[BREAKING NEWS] Pavlova boosts email open rates by 300%

Edible image by Epicurious

Edible image by Epicurious

My spin teacher brings a cowbell to class.

She uses it to convince us - her herd of hamster cyclists going nowhere in darkened room decked out like the guts of a spaceship - that we’re actually real cyclists, charging up a mountain in regional France.

As we sprint along the imaginary flat, round the imaginary corner and crank the resistance to replicate a hill, our mad instructor starts ringing her red cowbell.

Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!

We, her lumpy lycra-clad subordinates, hear the bell and rise in unison, pumping and pedaling and proudy passing the checkpoint like we’re Cadel bloody Evans.

She’s conditioning us:

Hear the bell.

Feel the burn.

Climb the mountain.

And even though our fitness is utter fiction, we obey the angry middle-aged lady and her cowbell.

We love spin class!

We love mountains!

We worship the bell!

This afternoon, as my legs pedalled up a particularly precipitous indoor incline, I got to thinking about the power of association.

Our spin teacher uses association to inspire action: hear bell > stand up > push harder.

But there are sweeter ways of training people.

Like using Pavlova.

You’ve heard of Pavlova conditioning, right?

(You know… the famous dog whisperer with the whistle and the liver treats? Yeah yeah, so maybe his name was Pavlov. But I like ‘Pavlova’ better. Double the patriotism. Double the cream.)

Pavlovian/Pavlova training uses a signal in combo with a delicious morsel to influence behaviour.

And you can use it to train your audience, too.

“Why would I wanna do thaaaaaaaat?” you yelp like an unruly pup.

If you’re running a biz, it's safe to assume that you're emailing people and trying to grow your list.

But those impassioned emails that took you HOURS to craft? It's increasingly difficult to get ‘em seen.

A scabby 17% of people open what you send them.

The rest? Busy. Jaded. Poorly trained.

HOWEVER, by sending PAVLOVA with every email, your biz/brand will be associated with sweet, creamy, dream-whipped dessert.

Boosting open rates.

Bumping engagement.

Bagging you cash (ethically, yeah?).

Just so you know, the PAVLOVA technique has had me sitting pretty on a 59% open rate for the past year. [It's my blog and I'll brag if I want to.]

How to send pavlova via email

(Just so we're clear, the pav is figurative. It’s the sweet association that counts. Positive reinforcement. You with me?)

Reward your audience by making every email delicious and readily CLICKED.


→ Using conversational language makes your reader feel like a friend, not a sales prospect.

→ Opening with an anecdote.

→ Sharing kooky, colourful, interesting info that separates you from all the other beige vomitus spewing from email subscription services. (Blerrrgghh.)

→ Telling jokes.

→ Sharing great advice that will actually interest your audience. Recommend things. Review stuff. Give the inside scoop.

→ Making them laugh.

→ Offering actionable advice.

→ Taking a load off by keeping it short.

→ Telling the bitter truth where others sugar coat it. (I know, I know - that’s the opposite of sweet, but complexity and contradiction is rife in life and I ain’t gonna hit backspace now.)

→ Be yourself, be friendly, be enthusiastic. Dare I say it? Be AUTHENTIC.

→ Stop with the selling.

→ Erase all traces of bullshit.

Voila! Sweet emails that people will actually want to read.

Send fun, friendly and delicious emails consistently - like Pavlova did with those tech-savvy dogs - and I guarantee your open rates will skyrocket.

(Lucky rule #13 - avoid hyperbolic words like ‘skyrocket!’ and ‘guaranteed!’)

Over to you. Do you go to spin class? Is your instructor nuts? Do you send slabs of pav with your fortnightly mail out? Tell us in the comments!