Tarzan Kay


June 21, 2024

to you

What you're reading is a copy of an email my subscribers received. This is an archive, so it's possible some links are missing or expired. If you want to stay in the loop, make sure to jump on my email list and get these delivered direct to your inbox!


creepy personalization?

logo for emails, but better, in 1950's style font with paper airplane


​HoneyBook wants to give you money  (a lot, in fact)​

HoneyBook Breakthrough grant, in bold text, with arrow pointing up, against a yellow gradient background. Underneath it reads, "Apply to win $25K."

Let’s give a warm welcome to HoneyBook, our first official newsletter sponsor. (You know how persnickety I am about who I promote here, and HoneyBook more than made the cut with this one.)

HoneyBook just announced they’ll be investing $500,000 through their new program, The Breakthrough Grant, to help early-stage copywriters, SEO experts, content creators, designers, and more get the tools and support they need to be successful.

For this first round, 10 winners will get a grant package valued at $25,000. SPOILER: That’s not just software, it includes actual money.

Find out more + apply here →

How To Personalize Your Emails (Without Being Creepy About It)

I checked my unsubscribes in ConvertKit the other day, which I don’t normally do.

But part of my Thursday routine is checking on my ads, making sure that subscribers who come through that doorway are reading my emails and not unsubscribing after 5 minutes, or worse, letting my emails go cold in some dark corner of their inbox.

Somehow, I found myself looking at a list of people who unsubscribed that day, and I recognized one of the names, a fellow writer whose work is hilarious and addictive.

Ugh, I felt so bad. 

Not because that person unsubscribed. To paraphrase Jane Austen, there are as many reasons to unsubscribe from newsletters as there are moments in time. No biggie. She must’ve had her reasons. Conjecture is futile.

That lurch in my stomach was a feeling that I was poking my nose somewhere it shouldn’t be. It felt like an invasion of privacy.

Just because I have this data, should I be monitoring it, scrutinizing names, and making inferences from it?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

There are useful, meaningful ways to use subscriber data.

For example:

> To determine who’s interested in which offers, based on what they click
> To see what topics they want to learn about based on the winner of a subject line test
> To build a notification list for your upcoming program, made up of everyone who subscribed to a certain freebie or clicked a link
> To show specific messaging to some subscribers and not others (which is called “conditional formatting”)

Then, there are creepy ways to use subscriber data.

For example:

> To monitor who unsubscribed from last week’s email and wonder why that might be
> Sending a personalized email that says, “I can see you opened 6 emails about my latest offer but you didn’t buy yet, would you like to get on a call and talk about it?” (That strategy may work if used covertly, but it makes subscribers feel like you're spying on them.)
> Deleting people who don’t buy anything and writing them off as “freebie hunters.” (This is a real strategy. Sandra and I both think it’s a real ding-dong move. She wrote about it here.)

If you’re like me – and everyone I know, actually – you’re sensitive to how your data is being used. It’s annoying when it’s used in a way that you didn’t consent to. Like when Meta quietly decides to train its AI on all of your photos and makes it complicated to opt-out.

Personalization in email is a delicate balance of “Here’s some recommended content based on your interests” and “I’m outside your kitchen window, and I see you’re about to make a coffee, might I recommend Folgers in your cup?”


And yet personalization is so important, as is customizing emails based on the interests and actions of your subscribers.

One recommendation to do that in a not creepy way: Be clear about when you’re going to track and tag someone. For example:

“Click here to add yourself to the notification list.”

Or make a note, “If you click this link, you’ll get a few extra emails about this.”

Or say in a promo email, “You’re getting this email because you downloaded X freebie, which makes me think you might want this too. Click this link to say, ‘Actually, I’m not interested.’”)

Use clear language that leaves no room for interpretation about how the data you’re collecting will be used.


It’s just transparency.

People can only consent if they know what they’re consenting to. Because consent must be freely given, informed, and revocable, remember? For a refresher, read this email.

Paraphrasing Jesus now, who said, “To whom much data is given, from them much will be required.” (The original quote uses he/him pronouns, obvi. That’s basically what he said tho.)

Running a newsletter puts you in a leadership position, whether you have 50 subscribers or 50,000. This is just one way you can take responsibility for that power and be in right relationship with those smart humans you are leading.

Now hit “reply” and tell me how mad you are at Facebook!

SRSLY, how do you make something people love so much but also suck so bad!?!

Stay cool but also stay mad,

Fueled by love and rage ❤️


Some people think using first names is just an outdated party trick, but I love personalizing emails this way. Search Sheila in last Tuesday’s email to see how I used yours.

If you don’t see your name in that email, it means I don’t have it. You can update your information here.


Pass it on! This topic is especially important if you work with online business owners whose trust has been broken many times. And please cite my work.

line break with a paper airplane

Wanna have dinner with me? 
Inbox Leadership Forum: Inaugural Dinner
Thursday, July 18, at Bench Brewery in Niagara

A modern restaurant building named "The Bench" illuminated at night against a blue twilight sky. The building has a sleek, contemporary design with large windows and an outdoor seating area surrounded by lush landscaping and flowers. The restaurant's name is prominently displayed on a stone monument sign at the entrance, inviting customers to dine at this upscale establishment.

Join me and fifteen other business owners in Niagara for a fun + informal networking dinner in Niagara, for online business owners, email marketers, and newsletter operators who want to talk shop, share what’s working, and find collaborative partners for their next promotion.

Grab A Ticket ($125 CAD) | Sponsor This Event


 Links I Loved (Maybe You Will Too) 

 Funding opportunity! Applications open today for the HoneyBook Breakthrough Grant. Deadline to apply is July 16. Ten up-and-coming independent businesses will get up to $25,000 in tools, resources, and training. (sponsored link)

 Have you seen my new 9-grid on Instagram? I’m making all kinds of designs in Nicole Edwards’ program Canva Without Crying, which is coming back in July (as is our collab ChatGPT for Email). Stay tuned for a link to her free workshop.

️ Stephanie Schwab is a master of educational-but-not-boring content on LinkedIn. Her newsletter The Networkist does deep dives with top LinkedIn voices—how they grew, what’s working now, and what it looks like to achieve meaningful goals as a personal brand.

Sponsored links are always marked.


A GIF for a 9-month "POWER" mastermind program for dreamers and disruptors who want to create ripples in the marketplace by doing meaningful work. The GIF features Tarzan smiling, and wearing a teal sweater, along with colorful abstract shapes and text describing the program. It also displays the customer review ratings as a background.



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Start writing consent-based copy and prioritize people over profit 


You can make money without being a greasy promise-pusher, slapping "70% OFF FOR ONE DAY ONLY!" all over your website, or putting giant red countdown timers in every email. Here's how. 


The easiest ways to Tarzan-ify your emails and launch copy


The Course Launch Copy Kit ($27)

Copy Caboose Digital Program ($500)