How To Create Engaging Emails
Send Better Emails Using Storytelling
If I gave you a set of numbers and rambled on with facts regarding those numbers, how likely would I hold your attention? If, on the other hand, I told you a story about a guy who defied the odds and somehow incorporated the same numbers into the story, does this change the landscape for you? Will you be more accepting of the story?
Unless you came from another planet or are currently a robot, there’s a good chance you picked the second option, i.e., the story. Humans love stories, and it’s been that way for as far back as we go.
When coming up with engaging emails, it does not have to be an epic tale.
You probably won’t have your emails made into a blockbuster motion picture, but that isn’t needed. What is needed is to connect with your readers in a way that they want to finish reading to the end.
The best stories are ones that come from your own experiences.
You, better than anyone, can tell those stories and how you felt at the time of those experiences. You can specify people who may have gotten in your way or others who may have helped. You can also suggest resources that helped you overcome problems, etc.
Obviously, not everyone will resonate with your story because not everyone is going through the same things you went through. That’s okay. However, you probably already targeted your list, to begin with, so the people who are on it have something in common. The story will be more inline with who they are.
If you haven’t experienced something, you shouldn’t make it up.
Even through writing, this will come off as contrived, and it won’t read well. If you still want to tell a story, try to find someone who has gone through what you are trying to tell. You can interview them on the phone, or you can send them a list of questions. If they agree, then this becomes your story.
To capture the story of others, have a rough outline of how you believe the story should go in your mind. This can help you ask the right questions during your interview. If you are off base, ask for a follow-up interview with a new set of questions.
The closer we can get to portraying human experiences, the easier it will be for readers to relate. When you become a good storyteller, your emails will naturally be more engaging.
Tricks of the Trade for Engaging Emails
The following are not the kinds of tricks that will get you in trouble with your email provider or web hosting account. They aren’t meant to deceive anyone. In other words, they should be thought of more as tips rather than tricks.
When constructing your email, make sure you add some links, preferably to your blog or website. This seems obvious enough, but people forget to do this. Don’t go overboard with it, but have a link near the top and another one at the bottom.
Create a follow-up series of autoresponder messages.
Major autoresponder services such as AWeber have what is known as a follow-up series. As the name suggest, each time you add a message to the follow-up queue, it will get sent to your list. When new people sign up for your list, they will start at the beginning and the system will send based on rules you specify. For instance, if you have four follow-up messages and set at days 1, 2, 4, and 8, on the first day, subscribers will get a message. Then, they will get three more on the 2nd, 4th, and 8th day.
See also: Pre-Written Autoresponder Messages
Consider creating tutorials and how-to emails.
People love to learn new techniques, especially if they are hard to find. Create a follow-up sequence with a set of tutorials. You can also expand this to have part of the tutorial exist on your website. This way, you can get them started in your emails, and then forward the readers to your website.
- Another great idea for emails is to create a roundup.
- If you aren’t familiar with this, it is a gathering of useful and related posts or resources.
You then comment on how those resources helped you in some way, or how you thought they could be useful for your readers. If you repeat the entire message on your blog or website, you can reach out to the bloggers who were included in your roundup. This can get some of them to share with their friends. Other bloggers love to see their work portrayed in different venues or blogs.
Here is a trick that works incredibly well.
Reach out to a few of your customers privately. Ask them for testimonials, and include those in your emails. The best kinds of testimonials are when customers describe how exactly they are using your product. However, any positive testimonials will help with your email engagement.
Use the 5-to-1 Rule in Your Email Campaigns
Are you familiar with the 5-to-1 rule? Simply, this means that for every five emails that you send, one of them can be a promotional message. The other five should not have any promotions. In this way, you develop a strong trust factor with your list, and that is huge.
Most marketers don’t follow this and simply bombard their list with offer after offer. While this may work in the short-term, it has the potential to upset people on the list. Have you ever audited the messages you received from someone, only to find several emails containing nothing but promotions? It makes you wonder why you are still subscribed and often you opt out.
On the other hand, when you have someone that is offering you great value on a constant basis, you tend to look forward to their next email. You aren’t bothered as much when they send the occasional promotional message. They have to eat, after all. You will be more willing to buy from these people because they have provided such great information in the past.
