In this post I’m talking about how to write emails that people actually WANT to read! Let’s dive in.
How many unread emails are in your inbox?
You know, that little red number on phone’s mail icon. Personally, that red number stresses me out, so I keep mine at zero (but let’s not talk about the 70 voicemails I haven’t listened to). Recently I spoke at Houston Social Media Breakfast about why email is (still) so important and asked who had the most unread emails. The winner? Had 50,000.
I understand why so many people want to discount email and chase the next shiny social media object. Is email even effective? Do people even read it?
To answer quickly, YES. Email is still effective. According to Campaign Monitor’s report in 2016, email has a pretty insane ROI– $44 for every $1 invested. We could have a longer conversation about WHY email matters, but for now let’s dive into how to write emails people actually WANT to read.
How to Write Emails People Actually WANT to Read
Win them Over with Your Signup Sequence
People talk a lot about the importance of a welcome sequence, but often overlook the signup sequence. I see forms on blogs all over the place with the standard “Sign up for our newsletter!” and a button that reads “Subscribe.” Or, when you click confirm, you’re redirected to the standard template page from the email service provider. Each of these is a missed opportunity to connect with your readers!
Think about this: as people move through the signup process for your list, they will have at least 3-5 chances to see your content. First, the signup form itself, then the page they are redirected to after they hit subscribe, the confirmation email, and the link they go to after they click to confirm their subscription.
Be memorable. Customize your language, your branding, your buttons, and your content for every single form and page. By the time they actually GET your emails, they should recognize your name because of your signup sequence.
Don’t Get Stuck in the Newsletter Box
When bloggers and writers think about WHAT to write in an email, what typically comes to mind is the newsletter. The term newsletter is yawn-worthy and I think even creative people who have no problem writing books and blog posts hit a wall when they have to write a newsletter.
You can write any kind of content you want in your emails with any kind of frequency. Maybe you only write once a week when you publish a new blog post, inviting people to come read. (More tips on that below!) Maybe you curate links related to what you know your readers might like. You might write something more personal or even test out potential blog post ideas by writing them first as an email to gauge the response.
When it comes to the kind of content, don’t feel like you have to fit in a box. Write something you want to write that also serves your readers.
Utilize Headings and White Space
Our attention spans are shorter than EVER. 55% of people read a blog post for seven seconds. Knowing this, we should consider how we can not only create interesting content in our emails, but make them visually appealing.
I don’t necessarily mean amazing templates and tons of photos. (Plain-text emails tend to actually convert better, though I love reading a pretty email myself.) Whether you are using plain text or a template, you can make use of white space, headings, and words in bold typeface to keep people moving through your email.
I’ve noticed some of the biggest email gurus like André Chaperon sending emails made up of single sentence paragraphs. Why? Because you keep reading.
Something about single lines rather than a big block of text is powerful.
It keeps us moving down the page–er, screen.
Maybe it’s the white space.
Or maybe we just like bite-sized pieces of content.
See what I did there? If that feels weird to you, don’t do it. But do consider breaking up big blocks of text. Use headlines. If it fits with your writing style, use all caps for emphasis, italics, and bold.
Make Your Links Inviting to Click
If you are trying to drive traffic to your blog posts with your email, consider an alternative to RSS. (Read why I really hate RSS!) If you are only posting once a week, writing a short email for each of those posts can be more effective than a truncated RSS feed that simply tells people to click and Read More.
To get people clicking, utilize the same tips that work for subject lines or blog headlines. Curiosity is a powerful motivator. I use the term Itchy for email subject lines. You give people an itch that they HAVE to scratch (by opening the email). Try using itchy lead-ins for your links in email.
- I’m sharing my top ten favorite winter-comfort foods this week. Eight out of ten are pretty standard, but the other two may totally surprise you!
- My dinner party this weekend was a complete disaster with only one tiny redeeming moment. Read the full post to see why I’m taking a break from entertaining. Maybe forever.
You can also ask people to click the links by making it seem like an exclusive invitation just for them.
- I just finished putting together a roundup of uncommon uses for coconut oil. Have you tried any of these? I’d love to know or hear any that I missed! Click over to see all twelve and let me know in the comments if you have any that should have made the list.
Readers feel special when you make reading your post feel like an invitation to participate with you. This is a tactic used by Ramsey Taplin of Blog Tyrant. He writes simple, usually one-paragraph emails inviting readers in this way to read and comment. This recent post of his has 107 comments. (And take note that half of those comments are HIS. If you want more blog comments, you should also be active in your comments section!)
Don’t Skip THE PS
Because people scan, a PS often becomes like the speed bump that really stops them. I can’t say exactly what makes a PS so powerful, but do not miss these!
Pick the MOST important thing from your email and put that in the PS. I often will write mine TO those people: “Hey, skimmers! I see you there. 🙂 Don’t miss my new class this week!” It leaves the big takeaway there for anyone who skimmed to the bottom and also makes them feel SEEN. Just make it fun, not something that makes them feel guilty for scanning.
Don’t overlook email because your inbox is stressing you out.
Email serves up THE best ROI with a permanence that other platforms don’t have. I love using email in conjunction with Facebook groups (I’ve got a main Create If Writing group AND one just for asking email questions!), but email is the real foundation for what I do. And I want to write emails that people want to read so I’m constantly trying to find new ways of getting my engagement up.
Want more tips for killing it with email? Check out my post (and a video!) over at Mediavine on how to write great emails!