Transform Your Gmail Inbox into a Streamlined Email Swipe File

“I’ve always been shameless about stealing good ideas.”

Guess what iconic intellectual property thief said that?

The Mac Daddy of computing himself, Mr. Steve Jobs.

As much as you want to be intrinsically creativity on a daily basis, the truth is that your eureka moments are usually sparked by contact with external ideas. 

If you’re an internet marketer or solo-preneur, "stealing" good ideas is just a crucial skill you must embrace to successfully promote your online business.

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Show Me Your Swipe File

If you want to succeed at piercing through the digital background noise of the internet, don't try to reinvent the wheel every time you launch an online marketing campaign. Do yourself a favor and start building your own internet marketing swipe file.

A swipe file is basically your collection of advertisements, images, emails, headlines, subject lines and copy that caught your eye and make you go CLICK! 

If you apply Steve Job’s shameless intellectual theft advice to marketing, your swipe file will soon become an invaluable resource of ideas you can reference and modify for your own purposes.

The only problem most new marketers find with cultivating one is that they take time and dedicated effort to create. But these days, even that burden is quickly disappearing. Modern software tools can help collect good ideas for you, even while you sleep!

In this week’s installment of The Silver Bulletin, I’m going to show you how to create an automated email swipe file system that not only captures great ideas for you, but also helps tidy up your Gmail inbox at the same time.

Let’s get started...

Overcoming Email Subscription Burnout

Email subscription burnout is a common affliction for anyone that uses the internet these days.

Eventually, the growing deluge of daily marketing emails becomes too much to handle and saps attention away from your more important tasks.

I’m sure you’ve already passed on some valuable opt-in offers just because you didn’t want to deal with the additional email overwhelm associated with subscribing to get "instant access".

But unfortunately, not signing up for these opt-in offers eventually shoots yourself in the foot as a marketer. Over time, you miss out on collecting email marketing strategies that could benefit your future campaigns.

In fact, the best marketing strategies from the greatest online marketers alive are waiting to make their way into your email inbox as we speak...for free! Why would you want to pass on that?

If you can subscribe to the right lists, you'll soon have multiple, money-making autoresponder examples at your fingertips in just a few short weeks.

Once you have these profit-generating email sets at your disposal, you’ll never lack inspiration for email campaigns ever again.

Instead of blindly guessing how many emails your sequence should be, you can just reference how the pros did it for their own products. If you’re lacking a catchy subject line idea, you’ll soon have several examples to browse through.

The same holds true for coming up with engaging hooks and tension-building cliffhangers. Just look through the email sequences of other online businesses and you'll hone your ability to get subscribers to open your emails.

If only you had a way to organize all those incoming emails into searchable swipe file sets that skip your inbox and free you from email clutter...

Well, it turns out that Gmail makes setting up this type of email swipe file super easy. Check out the system described below to do the same for yourself in just a few minutes.

Your New Gmail Swipe File System

To get started, inventory all the email subscriptions currently hitting your inbox. You can then organize them into a Gmail swipe file by following the instructions of the infographic below:

It’s that simple. Now all your past and future emails from that sender will skip your inbox and go straight to the labeled folder you created for them.

Repeat this process as many times as you need to make labels for your past and future email subscriptions.

Once you spend a few minutes running through this process with all of your subscriptions, the email marketing you've been targeted by will all be organized into the left label sidebar of your gmail account.

Just by opening one of these Gmail label folders, you’ll instantly see important details like email frequency, subject lines and content topics without even having to open any individual emails.

And when you have time to dig into the details of each email sequence you've collected, you’ll also get ideas for how to craft engaging storylines, hooks and cliffhangers to keep subscribers opening your emails every time they hit your inbox.

The Gmail Swipe File in Action

I use my Gmail swipe file every time I write an email or autoresponder series.

It’s so easy to glance through my label folders that it's now part of my normal brainstorming routine.

In fact, check out this subject line I swiped and modified from Ramit Sethi to use for a Silver Bulletin email I sent out a while ago:

Unsurprisingly, stealing a good idea from a copywriting genius like Ramit was rewarded with the best open rate I've seen yet for one of my emails. Not too shabby!

And with this automated swipe file system in place, I never have to worry about new email opt-ins overwhelming my Gmail inbox ever again. Instead, I give out my email like a crazy man to grow the swipe file trough competitor, relevant website and internet marketing specialist opt-ins.

Pretty sweet, right?

Spy On Your Competitors

It’s always a good idea to monitor what your competition is doing and this Gmail swipe file method is a good way to do just that. If you know who your competitors are, make sure to opt-in to their email lists to better understand how they're using email marketing.

