According to DMA’s “Marketing Email Tracker 2020” report, the average estimated return on each £1 spent on email marketing is £34.56.
Yes, you read it right, it’s an astonishing 3456% return on investment. And that’s only the average.
Presumably, you could get an even better ROI if you mastered email copywriting.
Want to learn how to write really good sales emails?
Clearly Define Your Target Audience
You can’t be effective at selling if you don’t know who you are selling to. That’s why you need to clearly define your target audience.
Here’s the bare minimum that you should know about your ideal customer:
- Their gender.
- Their age.
- Their nationality.
- Their job title.
- Their marital status.
You may also want to narrow it down even more based on additional characteristics such as interests, hobbies, aspirations, political beliefs, religious beliefs, etc.
Knowing who you are writing to will help you craft a message that truly resonates with your ideal customers.
Conduct Proper Customer Research
Do you know who are the best copywriters?
It’s not the people who are most talented at writing, it’s the ones who do the most in-depth customer research.
You see, clearly defining your target audience is not enough. You need to go out there and learn everything you can about your customers. Become the customer. Think like them. Dream like them. Hangout where they do.
Let’s say that you want to sell online weight lifting coaching to American men between the ages of 18 and 30. How can you learn more about them?
Go where they hang out online and observe the discussions happening there. Let’s look at where those places might be.
You can find a ton of popular YouTube fitness channels oriented towards young men by simply searching for related terms.
Go to those channels, sort the videos by popularity, then watch the most popular ones.
Also, pay attention to the comments, they can help you understand what your ideal customers are struggling with.
Reddit is another great place where you can find plenty of discussions about weight lifting.
The most popular relevant subreddit is r/fitness that has 7.8 million members, but there are also smaller, weight lifting specific subreddits like r/weightlifting (over 98,700 members) or r/lifting (over 17,500 members).
You can sort the threads by popularity by clicking on the “Top” button and then choosing a time frame.
You can also use the search bar to search for a specific term on a particular subreddit or the entire Reddit.
There are also various online forums that focus on weight lifting, gaining muscle, bodybuilding, etc.
The most popular of these is probably the Bodybuilding.com forum.
You can read the frequently asked questions section, go through the popular threads in various subforums, use the search function to find information on specific topics, etc.
What Do Your Customers Really Want?
This general customer research process of going through YouTube videos, Reddit threads, and online forums apply to most niches.
The primary aim of all this work is to uncover what your customers really want.
For example, if you sell online weight lifting coaching to young men, then your customers obviously want to gain muscle. But what is the underlying motivation behind that goal?
Hanging out in places where young men discuss weight lifting will show you that they want to feel more confident, be more attractive to women, and gain the respect of other men.
Additionally, you should aim to gain an in-depth understanding of the psychology of your customers, including things like their hopes, fears, and dreams.
Moreover, you want to also pay attention to the specific language that your target audience uses.
Throwing in jargon that is familiar to them will make your message more compelling. For example, you should know what “natty”, “juicing”, etc. mean in weight lifting context.
Once you know all that, you can incorporate it into your copywriting, which will make your copy much more persuasive.
Of course, if you belong to your target audience, then understanding your ideal customers is that much easier.
However, you should still do proper customer research, because observing a group you belong to from the outside may lead to valuable insights.
Craft an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line
There’s a famous quote that is attributed to David Ogilvy, one of the best copywriters who ever lived:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
An email subject line is its headline. It’s what determines whether the recipient will open it or archive it immediately.
That’s why you need to make sure that the subject line grabs people’s attention, piques their curiosity, and makes them open the email to learn more.
Get a free copy of Jon Morrow’s “52 Headline Hacks” ebook. You want to master these headlines formulas. It will give you a solid foundation for writing subject lines.
You should also experiment with the three timeless subject line formulas from GrowthLab’s “Ultimate Guide to Email Copywriting”.
GrowthLab explains how you can use this template as a starting point and then improvise to make the subject line even more compelling.
For example, you can take the first subject line, then make it more casual:
“So you wanna wake up productive, huh?”
Or you can make it more powerful by using a real example of what “waking up productive” means:
“Get more done by noon than most people do all day”
The power of this formula lies in how specific these subject lines are. Concrete claims with numbers tend to work better than vague claims.
