Email marketing is one of the greatest blessings ever bestowed upon an Internet marketer. Think about it – where else can you effortlessly reach out to hundreds of thousands of people who genuinely look up to you for advice, and will happily pay for your products and services? Even if you aren’t an online marketer, writing high-converting email sequences is a very profitable copywriting niche to be involved in.
I know copywriters who can charge large sums of money for a couple of emails that can be whipped up in 2 hours, simply because they deliver results every single time. The real superpower comes not only in knowing how to write effective emails, but also ensuring that they actually land in your prospect’s inbox folder (and not the spam folder!).
Most people will specialize in either one or the other, but master both and you will find that people BEG you to write their emails for them! I know that I have the incredible fortune and privilege of being able to write multiple email sequences on a monthly basis. I have exhaustively tested out hundreds of different copywriting styles and email formats to find the few fundamental principles that generally work best, no matter which niche you’re in. But before I get into those principles, let me tell you exactly why email marketing is so darn effective in the first place:
“The fortune is in the follow-up” – Grant Cardone
Think about it for a second: VERY few people will buy anything from you after the very first time they hear about you. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with what you’re doing, but the ‘trust’ factor simply isn’t there. They might also forget about you after hearing about you just once, as the human memory is a very fickle thing. Fortunately, once anybody gives you their email address, they are in YOUR world. YOU get to decide what message you want to send to them, and how you want to do it. Sounds easy, right? Email marketing is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest thing to do.
It’s easy because they’re emails – everybody writes multiple emails on a daily basis, and they’re generally not too long. It’s also difficult because every single element of a sales email is equally important. You need to consider email deliverability (that’s all the technical stuff) in order to ensure that your email lands in the right inbox folder. You need to think carefully about your email subject lines in order to ensure you get the highest open rates possible.
Even when you figured all that out, you need to write your email in a way that gets people to take the action you want them to take – clicking a “BUY” link, signing up for a webinar, personally replying to you, etc. (For those of you who don’t know…an ‘open rate’ is the percentage of your subscribers who OPENED your email, and a ‘click rate’ is the relative percentage of people who click on your email’s hyperlink in comparison to the percentage of people who opened your email).
Now that you understand how email marketing can be so enjoyable and hair-pulling frustrating at the same time, let’s learn about the most important email marketing principles you can use today to boost your conversions and increase your sales!
AVOID excessive use of images, links or HMTL coding
From my personal experience and observation over the last 10 years, the best-performing emails are always the ones that are the simplest in nature. What do I mean by that? I’m talking about emails that have a MAXIMUM of one image. I’m talking about emails that don’t have a stupid amount of graphic design on them – plain text is almost always the best option.
I’m talking about emails with no more than 2-3 unique hyperlinks. When you disobey any of the three rules I just discussed above, your email will either get sent to the spam folder (or the “Promotions” tab for Gmail users, which often gets ignored). And when that happens, your prospects won’t even SEE your email! Think about it for a second…
You could have the perfect high-converting subject line. You could have hypnotic copy within your email that tugs at all the right emotional heartstrings. You could have an email that compels people to take action immediately after reading it.
But if they can’t see it….what’s the point? It’s like that old riddle about whether a tree makes a sound or not, when falling down if there is nobody around to perceive the sound. Furthermore, it messes up your ability to properly interpret the data and make the necessary tweaks to improve your performance on emails. You might unnecessarily make changes to the way you approach emails, not because you did anything wrong, but because people are just simply not getting them!
Re-test your email with a different subject line
Let’s say that you write an email where you really want people to open it up and click on the link, but for some reason your open rate is far lower than expected. Fortunately, most email service providers will allow you to re-send that same email 24 hours later.
There’s one caveat to this neat little trick: You MUST change the subject line you use when re-sending the mail to prevent it from getting clumped up with the email you originally sent, and in doing so you avoid misinterpreting the results of your new change.
Use additional tools to help you improve your email deliverability
I have three quick and easy tools that I always use to test each and every one of my emails before I send them out to my subscriber list.
Litmus’ “Gmail Tabs” – You send your ‘test’ email to a randomized email address that this online web application provides you. Within seconds, you will instantly know which Gmail tab your email will end up in. For optimal results, you want the email going in the “Primary” tab as most people will check their emails within that section and tend to ignore the others.
MailMonitor – This is a far more robust software platform which allows you to troubleshoot your emails. You can learn exactly WHAT elements of your email can be flagged by your email provider, and identify risky content before you send out your email. It is a very powerful tool for troubleshooting your email campaigns if you feel that deliverability is not properly optimized.
Mail-tester.com – Very similar to the Litmus platform mentioned above. You send your email to the randomized address, and it will give you a score that indicates the likelihood of it reaching the personal inbox of your subscribers. In general, you want to shoot for the highest score possible.
When A/B testing, change ONE element at a time.
If you want to see the difference between two variations of the same email in how they perform, you can only change ONE element at a time to generate reliable results. Let’s say that I send out the exact same email, with the only difference being the subject line used for each. Subject Line A vs. Subject Line B, if you will. After getting the test results back, we see that A had a 17.5% open rate while B had a 12.4% open rate. Because we kept EVERYTHING else the same, both in terms of email content and the number of images/links in it, we can say with certainty that A performs better than B on the basis of copy alone. It wasn’t due to a difference in email deliverability rates.
Now, let’s say we ran that same test, except the email with B also had 5 extra images in its body while A stuck with the “1 image maximum” rule. And for the sake of argument, let’s also say that A had an open rate of 18.5% while B had an open rate of 14.3%. In the second case, you can’t reliably say that the email with Subject Line A outperformed the email with Subject Line B, based solely on the subject line alone. How do you account for the influence of the email deliverability rates?