  • ​What's your competition's email on-boarding series look like?
  • What sort of educational content are they providing to make subscribers understand their brand better?
  • How do they drip emails to turn subscribers into paying customers?

If you have a swipe file on them, you'll gain am email marketing edge on your competition. 

Subscribe To These Marketing Mentors Right Now

Studying successful copywriters and internet marketers is a great way to boost your skills and capture awesome ideas for your own content and email campaigns.

Most of these influencers charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for online courses to spoon feed knowledge to you, but if you're willing to backwards engineer their methods, you can learn many of the same things for free just by subscribing to their lists!

Below are my recommendations for who to get started following to build up your Gmail swipe file right away. As you find new online mentors, make sure to opt-in to their email lists as well. Create a new Gmail swipe file for each new subscription as soon as their first email hits your inbox.

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you have an automated email marketing swipe file system already?

If so, what's your setup look like? If not, how do you capture great email marketing examples when you come across them?

Post in the comments below to share your swipe file methods with us!

Talk soon,

Matt

P.S. If you’re interested in more advanced swipe file tips and techniques, check out this in-depth post on the Thrive Themes blog covering all the clever ways you can spy on your competition.

About the Author Matt Totten

Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital nomad. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to create a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in a high-tech world. When away from his tech, you can find him at the park training AcroYoga.

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10 comments
Karen says June 14, 2017

Evernote is my “go-to” resource for literally everything on the web or in email! The problem has been in the tagging, to be able to find everything again! ;-) LoL! Your great article here gave me the idea to create a specific notebook called “swipefile” and then tag them with the specifics (email, headline, autoresponder, etc.)…

I also always tag with the author, since I have my fave’s: Shane Melaugh is one of the best! :-)

Thanks for a great idea-inspiring article! :-)

Reply
    Matt Totten says June 14, 2017

    Thanks Karen! I agree that Evernote is super useful for capturing all sorts of ideas across the web. I even use Evernote Moleskin notebooks to help me more easily digitize my handwritten notes and ideas!

    Great suggestion about tagging your different types of internet marketing swipes too. I think that’s an awesome suggestion to keep them tidy for easy reference!

    Reply
james says May 29, 2017

How do you keep your hard drive from becoming cluttered and how often do you actually look at the stuff you collect?

Reply
    Matt Totten says May 30, 2017

    Hey James,

    This is a good question that I don’t have a one-size fits all answer to. The nice thing about the Gmail swipe file strategy described above is that it makes Google do the saving and sorting for you.

    When it comes to swiping other types of content, you need to come up with a good file structure to keep everything sorted as you save it. That file structure will probably evolve over time as you start collecting and differentiating more types of marketing material. Make sure to create backups!

    I’m always referencing my swipe files…it’s one of the best ways to quickly stimulate my brain for new ideas around headlines, subject lines, image concepts and more.

    Reply
Paula says May 26, 2017

This is so helpful Matt! Thank YOU!

Reply
    Matt Totten says May 26, 2017

    You’re welcome Paula…so glad it was useful for you!

    Reply
ana pascoa says May 26, 2017

Hi Matt,
Sometimes we forget good ideas. When I started online, after lots of frustrations to learn WordPress, I met Youtube on Sarah Staar, who sold me a very basic wordpress course for $ 12. In this course she spoke exactly the subject of her excellent article.
It was the beginning of my getting some experience in creating my first wordpress blog. And learn how to use video and create my first YouTube channel. Everything has a history. The first product I bought was from Shane, which today is Thriveleads. But how to install?
I had blog, but did not know how to install a theme through zipped folder Then appeared the Thrivethemes school.
Thank you for reminding me of the beginning of my online walk.

Reply
    Matt Totten says May 26, 2017

    You’re welcome Ana!

    It can be great to go back through the history of emails you’ve received from certain online companies to see how their products have evolved through time. Glad to hear your own online journey has grown through time as well!

    Reply
Tamás says May 26, 2017

Matt, I think this is a really good post. Yesterday I met the challenge to make my first swipe file. It seemed to make it hard but I got the first idea how can I solve it. Any example how could I make a swipe file about sites what I’m interested in?

Reply
    Matt Totten says May 26, 2017

    Hi Tamás,

    Congrats on starting your first swipe file!

    When it comes to swiping more than just emails, I try to screenshot whatever catches my eye. Opt-in forms, design elements, landing pages, interesting copy, catchy images, etc.

    If you want to capture entire webpages, Evernote is a great tool to use to keep all your swipes organized if you can afford spending a few bucks a month on it.

    I also use the Awesome Screenshot Google Chrome extension to capture both images and entire pages, but it takes a bit more effort to store those swipes in an easy to reference file structure.

    Reply
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