That being said, you need to be careful here, you don’t want to promise something that you can’t deliver.
This subject line formula is even more dangerous than the previous one because it relies on outrageous claims (no, you are not going to get arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger without any training, sorry).
You can avoid trouble by either toning down the claims or relying on true stories about people your target audience is familiar with.
The balancing act here is that you need to create a subject line that is click-baity enough to get the recipient to open the email, but not so click-baity that you can’t deliver what you promised.
Once you have mastered both Jon Morrow’s headline formulas and GrowthLab’s subject line formulas, you can get creative and experiment with some more “out there” subject lines.
For example, Bushra Azhar got great results with her “Nothing like the smell of piss & horse sh*t to start the day” subject line. It had a 69% open rate and a 28% click-through rate.
“People don’t think of these things when talking about starting a day. It’s unusual and disruptive — and that’s why it worked so well,” she explains.
Her advice for writing attention-grabbing subject lines is to disrupt the recipient’s mental patterns. How can you get them to do a double-take?
You want to give people something unexpected. It can be uncommon word combinations, new twists on popular expressions, shocking statements, etc.
Of course, you need to exercise common sense here, you don’t want subject lines that are so risqué that you end up alienating your readers.
Sell On Benefits, Not Features
There’s an old copywriter saying:
“Features tell, benefits sell.”
What’s the difference between features and benefits?
- A feature is a quality or a feature of a product. For example,” waterproof” is a feature. When you say “These shoes are waterproof” you are selling on features.
- A benefit is something that the customer will get out of using your product. For example, “keeps your feet warm and dry” is a benefit. When you say “These shoes will keep your feet warm and dry” you are selling on benefits.
It’s important to understand that people don’t buy features, they buy the benefits that they get from those features.
That’s why your sales email should be focused on the benefits that people will get by using your product.
This is where all that customer research comes in. What do people in your target audience really want? That’s the benefit(s) that you should focus on in your copy.
Of course, you need to mention the most important features as well, but you should use them to support the benefits that you are emphasizing.
Provide Social Proof
People are more likely to buy products that others vouch for.
Moreover, they are more likely to trust you if they see that other people hold you in high regard.
That’s why you want to add social proof to your sales emails whenever possible.
You can do that by including customer testimonials, referencing the results people got by using your product, mentioning that your product was featured in a prominent media outlet, etc.
For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko recently launched his premium business training program, SEO That Works 4.0.
One of his sales emails had a simple subject line “New Case Studies”.
In that email, he shared three case studies of his previous students, told the reader that SEO That Works 4.0 comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, and reminded them that the program was closing at midnight the next day.
When you click on one of the case study links, you are taken to a case study page where you can learn more about how that particular student benefited from the SEO That Works program.
As you can see, Brian Dean doesn’t come off as salesy at all in his email, it’s a really soft sell. Why?
Because he is an established authority in the SEO industry, his training program is widely acknowledged as one of the best out there, and his results speak for themselves.
The truth is that the more social proof you can provide, the easier it is to persuade people to buy from you.
You may not have the same amount of social proof as Brian Dean, but you probably have something, so make sure to include it in your sales email.
End With a Compelling Call To Action
You can’t just say “Here’s my offer” and leave it at that.
You need to tell people what they should do next.
That’s why all good sales emails end with a call to action.
For example, in the previously discussed email Brian Dean used a simple “Join SEO That Works 4.0 today” link as his call-to-action:
This is the most basic call to action, but it can work well.
You can make it more persuasive by mentioning bonuses like Nick Stephenson did in his “Open now: Self Publishing 101” email:
Another way to make your call to action more compelling is mentioning the main benefit of your product. What will the customer get out of it? Include that in your call to action.
Of course, you can also get creative, like Wesley Atkins did in his email “When writing your book feels like “pulling teeth”, in which he introduced Joshua Sprague’s 30-day email challenge program:
What’s important is that you tell people what they should do next if they are interested in buying your product.
The aim here is to get them to click through to your sales page.
Email marketing can be incredibly effective.
However, if you want to get the most out of it, you need to learn copywriting.
Sure, it’s a skill that takes time to acquire, but once you do, you will be able to create persuasive sales emails that make people want to buy your product.
So study copywriting. Practice it. Master it.
You won’t regret it.