Exactly, you can’t.
I know that testing one little thing at a time can seem laborious and tedious, but that’s what it takes to be a successful email marketer and copywriter.
Speak in plain English, and speak with emotion
Simple sells, complexity repels. We’re not saying to write to your subscribers as if they were stupid people – absolutely not! What we’re saying is that you should make your emails as easy to read as possible, with next to no intellectual thought or complex processing.
Just imagine that you were writing to an 8-year-old. How would you change your message to explain things in a simple fashion? Part of creating the ‘slippery slope’ which compels people to click the “BUY” button involves maintaining this simplicity throughout the entirety of the email. And also…don’t be a complete bore when you write the emails. Infuse them with some enthusiasm and much-needed positivity!
Your email subscribers don’t want to read some monotone writing from a robot – they want to hear from a real, live human being who has vulnerabilities, insecurities, aspirations and dreams just like they do. You don’t have to go over-the-top either. Simply be engaging without being OVERLY engaging. Don’t be afraid to share your opinion and tell the world how you REALLY feel! Do you have a hard stance that will make people think twice, and maybe even hate you just a bit? Write it – you might be pleasantly surprised by the responses you get.
As you write more emails and improve your craft, you will instinctively understand what the ‘right’ amount of emotion is.
Keep the emails short n’ sweet
With the exception of a few email marketers who thrive by writing ridiculously long emails, you want to keep your emails no longer than a single page’s worth of writing. That’s roughly 200-250 words you are looking at, for those who are obsessive about that kind of stuff.
Email productivity software giant Boomerang found that this word count generated the highest response rate amongst emails sent. It’s the perfect length to allow you to expand on an important topic, while keeping your emails focused and to the point.
You are forced to keep the focus around a single theme, while thinking twice about what MUST be included in an email and what can be left out without any concern whatsoever. We also advise using this same advice for your subject lines – they don’t have to be ridiculously short, but you shouldn’t need any more than a couple of words. In my experience, you start losing out on conversions when your email subject lines get any higher than 7 words or so.
Send your emails at the SAME TIME that someone opts into your email list
This is a cool little piece of advice I discovered along the way, and implementing it has done wonders for my conversions! Let’s say that somebody comes across your website and decides to opt-in at 12:30pm. To follow-up with that same person, send an email the very next day at the SAME TIME. Why? That’s when you know for sure that they’ll be online again, which increases the chances of them seeing and opening your email.
Don’t jump in with your offer straight away…’massage’ it in!
9 out of 10 times, the guys who tell me that “Email marketing is dead and doesn’t work anymore” are the same guys who try to aggressively sell their offers in each and every email. Email marketing is about far more than merely trying to sell products and services…it is about building RELATIONSHIPS with people. And the best way to build a relationship from scratch and nurture it is to provide VALUE!
Here’s how I like to go about doing this on a weekly basis… I will send out an email every day from Monday to Wednesday that contains nothing but pure value. No selling or anything, merely valuable advice that people can use and apply to improve their own lives, whether for business or pleasure. On the fourth email, which I’ll send on a Thursday or Friday, I’ll make an offer that’s RELATED to the value I’ve been providing during the previous 3 emails. This structure allows me to achieve two outcomes:
1) It allows me to ‘sell’ without selling, so to speak. People won’t be put off by an aggressive approach to selling, which puts their minds at ease. However, they also realize that I want to sell them products and services which I genuinely believe can make a real difference in their lives. It’s a nice balance to strive for!
2) From a productivity standpoint, it allows me to write out the entire weekly sequence at once. Because all four emails are related and linked to one another, it’s far easier to bang out the emails in a good 1.5-2.0 hours and make connections from one day to the other. That way, people feel like they are reading a story that makes sense from one day to the other.
Remember…your readers care about THEMSELVES, NOT about YOU!
I want to leave you with this final principle, because it is by far the most important thing I have EVER learned about email marketing and copywriting. Whenever I hire people to write out my email sequences for me, whether for my clients or my own business, I hammer this point into their brains as deeply as I can. See, too many people make the mistakes of talking about themselves in the email and genuinely believing that people will give a hoot.
HINT: THEY DON’T!
Here’s what your reader thinks when they see something like this… “Every December I blah blahblah, I’m doing x for my calendar and yadda yadda…” CLOSE!
They could care less about you and what you’re doing. The only person they care about when they see your emails is THEMSELVES. This is true from the second they see your subject line and decide whether to open it or not, to the moment when they see a link at the bottom of your email and decide if it’s worth their time to click it.
“Marketing Lists”?! BORING!
When you write your emails, ask yourself “What’s in this for THEM? What do THEY get out of reading my email? How does this email help THEM with their lives?” Now, that’s not to say you can’t start your very first sentence with a very interesting sentence that arouses their curiosity, gets them excited or injects some scarcity. Maybe you’ll have a sentence or two explaining your credibility and expertise where it’s important. But the rest of the time? It needs to be exclusively focused on their dreams, fears, hopes and goals. Not yours.
START SENDING SOME EMAILS
There is nothing more I love about my job than being able to write email sequences that move the world and change people’s lives. Not only do I know all the secret ingredients behind an effective sales email, but they are really easy to write when you understand what works (or doesn’t work) and WHY it works.
What’s even better is that there are a lot of people out there who do not have this golden information at hand and DESPERATELY need someone to help them write the emails that will grow and scale their business.
Will that someone be you? It can be, if you stick to these timeless principles!