alongside those small business owners who have been kind of in the trenches, doing everything for three to five years or more, and they're ready to take it to the next level. I help them with marketing strategy, marketing automation, and then of course, as part of that is getting their emails delivered so that they can see really successful results from their marketing campaigns.

Mike Capuzzi [00:01:59]:

Now, you said service based businesses. Is that typically Mike Main Street type businesses, HVAC, those kind of businesses?

Scott Hartley [00:02:07]:

Yeah, it could be really anything. I've worked with bakers, I've worked with attorneys, I've worked with therapists, I've worked with financial advisors. So anybody in the service industry, that's really where my passion and my background lies. I used to own an It company, and so I'm very familiar with that service space.

Mike Capuzzi [00:02:28]:

So Hit the Inbox, is that your first book?

Scott Hartley [00:02:32]:


Mike Capuzzi [00:02:33]:


Scott Hartley [00:02:34]:

Thank you.

Mike Capuzzi [00:02:35]:

If you don't mind, I'd love to hear a little bit of insight. Why did you decide to write this book? It's a big effort. I know it's a short book, which I'm a huge fan of, but it's still an effort and requires a lot of energy. Why a book, Scott?

Scott Hartley [00:02:51]:

Why a book? Well, throughout the years, as I've been working with service based business owners and really small business owners of all types, helping them with marketing automation, which a lot of that centers around emails. One of the things that is very common is you look at the industry statistics, mike, what's the average open rate for emails, what's the average click rate for emails? And depending on the industry that you're in, you'll see numbers anywhere from like 12% to 18% or so. That's kind of the average. And as I thought back to 2013, when I started doing email marketing in my first business, there was a lot that I didn't know and I just kind of looked at those average numbers like, oh, if I can hit those, Mike, cool. But then as I thought about it more, it's like, who wants their business to be average, right? I don't want just the average results from my email marketing. I want amazing results from my email marketing. So as I dug into that, really over the past couple of years, I discovered like, wait a minute, when I started doing email marketing, people were just saying, hey, go get you a CRM and an email marketing platform and start emailing your list. But they never told me the things that helped me get my emails delivered and eventually acted upon with the action that I want my recipient to take. So that's why I wrote the book.

Mike Capuzzi [00:04:14]:

So I'm sitting here shaking my head because again, it's one of those things because I've done marketing consulting for years and years and years. Even my own business, most folks you write think, okay, I'm sending out all the effort to set up the CRM, the autoresponders, the podcast, emails, whatever it is, and you're like, I'm done. But you're going that one step further and really helping them maximize the effectiveness. Because just putting an email together, if I understand you correctly, it doesn't end there. You really have to give some thought and attention.

Scott Hartley [00:04:50]:

Exactly. As small business owners, we're always overwhelmed anyway. We've got a lot of things that we need to get done and it's like, oh, I got to get that email out to my list today and we get it done, check it off of the list. But we're not thinking about like, oh, did it actually get to the people that I want to see it so that they can buy something from me or opt in for whatever it is that I'm offering?

Mike Capuzzi [00:05:14]:

Yeah. So Scott, I'd love to dive a little deeper because this is a topic that I appreciate and would Mike to know more about. There's obviously a lot, obviously you talk about in your book. So most business owners, if not all, should probably be getting a copy of your book and just kind of going through it and making sure they're doing what you're suggesting, but everything from servers and CRMs and all that stuff, I know. Can you share, let's say, three of your best tips or your top tips for listeners when it comes to email deliverability.