Unfortunately, some marketers get enticed over to the dark side and after providing months of great information, they start massive promotions. They get greedy and want to boost their return on investment. Again, it may work for a little while, but it gets old quickly and people start to opt out.
Imagine if you have a group of people on your list that hangs on every word you write. Isn’t that a much better scenario than them heading for the exit of your list? You become an authority when you keep them enthralled. They will also tell their friends about you and those friends will join your list. Your list will grow substantially when this happens.
It takes much more effort to get a customer on your list than to keep a customer.
Your cost of acquisition for future sales drops significantly with existing list customers. Make sure you treat these people right. They can just as easily opt out as they can buy.
It’s amazing to see companies offering serious deals to new customers and forget about the loyal customers. Keep this in mind when you have people buying consistently from you. It’s nice to get new customers, but it’s even nicer to keep the existing customers happy and to get them coming back for more. Don’t forget about these people. They are the lifeblood of your business.
Use the One-Two Punch for Email Engagement
It’s a wonderful feeling to have people subscribe to your email list. It’s the closest thing to having your own ATM without having to open a bank. People get on your list, and you send them information and an offer here or there. Depending on your list size, these offers can amount to significant income over time.
But, people also miss an opportunity to use their emails to increase engagement on their websites. They provide all of the information in the emails, and they don’t take advantage of sending that traffic to their blogs or websites. They still may get sales, but they won’t get the boost of traffic.
A better approach is to use what is known as the one-two punch.
The way this works is you set up teaser information in your email. Build up the suspense so that the subscriber reads the entire content provided in the email. But, leave them hanging a bit. If they want to get the rest of the information (and they will) send them to your website. In this way, your emails are being used as a cliffhanger of sorts.
Using this method will increase the traffic to your website.
But, it goes even further than that. For one, your analytics with Google and other search engines will improve. When the same people are returning to your website, they start to trust your website which reflects positively in the search engine stats. At this point, you start boosting your authority in the eyes of your readers as well as the search engines.
To take this concept even further, set up the posts on your website or blog to be multipart. Again, build up the suspense in earlier parts so that readers are left with no choice but to click on the link to the next part.
- Don’t go too crazy with this concept.
- But, when you use it strategically, it can lower your bounce rates for your stats.
Another method is to include advertising on the web page that you send from your emails. The best type of advertising for this is Adsense or a similar service. With this type of advertising, you receive cash for clicks. Because you are funneling traffic from your email list, you should get enough people to earn a decent amount of money from this strategy.
Don’t use the advertising strategy if you are selling your products on the pages or posts, however. This type of advertising takes the reader away from your website, which means you lose the ability to sell to them during that session.
Using Pay Per Click to Enhance Your Email Campaigns
The money is in the list. How many times have you heard that statement? People keep saying it for one simple reason: it works. If you have the power to get people on your list, you have the power to make a serious amount of money.
But getting people onto your list is not as easy as it used to be. At one point, it was simply a matter of offering a free report, creating a web page full of keywords along with a lead capture form, and your list suddenly grew. In those days, it was simple. People are savvier today and don’t want to readily give their emails out.
Even when you find a good offer to give away for free, it can be tough to get traffic to your website for people to sign up. Bloggers use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to grow their results organically. But, this too, is not as easy as it used to be. The competition for blogs has become fierce.
An alternative to SEO is Pay Per Click (PPC).
As the name suggests, you pay for any clicks that are generated on your behalf. Usually, these campaigns are set up in the major search engines like Google and Bing. There are other search engines that have this setup, but the amount of traffic you’ll get is negligible, at least at the time of this writing.
If you have been searching using Google or Bing, you likely know what these PPC ads look like. In Bing, they appear on the right-hand side of the search results as well as the top and bottom, sandwiching the organic results. Google has done away with the right-hand side advertising and just displays at the top and bottom of the results.
If you want to generate traffic quickly, PPC can be a great means to do so.
You have to learn the right ways to do it. Otherwise, you can bleed your budget in a matter of days. For some, this can even happen in minutes. People who do learn can keep their costs low because they set up their campaigns up in the correct manner.
It’s not that PPC is difficult to learn. It’s just that people jump into it without learning the correct methods and that’s when they get in trouble. Find information about how to do it properly and take the time to learn it. Once that happens, you can start delivering traffic to your email capture pages within days or even less.
