How to Write Persuasive Emails for Businesses | by Word Philocaly
Email is an incredibly powerful tool in the belt of any e-commerce company. Email marketing can drive a significant portion of your sales without paying expensive Amazon referral fees or Facebook advertising costs. However, many e-commerce merchants still don’t write emails that don’t suck.
This article will delve into how to write quality emails that increase trust and conversions with your audience.
Why Is Email So Important? Is Email Inbox a Sacred Space?
Unlike Facebook, Instagram, and 99% of the Internet, where companies pay to force their message in front of your eyes (“interruption marketing”), the email inbox houses the invited sales message.
We all get spam and those pesky sextortion emails (or is it just us?). Still, as email providers have become more sophisticated in filtering out the garbage, the likelihood is that if someone reads your email, they probably invited you in, also known as subscribed to your email list.
You should not take that invitation lightly.
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Facebook Interruption Marketing
Facebook ads and most other ads are “interruption marketing,” while email is largely invitation marketing. It is an invitation to start a discussion, build a relationship, tell them the solution you have for their problem, and then sell it to them. And as long as you remain in their good graces, that invitation will allow you to contact them every month, every week, or even every day (yes, some people sell to their list every day, and their list looks forward to receiving all those emails), forever.
So, how do you stay in their graces and make the most of that open door? Well, here’s our guide to writing emails that don’t suck.
First, let us define.
What email is and what it isn’t. Email is not the end-all-be-all for your readers. It is not the final destination.
Email is a bridge.
The job of any email that doesn’t suck is to send your readers to another place.
Do you want your readers to know that you posted a new blog post? Your email aims to get the readers to click and read it.
Do you want your potential clients to buy your new super widget 800X? Your email aims to get the reader to click the link, get more information about your super widget 800X, and buy it.
Do you want to remind them that they abandoned their cart? The real goal of your email is to get the reader to click the link and complete their purchase.
Every email should have one and only one goal. Before even sitting down to write, choose a goal for that email.
Anyone who has come out of a 30-minute YouTube hole after jumping on Google to figure out the name of that guy in that movie knows that people’s attention is short.
Like a kitten in a laser pointer test facility, the next shiny object is just seconds away from stealing your attention.
Email is no different.
Offer your readers five ways to leave your email (i.e., links to five different things) and it’s most likely they’ll click on the first one that catches their attention… and never look at the others.
[Newsletters go against this advice, which is why we are not a fan of them. But if you are going to send a newsletter email, I recommend that the first link out of the email be the most important thing you want them to do.]
That’s why you should stick to one goal per email:
Do you want them to see your latest YouTube video? Please write an email to get them to click on your new YouTube video. Do you want them to buy your new product on Amazon? Please write an email to get them to click on your listing. Do you want them to see your new podcast? Please write an email to get them to click on your latest episode. Writing a newsletter using this technique keeps your reader focused. And a focused reader is much more likely to do what you want them to do.
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How to Write Persuasive Emails with Great CTA
Knowing this one goal also tells you what your call to action (CTA) should be.
Any email needs a clear CTA. Do you remember that kitten in the laser pointer factory? Each email should also have a clear CTA that tells the readers EXACTLY what you want them to do, that is, the goal of your email.
If you want them to read your blog post, place a link: “Click here to read my latest blog post.”
If you want them to visit your new Amazon list and use a 40% discount coupon to buy your latest product, include a link that says: “Click here to visit our new Amazon list and use promo code PROMO40 to get a 40% discount on our super widget 800X.”
One clear CTA like this in the email results in higher click rates. Never assume anything.
You Want to Focus on One Thing, and One Thing Only
And remember single goal, single goal, single goal.
It is much more likely that someone will do what you want if you only give them one thing to do AND make it obvious what that thing is.
This focused singularity also gives you another benefit when writing your emails, you now have a roadmap of exactly what you need to write. You have chosen a single goal for your email. That single goal means you also know your CTA. That CTA will appear at the end, or close enough, of your email.
So now you have to write an email that naturally leads to that CTA and convinces the reader to act.By deciding on your single goal, you now have a basic roadmap for the content of your email, which makes writing your email much less daunting.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s pretend we sell in the golf niche and want our list to buy our new super widget 800X. Our call to action will be: “Click here for a 40% discount on the new super widget 800X.” So I am writing a story (true) about Sarah, one of our customers who bought our super widget 800X and sent me an email to tell me she reversed ten years of back pain caused by her bad swing.
