Email Copywriting Masterclass

Email follow-up sequences are gold! Here’s why…

1. Permission Marketing

First, you have your reader’s permission to send them a message. That means you can assume some level of existing relationship, so you don’t have to write to a “cold” audience.

You can take it for granted that they already know about you, and they’re open to what you’re offering. That gives you freedom to write more directly and more emotively.

2. More Reader Involvement

Second, when your emails are read, they are read more intently than web copy. Sure, you can never be sure all your emails will be opened or read, but when they are you have your reader’s attention in a cleaner space.

There are no ads, nothing blinking to distract them, and the typography is usually pretty good. So your message is more likely to get into your reader’s mind.

mailchimpAccording to MailChimp, my average open rate on my primary mailing list is 18.0% (MailChimp says the industry average for the Education and Training sector is 15.2%), and average click-through rate is 4.4% (industry average only 1.6%).

3. Control the Conversation

Third, you get to control the conversation in a unique way. You get to sow the seeds of ideas, and then follow up with further messages at a later time of your choosing.

You are not dependent on waiting for your prospect to come back to your site or YouTube channel. You have their permission to interrupt them (to a certain degree) by dropping messages into their inbox at intervals that you choose.

4. It’s Automated!

Plus, of course, all this is automatic. You get the advantages of a more personal-feeling interaction, with its own rhythm, but all handled by your email delivery software. This way, you get maximum impact but only have to write each message once.

Email Copywriting is an Art Form

email-writing-art-formI’m sure you receive a lot of emails that you delete without opening. And I’m sure there are some that you nearly always look at.

What makes the difference? Well, that’s where the art of email copywriting comes in!

Below I’ll actually show you a whole campaign I wrote for a client, but first let’s get some of the basics out of the way.

There are always numerous questions about how to write an email follow-up sequence. I’ll try to list the most common ones here, with concise answers.

Q: What tone of voice should I use?

Great question! The answer is: the appropriate one! Who is sending the emails? Who is receiving them? So what should the manner of address be?

You will need to tread the line between too formal and too familiar. You don’t want to bore your reader to death, but at the same time don’t put them off by coming across unprofessional. You (and your client) will know the appropriate tone.

In the sequence below, I’m writing from the business owner (a software developer) to a wide range of prospects, who I’m assuming are small-to-medium business owners in the United States.

So I keep it pretty professional, but also try to follow good online copywriting practice: simple, direct, short sentences, and short paragraphs.

Q: How long should each email be?

My golden rule for copy is:

It should be as long as it needs to be.

Obviously, it depends what you’re doing. If you’re telling a story, use as many paragraphs as you need to tell the story completely. If it’s a short announcement, maybe one or two sentences may do. It’s okay to mix up the lengths.

One of the best-written newsletters I receive is almost daily, and comes from “Sovereign Man“. Sometimes Simon Black’s emails are several pages long, but I read most of them. Why? Because I tend to find something of interest or value in each one!

Q: What about calls to action? Is it OK to sell?

Yes, absolutely!

If you never ask, the answer is always “no”.

I’m always looking for a way to offer the next step. If you’ve done your job right, and you’re talking to the right person, they ought to want to take the next step (when the moment is right). So let them have the opportunity, but without being too pushy.

You don’t want to put off a genuine prospect by trying to force them to say “yes” before they’re ready. It’s your job to make them ready!

Here’s a trick that I find invaluable… Always assume that the person you’re writing to is someone whom you are going to persuade to take the next step.

Everyone who comes across any message you write falls into one of three camps:

  1. They’re a definite “no.”
  2. They’re an easy “yes.”
  3. Or they’re somewhere in the “maybe” zone.

There’s no point writing to the definite “yes” or definite “no” camp. You can’t change anything there.

Assume that the person who’s reading your copy is open to persuasion. That makes you set out to do what you need to do in order to persuade!

So keep optimistic, but assume that you have work to do in order to build a bridge from wherever your prospect is now to the place they need to be in order to say yes to your offer.

(When you receive the emails in the campaign below, you’ll definitely build a picture of what I mean by this.)

Q: What should I write about?

Aha! This is the big one!

Okay, let’s break it down logically.

Your objective is clear. You need to lead your prospect from point A (where they are now) to point B (where they’re ready to say “yes” to whatever it is you’re offering them).

It is likely that they have been at point A for some time. There are probably reasons, excuses, and habits that have kept them there.

Your primary task is twofold:

  1. Persuade them that there’s something better (than where they are now).
  2. And make them believe they can get there without too much cost/pain.

Along the way, you may wish to make point A seem uncomfortable or costly, to get them feeling dissatisfied with where they are now.

What are the costs, pains, or hidden problems with where they are now? Show that you understand that, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and make them know you’re on their side.

Make it clear that the reasons why they’re stuck at point A are not their fault! These things are common, typical, and understandable. Perhaps it’s the case that not many people in their situation are even aware there’s a better way.

Paint a picture of a better way. Show them what life would be like when things work more smoothly, faster, more efficiently, when they’re saving money they’re wasting today…

And make it seem achievable. What’s the secret sauce, talisman, or hidden insight that can break them free from point A and magically shoot them over towards point B?

Then, explore what may be typical objections or excuses why they may not choose to accept the path you’re showing them?

Again, never make your prospect feel stupid! Let them know that their concerns or fears are quite normal, but easily overcome once you have the knowledge that they now have.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to tell your prospect they’re making mistakes or doing it wrong! That’s a necessary part of the offer you’re building.

The essence of what you’re doing is…

  1. to make them feel uncomfortable about their present situation,
  2. to highlight that the reason they’re in that situation is because they’re missing some tool or knowledge,
  3. and then to proceed to offer the missing piece they need.

email-copywriting-sample

Later in the sequence, if they’ve come this far and (we assume) not said “yes” yet, you may wish to start a dialogue. Ask them what they want, or what’s stopping them from taking the next step. Get them to visit a questionnaire or simply email back.

(That gives you the opportunity to identify potholes that you hadn’t spotted before, which you should then build into your sequence so that future prospects have this concern addressed automatically.)

Any other questions? Ask me in the comments below!

Watch Over My Shoulder

My #1 tip for mastering email copywriting is to get yourself on some well-written email lists!

The majority of marketing email sequences are FREE, so use them, even if you want to spend money on copywriting books and courses.

I recently wrote a twenty-seven-part email follow-up sequence for a client, and I think it’s one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever done. So I’d like to share it with you.

The sequence is designed to take the target reader (a US-based small business owner) and gradually shift their thinking over time towards my client’s product.

It got me thinking that there’s no better way to learn something than to see it in action (and then to try it for yourself).

So I’d like to encourage you to sign up for Connie’s email sequence. You’ll only get one more email in your inbox per week, and you’ll get a chance to watch over my shoulder as the emails build the picture I want to present.

You’ll probably also find that you notice your thinking change (particularly if you’re in the target market).

You can get the series in seconds! Just stick your email address in here to get on the list. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben has over 20 years' experience in web design and marketing, and is one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written a bunch of books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally. In 2015, Ben created Open-Source Marketing, which promises to turn the practice of marketing upside down.. Find out more at http://opensourcemarketingproject.org

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