Don’t Let CANSPAM Guidelines Derail Your Email Campaigns
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) implemented guidelines for promotional emails. If you don’t live in the US, but transact business there, you will still need to consider these guidelines. Many other countries have adopted similar (if not stricter) guidelines and laws. In short, you need to disclose certain information within the body of an email used for promotions.
The FTC guidelines state that an email should contain headlines that are not deceptive. You should not have a headline that states one thing, and then the body of the email has nothing to do with the headline.
You need to identify yourself by name and address. Make sure the information you provide is correct. Some spammers use false information. But, if you get caught doing this, it could lead to fines and possible criminal prosecution. It just goes to show that the FTC takes these guidelines seriously and even though they are not officially laws, they can still be used against you.
If you are selling anything, be sure to indicate it is a promotional email. The receiver needs to know right away about your intentions to sell. It may deter some from even reading the emails, but it is still necessary.
Finally, you must provide a means for the receiver to opt-out from receiving any future emails. Most professional autoresponder services will do this for you automatically. If you don’t use one, make sure you include instructions on how to opt-out. Spammers often include such a message but don’t abide by it. This again can lead to hefty fines.
You may believe that the FTC and other governments around the world won’t catch up to you. It’s true that these government entities don’t have unlimited resources. There is a good chance they will never catch up to you. This is why many spammers continue with these practices. However, it only takes one time to get caught. The fines can be severe, and as mentioned, some people have been known to do some jail time as a result of these practices. You have to ask if that is worth it.
In every country, including the US, be sure to review the standards, guidelines, and laws as they relate to sending emails. Understand what the consequences are if you don’t use these guidelines. They may cost you some sales, but staying compliant is worth not getting caught.
How Professional-Looking Is Your Email Newsletter?
Do looks matter when it comes to emails? Do you need to go all out and come up with a killer design? The truth is it can’t hurt to have something aesthetically pleasing to read. It will separate you from your competition as most email lists are plain. It also shows the reader that you took extra time to make a fantastic-looking newsletter. It can’t hurt to include a market-related theme, either.
But, not everyone views emails as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is what is usually required if you want your emails to be template-based. This means that you put all the effort into making something look professional but it is all for nothing when certain readers open and try to read them. If you don’t use a top email service, there’s no telling how those readers will see your newsletter.
Perhaps the number of people who aren’t using HTML as part of their settings is small enough not to care. But, do you have any way of knowing these statistics? What if the number is significant?
There is good news if you use a decent email provider or autoresponder service.
This service can detect the settings of your readers and make an adjustment based on the settings. So, you can set up the emails to have a great look via a template and if someone doesn’t have the capability to read HTML, it will switch over to plain text.
What if you aren’t a designer? Will you need to hire one each time you create an email? In most cases, this won’t be necessary. This is because the major autoresponder services have designs built into their services. You choose a template and create the layout, and the service takes care of the rest. Most of these services have a drag-and-drop interface for components you’d like to include.
Many people believe that the content is more important than the look of the emails. There may be some truth to this. But, have you ever had a nice-looking email delivered to your email program? If the sender did a good job, you probably took notice of it, even if it was subtle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, people can add so much to the design that it distracts from the message of the email. This defeats the purpose. Emails are supposed to be insightful. If your people are getting distracted by the design elements, they won’t read it. Worse, they may be inclined to unsubscribe from your list.
How to Write Engaging Emails
How many emails do you delete without reading, every day? Most people will answer they delete hundreds of emails per day. That’s huge! How do you decide which emails to open? You probably open all emails from family and friends. Friends (and even family members) get overzealous and will market products via email on occasion. Usually, when they find sales is not in their cards, they go back to sending non-promotional emails.
You are also likely to open emails from official outsiders.
You may set up reminders that your bills are due. Your bank may offer this as part of your bill pay service, or it could be the company themselves. If you see an official email from the government, you probably will pay attention to this, too.
Then, there are all the other emails of people trying to sell you one thing or another. You have a mental system for deleting these, even if it is at a subconscious level. Every so often, one of these types of emails will catch your eye. What is it about this email that made you want to open it?
The headline in the subject is the key to why you opened that email.
