How I Email: Harry Dry, Creator, Marketing Examples

Email is a non-negotiable part of everyday life. For some, it’s an unruly time suck, but enlightened email users have systems to ensure they’re not a slave to the inbox. We’re asking smart thinkers to give us a peek inside their inboxes, share tips, ideas, gripes, and everything in between.

Harry Dry is the brains behind Marketing Examples, which features case studies on topics ranging from content marketing to website optimization to SEO keyword research. In less than a year, Harry has grown the Marketing Examples newsletter to more than 10,000 subscribers — a respectable amount, especially as a one-man operation. He offered a glimpse of his email process, as well as the email newsletters he most enjoys.

How do you manage email day-to-day?

Writing marketing case studies is the hardest part of my job. It requires creative energy and a clear mind. So I have a golden rule: five hours “creative work” before I check anything. No Emails, no text messaging.

There’s a quote I love:

It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time

If I break my golden rule once, I’ll break it again and again … So I stick to it. And this means not checking my emails until five hours of creative work is in the bank.

I’m lucky. My business doesn’t revolve around responding to emails urgently. And this means I see my inbox as a dungeon where my best ideas go to die. I have five hours of creative energy each day and if I spend that time replying to emails then I’m killing my business hour by hour.

Having said all that I quite like email. At the end of my welcome email for Marketing Examples, I encourage users to “reply to get in touch” and I’m always grateful for the encouragement I get.

I don’t like the start-stop nature of replying so I like to batch up responses. I visit my parents once every two weeks. It’s around a four hour round trip on the train. So I’ve gotten into the habit of using that time to write emails.

I work through as many as I can, arrive at my stop and then close the laptop. I have no email notifications on my phone. And often go days without opening my inbox. Life is short.

You analyze effective marketing emails. For example, you took a look at CD Baby’s unique confirmation email. What’s an under-leveraged approach that people can use for better sales emails right now?

People don’t like being sold to. They love giving advice. So one idea I like is to frame your “sales emails” as “advice emails.”

Another one I’d suggest is using Loom to attach a quick video link. At the moment it’s new and different. And if someone spends the time to attach a quick video it’s much harder to ignore.

And finally, I have to mention Ramp’s legendary t-shirt email. They bulk sent 50,000 emails with the headline, “I’m wearing a [!Your Company] t-shirt”.

The first line read, “Nobody likes cold emails do they. So to make it a little less awkward, here’s a photo of me in your company t-shirt”. Then they proceeded to try and persuade you to buy their personalised t-shirts. On pure creativity grounds that’s worth checking out.

In under 8 months, you’ve been able to grow Marketing Examples to 10,000+ subscribers. What have been your best channels for growing your email newsletter?

Firstly quality content is paramount. Not sending an email is better than sending a bad email.

Secondly, I work really hard promoting my articles. It’s a four-hour process. My articles are aimed at people wanting to get better at marketing. So over the last seven months, I’ve found all the watering holes where marketers hang out.

Specific channels are Linkedin, Reddit, IndieHackers, Twitter, HackerNews, StartupSchool, Facebook Groups, Zest, Slack Groups, Product Hunt …

But it’s a complete misconception to think you just promote in these areas and it’s all good. No! The thing to realise is that no one wants to click a link to an article. You have to add value directly on the platform they’re using.

And finally, and this is something I really can’t stress enough. If you’re hoping to 5x your rate of subscribers it’s far easier to take your conversion rate from 1 percent to 5 percent than it is to turn 100k monthly users to 500k.

Converting people to subscribers (once they land on my site) is something I spent a lot of time getting right. I wrote an article that goes into real detail on all the steps.

Finally, what are some of your favorite email newsletters?

I like this newsletter called Thoughtful Copy. It’s really new and doesn’t even have a proper landing page yet. But it’s something different. It’s for entrepreneurs and always contains a little story that gets me thinking. You can sign up here.

I also love The Friday Thing by Steve Clayton. He shares one weird and wonderful thing he found on the internet that week. Super simple. And super short.

People don’t like being sold to. They love giving advice. So one idea I like is to frame your “sales emails” as “advice emails.”