Scott Hartley [00:05:45]:

Yeah, so number one, the most important thing if you take nothing away from listening to this podcast today is you got to know your numbers. You have to know your engagement numbers, specifically just mike everything else we do in business. You need to know those metrics. You need to be monitoring cash flow, profit margins and all of that type of stuff in business. The same with your email, you need to be looking and knowing who on your list is engaging with your emails. That means opening, clicking and replying and who's not because that's going to allow you to make informed decisions about who should I continue to email and who should I start taking off of my list so that I can make sure that more of my emails get delivered. So number one, hands down, you've got to know your numbers. When it comes to email marketing, the second one is in my book and I tease it is I tell people to ditch the newsletter. Ditch the newsletter. And by newsletter I'm talking about those beautifully designed emails that have 15 different links to blog posts and different things on your website and different calls to action. The open rates and the actual action rates on those type of emails is horrible. And if you can get rid of that, and you can send targeted emails that really speak to one thing, what's the one thought that you want to communicate to your reader, and what's the one thing that you want them to do as a result of reading that email? You're going to have much better results from your email marketing. So get rid of the email newsletter. I go into more detail in the book about why and how to do that, but that's really important as well is make your email specific and targeted towards your audience.

Mike Capuzzi [00:07:42]:

Can I jump in for a second, Scott, because I want to get some clarification. Are you suggesting then to not set up a long term follow up sequence that's canned? Is that no. Okay, so that's different than no, that's.

Scott Hartley [00:07:58]:

Different and that's actually a really good question for clarification there. So by newsletter, what I'm talking about is a beautifully designed email that has a lot of different calls to action. Setting up a long term nurture is very important and you can make that candy could be evergreen. I recommend that to my clients all the time. But make each email about one thing and that's going to outperform this email that has like seven different things that somebody could potentially do.

Mike Capuzzi [00:08:28]:

All right? Right, good. What about number three?

Scott Hartley [00:08:31]:

Number three, this one I really was vacillating on. What's going to be my third tip here. Everybody loves to include their social media links in their email, facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, all that type of stuff, right? Don't do it for two reasons. Number one, and nobody's ever going to tell you this. I guarantee you that this will probably be the first time many of your audience has heard this. Those social media sites often end up on what are known as block list. Right now, LinkedIn is on a block list. So you have a reputation. If you send out an email today and it has a link to your LinkedIn profile in it, it has a higher likelihood of not getting delivered to the inbox. Because LinkedIn is on a block list, it's in bad reputation with its domain. So by including your social media links, you never know if they are on a block list and that can hurt you without you even knowing it. The second reason goes back to what I just touched upon. Your email should be about one thing. What's the one action you want your reader to take? And if you're putting your social media links in there, you're giving them a distraction like, oh no, don't worry about going to buy this product or go sign up for my course, go check out my Facebook page and then get lost into Facebook land and never come back to my email. So don't include social media links in your emails would be my third tip.

Mike Capuzzi [00:10:06]:

Very good. Can I ask one more question before we start going back to you focusing on your book?

Scott Hartley [00:10:10]:


Mike Capuzzi [00:10:11]:

Because I use email marketing extensively in my own business, my clients business, and I've been doing it for decades now. So you see the metamorphosis, text emails, HTML email, short emails, long emails, all that kind of stuff, right? What is your current opinion, Scott, on text emails versus HTML style emails? Are you seeing anything there?

Scott Hartley [00:10:38]:

So that piece is there's not a hard and fast rule. Okay, so for ecommerce brands, obviously you need to show your products and so you're going to have more HTML style email and your audience is going to resonate with that. For a service based business like my own, my audience is going to resonate better with text only emails. And I can convey that thought in a more personal way. So the rule there is test see what actually works with your audience and gets you the better results. What the studies have shown is that text only emails outperform these beautifully designed ones that have lots of images and colors and all of that type of stuff. So test it. But I'm almost sure that your audience, your list will probably resonate better with a text only email that maybe has mike, one or two small images in it.

Mike Capuzzi [00:11:37]:

Very good. Love it, love it. So let's go back to hit the inbox. How long ago did you publish this book?

Scott Hartley [00:11:45]:

Published the book the very 1 January 2023. Hot off the princess. Yeah.

Mike Capuzzi [00:11:54]:

Again, congratulations.

Scott Hartley [00:11:55]:

Thank you.

Mike Capuzzi [00:11:56]:

So what are you doing in the last two to three months, Scott? What promotional advertising marketing strategies are working for you to get the book out there to your target readers.