And then I end the email with: “So if you’re like Sarah and also suffer back pain due to your swing, click here to buy the new super widget 800X.” See how simple that is once you have your single goal? It eliminates writer’s block because instead of looking at a blank page, you know the clear intent of what you need to write.
Using stories like this is one of many ways to do it. You can also email a picture of the super widget 4000 with a caption like: “Want to fix your back pain like Sarah? Click here for a 40% discount on the new super widget 800X.”
The key is always knowing your single goal and crafting your email so that it naturally leads to your CTA. And always remember that your email’s primary purpose is to get your reader to act. Everything else is just supporting information.
But the extra effort of telling stories is worth it because…
Stories help soften the ‘ask’ Our brains are wired to receive information through stories. As Lisa Cron says in her book Wired for Story, “Recent advances in neuroscience reveal that our brain is programmed to respond to a story: the pleasure we get from a well-told story is nature’s way of seducing us into paying attention.”
In other words, our survival as a species depended on our brains wanting to listen to stories.
Before humans could read, survival instructions were transmitted through stories. Did you hear about caveman Steve? He ate that funky-looking mushroom, turned purple, and died. Better not eat those in the future, huh?
When you directly ask people to do something, their defenses naturally arise. Why do they want me to do this? What’s in it for them? Is this a trick?
But because our brains are programmed to be receptive to stories, if you start with an account, you engage readers AND give them a reason to do what you want them to do without feeling like they’re being ‘sold’ too.
You can use stories about yourself, stories about your clients, stories taken from customer testimonials (like Sarah and the super widget 800X), or your stories can even be anecdotal, for example, something you read or a story you saw in the news. As long as the story makes sense in the context of the email’s goal, you’re good to go.
How to Write Persuasive Emails with Storytelling
Story-based emails are very effective for building relationships with your list and writing emails they look forward to opening (Shocking concept, right?).
And you can see that the idea of writing stories doesn’t have to trigger a Shakespearean panic attack.
A story can be short: “I spent 3 hours stuck in a ditch this weekend after leaving my toolbox in the back of my other truck… facepalm. If you want to know how I got out, click here to read my latest blog post, ‘5 Ultimate Off-Road Tricks to Get Out of a Ditch.'”
Or it could be a longer creation story behind your new product, where you tell the reader why you chose that product, the problem it solves, how it’s benefited you or one of your clients, and how you believe it can help them too.
No matter the length, the story has a job; keep the reader’s attention and create enough interest for them to click and do what you want them to do.
Another powerful tool you can use to achieve this is curiosity.
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Use Curiosity to Motivate People to Take Action.
If the only goal of your email is to get your reader to click through to read your latest blog post, using curiosity can be a very powerful motivator.
In his classic book The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, Joe Sugarman spoke at length about how he used curiosity to sell twenty million sunglasses using interest.
Our brains naturally want to search for some conclusion. Television writers have relied on this fact for decades by using cliffhangers to ensure viewers return after the commercial break.
And you can also use this in your emails.
Take this blog post, for example. If I sent you an email saying, “Check out my latest blog post on writing emails that don’t suck,” maybe you’re going to read it, or maybe not.
But if I add curiosity and write, “Check out my latest blog post on writing emails that don’t suck. In it, I reveal the most important part of any email, and no, it’s not the subject line.”
See how that added curiosity makes it more compelling?
I bet your brain is trying to answer that question right now, going through this blog post and remembering the most important point I told you. That’s how powerful curiosity can be. (You can stop scanning. I have yet to say to you. But I will soon.)
You can use curiosity in the body of your emails, and it’s also great to use in subject lines because:
Your subject line has a job.
The subject line is the second most important part of your email. And he only has ONE job, get them to open your email.
That is, among all the other emails your list received that day, with all those subject lines stacked on top of each other in their inbox, your subject line’s only job is to hold their attention long enough that they can’t avoid opening your email.
Because if they don’t open it, you better not have bothered sending it.
And the easiest way to do that is to arouse their curiosity, this is critical when you wonder how to write persuasive emails to hook your readers from the very beginning.
