But how can you convert those on your list to sales? Today we are going to discuss three foundations to convert email readers to customers
Back in the 2000’s, particularly from 2001 to 2010, I worked for retail giant Borders Bookswhen I lived in Fort Worth, TX. Now, The life of Borders is a study in changing economics, what to do and what not to do. Now, The life of Borders is a study in changing economics, what to do and what not to do.
One of my jobs was sign people up for the email newsletters. We had millions of subscribers by the time I left. My job as a cashier was up selling. I upsold Lindt Truffles and other items and also asked customers if they received our email newsletter.
Emails are critical for retailers. You have a huge list, you send out engaging emails telling of a sale, etc., and here come your customers. It happens all the time, and it worked for Borders too.
The digital service industry can also utilize emails. Think, if you will, what is your favorite email to receive? Which is the one you read no matter what?
But how can you convert those on your list to sales? Today we are going to discuss three foundations to convert email readers to customers. Before we dive in, there are a few caveats.
First, you have to have an email list. That list may be small, but you have to have one. Previously, we have discussed how to grow your list.
Second, you have to have a product or a service. You have to have something to sell to your list.
Finally, your list has to be made up of people who want or need what you are selling. Maybe they need website help, a new website, fixes for their current website, or WordPress maintenance.
So, let’s talk about converting email subscribers to customers.
Start with the Basics
Jennifer Bourn with Bourn Creative has a very good blog post about getting started with email copywriting. There are three things I want to point out from her post.
The first I want to note about the blog post, she gives three points you can consider for your emails: Attention, Interest, and Action. This is an abbreviated formula for the classic AIDA copywriting formula. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Bourn talks about using the three-point formula saying that first, you want to get the attention of your reader in the email. The first point begins with the subject line which we will discuss later.
In the second point, she mentions getting their interest so that they keep reading,
Now that they have opened the email, your content has to keep them interested so they don’t hit delete, save it for later, or unsubscribe. The easiest way to do this is to make the email about them. Talk about their problems and offer solutions. Address their passions, needs, desires, wishes, struggles, etc. Remember, the job of your introduction is to get them to read the rest of the email.
Finally, the last of her three points, she mentions getting your readers to take action. This, of course, is creating a call to action. This is one of the mistakes I see people make with emails, especially if you are trying to convert your list into making money.
The second thing I want to note about Jennifer’s blog post is the idea of avoiding spam filters. This is crucial because if your email goes into Spam folders, your great subject line and emails are all for naught.
I want to add to ditch the fancy templates unless you are a news oriented site. If you are trying to generate revenue from your list, the templates only distract from your message.
There is, no doubt, a debate on how often to email your list. Some are advocates of daily and others less frequently. Regardless of which you choose, you need to set an expectation and, you should be consistent.
Consider what the CopyMonk, Danavir Sarria says,
So imagine how your subscribers feel when they sign up and all of a sudden they get daily emails from you?
The same goes for the exact opposite. Imagine how your subscriber feels when they sign up to your list so they could hear from you, but you never email them?
Regardless of what frequency you pick, whether it’s in the extremes or a “sweet middle”, it’s not going to matter because most subscribers won’t be expecting it.
And when you don’t set expectations, bad things can happen.
Aside: I highly recommend reading through the entire article by the CopyMonk. He has some very good insights.
Once you settle on a frequency, and you let your list know, then it is imperative to be consistent. Sarria uses the example of a favorite TV show in the post I mentioned above. I recently started watching the Marvel Defenders series, and because it is on Netflix, I can watch it when I want.
Imagine if I were watching it every Thursday at 8 pm as it airs and I scheduled my time around the show. Then, one week, it disappears. It doesn’t show up again for weeks. I would probably give up.
If someone opted into your list, give them a chance to hear you. They might not stay with you, but at least they have the chance to make that decision. Be consistent.
Study copywriting techniques
Two copywriting techniques will go a long way to improving your emails. The first technique is writing headlines and the second is using copywriting formulas.
Write Better Headlines
Headlines might be the single most important part of your email copywriting. After all, it determines whether or not your user will open the email. Failure to pay attention can hurt your open rates.
To improve your skills, you will need to dive into learning more writing headlines. There are numerous ways to do this, but first, let’s take a look at some of my headlines.
My number one performing headline in the past year is this: If you see Bigfoot, ‘please do not shoot’??. Above, I have posted the top ten headlines and the open rates. As you will see, they are headlines that use curiosity to get users to open the email. The open rate for these headlines is from 34-40 %. To be fair, one of the emails and subjects was written by a friend of mine, but still good open rates.
What is a good open rate? It depends on a lot of factors, but it seems to be 20-22% [MailChimp] or around 23% [Emarketing Platform]. As you can see, I am fortunate to be above the average rate for our industry.
Here are some of the best resources for writing email headlines:
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – CoSchedule
How to Write Effective Email Subject Lines – Bourn Creative
Copywriting Headlines That Sell (with Templates & Swipe File) – Kopywriting Kourse
Proven Copywriting Formulas
A little over a year ago, I set out to learn more about email copywriting. Email copywriting employees many of the same techniques as direct response copywriting. I believe the best way to learn is to immerse yourself into the industry and learn from the best copywriters. That, of course, is not a luxury that most people can afford.
You can, however, take email copywriting courses, read books, follow blogs, and receive emails from the best email copywriters. One of those copywriters I started learning from is Ben Settle.
Nevertheless, to be a good copywriter, email or not, it is best to do what has been proven to work. Copywriting is not a creative endeavor.
Joanna Wiebe is one of the top copywriters, especially in the SaaS industry, and she has a fantastic post where she advises business owners not to write from scratch.
In this post, she produces the ultimate guide of copywriting formulas. Now, people often put that in their title, but here, she actually does create the ultimate guide. In fact, she doesn’t number them, so, I plugged them into a spreadsheet to see just how many there were. How many were there? 146.
She even includes a new customer email sequence which you can implement today. Seriously, you can do it, is right there.
You can actually get people to respond to your emails if you employ a few basic principles. Listen to Jennifer Bourn and start with the basics, move on to being consistent, write better headlines and take advantage of proven copywriting principles.
Finally, I want to add two more points to wrap up this article. First, don’t write dry. Incorporate stories to grab your reader’s attention. Ben Settle calls this infotainment and spells it out here at Copyblogger. Second, make sure you use a call to action. It doesn’t have to buy your product or service, but it can be share something or some other engagement activity. I like to ask questions to my users and tell them that they can hit “reply” to tell me what they think. Sometimes they do.
So, is the money in the list? It might be. You won’t know if you don’t try.