How to Write an Email – Part 2: Find Your Voice
It’s hard to believe that I wrote part one of this series over two years ago. My how time flies. More than a few people have emailed me asking for part two and it’s finally here!
In part one, I taught you about getting your emails opened with great subject lines.
Now, let’s dig into the craft of writing emails that people actually enjoy reading.
Train Them to Click
One of the biggest mistakes I see new marketers make is in how they share their links.
Many new marketers write a few amazing welcome emails to their new followers, but they don’t include any links.
They are giving great content, but only share links when they are selling something.
Imagine you receive ten emails from me. Eight are filled with content and two have links, both of which lead to salespages.
Eventually, you would only click on links if you felt like spending money.
By not including content links in your emails, you can accidentally train your audience to avoid clicking the very links you most want them to click.
This is why EVERY email should include a link.
Ninety percent of the emails I send to my audience are pure content, not sales emails.
And in those, I share links to loads of additional amazing content.
Your emails should link to:
- Blog Posts
- Podcast Episodes
- Social Media Channels
- YouTube Videos
You can share anything that you and your audience will find valuable. This is especially critical in the first 5-7 emails you send to a new subscriber.
You want to overdeliver on value so that people enjoy reading your emails and WANT to click what you share with them.
By delivering value at the beginning of your relationship, you increase the length of that relationship.
When sending out an email, my goal is always to convince the reader to click the link – whether it’s leading to more content or a sales page.
Be a Person
So many email services advertise their many shiny and glamorous newsletter templates.
These often catch the eye of new, unsuspecting marketers.
Who doesn’t want to seem as professional as an automaker?
The problem is that nobody reads those letters.
I dread getting impersonal, glossy newsletters.
I never read them.
I have a service I use that amalgamates all of those emails into a single daily email for me to quickly scan through.
Most newsletters are lucky if I read one in a year.
Everything you have to say online is a commodity.
There are other people saying very similar things in very similar ways.
What makes your content valuable is that you are unique.
People open emails because they want to hear from YOU.
Who is your Reader?
The email process begins like many marketing processes – at the end.
Whenever I’m writing an email to a friend, I know the destination before I write the first word.
Only when we are writing marketing emails do we suddenly write to an anonymous other.
Without knowing your target audience, your emails will often sound stilted, strange and unnatural.
The desire to appeal to all people will cause your message to become garbled and people will get lost in the noise.
If you don’t have an audience yet, create your ideal customer.
Who would you LIKE to read your emails?
After you have started to grow that audience, you can interact with them and learn about them.
I have loads of demographics and anecdotal evidence from the thousands of emails I’ve received from my readers.
The more my audience replies to my messages the better I understand who they are.
Who are You?
Once you have a feeling for your email recipient, it’s time to think about who is sending the email.
It’s easy for me to tell you to “be yourself,” but we both know that advice is meaningless.
You need more specific guidance.
Your audience doesn’t want to hear from someone like them, they want to hear from someone who USED to be like them.
They want to learn from someone further up the mountain and often they want to learn from someone who’s life they don’t actually want.
Despite all the media spin, the majority of mean reading books about picking up women are looking for long-term relationship.
More than ninety percent of that market is men who are ready to marry the next woman they date.
But they don’t want to learn from a married guy – that avatar is boring.
They want to learn from a rock star who is juggling a dozen beautiful women at a time.
In this niche, the writer is a dating rockstar writing emails to a single guy who doesn’t actually want that lifestyle but likes to fantasize about it occasionally.
My voice has changed a great deal in the past decade and now I email my audience from a place of my new identity.
I live on a tropical island with my wife and young children, spending my day dictating and my nights writing blog posts like this one when the Internet is actually working.
Ninety-nine percent of my audience wouldn’t move to a tropical island, even if the opportunity presented itself.
They like the fantasy, but they are rooted in their communities.
They have friends, family and a connection to their city that they would hate to leave behind.
And of those who do want to move somewhere new, many prefer other environments.