Scott Hartley [00:12:08]:

Yeah, my main efforts have been doing podcast interviews like this forging relationships with people that are in complementary businesses and doing joint webinars with them. So recently I did a webinar that was hosted by a web design company, and it makes sense because you drive traffic to your website, people opt in. Now you need that follow up, which is typically done by email. So that's really been my main method of getting the message out there. And then just some other joint venture partners who promoted the book for me as well.

Mike Capuzzi [00:12:42]:

Very good. And in your case, I think your book is so specific and helpful that I think you have an amazing opportunity to really leverage those because you're really not competing with what a lot of other people are doing. You're so specific.

Scott Hartley [00:12:58]:


Mike Capuzzi [00:12:59]:

What about when you've either the author journey writing the book, or publishing it or maybe even now marketing it? What's something that you've learned that you didn't know then that you'd like to warn others about or just share? Like, hey, make sure you do this.

Scott Hartley [00:13:16]:

Yeah. So many thoughts in so many different areas there. But for me, I've always known that I've wanted to write a book. I knew that it was important for my business to write a book. So once I settled on Mike, here's a topic that we don't hear much about, getting your emails delivered to the inbox. Like, cool. Then I was staring at a blank Google Doc. It's Mike. Boy, this is the worst. I have all these thoughts in my head, but how do I spit this out into a usable format? And I ended up doing a webinar with a person, and we talked about a lot of the points that I cover in my book, and I was like, the light bulb came on. I was, Mike, wait a minute. I can take this transcription, give it to a copy editor, let them cut out all of the fluff and get hit distilled down to the important things, and I can work from that to then flesh out, oh, I didn't cover that in the webinar. This is important. Oh, I need an illustration here. All of these different types of things. That totally expedited getting the book done. And I got it finished in about three months, and that wasn't like, working on it every day, but I got it done in about three months. And that made that process so much easier. And as I've talked with people who are interested in doing a book, I mentioned that idea, like, speak your book, record it, do a webinar or something. And they're like, oh, you know what? I never thought of that. But it makes it a whole lot easier.

Mike Capuzzi [00:14:48]:

It does. And I do appreciate the fact that you then went the extra step, because some folks just do that. They take a transcription, maybe hopefully they clean it up a bit because the spoken word is a lot different than the written word. Typically, sure, but you want that extra step and really use it as a first step to then create the main content and then refined it, massage hit and all that. I think that is a critical part if you're going to do the speak, the book, absolutely. Did you intentionally Scott, or is it just because of you did it from a webinar, which again, I think is a great strategy. Did you intentionally keep it a shorter book? Because that's all we publish. That's all I typically publish. Are these 1 hour books, 100 pages thereabouts, which yours is in that size. Was that intentional or was it just because you started with the webinar?

Scott Hartley [00:15:38]:

No, it was really intentional for me. I've got next to my easy chair, I have a stack of books that are like 200, 300 pages long that I either haven't started or haven't finished. Right. And I'm sure most of us entrepreneurs are the same way, but a short book like this, I can consume in an afternoon and it's actionable. So not only can I read it and if I don't have time to read the whole thing, I can get a chapter done in ten or 15 minutes and then I can actually go start applying it. That's what's the most important. I don't want somebody to just get a copy of my book and say, oh, that's cool, I know something. No, I want you to do something with Hit because doing is going to change your business.

Mike Capuzzi [00:16:20]:

Now, I have not read your book yet, but do you then invite readers to reach out to you to start working with you?

Scott Hartley [00:16:28]:

Yeah. So in the book, there's a call to action of go get an audit. So remember I said my number one tip is know your numbers with my email audit. I can actually give you those numbers, give you a starting point of things to work with and action items. And so I invite people to request that audit and then, of course, they can have a conversation with me to talk about what they've learned from the book, the challenges that they're having with email, and how they can solve those problems.

