The power of a simple email

Photo by Yan Ots on Unsplash

If I get an email from a big brand like Coca Cola, I know what to expect. It’s going to be heavily branded, watered down, and not very meaningful or informative. I’m going to have to dig down under layers of imagery and solganry and corporatespeak to decode the message — if there even is one.

I’m pretty sure that the only reason you’d ever read an email from Coca Cola is if you were to unintentionally open it while trying to delete it.

(I admit, these are totally fabricated allegations — I’m currently not subscribed to Coca Cola’s email list — so if they actually have good emails, I apologize.)

But here’s the thing…

Coca Cola doesn’t really care if you open or read their emails. They have such a grip on the culture, their emails take up one small proverbial digital blip on the screen of their marketing. (So why they even do it escapes me, but that’s neither here nor there.)

My question today is this:

Why do so many small to medium-sized businesses (who could really benefit from sending good emails) try to do the same banal, bloated, loud-but-empty email ‘marketing’ the giant brands do?

You know what I mean… You go to a local yoga studio, wind up on their list (usually, they opted you in — which is a whole different conversation), and proceed to get an email that’s so heavily branded and focused on THEM that it renders itself useless.

Never getting THAT time back again.

So they’ve taken the golden opportunity of connecting with a new customer and delighting them (or, at least, providing them with useful and valuable information) and have effectively murdered the relationship before it even began.

All because they were trying to be Coca Cola.

Well, this morning, I got an email from a gymnastics studio my daughter used to go to. I was expecting the same kind of nonsense I explained above. But what I got was this…

Wow… A simple, short, informative email.

No, this isn’t a display of extreme marketing prowess (or is it?). I’m pretty sure the person who wrote this didn’t learn this from some spiffy copywriting or conversion funnel course.

But it’s perfect for them (because it’s perfect for me, the reader).

It doesn’t waste my time. It tells me why I should care. It gives me the relevant information. And it gives me a simple call to action.

My inbox is not the place for me to be wowed or impressed. Email is not a place to put billboards or TV commercials.

Email is the sacred digital space where relevant, informative, useful, valuable messages live.

(Even though Gmail is kinda trying to ruin this, but hopefully they have a change of heart.)

Too many indie businesses make email complicated. It should be simple.

Tumbleweeds doesn’t need to impress me. I’ve already given them money and taken way too many photos and slo-mo videos of my daughter on the trampoline (they’re hilarious).

Trying to ‘wow’ me in my inbox would just be weird.

Just a little simple lesson in email marketing for you indy biz’s out there.

(I have to confess, I did unsubscribe. But it’s only because we’ve moved. Nothing personal, Tumbleweeds. Rock on.)

Jonas Ellison is a professional writer and interfaith minister-in-training who provides practical and spiritual support to his fellow creative craftspeople. You can find more of his work at Higher Thoughts, one of the most popular single-author publications on Medium. Subscribe to his daily missives and musings at

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