They want to bask in the culture of Europe or ski the slopes of a snowy mountain.
The Style of an Email
I write emails in two main styles, entertainment and education.
The entertainment emails are often stories about what happened in my life today.
I share funny and personal stories all the time.
I share the good and the bad with my audience because that’s part of my emotional release.
The tone of my emails is far more personal than the tone of this blog.
My email reader are a little closer to me and they are far more likely to reply to my message than you are to leave a comment below. (hint hint)
With my entertainment emails, I try to share a slice of my expat life and then I close out with a link that I think my audience will find valuable.
Often, the first email in a sales sequence will be in this style:
“Hey I had the craziest day and X happened. I’m just about to do Y, but before I do I wanted to share a link with you to Z.”
This is how I can write an email about something I want and still link to something of value.
It’s a simple transition and it’s hardly smooth, but it’s honest.
I share all sorts of links with this format, not just sales links.
I also like to write educational emails.
Sometimes I learn something new or know my audience needs to understand something.
Rather than put all the content in a blog post, I put it into an email.
The format of these emails is very similar to this blog post.
These emails are longer, include more images and take a lot more effort on my part.
Depending on how much time I have to work on an email, I will choose entertainment or education.
In a sales cycle, I usually change styles for the second day.
In this email, I cover exactly why the offer is awesome, how it will benefit the reader and why they should take action sooner rather than later.
This is more copywriting, but after day one, they know that the link leads to a sales page, so there’s no need to pretend otherwise.
Sometimes day one gets a bunch of sales, but sometimes that email tanks.
When that happens, I know I need to write a really good educational email for day two.
Don’t Hide Your Link
It can be difficult to find the perfect place for links when you’re just getting started.
I don’t want to just shove a link in your face; I want you to read the email and understand why I’m sharing it.
But that’s selfish.
We want to think about the reader experience.
Have you ever been on a sales call or shopping in a store and you just want to know the price?
You keep asking the sales rep, but all they want to do is stick to the script?
I was on a call like this two months ago when choosing the guest management software for our little hostel.
The rep went into the sales script and I asked to bypass it since I was ready to buy.
Fortunately, she was happy to oblige and I saved thirty minutes of my life and she got her commission.
it was a win for both of us.
Many of your readers are the same way.
After a few of your emails, they like you enough that they want to skip to the meat.
They open your email and are scrolling and scrolling, shouting, “just show me the link!”
They are more interested in what you are showing them than what you are telling them.
For this reason, you want to include a link in the first five lines of your email.
You can simply say “I know some people don’t have time to read the entire email, so here’s the link.”
And then below that link start the rest of your email.
Putting a link above the fold will massively increase your success.
You will get more clicks and a lot more sales.
My second link is often deep in the email, only to be found after someone has read the majority of the content.
I wouldn’t write emails if I didn’t want people to read them.
The Golden Rule of Marketing
There is nothing more important than your customers.
When someone gives you their email address, that is a mark of trust and it is not to be taken lightly.
This week I’ve had a bit of a revelation about email marketing.
I kind of hate emailing about products that I didn’t make.
If you’ve been on my list for the past two years or listens to my blog post on the topic, you know that I believe in a Walled Garden.
I never promote courses or training that is similar to mine.
In fact, I almost never promote training at all.
Last year, I shared a single training course and that was by my friend Charles on time management.
I’m terrible at time management, hence writing this blog post at [4:14] AM, and I thought it would appeal to my following.
Some people found value in the training, but not very many.
This year I haven’t promoted any outside training.
I have shared a few software promotions for tools that I use and a couple of product bundles that I’ve been a part of.
But honestly, they don’t do really well for me financially and I get the most negative emails.
When I’m part of a product bundle, my audience usually doesn’t want to buy it and the new people who get something from me for free tend to be very brusque.
They get a book or a course for free and submit the highest percentage of tech support emails.
They rarely engage with me, join the Facebook group, or end up buying other products.
