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How to Write an Email that Converts to Sales

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For the record, this blog post is really about how to get away with murder. But first I’ve gotta ask…

Have you ever written an email and thought, “I hope this works”?

If you really have no idea… the answer is probably no. It won’t work.

Email marketing done right has enough of a science element to it to be confident in the emails you’re sending, and being right that they’ll work most of the time.

Here’s a breakdown of how to make that happen.

Step 1: Gather the Buying Triggers

You know how SEO Content requires Keyword Research? Like, before you write a blog post or a web page, you need to know what keywords Google will respond well to, right?

The same is true for direct response (sales) copywriting. To persuade your audience, you need to know the keywords and phrases they need to see before buying. We call these buying triggers.

The key buying triggers you need to be able to identify in your audience are:

  1. Their top 3 goals your thing will help them achieve (in their eyes, not yours)
  2. What roadblocks they’re facing
  3. What they’ve tried to overcome those roadblocks (other methods they’re using)
  4. Their frustrations with those methods
  5. Their fears
  6. And preferably, why they want this so badly. What is their soul aching for?

Once you figure these out, they become some of the big topics you get to use in your emails that you KNOW will be compelling for them. Uncovering buying triggers also uncovers the common myths you see in your audience, and you get to write about those too.

We recommend you do proper research and collect hard data on these buying triggers instead of anecdotal evidence or guessing. If you can figure out exactly what 50% or more of your audience is thinking, you can put the exact words 50% or more of them will respond to in your emails.

Here’s our complete market research system to find and use buying triggers.

Step 2: Make Your Emails Easily Stand Out In the Inbox

Does your audience see your face and name in their inbox when you send an email? This is huge.

Take a look at your inbox and you’ll notice that the vast majority of marketers and brands don’t add profile photos to their accounts. A lot of them also use brand names instead of personal names.

This is a surefire way to scream “hey I’m a marketer bot here to sell you things” at your list, instead of “hey I’m a real human that has something interesting & valuable for you”.

Add your identity (photo and name) to your emails. Use a headshot with bright colors that will easily stand out in the inbox. It’ll pull the readers’ eyes to your email, and away from the marketer bots we mentioned earlier.

You’ll notice your open rates go up almost immediately with this simple tweak.

Step 3: Hack Those Subject Lines

I could give you a creative breakdown of all the subject lines in the universe that ever converted well – or I can make it simple for you.

The subject line’s job is to make the reader curious enough to want to know what’s inside the email. That’s it. That’s the whole job.

While everyone’s overthinking subject lines, we’ve used subjects lines as lazy as “F*ckboy” or “(no subject)” and gotten crazy results with them, simply because no one is going to look at those and not open them. They’re too curious about who is sending them F*ckboy and (no subject) emails!

So, don’t overthink it. If you make them wonder “wtf could this possibly be about” you’ll get opens.

If you really want a formula though, you can always use “How to [Benefit] AND [Benefit]” or “How to [Benefit] Without [Pain]” and you’ll be alright. We recommend getting creative & fun with curiosity driving headlines though. They always win. Literally always every time.

Note: The caveat here – and with all subject lines – is that the body of the email can NOT disappoint. People don’t mind clickbait subject lines as long as they’re worth opening in the end. So don’t send lazy subject lines unless there’s gold on the other side that makes the subject line worth opening. (Entertainment is big for this).

Additional Pro Tip: You can also use emojis to pull readers’ eyes to your subject line. The more visual, color-based contrast there is between your emails and the rest of the inbox, the better your emails will perform overall.

Step 4: Get Away With Murder Like Annalise Keating

You’ve watched How to Get Away With Murder, right? If not, God help you. It’s a great show.

Anyway, in the beginning of every episode, there’s a clip from the end of the whole season that makes viewers curious as hell. They’re wondering “who died!? Who started the fire? How are they going to get away with it? What happens!?”

Then they proceed to spend hours of their lives eagerly consuming the rest of the show to find out.

The first line of your email needs to have the SAME exact effect on your readers so they want to read the whole email. In the direct response world, we call these open loops. In cinema, they’re called cliffhangers.

I used one on you at the beginning of this blog post to hook you into this point.

Now you say “ah! that’s what she meant with the murder reference” or maybe you say “well that was lame” if this kind of stuff isn’t your speed.

Either way, you have to say “it worked.”

And that’s kind of the point. You want to place hooks and easter eggs in your emails like that so your readers stay curious and engaged. But it won’t get them to click. No, that comes with the bonus stuff I plug in later. (Ah, yes. Another open loop).

