Following directly on the heels of our lesson on inducing action, we talk about the skill that helps you make it happen – copywriting. You’ll understand why every business person should study copywriting, even if most should outsource the actual work. Plus, how to write subject lines that get your emails opened, and the trust element that’s even more important than that.
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Lesson 9: Five Copywriting Tips for Email Marketing
Voiceover: Welcome to “Get More Clients With Smarter Email Marketing,” a free audio course presented by Unemployable with Brian Clark. For the full experience, head over to Unemployable.com and sign up for the Unemployable email newsletter, the week’s top resources for independent businesspeople, personally handcrafted by serial entrepreneur and content marketing pioneer, Brian Clark. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: Hello there, and welcome back to the course. Today, we’ll talk about five copywriting tips. We’re implementing this email marketing strategy to get more clients — that we’ve been talking about over the last several lessons. The key point there, I think is, strategy.
Obviously, in this one lesson I can’t give you all the tactical copywriting knowledge that you need to implement the various copy that needs to be used in landing pages, the content in articles, the email messages themselves. I’m going to give you some tactical advice in this, but my first point is that you should study copywriting.
Now, don’t think that I’m telling you that I want you to write all your own copy. In fact, as we’ll see in a little bit, unless writing is your main thing I think you should outsource your copy because it will pay for itself. Even if you are a copywriter, you may want to outsource it. We’ll talk about that in a second.
It always cracks me up when I see an article that says something like, “5 Psychological Tricks That Will Improve Your Copywriting.” Guess what? Every aspect of copywriting is psychological. The psychology of people is what you’re dealing with when you write copy. You’re trying to communicate. You’re trying to engage. You’re trying to persuade.
I firmly believe that studying copy was one of the most valuable things I’ve done in my career. That would be true if I never started Copyblogger — I want to make that very clear — because copywriting makes you always keep front of mind that you have to put prospects, customers, and clients first, always. It’s marketing 101. Yet, this is where all the bad marketing and sales out there comes from — “we, we, we,” and “I, I, I,” instead of “them, them, them.”
Study copywriting, it’s a fascinating topic. You’ll become a better writer whether you want to write or not. Moreover, you’ll be more strategic and you’ll be more aware of what a successful campaign should look like, because even if you’re not writing the copy, you are the one in charge of the direction and strategy and positioning of your brand and of your personal brand. Never forget that.
Outsource Your Copy
Number two, outsource your copy. I just told you to study copywriting, but there are a lot of good reasons why getting someone else to handle it for you — someone who is a pro — would be well worth your while. If writing isn’t your main thing, it’s just a practical thing. You can’t do everything. You have to do what you do best and then get the next best person to do the other task. Copy, like I said, is incredibly important. It literally can make you more money if you get the right execution, and you probably will by going with a pro.
Even if you are a copywriter, you’re perhaps a little too close. I hear all the time from freelance writers and small agencies that they’re great at cranking out copy that’s compelling for their clients and yet when it comes to marketing themselves, they freeze up. They make the wrong decision. They’re too shy. Rarely is it that you’re too aggressive when marketing yourself. That’s just the way it works, I think, from the professional writers’ mentality.
When you’re marketing your own services and there’s a good chance you’re going to make more money than you spend by outsourcing that copy, that’s just a good business decision right there. If you disagree with the perspective of the outside person, you always have the ability to go in and edit, right?
As CEO, I have written all the copy for all our product sites. I’ve given away most of the email marketing copy, and I’ve just started outsourcing promotional landing page copy to an outside copywriter who’s done a wonderful job. Again, it’s that outside perspective.
I don’t have all the time in the world, and I’ve done my initial job, I feel, as the head of the company by positioning our products and services from the big picture standpoint. When it comes down to granular level — emails and landing page copy — the outside perspective often will find something that even seems like a discovery to me. It is completely worth it.
Finally, as I mentioned, good copy pays for itself, easily. Sometimes, great copy gives you a multiple that makes it a no brainer. Like, if you can make ten times more money because of attracting not only more clients but the right kind of clients, that, again, is an easy financial decision.
Signals of Trust
The third thing I want to talk about: signals of trust. When you finally get someone to sign up with you, whether it be for your free course, whatever the case may be — opt-in, registration — don’t assume they remember. You’ve probably faced this before, where you have someone who you know signed up for your double opt-in list. There’s no way you could have signed them up or it was a mistake, they just don’t remember. Then you’re the one who gets the angry message asking why you’re emailing them.
That’s rare, but you want to take it into account. You want to make sure early on in the relationship that you are not assuming that they know who you are. Make who you are matter as much as what the message or the content is about. You need to think about that.
At the beginning, you want to send from your personal name, perhaps. But you want to use something in your subject line to remind them of the brand of the company — if it’s not your personal name, obviously. If it is, you still need to take into account that seeing you as the sender may not be enough trigger, so make sure and think about that. You want that sender field to become the most important thing. That, because it’s from you, they open the message no matter what it’s about.
Now, there’s a perfect corollary to this. When I try to teach headline writing and subject lines that work to people, I’ll always get, “Hey, Seth Godin doesn’t do any of this stuff that you told me.” That’s a perfect example that actually proves my point, because you’re not Seth Godin. The guy started blogging 15 years ago. He started building his email list in 1999 when he released Permission Marketing, which is like the bible of email marketing.
Seth Godin can get away with any old subject line he wants. He is vague and he breaks all the rules, but he is Seth Godin. When you have that kind of relationship with your audience and that large an audience — let’s be frank about that — then yes, you have earned the signals of trust that get your emails opened. But if you were a different person and used Seth’s headlines, you would have a dismal open rate.
