We’re done – how to clean your list

I just got fed up. Sick and tired of paying money to a mailing list software company when I’m not utilising their services to the best.

So instead of berating myself for spending $$ which I didn’t need to – I finally took action.

Assess lists first

My account included four mailing lists – all set up for different audiences and different marketing communication tasks.

The mistake I’d made was not keeping these aligned with my business goals. When I ran an education-led B2B marketing agency, we used these lists to share articles, to fill seats at webinars and events and to sell our downloadable products.

Times change and that’s not the business I am in now.

Review what’s needed second

Today my business work is based on three things – being a consultant B2B marketer, business investing, and growing my Faster Masters Rowing sport education service.

My question to myself was “Which of these mailing lists serves my three purposes?”. And the answer was clear – only one of the lists. The remaining list sends the RSS feed of my blog out to subscribers whenever there’s a new article published.

Check the finances third

I reviewed my subscription to the software house – they have the option to switch to buying credits rather than pay an all-you-can-use monthly tier fee. By checking the frequency of my RSS publication I was quickly able to see that this was more cost effective.

I altered the account status and purchased 10,000 email credits.

Align the lists fourth

Then I checked the lists – three had hardly been used since 2019 – hasn’t the world changed a lot since then? And so I downloaded all the subscribers, unsubs and cleaned contacts and saved them in my drive. Always good to have a back up of the back up eh?

Then returning to the mailing software, I checked all the users except one on each list and moved them to archive. I can retrieve them later if I need. But all three mailing lists now have a single subscriber.

I did this because the software house has switched its plans around and in the past you could have unlimited lists – now the lower tiers only allow one or two. And I don’t want to lose the benefit of multiple lists. I can always rename them if they get revived in future.

How to tell your audience you are unsubscribing them

Here’s the text of what I wrote.

If you received it, what did you think?

database hygiene, list unsubscribe, mailchimp downgrade,

Subject line for list housekeeping message

Subject: We’re done – thank you. I’m housekeeping my list and your email is being removed


Hello [FNAME]

Times change – you will remember I told you my work focus altered. 

I’m working as a freelance B2B marketer, I’m an investor, and my Faster Masters Rowing education business is growing. This has meant that I write my blog less frequently.

It’s clear you are busy or your focus has also changed. 

My blog is emailed to you when I write a new article. I checked the newsletter open rates and you haven’t found time to read for a long while.

I’ve taken the decision to remove you from my mailing list. If you want to re-subscribe just head over to the Newsletter web page and sign up. Read past issues to remind you why you signed up.

Thanks for sticking with me – I value the time we spent together.

Best wishes for the future


Hello sign

B2B email spam laws

A refresher for on the rules around sending email (and SMS) to prospects.

New Zealand privacy and email marketing

With regard to the NZ Privacy Act 2017 and updated 2020.

Top level obligations

  • Be transparent. Don’t hide anything.
  • Make sure you have consent.
  • Always give people the opportunity to opt-out or unsubscribe.

Deemed consent is what most B2B marketing would be using for email marketing.

[Quote from article linked above]

However, the area of ‘deemed’ consent is still an area open to interpretation in New Zealand. What was Keith’s advice on this?

“In New Zealand, if you deem your service or product is relevant to the person whose data you’ve collected (or whose contact information is publicly available), then you have permission to send them communications as long as this is covered in your Privacy Policy.” However Keith pointed out that this is actually a requirement of the UEM Act, not the Privacy Act.

BUT you first need a strong privacy policy on your business website.

Here’s a sample NZ privacy policy (and one from Australia).

USA and Canada and GDPR (Europe)

These jurisdictions have different rules – but many of the underlying principles are similar.

Hope that’s useful for everyone.

Please NOT another covid email

I just sent this message to my clients.

There’s an overload of businesses sending unnecessary emails about the New Zealand Covid-19 alert level change.

May I suggest we simply put something on the website home page?

And telephone anyone who’s coming in for a meeting.

And maybe the team add a note to their email signatures….

Covid Alert Email – is it necessary?

