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Email Marketing

How To Write Better Marketing Emails Your Leads Want to Read

Garrison Keillor once said, "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch. " We all want to be well. Most of us are dedicated to doing good work. Not many of us are great at keeping in touch. But in business, staying in contact with your customer base, and potential customers is an absolute necessity.

Your email list is the quickest and easiest ways to stay in touch with your leads, even automating touch points to keep your brand and message fresh in their mind. The problem is, email boxes are overrun with spam and poor attempts at email marketing.

How do I stand out from the clutter and get more contacts to open my e-mails?

Write Better Marketing Emails

Frequency is a huge debate in email marketing. One school of thought says you should email every day. I don't go to that school because I hate getting e-mails from companies every single day. Others say once a week, which sounds good, but does it return better results than once a day? Then, there's the once a month school of thought that thinks you need to back off and let your contacts breathe. 

While your frequency "magic number" really depends on your personas and how they want to interact with your brand, consider this school of thought: do your contacts want more or less? You may want to ask them.

I love this quote from Seth Godin:

Most of all, I’d measure this: will they miss you when you’re gone?

If your contacts don't like your emails, you are sending the wrong content. If they would be relieved to see your emails stop coming, you are doing something wrong. Stop and ask yourself, what would make them miss my emails if I stopped sending them?

This, I think, is the real growth hack to email marketing. Every business I've ever interacted with was a little trepidatious about their email frequency. So I can't look to them for an example. Obviously, they aren't providing the kind of content their contacts will miss. If they were, it would be an exciting thing to send the emails and not one for concern.

For a great example, look in an unlikely place...

The Entertainment Frequency Hack

Look at web entertainers Rhett & Link who post a new video every weekday. They post content on Instagram, on Facebook, and their website. It's a constant flow of content that is difficult to keep up with.

Their fans (known as Mythical Beasts) don’t get tired and frustrated by the constant flood of updates. In fact, if they don’t update on time every single day, Mythical Beasts are disappointed and upset. Their contacts love their content and wait for it, every single day.

This is a tweet they sent out while their daily show was between seasons:

How To Write Emails Your Contacts Want

The secret to great email marketing is figuring out what you can send your contacts that make them look forward to the email. 

Easier said than done, right? I know, I feel your pain. It's hard.

Find Out What Your Contacts Want

There are all kinds of studies out there, and marketing gurus teaching you how to hack this "what do they want," conundrum. Then, some rocket scientist came up with the most brilliant, simple way to "hack" what your contacts want.

Ask them.

It's really that simple. On Tuesday of this week, we are sending out an email asking our subscribers what they want most from our content this year. Then, we have this genius plan to create it!

Wow! That's deep. But it works.

Create Interest With Great Headlines

The subject line is the first thing your lead will see in his/her inbox. Your subject line can either pique your leads interest or cause them to hit the delete button without opening the email.

View your subject line as if it were the headline for a news story. A headline is simple and straight forward, it boldly tells the reader what they are going to read and, at the same time, is vague enough to pique curiosity. 

Approach your subject line in the same manner.

This is one of the greatest articles you can read on writing good headlines: How To Write Magnetic Headlines

Be Human - Corporate is So 1999

Be human in your copywriting. Stuffy is outdated. People want to feel relaxed and pleasant when dealing with your brand. Corporate copy is easier to write, it's cold and impersonal. But copy that makes the reader feel as though they are in a friendly conversation makes such a great impact. 

Harry’s, the razor blade subscription company, will use a subject line like this: “Time’s tickin’ for free shippin'."

Use Strong Words

Use strong words that will capture the reader's attention. "The incomplete guide to something boring," will not drive strong action or reaction from your readers. Use strong words to help emphasize your message. Strong words can replace the need to bold and caps words, which can get annoying. But when the words are stirring subconscious emotions in the reader, they are far more likely to take action.

Never Over-Promise

Click bait is annoying. So. stinking. annoying.

"She put a cat in a blender. What happened next made her grandma rich!" You click through, and it's a story about some weird person that sells old blenders with stuffed kittens in them at small time garage sales.

Why did you waste my time?

I don't think I'm alone in this. If I see a click bait headline, I never ever click it. It's the principle of the thing.

If you promise amazing things in your subject lines, but the content doesn't live up to it - stop sending your emails. You will be better off not sending, trust me.

Talk To Me, Not Us 

Using the word you in a message is persuasive, and it puts the reader into the email. Making a personal connection will allow the reader to be more invested in the email and keep their interest.

Build Relationships

I watch White Board Fridays from Moz pretty often. Not religiously, but whenever I see one, I'll watch at least a portion of it. Rand Fishkin is a pretty knowledgeable guy, and he shares great content. Out of all the episodes I have watched, I can only remember the details from one episode. It's when Rand decided not to talk about Marketing, opting instead, to talk about men's fashion.

"What? Rand, you're letting your personal passions bleed into your work!" Exactly. When people get to know you, your emails are a lot less salesy or funnely, and much more interesting.

Establish a relationship and build trust with your leads. Give them a glimpse of who you are.

This is a rule to learn: people don't buy on price or quality of product often. Especially when it gets beyond the Wal-Mart aisle. They buy because they like you. So don't be afraid to put your personal stuff out there.

When you get an email from Harry’s it may be about a new product, a blog post about Movember, or something inspirational like connecting fathers and sons. Most of all, they tell their story. When they send a reminder to refill your razor blades order, they continue to tell their story. 

The Harry’s story is all about making the shaving part of your life quick, easy, and smooth. They keep a continual entertaining flow, helping you have a better day when using Harry’s. This is why their emails are read on a consistent basis. They are using a fun approach to establish and build a relationship with their leads. Harry’s takes a boring daily routine like shaving and creates diverse content with shaving being the centralized theme.

Once you have that relationship, and you like Harry's brand - will you switch? More than likely, no. You are now a brand promoter and will be telling others how much they need Harry's.

Have a Goal

Be clear that everything flows toward a specific goal. Your content can be fun, creative, and emotionally charged, but if you write without purpose you are going to confuse or lose readers. They need to know exactly what you want them to do. 

Going back to Rhett and Link - every Good Mythical Morning episode ends with them telling you to "like and subscribe." Every episode asks you to follow them on their other marketing channels. Every episode offers you to click through to a second video called Good Mythical More, where they spend another 10 minutes doing "behind the scenes" stuff. But you're never just entertained, you are guided to what they want you to do.

Take Action

Find out what your customers want, and give it to them in your emails. Find out how often they want it, and send it that often. Don't be afraid to escape the corporate comfort zone and be real people. Be entertaining, and don't take yourself or your company too seriously.

Be likable.

Your Turn

What are some ways you have found that sweet spot of email marketing, where your clients love what you're sending? Share them with us!

Written by Ryan Scott / January 15, 2016

is the Inbound Marketing Artist at Lean Labs. His marketing experience ranges from colleges to SMBs, and tech startups. When not marketing, he's sure to be enjoying something nerdy.

Articles by Ryan Scott