When used right, email marketing could be your most potent weapon for growing your computer business. Companies that have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but no email campaign, have their business strategy all wrong. Think about it… Facebook limits the reach of your posts to around 2% of your total fans, and on Twitter you need to be tweeting constantly to stay at top of the feed…
But people who have subscribed to your emails want to hear from you! Most emails you send out are delivered to the inboxes of your readers, where they can stay until your customer has the time to read them. Unlike ads and phone calls, emails are non-intrusive.
Smartphones have made emails even more effective. Research shows that smartphone users are more likely to open emails, rather than save them for later. Email marketing is going to remain relevant to your business for the foreseeable future.
There’s a lot more to email marketing than composing a blurb and sending it to your contact list. Its purpose is to engage your readers, and also sell your services, without being pushy.
It’s a vast topic, which is why we’re breaking it down into two parts. First, we’ll look at selling… what motivates readers at a rational and subconscious level to take an action. In Part 2, we’ll explain reader engagement – managing email lists and scientifically improving the quality of your emails.
Let’s break it down…
When you’re using an email to sell, the email is your pitch. It must be opened, then read, and must also make it easy for the reader to take an action.
Your open rate is determined by your subject line. The email’s body determines if it’s engaging enough to be read. And clicking on hyperlinks is how your reader takes an action. And that’s all there is to it.
Your email is made up of these building blocks…
- Its subject line… This is 50% of your email
- Its body is the other 50%, and consists of:
- Calls to action (hyperlinks distributed throughout the body)
- The P.S. (optional, but very effective)
The subject line
The purpose of your email’s subject is to make recipients click on it. Nothing more, nothing less. Its job is not to share information. It should be short enough to be read on a smartphone screen.
A subject line should either spark curiosity, promise a reward, or both…
- Promise of reward
- Limited-period offers
- Humor or an entertaining story
- Use of ‘trigger words’
- Social proof
- Many use normal sentence case for their subject lines
- However, Capitalizing Each Word Often Increases Clicks
- Ending With An Exclamation Mark Could Further Improve The Open Rate! (Use exclamations sparingly)
- [Attention] You Could Always Grab Attention With A Word In Brackets! (Avoid words like “Free” and “Cash”, which could trigger spam filters)
- “☂ Save This For A Rainy Day!” (Sometimes, Unicode symbols work great, if you don’t overuse them. Here’s a ready reference. Make sure they render correctly on your recipients’ email platforms.)
An easy way to make your subject interesting is to connect it with something people are already talking about. With a little imagination, you could use anything from Game of Thrones to business news to sell your services.
Let’s say you read a news article about how refurbishing computers saves money and also protects the environment… You could use this to start a conversation with your reader, and then talk about your services. And you could use subject lines such as these (everything [written in italics] is an explanation)…
- My Jaw Fell When I Read This! [Curiosity… Effective when used sparingly]
- 3 Ways You Could Save Big On Computers [Self interest. The number ‘3’ hints that this will be a quick read]
- [Earth Day] One Easy Trick To Save Money And Our Planet! [Trigger words, curiosity]
- Every Successful Business Is Doing This One Thing [Social proof, curiosity]
Here’s an example
Here’s an example using R2-D2 (non-obscure popular culture) to grab attention and talk about your discounted package deal (an actual email will be longer and more compelling)…
First, the boring version:
Subject: Get a 25% discount!
We are offering a 25% discount on our All Inclusive Package Deal! Call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx to schedule a check-up for your laptop now!
And now, this…
Subject: R2-D2 is ashamed of himself!
R2-D2 can open locked doors, play videos and repair planes. You know what he can’t do? Fix your laptop. That’s right – our computer experts and their army of highly-trained elves put R2-D2 to shame by restoring this junked laptop to as-new condition in just one day!
<Photo of a broken laptop, with an ‘alt’ HTML attribute and a hyperlink>
And they want more! So why don’t you bring your notebook over for a check-up? Call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx to receive a free quote!
<Your business details>
p.s. I almost forgot… We’re offering a 25% discount for this week only. Call us today and claim your discount!
First, know your readers
Before we get into the specifics of writing the email body, you need to understand what motivates your readers. Understanding these principles could mean the difference between emails that carry your business to new heights, and an big hole in your wallet…
Nothing keeps a person interested as much as the word “YOU”. People are only interested in themselves. They are not interested in your business or your success stories. All they want to know is how their lives could be better.
And that’s what you must drive at. They do not want to know what you offer, only how it helps them. This is an important distinction.
Your customers do not want an annual maintenance package; they want peace of mind. They do not want an antivirus; they want to protect their business data and family albums. They do not want to speed up their computers; they want to play games with advanced graphics.
The average person is more strongly motivated by negativity, than by positivity. It’s why newspapers are full of doom and gloom. Anything you speak about in your email should be presented as an urgent problem that they must solve right away. “You could lose everything overnight” instead of “You could save $20,000 over the next 3 years”.