The customer is SMART

Interrupting with email is not respectful of people’s time… they will probably guess what you’ll be doing because, let’s face it, compliance has been exemplary through lockdown.

Virtue signalling emails are self-serving and easy to see through. Do you really need to send that message?

Our clients and customers aren’t stupid.

The Exception

One of my clients sells PPE gear – for them this email is useful – because they can communicate product stock levels and ordering information to bulk-buying customers who are probably already working on stocking up.

Be sensible, just think it through from the recipient’s point of view.

One thing to DO NOW

Update your Google Business Listing status.  There’s already a Covid notification “post” option. Google my business Covid

Good.  Sorted in 10 minutes work.

Hex codes, colour codes, logo colours

Hacking brand colours

My logo has a beautiful gradient of colours in the design.

This gives me a huge number of subsidiary colour elements which I can add into customer communications and marketing.

I did an analysis of the key colours and the “colour palette” of associated shades. You can do this by uploading your logo or using a digital colour selector tool.

Creative Agency Secrets logo colour palette

Creative Agency Secrets colour palette tool

Then I made a ton of work for myself

This was a mistake – certainly.

I wrote down each colour hash on a post-it note and had it above my desk. Every time I was writing or designing, I manually wrote out the colour hash. My copying skills are all right – but the potential for a single digit error was high – particularly when I was in a rush.

And so I decided that a change was needed. Electronic copying rather than visual copy-typing was needed.

But again, having a document I had to find and open and copy and paste was a bore. You get the idea. Time consuming eh?

My big insight

I realised that my emailing programme was the place where I used these colour hashes most frequently.

And so I edited the newsletter template to include a segment where each and every colour and its associated hash is listed.

Hex codes, colour codes, logo colours

Creative Agency Secrets logo hex colours

The time saving design outcome

Now whenever I need to get the colour shade I want, I can copy it from the template block into the area where it’s needed. Remove the hash text and bingo!

The only thing to remember is to remove the block from the final email design before sending.



Rebecca Caroe copywriting, fountain pen copywrite

My copywriting process explained

I write copy for a living.

I write a lot.  Words, words, words. Each project is designed to fit into a particular desired outcome within a marketing strategy and tactical framework. I say that so you understand context.

Context in writing is both important and valuable – but more about that later.

Rebecca Caroe copywriting, fountain pen copywrite

My actual pen and notes for B2B copywriting

How I write marketing copy

Getting a message across using printed words (as opposed to audio, images or video) is a giant challenge. Knowing how long humans have been writing, you’d think that everything that could have been written has been. And yet…. we know that’s not true.  The imagination and skill of mankind to innovate is immense.

My writing is usually business to business copywriting for marketing purposes. That’s my area of expertise. And so the steps I take begin with the outcome. What do I want to happen as a result of a prospect or client reading what I’ve written?

  • End goal is to click through to website
  • End goal is to understand how to write B2B copy
  • End goal is to reply with a  question

These examples are all valid outcomes and each requires very different copy treatments.

The first version is always factual

What are the true, inalienable facts that support the end goal? I list these in a brain dump document. Frequently these are the result of conversations with the client, the internal team and existing customers.

Then I supplement this with some desk research. Reading ‘around the subject’ can come from many sources – newsletters, online magazines, blogs, books. Interestingly, I rarely search social media for this information. My choice – it may suit your needs. The amazing Knowledge Hunter, Geoff McDowell, taught me so much about this subject.

Adding more copy material

From the wider reading I copy/paste and add in more themes, concepts, nuance, examples, phrases and keywords. I also look out for no-nos. These are things I want to avoid.

Sometimes images, colours, layouts and other visual elements present themselves from this research too. That can be very helpful as my brain often leaps forward towards the end result WAY earlier than it’s supposed to. To avoid distraction, I save and note these ideas back in the research document. By noting them, I have preserved the idea; but I’m not focusing on them at this stage. It means I don’t lose the inspiration – I can revive that thought later just by re-reading my notes.

