Let me start with a confession: Not all that long ago, e-mail marketing was something I didn’t bother with. I just didn’t see the point?
Because I’d open up my inbox each day and there’d be a tonne of new e-mails and rather than bothering to unsubscribe (let alone read them)- I’d just click the ‘Delete’ box next to them and they were gone. I couldn’t be bothered to read these e-mails, so why should I expect anyone else to? It seemed like a waste of valuable time to build a database, craft an e-mail and send it out to that list on the regular. Just more ‘filler’ to be deleted…
But then over lunch with a business mentor of mine one Friday afternoon, we were going through the tools I used to connect with new leads, when she asked if I kept in contact with them regularly via e-mail? I told her no, I didn’t, and she strongly advised I change that ASAP. She even came up with the heading for my first e-mail:
“The confessions of a copywriter with no e-mail list”.
That was where it all started, and I’m pleased to say that in the years since, not only has the content and the presentation of my e-mails improved somewhat- but so has the engagement. I especially notice this in the clients I write e-mails for- the regular messages to their database get twice, in some cases nearly 3 times the standard open rate for their industry.
I also get this kind of feedback- from people on my list and cold-contacts alike:
^ Ahh yes, that time I forgot to BCC the group e-mail. D’oh!
Having a regular e-mail database is a fantastic way to promote yourself, build a relationship your new leads and get repeat business from the 20% of your existing customer base who drive 80% of all the money that comes in.
But how do you get your foot through the door? How do you craft an e-mail that stands out and doesn’t join the other average ones getting sent to the trash bin daily by your subscribers?
We could spend an entire day going through all the smaller details, but here’s the main things you want to remember:
#1. Get The Right Heading
You’ve got to put together a heading that relates to the content inside, but also makes your subscribers curious to click through and see what you have to say. It has to arouse their desire to know more, to find out what your unbelievable new offer is or what that little known secret about _____ is that could save them thousands? Whether your open rate blows them away or bombs all hangs on the heading- so it’s crucial you get this one spot-on (or as close to spot-on as you can). A handy tool for this is to use Headline Analyzer and that’ll tell you how effective a proposed headline is in regards to its’ length and the buzzwords it contains.
#2. Give Them Something To Look At
My first couple of e-mails didn’t have an image to go with them- big mistake! Because if you manage to convince your subscriber to open the e-mail, and all they see is a wall of text, chances are that’s as far as it’ll go. They’ll close it down. Don’t let them get overwhelmed by a lengthy essay. We’re visual creatures- so give them an image at the very top of your e-mail to break up the text. Find something that relates to the content of the article, and the more creative and intriguing you make this, the better! I’ve had a lot of fun with this over the years- everything from pictures of burning $100 notes, to Batman Welcome mats, to golden tickets (like in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’) to stills from movies like ‘The Usual Suspects‘- and ALL of them related to the copy that followed, in some way or another.
#3. Make It Easy To Read
How long should your email be, in regards to word count?
Look- it’s not important. It can be as long or short as you want- the objective is for the reader to have the best chance at clicking the link/s you include, or taking the action you want them to. So this doesn’t matter too much.
What IS important is that you make it easy for them to read. Don’t let the copy be in small text, with long paragraphs. Break it up like this:
Start with your opening line, you know what I’m talking about-
Make it bold so they want to read the next paragraph. Be careful with long-winded sentences- now isn’t the time to show off how wide your vocabulary is. You know what you need to do?
In other words-
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
And make sure the text is slightly larger than usual, really easy for them to read. Keep those paragraphs short because they could turn and leave at ANY moment…
Be generous with your line spacing, because remember-
Your objective is to get them to click where you want them to.
Or take the action you want them to-
Call you or your team.
Submit a contact form.
Send an enquiry.
Like I said, there are plenty of other subtleties that go into pumping out eye-grabbing headlines and e-mail content that keeps them hanging on until the very end. But to start with, if you follow these guidelines then you should see a much better click and open/ action taking rate from your subscribers than a lot of the other e-mails clogging up their inbox. You’d be surprised just how many people get it wrong with this.
Don’t believe me? Just go through all the e-mails you get today from regular contributors, and see if they’re NOT guilty of at least ONE of the following:
a) No header image
b) Small text
c) Large chunks of text
d) No bold sentences
e) Call to action not clearly highlighted (like a big ‘Contact Me’ or ‘Read More’ button)
So take this on board, and I wish you luck in building your list and reaping the rewards that follow. It’s definitely worth doing in the long-term!
But it always takes time to do this- even for me- and I’m a professional at this! So if you’d rather get your time back to do what you do best, and let someone else take care of your regular database e-mails- somebody with a track record for creating content that stands above the masses flowing into your subscribers’ inboxes every day-
If you want content that actually gets opened, read AND acted upon?