If you are looking to write engaging emails, you need to take that into account. Learn how to create great headlines, and you will have taken a giant step towards getting your emails opened.
The next step is the body itself. You need to keep the reader engaged by offering something of value. One of the best ways to keep readers going is to tell them stories. People love stories and relate well to them. If you tell a compelling story, your chances of keeping them reading increases drastically.
One thing you want to try to avoid is a concept known as clickbait. This is a deceptive headline that entices someone to open an email, but they find that the subject is nothing but a promotion. Sometimes, clickbait can be used in a strategic manner, but it can backfire on you if you are not careful.
The best advice is to try to get inside the head of your readers. What kinds of solutions are they looking for that aren’t available? If you can provide them with the answer, you can easily convert them into buyers. They will be grateful when you do this and will likely continue buying from you well into the future.
People Love Coupons – Use Them In Your Emails
If you have ever taken a course on a website like Udemy.com, you will receive coupon offers throughout the year. These coupon codes give you the ability to take $100+ courses for $10-$15. It keeps people interested by getting them to sign up for more courses. The coupons expire, so people need to take advantage before that happens. It is a strategy that seems to be working for them. They constantly send offers for coupons to their email list.
Whether or not people wait for the coupons before purchasing courses is anyone’s guess. The point is, it doesn’t matter. The instructors get a sale, even though it is discounted. It’s hard to say if they would get too many sales at regular prices, especially when those prices exceed $150. Udemy makes a profit for each of those sales, so the discounts make sense for them as well. Customers get decent training for little cost. Everyone is happy.
This can work for just about any product or service. You will need to have a system in place that manages the coupons. Many shopping cart solutions today have this capability built in.
Getting back to the Udemy example, when Udemy isn’t offering coupons directly via email, they provide codes to coupon vendors. This is a great way for them to get others (the coupon vendors) to sell for them. People constantly search for coupon codes at these coupon sites.
When implementing this strategy for your emails, send exclusive coupons to the coupon websites. You can give them the lowest discount coupons to offer to their lists and customers. Think about it. They may have hundreds of subscribers who will send your offers. That can mean serious amounts of new customers and subscribers. You will have to give up some of the margins so that the coupon vendors can make money. Otherwise, there is no incentive for them to provide your coupons.
An offshoot to this method is to give your subscribers exclusive access by using a link that contains a deep discount. It’s not a coupon code. It’s just a link to the product on sale for whatever discount you want to exclusively give your list. You can add some suspense by asking them not to share with others, knowing full well that they will. This is okay because it increases sales and customers to your mailing list. This will expand even further the next time you ask the larger list not to share, etc.
Scarcity in Your Emails Still Works
If you get emails from other marketers, most of them will be filled with bogus cutoff dates for when you need to buy. If you buy after the expiration time and/or date, guess what happens? It will be available again on the next release in another week or so. Some of these marketers use emails to direct you to a sales page containing a countdown timer. When those timers are up, they often start over again.
If you have seen enough of these, you know they are not real or the deals will be available again soon. But, guess what? People who are not in the marketing field don’t know about this dirty little secret. So, if you sell to the non-marketing types with some scarcity thrown into the mix, it’s going to work on most of them.
It may seem unethical to use this marketing tool, but it helps your customers.
Many customers, who need your product, sit on the fence. They are terrible decision makers and need an extra push from you. Adding scarcity helps them get your product, at a discount, today rather than sometime in the future.
You will need to construct a compelling story as to why it is available at the discounted price for a limited time. This is the story that you’ll include in your email. If you are not a fan of using timers or you are not proficient at implementing code to use them, you can set up a temporary page and state that it is only going to be available for a few days, or whatever time you want to allow.
Another technique is to let your list know that the price of your product will increase every day for a number of days. If they purchase on the first day, they can buy it for the lowest price. Let them know that it won’t be available at that price for a very long time. You get to decide what a long time means.
If you do this too frequently, customers will pick up on it and will be onto your game. In other words, don’t try this tactic with the same product every other day. People will simply wait until the days when the price is lower or they won’t buy from you.
If you use scarcity for real and close down the sale price forever, people will take you seriously and the next time you offer scarcity on another product, they will scoop it up quickly so as not to miss out.