Mike Capuzzi [00:16:56]:

Very good. Can I ask one more question? Because again, I love this topic. Now, this is specific to email deliverability, but maybe it is. I'd say over the last few years, I've seen a lot of marketers really suggest now, let's say online marketers, which is different than the local business owner typically suggesting daily emails. You see the top marketers doing these daily emails. Most service professionals, service business owners don't have the time or energy or even maybe need for a daily email. Are you a fan of daily emails for helping deliverability? Or again, is that really a moot issue? It's not really related.

Scott Hartley [00:17:36]:

Yeah. So going back to engagement, the more opportunities you give somebody to open, click or reply to an email, the better your email health score is going to be. So if you're sending a daily email as opposed to a monthly email, obviously there's a lot more opportunities for that person. Right. However, like you said, most small business owners, myself included, I don't have time to do a daily email. So my minimum recommendation is small businesses should be sending an email weekly to your list. Now, if you can do it more frequently, and here's the key, you're providing value, then do it more frequently. But if you're just constantly sending emails of buy my stuff or it's boring content, sending it more is actually going to hurt you with your engagement. I've got five people that I receive daily emails from that I absolutely like. As soon as it lands in my inbox, I stop what I'm doing and I read it because it's great stuff. But there are other people that I get emails from two, three, four times a week and I just get to it when I can. Right, so it's at minimum weekly, but if you're able to provide massive value and your list eats it up, by all means, more frequent is better.

Mike Capuzzi [00:18:53]:

Very good. Love it. So Scott, as we get ready to wrap up here, I'd love to hear, especially because it's so fresh for you, what it has meant so far to be a published book author. What has it meant to Scott Hartley to be a published book author and the impact it's made either for yourself or your clients?

Scott Hartley [00:19:15]:

Yeah, so for me, I finally achieved this dream of writing a book. I've had this in me for at least eight years, if not longer. And it's like I finally have a book published that wasn't part of my master's program. We all have to write that paper in that. For me, it's like I feel good because what I've written about can truly change someone's business if they take it, read it and apply it. Hit can truly change someone's business. And knowing that I'm doing that to help people, that's kind of my mission in life is who can I serve? How can I help as many people as possible? And for me, being able to say that I'm a published author now has extended credibility and trust. It's kind of one of those things where when you have that book that you can reference, like I authored this book, you're elevated in the eyes of the people that you're speaking to or communicating to whatever that passion is. And I've already seen that in just the short period of time that I've been talking with a lot of people about getting their emails delivered.

Mike Capuzzi [00:20:27]:

Very good. Yeah, I mean, again, I don't know who else is talking as specific as you are, and I think you have a real opportunity to own that space of email deliverability as sort of an entree into all the other services you provide. But again, it's so focused, which I'm a huge fan of. It's what I suggest my clients do focus. Focus and then go wider.

Scott Hartley [00:20:48]:


Mike Capuzzi [00:20:49]:

Congratulations on that, Scott. So how can listeners learn more about you? Where's the best place to get your book?

Scott Hartley [00:20:56]:

Yeah, so the best place to get a copy of the book is So hit the The copy of the book is only $7 for the digital version because I want everybody to take action and see results in their business. There's also two bonuses on that page as well. So when you get a copy of the book, that's going to help you get your emails delivered to the inbox, once they're there, what do you need people to do? You need people to open them. So I'm giving away 143 attention grabbing subject lines so now you can model those so that you can get your emails open. Now, once they're open, what's the next thing? Well, now you need people to read them and take action. So I'm giving my marketing messaging checklist so that you know exactly what to put in your emails so that you can get the desired results and get profitable email marketing campaigns running. So hit the Best place to connect with me.

Mike Capuzzi [00:21:51]:

Very good. Well, Scott, I appreciate your time today. I would encourage everyone listening. I mean, this is such an important topic, and I can't stress it enough myself. And you're talking to me too, so you give me some reminders. I got to go do that, right? I do appreciate your time today, Scott. Thank you very much.

Scott Hartley [00:22:08]:

Thank you, Mike. I really have enjoyed being here with.