Emails that make you go "Hmmm...."

Issue #100—July 17, 2020

If your email inbox is like mine, it's ridiculously crowded. Even if you're regularly unsubscribing from emails that started popping up because you made some random drunk clothing purchase on Facebook one night (ummm...NOT that that's ever happening to me [cough])... ....or ones that you started getting after you signed some petition and are now getting bombarded with every possible related cause under the sun... ...or worse, those pesky emails from businesses or organizations you never recall signing up to get emails from in the first place... You're still slammed with emails on any given day! So for companies using email to sell their products, it's a war zone out there. The battle for eyeballs and email opens is intense. Just like the front cover main headline on the direct mail magalogs of lore (actually, some companies are still using them successfully), as a copywriter you have to find a way to stop your prospect in their tracks and make them HAVE to read further. And every line of your copy from that initial headline in your promo on has the sole purpose of getting them to read the NEXT line. And so on and so forth (while doing all the other things that ultimately convince your prospect to buy). With email copy, it all starts with the subject line. If your subject line isn't stopping your prospect in his or her tracks and making them go "Hmmm....", it's falling flat on its face. Your email will get ignored, if not deleted...or worse, they'll unsubscribe. Yet I've seen many copywriters give short shrift to their email subject lines. Biggest mistakes include making them too generic...making it about THEM (the company or product)...being vague about what it's about or who it's for...or mainly just being "ho-hum" versus "Hmmmm...think I need to find out more." Another mistake is, when turning in email copy to a client, many novice copywriters will submit just one subject line. Really, just ONE! Yet many clients want to test multiple subject lines. Now, I would never dream of turning in copy for a long-form sales page or direct mail promo without providing multiple headlines to test, as that would give my promo the best shot at producing a winner (and a control that pays fat royalties!) For many of the same reasons, I often write at least a dozen or more email subject lines for copy I submit to clients (mainly to drive traffic to online sales pages I've written and have a royalty stake in). I then whittle them down and edit them mercilessly until they're as perfect as possible. Once that's done, I submit at least 4-5 of these bad boys for each and every email I write to my client. No A-lister I know is going to bet the farm on just ONE email subject line being "the one", just like we wouldn't do with a main headline. And neither should you. With that in mind, let's take a quick look at a few emails that landed in my inbox recently and made me go "Hmmm...." and click to find out more... What's in Kim's Mailbox? Let's take a look at this email that was waiting for me this morning. It's from my former apprentice's company and it's for an alternative health newsletter he's launched recently. I love the subject line..."Breathe Fat Out of Your Body"!

Maybe it's because I'm a copywriter, but I couldn't resist opening up that email and reading it. It's reminiscent of the famous Gene Schwartz direct mail envelope teaser, "Rub fat out of your body". (In fact, going back and studying old envelope teasers from direct mail promos written by legends is a great source of possible subject lines).

But what makes it work here is a) it's specific--it's putting out a specific benefit (weight loss) that's calling out the right target prospect, and b) it's using demonstration to showcase the simplicity of the solution it's teasing about.

The opening sentence of the email continues the conversation opened up by the subject line. There's no disconnect. (You'd be surprised how often there is no relation between the subject line and the opening sentence, and it can throw off the prospect).

The copy then immediately acknowledges how unbelievable the claim is...another tried-and-true Schwartz method. By doing so it makes the claim MORE believable.

Plus by indicating there are specific steps, it's made more believable while also stoking curiosity about what those 2 steps are. Curiosity is a crucial component of any traffic-driving email. There has to be a reason why you HAVE to click.

I think the email could have benefited by mentioning that the solution or broken hormone has NOTHING to do with your genes, since the sales page they click through to has the opening sentence, "Your genes are not your destiny." Right now it feels like a bit of a disconnect.

(You can click on the email image above and it will take you to the sales page).

Okay, up next is one more email that stopped me in my tracks when it came up on my phone earlier this morning while sipping my black coffee and having my intermittent fasting breakfast (meaning, NONE lol)...

What initially was noteworthy was the use of "Nobel Prize Nutrient" in the "from" line after the company name "Barton". That definitely got my attention, but also included the familiar brand name making me more receptive to it (this is from my friend Joe Barton at Barton Publishing).

The subject line itself is brilliant, too. It's doing the two things I mentioned the other email is doing. It's immediately conveying a specific benefit and calling out the right prospect, and demonstrating the simplicity of the solution.

The first sentence of the email avoids any kind of disconnect by using the term that appeared in the "from" line: "Nobel Prize nutrient" (which also borrows credibility from this esteemed award to make the claim more believable). It also makes use of a testimonial, followed by two more, in order to overcome skepticism.

Then the copy follows through with a big promise including a speed of result (not super-specific, but effective: "soothing relief in record time").

The call to action copy "Eat this tomorrow..." demonstrates once again the simplicity of the solution and the immediacy of the benefits, and gets the prospect pre-experiencing or future-pacing the relief it's promising...all in one highly-clickable sentence.

It then acknowledges the prospect's disbelief by promising to show evidence, shows a little "leg" by including a shot of the video, and then layers on yet another big promise about feeling decades younger (and also doesn't shy away from two more mentions of "Nobel Prize Nutrient" to borrow credibility). Overall, it's really well-done!

I hope this gives you some ideas for making your emails enjoy much higher open and click-through rates. These tactics can definitely be applied to any product or service.

Before I wrap up, I wanted to mention a big win one of your fellow Copy Insiders shared with me the other day. Chris Loch, who snagged a copy of the 3Rs program before Chris Orzechowski and I retired it a few months ago, wrote to tell me...

"I just scored my first copywriting gig with a royalty!"

He went on to tell me how he'd recently "broken up" with a client due to too much drama. When the client came begging later for him to come back, he found himself in a position to name his terms and conditions. Not only was he able to increase his rate, he was able to add a 4% royalty to boot!

Congratulations, Chris! You rock!!! Thank you for sharing.

I may be putting together some training in the near future on negotiating royalty deals. Contrary to what you may have hear elsewhere, they DO still exist! And they can result in profitable "win/win" relationships for both clients and copywriters.

It's always inspiring to hear these stories like Chris', especially when our worlds have been turned upside down in recent months. If you have a recent win you'd like to share, reply to this email. I'd love to hear it!

Yours for smarter marketing,


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