One action rule

Guest Author

Imagine you’re a store-owner. I’m talking brick-and-mortar store-owner, complete with your very own space, filled with your shiny products strategically placed all over the area.

And there’s no customer there. Only you and your slightly grumpy cashier who’s not really a fan of small talk.

What do you do? (Besides looking for a replacement for your cashier, of course.)

You do everything in your power to get people to come to your store. You run sales. You offer discounts. You promote your products to local media. You even do buy-one-take-one deals.

And then something magical happened. People start coming to your store. They actually go inside the door and wait for you to talk to them.

Owning a store offline and online are the same in this sense: once your prospects come to your store or to your website and engage with you, you can interact with them already.

And in your case as an Ecommerce entrepreneur, once you get their email address, you have the power to reach out and talk to them directly via email.

Do you:

A) Panic and tell them everything all at one go — the company’s history, your allergies, your best-selling products — and then ask them to buy from you, subscribe to your newsletter and donate to a charity you support all at the same time?

Or do you:

B) Identify one goal you’d like to achieve by every interaction you’ll have with them. And then end the conversation by directing them towards fulfilling that goal?

If you already do B (in both offline and offline interactions with your audience), give yourself a pat on the back and take a break. You deserve it.

If you do A, though, get your favorite drink and let’s get started on this week’s video: the “one action rule” and how it can help you deliver better emails for your newsletter subscribers.


Don’t get me wrong here: I get it.

Sometimes when we’re given access to our prospect’s emails, we can’t help but think that people are already overloaded, so when they open our email, we need to put everything there so they can get as much information as possible, don’t you think?

After all, more than 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. And knowing that around 76% of subscribers make purchases from email marketing makes you feel pressured to say everything you want to say in a single email so you can convince them to buy from you, right?

The problem with this approach, though, is that everything’s too cluttered and unfocused. Your reader will have a hard time following the content’s flow and eventually lose interest in what you’re saying.

Here’s how you can use the “one action rule”: before writing your email, figure out the one action you want your reader to do from this email and work towards this by providing relevant content that helps you convince your readers to fulfill this goal.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Confused? Let’s take abandoned cart emails as an example — what’s your one action for writing and sending out abandoned cart emails?

To convince your reader to buy the items they’ve abandoned in their shopping cart, of course. In other words, to finalize a sale.

How can you fulfill this one action — to finalize a sale?

You can 1) show the items they’ve abandoned to refresh their memory, 2) include discount coupons to incentivize them to checkout and actually purchase the products, and 3) share social proof. You can include as much relevant content as you’d like – as long as they all help the reader fulfill the email’s purpose of finalizing a sale.

Now, there may be some instances where a single call-to-action (CTA) isn’t enough. In this case, a secondary CTA may be added as long as the primary CTA is emphasized accordingly.

An example of this one would be announcing a new product launch in a newsletter. You can draft your email by dedicating 80% of the content talking about the new product and 20% of the content sharing about a product recommendation list that your readers may find helpful, based on their personal purchase history algorithm.

In this way, the readers have a clear idea that you wrote the email with the primary goal of introducing your company’s newest product. As such, they know that this is the most important thing that you talked about in the email, so they will respond accordingly.

Remember: the “one action rule” doesn’t necessarily mean you need to write just one sentence or just one paragraph. It means that you’re free to write as much content as you’d like, as long as it’s relevant to fulfilling your email’s primary goal.

If, before discarding an item, Marie Kondo tells you to ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?”…

Before writing a sentence, I’d tell you to ask yourself, “Does this content help me to convince the reader to fulfill this email’s primary purpose?”

If not, delete it right away. And if it does, feel free to write to your heart’s content.

Try this exercise and let me know how it works out for you! Shoot me an email at [email protected] or let me know in the comments below. See you next week. Cheers.


Are you using the “one action rule” to produce your emails? After all, more than 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. The more you don’t know about the “one action rule”, the more money you’re leaving off the table. Click To Tweet One Action Rule = Primary goal for writing an email + relevant content to fulfill this goal. Click To Tweet 76% of subscribers make purchases from email marketing. And with almost 4 billion email users worldwide, you need to master the “one action rule” to writing better emails. Here’s how it goes. Click To Tweet

(Photo by Sean Thomas from Unsplash.)