Anyway, carrying on to the next step first, which is…

Step 4: Make Them Feel The Body & Question Their Reality

The body of the email is meant to

  • bring the feelings they’re already experiencing to the surface with your copy
  • make them question a current belief that’s causing them pain
  • and then point them toward a new belief that relieves that pain.

Manipulative. I know. But manipulation is ethical as long as:

  1. It’s true (don’t set expectations you can’t live up to. Don’t lie.)
  2. It helps people in a way they both want and consent to.

A modern word for this kind of manipulation is “Influence”. People really like that word. It means the same damn thing.

Think about it. No one on the planet is upset with Squatty Potty. They ethically manipulated thousands of people into buying a poop stool.

A POOP STOOL, YOU GUYS.

But people love it! And it worked because…

  1. They brought the feelings the audience was already experiencing to the surface (“Pooping is hard and painful for you. Pooping sucks!”)
  2. Made them question their current belief (“Your body wasn’t made for poop to suck, believe it or not. There’s nothing wrong with you! We’ve actually just been pooping wrong for hundreds of years. 🤯“)
  3. And gave them a new belief to look forward to that helps them, makes them happy, and makes their lives less painful (“This stool is the answer! It makes pooping less painful and much easier because it helps you poop the right way, and you don’t even have to try! Look at this cute unicorn pooping delicious rainbow soft serve cream. That’s you, sexy thing. After you buy this.”)

See? I’m not lying to you. This is the formula, plain and simple. It makes businesses money AND consumers happy to shop for cool things that add value to their lives.

And even though it sounds manipulative and manipulation gets a bad rap, what I’m really telling you is to have enough empathy for your audience to see their current struggle how they see it, and then help them get through that struggle by guiding them to the solution they’re not seeing yet.

A solution they’ll be happy you showed them.

Then they’ll consent to buying it if they want to, which is totally their call and in their control.

Doing this right leads to a bunch of great reviews, happy customers, and of course, cash for you for a job well done.

Well, wait, not so fast. We forgot something.

Step 5: Hit Them With a Call-to-Action (CTA)

At the end of the email – or any piece of sales copy for that matter – tell your audience EXACTLY what to do in that very moment.

A call-to-action is a simple, clear, concise directive.

“Click here to see it for yourself”

“Reply ‘interested’ if you’d like to schedule a call”

Yes, if you tell them to reply you want to even tell them what to say in the reply. And make it as simple and clear as possible. Make it lazy-proof. Because I promise, the harder your audience has to think to buy from you, the quicker they are to bounce and go to a competitor that helps them think less.

And frankly I don’t blame them. As tech-forward consumers, we think so much already. We’re bombarded with info. They should not have to think that hard about how to get their money in your hand

So, CTA – Clear. Simple. Easy. Directive.

But here’s the big thing most people get wrong, and it loses you sales, and it’s with the CTA.

Bonus: If You Want Them to Buy, Do NOT Tell Them to Buy In the Email

The #1 thing that’s important for you to know about emails and your CTA’s is that it’s NOT the email’s job to sell the product or service.

I repeat, it is NOT the email’s job to sell the product or service.

The email’s job is to drive traffic to the sales page or sales call.

It is then the sales page’s or sales call’s job to sell the product or service.

Why this matters:

An email telling them to buy a product they haven’t even seen yet is like asking someone to buy a car without giving them a chance to even see it first. Get my drift?

This is such an easy mistake to make. And there’s nuance to it, no doubt. Like if it’s the 9th consecutive email you’ve sent in a row about the same product, you’re probably safe to mess this up.

But if it’s the FIRST second or third time they’re seeing emails about the product, and you’re telling them to buy it directly in the email, the answer in their head is “no”. And that “no” happens at the speed of light. It’s reflexive. And it makes sense, because they haven’t seen it yet. They haven’t read the product description. They don’t know the features. The FAQ’s. How it works. The guarantee and return policy.

ALL of that info they need to give you a “yes” is either on the sales page or waiting behind the sales call.

So the email’s job is not to sell the product. The email’s job is to sell them on taking the very next step. To schedule the call. Or check out the product on the page.

THAT’S your CTA.

If you start testing this, you’ll notice how many more people will say “YES!” to checking out a product, than they will to buying it directly from an email. Your emails will start driving a ton more traffic to the page or to booked calls for you. And in doing so, you’ll get more sales from that traffic.

But if you say one wrong thing in the CTA, “click here to buy now”, and you say it too soon, I promise you the majority of peoples’ subconscious will say “no” without even thinking about it. And their subconscious will win. Because they don’t really know you yet, so they have no reason to think harder about giving you their hard-earned cash.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself.

And of course, if you want this handled for you, book a call with us. Let’s see if we can help.

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