Vest In Email
Do Open

Vest In Email

David Hieatt offers basic, helpful guidance to using emails to expand and maintain your customer base.

David Hieatt, entrepreneur and founder of the business education series “The Do Lectures,” turns these lectures into books. Guest authors write some of them, and he pens the others; Do Open is one of the latter. Hieatt uses compelling evidence to explain why and how newsletters can help all companies, whether large or small. He offers practicable tips for effective newsletter writing and sharing.

But – and for good reason – the author never mentions that Generations Y and Z are turning away from email in droves. Since the entire point of his book is to encourage you to embrace email, Hieatt wisely wastes few words on the medium’s potential obsolescence. Still, his direct, basic, well-founded and applicable advice offers great worth if you intend to vest deeply in email as a marketing tool. 


Hieatt understands that when growing businesses contemplate a digital strategy the owners usually establish a social media presence. Hieatt’s thesis is that focusing solely on social media might lead you to overlook a potent tool: the email newsletter.

When I chose a newsletter as the tool to tell the world we exist, it saved us.  David Hieatt

He notes that the popularity of social media platforms ebbs and flows, but email is a proven, durable technology. And, he relates, email lets you share a more in-depth conversation with subscribers.

Do It Right

Email newsletters are one of the most effective digital strategies for growing a business over the long term, fostering a community and boosting brand recognition – but only when executed correctly,Hieatt cautions. 

If you devote the time and effort, work out your strategy that you think will make you stand out, then newsletters will work for you.David Hieatt

To make your newsletter stand out, provide useful, relevant, inspiring content, beauty and simplicity. Newsletters commonly ask for payment; readers value those offering uplifting anecdotes or interesting facts in exchange for a fee. People naturally give back to those who give, and this virtuous cycle builds trust and grows a business. Your newsletter must, Hieatt asserts, always address your customers’ needs and interests.

Build a Base

Foster community by replying to questions and comments from customers and connecting with key influencers. Focus on using narrowly targeted content to build a core of 1,000 loyal followers who connect with your offerings; the author cautions against trying to please everyone.

The customer is intelligent, internet-savvy and time-poor. So give them some respect. When you are selling, sell.David Hieatt

Hieatt cites Hiut Denim, which sends two marketing emails: One, “Factory Talk,” is short and sales-focused, and the other, “Scrapbook Chronicles,” is longer and more appropriate for sharing general company updates and initiatives. 

Sound Like a Human

Your newsletter should feature a personal, human-sounding tone. Write clearly and conversationally, so your readers can understand your message easily. Take the precaution of always reading your text aloud before sending it.

Emotional language creates a predictable response, something that can be very advantageous to marketers.David Hieatt

Humor helps. Editing and careful polishing matter, but businesses shouldn’t be afraid to embrace a few bumps and imperfections to sound more natural, vulnerable, relatable and exciting. Ultimately, Hieatt underscores, you want your customers to feel something in response to your offering.

Be Consistent

Send out your newsletter consistently. Some companies send four emails each month; others send emails daily. Learn your best schedule through a process of trial and error. The time and day matter less than persistence and regularity. On the flip side, your newsletters shouldn’t arrive too frequently. People who receive too many marketing emails find them bothersome and may unsubscribe.

The number one reason for unsubscribes is too much email marketing.David Hieatt

Stay aware of where your customers are during the day when your newsletter reaches them. People tend to be digital multitaskers, often only quickly checking inboxes or social media pages between other activities. Emails must accommodate these habits; for example, if you send an email in the middle of the workweek, it should be more concise than the one you send on a leisurely Sunday.

Embrace Multiple Platforms

Encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter on as many platforms as possible, including pop-up opt-in messages on your website landing page.

A good piece of design will evoke your values without needing to say them in words.David Hieatt

Design – including photos, layout, colors and typography – manifests your company’s values. A simple aesthetic can make your newsletter feel like a respite from the hectic world. Maintain a consistent masthead and be mobile-friendly.

Hook ‘Em

Hieatt stresses the importance of a subject line with a hook that offers emotional promise, stimulates curiosity or asks a question. Your hook must be relevant and understandable; it should target the reader’s self-interest, be clear about its intended audience and be positive, urgent and instructive – perhaps in the form of a how-to, list or infographic. Hieatt cites a Mailchimp study finding that headlines of 28 to 39 characters – about 10 words – are the most effective.

Ten vital words…can change your business.David Hieatt

Remember the need for rigorous proofreading. Establish a strict editorial process: Verify all photo permissions, print out your newsletter for a manual proofread, run a spell-check, check with your email provider, make sure any embedded links are active, check the load speed and test the subject line. 

Basic Guidance

The Do series publications resemble pamphlets or Cliffs Notes: They are short, to the point, basic, no-frills and condensed. Do Open speaks, primarily, to an older demographic, who understands little about how to apply email to business. Hieatt’s advice is for beginners and will seem obvious to anyone with even scant marketing experience. Still, he nails every crucial fundamental and offers reliable guidance for those who can use it. Because this book originated as a lecture, the tone is conversational, pleasant and engaging.

There are 29 books in David Hieatt’s Do series, of which he also authored Do Purpose and The Path of a Doer. His other books include From the Board Room to the Living Room.

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