Real Magnet

To Boost Engagement, Make Sure Your Email is HIP

Believe it or not, this 1944 Disney cartoon where Goofy demonstrates how to play golf is actually about email:

There’s a lot to remember when you’re writing and sending email messages. Thinking about this column and how to help email marketers create a mental checklist for each message made me think of golf lessons I took years ago, and all the complex “swing thoughts” I had to remember before striking the ball. How to grip the club, where to stand, how to distribute my weight, locking one arm and bending the other, what to do with my wrists, where to focus my mind and energy at each point in the swing, keep my head down, fire my hips, follow-through. Sheesh. No wonder the object of the game is to hit the ball as little as possible – each swing is mentally exhausting.

While drafting this column I remembered this Disney cartoon, which I don’t think I had actually seen in about 20 years and was pleased to find on YouTube. Maybe you don’t golf. But you do send email, and the parallels to Goofy’s demonstration and what we go through are uncanny.

If I had to create the same sort of “swing thoughts” checklist for email it would include words like relevant, anticipated, useful, readable, actionable, targeted, engaging and deliverable. That’s too much to think about when your newsletter deadline is looming, or your conference registration needs a lift. A mnemonic device should be simpler.

What I came up with is H.I.P. If you want more engagement, make sure your emails are HIP:


Helpful: Your emails should solve a problem, communicate learning, open a dialogue or make someone’s life or job a little easier. And remember they aren’t doing anybody any good if they’re not delivered or opened.

Interesting: Keep your messages targeted to the right audience and ensure they are well-written.  A well written message sent to the wrong audience is as much of a wasted effort as a poorly worded message sent to the right people.

Purposeful: Singular of purpose – that’s what your emails should be. Identify your objective before you write, and let your readers know right away what your message will ask of them. If the offer is not for them, better to waste as little of their time as possible. A teaser that draws people in before disappointing them isn’t engaging – it’s annoying.

Do your emails consistently pass the HIP test?