Most of us love being told what to do – it’s why we stop at a Stop sign even when the road is clear. An email is no place to be overly polite. Be bold and tell your readers, plainly, what you want them to do.
A marketing email is no place to impress people with your intelligence and sophistication. Write in a way that a 5th grader would understand – even if your readers tend to be highly educated. The Hemingway App is a useful tool, but remember that it’s just a program and should never supersede (oops! I mean replace, displace, trump, command) you.
Do not hesitate to model your font, buttons and colors on more successful companies – so long as you are not plagiarizing. There’s a reason why both Microsoft and Apple use similar fonts, why Amazon and Paypal have orange buy buttons… Humans act in odd ways, and these big corporations that have already done the behavioral research for you!
When you are telling people how your service could benefit them, always say could, should instead of can, does or will, even if you have the data to support your claims. Or lawyer up.
And although you want to boast about the awesomeness of everything you offer, never give the impression that something is too good for your customers. The tone should be, “This is awesome, and it is a near-future version of you.”
How to write emails that sell
You might have noticed that I divided the email’s structure into two parts, the Subject and the Body. The reason is that if you can get your reader to open an email, you’ve won half the battle. Now that the email has been opened, you want to make sure that your reader takes whatever action you want them to take (or at the very least, doesn’t hit ‘unsubscribe’).
An email consists of paragraphs (duh). The purpose of each paragraph is…
- To ‘prime’ the reader to take action
- To get him / her to read the next paragraph
Everything you write must meet these two criteria. It must keep them interested, and make them more likely to click a link, visit your blog, tap the buy button, convince them to read your next email, etc.
In selling, persistence is a virtue, and being annoying is a sin.
In email marketing, persistence means sending your emails regularly. But how can you say the same thing, over and over again, without being boring and annoying as hell?
By presenting a different story, a different angle every time. This ‘angle’ is your email’s Opener – how you start the conversation with your reader.
The structure of your email should be something like this…
- Opener… Demonstrate your expertise by offering advice / tips, or establish a rapport by mentioning anything that your readers are thinking about… an anecdote, a common problem, current news, or a pop culture reference
- What they need to have and how awesome their life / work will be if they have it
- How you could help them get it
- Limited-period deal, exclusively for them
You could skip the Opener and the Deal, if they are not relevant to your email.
Each of the above should be summed up in one or two paragraphs.
Each paragraph should be short – two to five sentences. If you can’t read the whole thing at a glance, in a few seconds, it’s too long.
Feel free to include a positive review of your business in a small box. Nothing like social proof to boost sales.
If possible, make your paragraphs progressively shorter, which subconsciously primes the reader to keep reading and take action. But don’t force it.
Include a hyperlink (leading to the appropriate page on your site) in each section (though not necessarily each paragraph). One for the Opener, the next in Their Need, the third in Your Expertise, then the Offer and lastly, in the P.S.
Why in the Opener, when you’re probably narrating how your photographer friend lost everything when her computer crashed? Because many readers won’t bother scrolling, and you want them to have something to click on right away.
And why do you even need a P.S.? Because many people scroll to the end of an email without bothering to read it. Even if it’s just 10 sentences long. Yes, they really are that lazy. So you should add a P.S. with a hyperlink, and…
- Repeat a benefit or offer that’s so important, you don’t want them to miss it
- Mention a new benefit – saving the best for last, so to speak
- Refer to something in the email, to make them scroll up and read it again
A word on hyperlinks
You know what a hyperlink is. Yeah, it’s that blue, underlined text. Shockingly, there are still many people who do not know that. And moreover, people are more likely to act on clear instructions, even if that means stating the obvious.
So have a verb or an instruction in your hyperlink’s text. “Click here to claim this offer” instead of “Claim this offer”.
Here’s another cool trick to increase clicks… Reuse your subject line in a hyperlink. Not every subject line can catch the attention of your reader. But if they are reading your email, it means that the subject line worked! So why not keep using it?
For instance, if your subject line was “3 Ways You Could Save Big On Computers”, have at least one hyperlink in your body that says, “Click to save big on computers”.
You might want to write your own emails, or hire a copywriter, but unless you understand the principles of why some emails sell and some don’t, it will be hard for you to find new markets and grow your revenues.
Writing good emails is only half the battle, though. You will also need to manage email lists, find new subscribers, avoid spam filters, test emails to see what works, and perform email analytics. We’ll be covering this in Part 2 of this series. Subscribe to this blog to receive an alert when it’s published. [See what I did there? It’s a call to action!]
P.S. You might want to create a ‘dummy’ email account to subscribe to email lists you want to watch, even if they are from unrelated industries. Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, you could refer to these emails for new ideas on what works (and what doesn’t).
P.P.S. If you haven’t already, check out our podcast: “All About Email Marketing“