Now, we’re not talking about clickbait here. We’re not talking about using a subject line like “Archaeologists Find First Fossilized Unicorn Poop!” only for them to open the email and find that there’s no fossilized unicorn poop in sight, and you’re trying to sell them dog food.
Curiosity in the subject line should be offset in the body of the email. And it paid off quickly. Or you will lose their attention fast.
And, after you’ve tricked them into opening an email or two, you’ll probably lose them as a subscriber, too.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is a classic that shows the power of curiosity in copywriting.
How to Write Subject Lines That Don’t Suck is an entire blog post, but you can’t go wrong with curiosity. Just make sure it relates to something in your email.
For example, we’re in the off-roading niche, and we want our list to read our latest blog post on the Dos and Don’ts of Rock Hopping.
Sure, the blog post’s title could be the email’s subject line. But what if we added more curiosity and used something like “A tool you should NEVER go jumping without”?
Or “A boulder jumping tip that saved my life.”
If you liked the SUV, which of the three would intrigue you the most, and therefore more likely to open? We’re willing to bet on the ones that made you curious to want to find the answer within the blog post.
But remember, if you use curiosity in the subject line, you must pay for it within the email.
So once they open our “A Rock Jumping Tip That Saved My Life” email, we can immediately pay it back by telling them a very short story about how we rock jumped on the weekend, it was raining, and the rocks were very greasy. This crazy thing happened, and it inspired us to write this week’s blog post. So if you want to know what the tool that saved our skins is, you should check it out.
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Keep on with the Curiosity
Using curiosity in this way triggers questions in the reader’s mind: What was the crazy thing that happened? What was the tool you used? How did he almost save her life?
And the brain wants answers to those questions.
So they click on your blog post, and you achieve your goal.
This assumes that you are creating quality content and only means well regarding your list. You are in it to help them and add value, not just trick them into doing what you want them to do. But that doesn’t mean you should be shy about asking for what you want.
If you truly believe that your products or services can solve a problem for your list members, you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t try to sell them your solution.
This brings us to our final two points of how to write persuasive emails for your online or offline businesses.
Always write to a person.
Emails that don’t suck never begin, “I just wanted you to know…”
Or continue as if you were addressing the crowd at a rally.
People read emails alone. So it would help if you talked to them that way. The same way you would speak to a friend if you were writing a letter. Just you, them, and whatever you want to tell them.
A good way to ensure you do this is to imagine a person each time you write.
Even better, if you’ve created your customer’s avatar, find an image representing you and paste it onto someone near your computer. Then, every time you sit down to write an email, look at the picture and imagine that you are writing to them.
Maintain the Relationship With Your List
Don’t just write to them when you want something. Nobody likes a friend who only calls them once a month when they need a ride somewhere.
If you only email your list every other month to launch a new product, you won’t build a relationship with them, and the list will be as good as worthless.
If you want to build a relationship that will lead to more profit, you must commit to consistently emailing them and look to provide value first.
The Most Important Part of How to Write Persuasive Emails
So that’s all you need to know about writing emails that don’t suck.
Aside from the fact that I still haven’t told you the most important part of any email.
Well, it’s your email address.
That’s the first thing anyone sends an email to see, not the subject line.
And if your email address starts with sales@ or offers@ or some other departmental prefix, you’ve already warned them that you’re probably about to try to sell them something.
So, use your name in your email address, be the human contact people want, and start building a relationship, so they expect to see your name in their inbox.
Conclusion: How to Write Persuasive Emails
Writing emails that don’t suck doesn’t have to be difficult. See each email as a bridge to where you want the reader to go, not a destination. Pick a goal for each email and use that goal to create your CTA. And then, use that CTA as a guide to show you what to write.
Remember that your subject line only has one job to get them to open your email. And that you can use curiosity in the subject line and the body of the email to motivate your readers to do what you want and stories to soften the ‘asking.’
And finally, to have a ‘healthy’ list, you must maintain the relationship. The people who receive your emails are just that, people. Remember, treat them with respect and add value to their lives, and they will repay you with their loyalty.
Word Philocaly can Help You with Writing Persuasive Emails
Don’t let poorly written emails hinder your business communication. Improve your professional correspondence today with our expert email writing services. Never wonder how to write persuasive emails again – contact us now to schedule your consultation!
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