Keep that in mind. You want to be as close to someone like Seth Godin as you can get by building your authority, the affinity, all of that stuff. What does that name stand for? Just keep in mind, you’re not there yet. I’m not there yet. Let’s talk about headlines next since — that lead in.
Headlines, Subheads, and Bullet Points
Number four: headlines, subheads, and bullet points. If you’re good at those three things, you’re already on your way to being a really good copywriter, because they are the most important aspects of, I would say, scannable, actionable copy.
Now, there are a lot of other elements that matter, don’t get me wrong. But the way people read, especially online, they’re not going anywhere if the headline’s not compelling. The first 50 words of whatever it is — depending on the length of whatever you’re creating — they matter probably more than the rest of the copy.
Subheads and bullets are things that people scan down the length of the message or the page or whatever the case may be, and if they’re compelled then they go back up and they engage with the content at a more engaged level. Or they use those guideposts as ways to define and discover what’s important to them. Like, they’re sort of sold, but they’re looking for certain things like a money-back guarantee or this or that. Subheads, bullet points — very important.
There’s really one approach that I’ve always used. It’s called the Four U approach. I didn’t make this one up like I did the 6A framework. AWAI made this up years and years and years ago. I think when I first took their course — we’re talking like 15 years ago — that’s when I picked it up. I found it so useful I’ve been recommending it ever since.
In a nutshell, headlines, subheads, bullets should be useful to the reader, provide her with a sense of urgency, convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow unique, and do all of the above in an ultra specific way. If you can get three out of four of those, you’ve written a good headline. If you get all four, you’ve nailed it.
Now, let me say a word about headline templates, because they are a great way to understand why a headline works. They are not a great way to plug and play your keywords into something and just throw it out there. You’re really doing yourself a disservice by that plug and play approach. What you can do though, is take those templates, run it through the Four U’s. You’ll see each aspect and that is incredibly instructive. That’s an incredible education in writing compelling headlines, subheads, and bullets.
I must say that we have an ebook called Magnetic Headlines in My Copyblogger. It’s My.Copyblogger.com. You’ll also get like 15 other ebooks on various topics, including email marketing landing pages, and content marketing in general. If you’re not a member, that’s a free registration and that’s a concept that fits this strategy that we’re talking about today.
Finally, I want to talk about when do you violate the Four U approach? I think of it in terms of content headlines versus a pure email subject line. A lot of times, in my approach, they’re the same. I like to use the content Four U-style headline. I found that I get higher open rates. But every once in a while I’ll throw a curve ball in there.
This works really well for people trying to attract clients, because you’re using these compelling content headlines — remember, that’s what they signed up for, first and foremost. You’re getting more of them to open your emails, which means more people are interacting with your course and your access area. That means, just through the principle of commitment and consistency, more of those people are going to be viable candidates to work with you.
But what you might want to do when you get to a certain point in your email sequence is completely mix it up. It’s interesting that the most opened email during Obama’s presidential election subject line was simply “Hey.” That’s kind of amazing. It also came from Obama, so that’s an important person. But it’s also because it was unique in the sense that it completely went against the messages that people had been getting. That in itself is compelling.
I don’t know that you should try, “hey,” but how about if you’ve got their first name and you can use a personalized message tag in the subject line. “Brian, can I ask you something real quick?” That sounds like it’s coming directly from you, and maybe it is. In this case, maybe it’s automated, who knows? But the sheer contrast between your content messages and something like that will work. That’s when you would mix it up and violate the Four U approach.
Remember What You’re Selling
Finally, the fifth tip is remember what you’re selling. This is the key to action. It’s the key to great copy. That is, you’ve got one thing you’re trying to get them to do once they’ve opened the email address — or in different scenarios it’s not even that case. For each piece of content, for each step of the journey for them, what are you selling?
For example, you write that great free article and you’re promoting it on Facebook or Twitter, whatever the case may be. That article is selling the download. Let’s say you’re offering a free PDF at the end of the article, no opt-in required — that’s the action you’re selling. Next, at the end of that PDF report, you’re sending them to a landing page. That is where you’re selling the registration or opt-in.
Once they’re opted in, you’ve got content emails. You’re selling the click and access to your course — get them back in there. But you’re trying first to get them to open it, obviously. Subject line, sender, and then sell the click.
Finally, we have the “hire me” call to action, where we’re finally selling the thing you want to want to sell, but I see muddled messages when you’re really selling the click back into the course and then you’re like, “Or just call me now.” It’s better to sell the click. One thing. Get them back into the course area. After the lesson, place your “hire me” call to action there.
Just remember about context, why they signed up with you in the first place. And remember, “At each stage, what is the action here? What am I selling?” Remember also, that even though you’re dealing in free stuff, no obligation stuff, you have to convince more than you probably think you have to.
This is a great point for compelling bullet points, because some brief intro copy with a great headline and some bullets that represents what the course will provide without necessarily giving it away, the answers — those are called fascination bullets. If you can write those well, you’re also a great headline writer, you’re great subhead writer, those things really move the needle on getting more people to take the action that you want.
Okay, we’ve got one more lesson left. As promised, I’m going to walk you through some of the technical aspects of how we get this done, how it works. I will contrast the use of our platform, the Rainmaker Platform, with how you might get it done with a WordPress site, just to not to leave anyone out. That will be up next.
In the meantime, if you’re curious about the Rainmaker Platform, head over to RainmakerPlatform.com. It’s a powerful website. It’s email and it’s marketing automation all in one integrated functional package, and there’s a lot of benefits to that. We’ll talk about next time. Until then, thanks for listening and keep going.