I don’t really want followers who are following twenty other online marketers.
There is too much noise and distraction with that much messaging.
I have no interest in a monologue, that’s useless to me.
I want to have a dialogue with my audience.
That’s why I spend so much time recording videos and answering questions in my Facebook group.
Those are the people who have raised their hands and said, “Sure, I’d like to talk to you,”
Reward Good Behavior
As part of my revelation, I’ve decided that I’m going to stop promoting external products.
Right now, those promotions only include software that I use, but I’m starting to realize it’s just not a good fit for me.
I want to give my audience maximum value and promoting a tool when it’s on sale, rather than when it’s the right fit for an individual just doesn’t fit me anymore.
As part of your email refinement process, it’s critical that you reward good behavior just as your audience rewards you for good emails.
When people write me emails, they always start with “I wanted to see if you’d actually reply…”
I get some form of this sentence in a cold email 3-5 times a week.
In nearly every one of my books, I say that I answer emails personally once a day.
I want to train people to email me AND to give me a full day to reply.
I don’t leave my email account open all day long; that’s far too much of a distraction.
When people write to me, I try to respond with detail, kindness, and eloquence.
Sure, some people write mean emails designed to hurt my feelings.
That’s how you know you’re doing something right.
Most of those I just delete and move on. Only occasionally do they deserve a reply.
When someone replies to an email from me with something nasty, I do us both a favor and click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
Because it’s embedded in a reply, I know that it will remove them from my list.
Usually, the person doesn’t notice and the problem is now solved.
If my message doesn’t resonate, you shouldn’t be reading my emails.
I don’t read emails from people that I don’t agree with.
But when people DO like my content, I reward them.
I often write blog posts based on emails, record custom videos, and write long replies.
All of this is a way to reward my readers for opening, reading and replying to my emails.
I try to be prompt and I also remind people that I get loads of distractions in my inbox, so if I don’t reply it means I didn’t see the email, not that it was intentional.
I want people to email a second time if I make a mistake, rather than get upset with me.
By offering clarity to my audience about how I reply to email and my own shortcomings, I pre-train them to connect with me.
Write More Emails
The other big email question I get asked all the time is about frequency.
We are so afraid of being annoying.
What if I mail to often and someone doesn’t like me?
What if someone unsubscribes from my list?
What if I get a mean reply?
I got a mean email a few months ago from someone that I think is quite educational.
With ConvertKit, when you resend an email to the unopens it will change the subject line to [RESENDING] followed by the original subject line.
This let’s people know that it’s the same email in case they missed it earlier.
One lady was extremely offended that I would dare to resend an email that she didn’t read the first time.
She felt it was the height of rudeness and decided to let me know how offended she was.
I feel the opposite.
Isn’t it better to KNOW it’s the same email than to open it up expecting a new message and find that it’s a repeat?
Either way, I did her the favor of clicking unsubscribe.
I don’t want to offend her twice!
Why are marketers so afraid of unsubscribes?
I can send out an email offering a free copy of one of my courses to everyone who opens the email and ten people will unsubscribe.
It’s not malicious.
It doesn’t come from a place of hate.
It usually comes from a place of apathy.
And THAT’s what you want to avoid.
If you email once a week or, even worse, never, your audience will forget you.
You are trying to be polite and you’re so worried about being annoying, that people forget who you are.
And that’s the worst thing that can happen.
If someone subscribes to your list and doesn’t hear from you after an initial email for a month, they will forget who you are.
When you send that next email after a “polite” waiting period, not only will they unsubscribe but they will also hit the spam button.
They click that nightmare button thinking, “I’ve never heard of this person? Why are they emailing me? This must be SPAM.”
You don’t want that to happen.
I have a simple rule.
One day. One email.
Now, if you take multiple free gifts from me or buy multiple products on the same day, that might turn into multiple emails.
To get started, write a week’s worth of emails to new followers with links to content in each one.
If you do that, they won’t forget you and more importantly, they won’t forget to click your emails.