This all contributes to a second draft. This is when I decide the overall frame for the project and HOW does this translate into the copywriting. This could be storytelling, it could be demonstration, case study, questioning, educating. There is a lot more information added, there are more concepts and overall I just write freely incorporating the research information and framing arguments, emotions and logic into one long piece of writing.

This is the place where context comes to the fore. How will the message be delivered, what will the recipient be doing or not doing? Where in the customer journey will they be? What is the outcome or next step goal in this campaign?

Editing and refining copy

This is the part I love.

Precise and concise are watchwords which I hope any client applies to a testimonial about my business copywriting.

Taking what I wrote and simplifying, cutting, removing extraneous information and honing it down into a tight, precise and well-organised message is a repetitive task and it gives me so much pleasure. Sometimes I use a technique of adding in sub-headings (as in this blog) because it helps me to organise and find the big messages in the very long copy.

Often I leave the first opening paragraph until last because it’s so hard. Sometimes I switch the first and last paragraphs – try it!

Headlines and calls to action are a separate challenge and I may do a couple of different versions or give options and let the client choose. This is because they are mostly better-informed about their product or service than I am. Teamwork helps work out what will resonate and achieve the goal.

And then I sleep on it

Yes this is really the final step before showing it to the client, adding it to a mock-up or an EDM. This is important and is one reason why planning at the first step needs to include deadlines and allowances for sleep time.

7 things I’ve appreciated after sleeping on my work

  1. My brain is fresher in the morning
  2. I process ideas while resting
  3. Better re-writes are (nearly always) possible
  4. I can check that I haven’t missed anything out [done this MANY times – but rescued the situation before the client read it]
  5. Reflect on alternative approaches which I earlier discarded
  6. Opportunity to print it onto paper and read out loud
  7. Check grammar, punctuation, capitalisations and links all working and correctly placed

And that’s it. The whole creative writing process for B2B copy.

About the picture illustrating this article.

That’s really my pen and my notebook, photographed this morning as I got a tiny bit of inspiration for a client as a result of doing some research for a different client. It’s odd the way my brain works. And I have learned to respect my brain process and to always seize the moment and make the notes when they jump into my mind. I don’t have to use them – but I’m sure I will lose them if they aren’t captured.

I do not have the neatest handwriting, yet using blue-black ink in an old-fashioned fountain pen gives me both pleasure and the chance to read my words again without guessing what I meant to write. Someday I’ll photograph some of my notes which turn out to be illegible even to me. Generally when I rush to write, legibility suffers.

The unknown part of writing inspiration

The pen also lives in a leather case. My ritual of opening the case flap and flicking back the long cover, unsheathing the pen and unscrewing its lid before writing still gives me a frisson. I never know exactly what will come out of the inky nib onto that pristine sheet of paper, onto the next empty line, or inserted between the paragraphs of print.

And the pen – a birthday gift chosen with care while on holiday. I got the nib re-surfaced by this amazing pen expert who recommended not using ink cartridges. He also explained a lot about the issues of ink/paper and my unique hand/pressure and what a converter is, not a bladder. There is a distinction between them.

So now you know my B2B writing process. What will you do with this knowledge?


Brief Rebecca on your copywriting project

Join the newsletter

click stream, analysis, email click

Click Analysis to raise ROI

Take a look at your most recent email marketing campaign and review where people clicks and how many people clicked on each link.

I found that we were getting a lot of clicks in an unexpected place and we were able to correct that in our next campaign iteration. I also recommend a chrome extension which will help you appraise your website clicks.

Watch more Recession Marketing videos

and find the top 6 actions for marketing strategy for a recession.

Messaging frequency in Covid19

How frequently should you message your customers during the Covid-19 lockdown?

Google my Business has a new tab with Covid19 status for your business – useful to update folks if you are open or not.

Corona virus Google businessupdate Google business covid 19 update

And the new Facebook layout seems to have relaxed flood control for messenger.


sinking ship, crisis communications

Crisis Communications Rule of 3

What can brands say to their customers now it’s clear that business as not-normal will continue?
– two content messaging ideas are in the video

3 rules for crisis communications

  • 100% transparency
  • Write with compassion
  • Be clear, accurate and concise about tough decisions