So you know that you’re supposed to grow your email list and you’re working on building that—but the thing is, you can have all the head knowledge and plans, but if you can’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt that your emails are doing their job and helping you market your creative small business sustainably, then what the heck are you supposed to do? I’m going to teach you how to write your email newsletters like a PRO!
Over on YouTube, in this week’s episode I’m going over the ways you can start taking action and make email marketing a SUSTAINABLE business practice in your biz—but first, let’s dig into the 5 tips to getting more people to read your newsletter.
Email marketing is one of the TOP 3 things I’m constantly asked about as a sales copywriter. I get asked it in my DMs, in my inbox, at live events, in our course communities, and from 1-on-1 clients—everyone’s chomping at the bit trying to master this skill, because we’ve all seen and heard how valuable it can be—but it can be hard to know where to start.
I asked recently on Instagram what was holding my audience back from sending an email newsletter, and LOVED the responses—it took me right back to 2017, when I’d built a list of 1,000 subscribers, but for some reason, I was STILL terrified to hit “send” each week. It took me 11 months in business before I committed to diving in and sending regular emails—and y’all, this is from someone who’s been writing email marketing campaigns for big companies and hitting send on them since 2011.
I was so STUCK when it came to sending out my own work! So I’ve been there, I’ve felt just like some of you feel. I get it, it’s normal—but it’s also time to get unstuck so you can start taking action.
These are the 5 ways I got over some of my fears of showing up in inboxes with regular weekly emails. In the last 3 years—since I went from having all the head knowledge about email marketing to actually hitting send every week—I’ve brought in seven-figure sales in my business, and I know a lot of those sales were supported by the relationships I’ve built with my email people.
At some point, I needed to quit overthinking and just start doing—so let’s dive in!
No. 1 | Have a FORMULA.
This one goes out to Stephanie who said she struggles with being relevant to her biz vs. telling good stories—here you go, Stephanie!
True story: it takes me about 5 minutes to structure my emails every week—but ONLY because I have a formula.
If you look at anything in copywriting, so much is built on tried-and-true formulas. I’ve talked extensively on my blog and YouTube channel, and in my courses about formulas, but now I want to tell you about a copywriting formula for your newsletters that I’ve NEVER shared before: it’s called PASCAL
Now, the PAS formula is going to be familiar to you if you’ve watched or read anything I’ve shared before, or if you’ve studied copywriting in general—the Problem-Agitation-Solution formula is the “Little Black Dress” of copywriting. But, it needs a little extra something to really jive for an email newsletter, and that’s where the -CAL part comes in.
Choice-Agitation-Link is basically a repetition of the PAS formula on a lower, more-niched, more-micro level. It’s drilling down and facing them with their opportunity before linking them up with a Call to Action.
Et voila—you’ve got your outline. Now, let’s talk about the first thing they see: your subject line.
No. 2 | Screw the subject line rules–try what you think will work and build your own best practices.
I was at a conference this week and heard someone say “I send emails with ‘how to’ in the subject but I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.”
Oh my gosh, where did that rule even come from? (Seriously, in the words of my elementary school self, “Who says?”)
It’s so similar to how I hear people talking about how webinars do not don’t convert, and I want to be like, “Ok, but I’m looking at my data and my clients’ data that say they’re working juuuuussssst fine.”
The thing is, when it comes to the “rules” or what you hear works or doesn’t work, here’s my best advice: Sometimes the “best practices” are just pooled ignorance.
I can guarantee you that for every best practice, you’re going to find data that disproves it for SOME business out there, so study your OWN group. And YOU be the judge of the data—subject lines and otherwise, do your own research.
Your subject line is the first (and sometimes only) thing a subscriber reads of your email. This can be the simplest thing to test and tweak to have the greatest impact on opens and clicks.
Now, I could teach a whole workshop on email subject lines, but I want to boil this down to one quick tip: Start a swipe file. Then from there, start sending what you think will work and build your own data file from what you find out.
Which brings me to my next tip …
No. 3 | Start split testing.
One of my CfC students asked me about consistency vs. monotony—gosh, I just love when they talk nerdy to me.
So here’s the deal: I suggest split testing everything, from the format of your newsletter to your subject lines.
I’ve found that while I want to churn out consistent content if emails look like they’re stuck in a design rut, they’ll get skipped. I went through a phase where I labeled emails “The Dogear” (What I call my weekly email), and it won split tests for a while. Then, over time, I dropped it, because my weekly split tests showed the NON labeled email was starting to win.
Things change over time, and that’s okay—because I can follow the data and respond. You gotta be agile in this business, ready to bob and weave at any moment. Having the data means taking off your rose-colored glasses and sliding on a pair of Warby Parkers secretly equipped with Spidey senses. You’ll know exactly what to do.
One other thing I have loved about tools I’ve used in my business like ConvertKit and Infusionsoft is the ability to A/B split test different subject lines, just the way I did when I wrote email marketing campaigns for big businesses like Delta AIr Lines. What a great feature for a small biz to be able to see the same data that a major corporation can use to improve their marketing!
To split test, you just pop in two different subject lines, and your chosen software (I suggest starting with Convertkit) does the work for you: 15% gets one, 15% gets another, and after 4 hours, the winner goes to the rest of your list.
No. 4 | Repurpose your stories
Laura said she struggles with “coming up with a story to tell,” and I also heard a lot of “I don’t have anything new or worth it to share.” Mmmhhmm… but let me tell ya, friend, you’ve got stories.
The first little ninja trick I do is at the end of every day, I try to think of at least one story that happened to me during the day, and if I come up with something, I add it to my story bank.
These little stories and anecdotes can be GREAT kick-offs and illustration points, cautionary tales, and great ways to communicate with story. But they’re hard to come up with on the spot—so it’s best if you go ahead and start collecting them.
Then, go back to your PASCAL formula and see how you can use one of your banked stories–maybe you’re overlaying that P-A-S with a story of an experience you had that your reader could see him or herself in.
No. 5 | Make sure you’re landing in your subscribers’ inboxes.
No matter how great your content is, if it never gets to your subscribers, your work will go unnoticed. A lot of things affect your email deliverability, but the 4 most important things according to researchers are:
- Subscriber Engagement
- Limiting Negative Metrics
In the Youtube episode, I give you on over-the-shoulder peek at a free tool that I use all the time to test email deliverability—Glock Apps. It gives you some simple code and suggestions to test out your emails BEFORE you send them to anyone on your list, and then shows you where you could improve. The content analysis uses good ol’ fashioned color coding (Green, Yellow, Red!) to show you what’s good to go, and what’s not, and it’ll help you with things like alt text, spam content, and tips to improve where you might get caught in inbox filters. This tool is a gold mine and I love it so much.
BONUS | Let’s talk templates.
So many people told me on that Instagram story that they felt held back because they didn’t have a template or didn’t feel like their template is pretty enough to send out. That doesn’t need to hold you back!
Here’s the thing, there used to be more of a hard-and-fast rule that the more stripped-down, pared-down, and kind-of-ugly emails had better chances of being put into the right folder with your subscribers’ email service provider. Emails with all the images and the flash tended to go straight to the promotions folder.
While parts of that are still true—you might be like me: my audience is visually driven, creative, and if anything those visuals help reinforce the trust factor if I’m able to put imagery in there that they can relate with. It may be the same for you. I wouldn’t worry too much about coming up with a pretty design or even coming up with a template that you’re going to use every single time, because like I said, you want to test it on your audience. You just need to know how you’re going to use visuals properly to connect with your audience.
Something I will tell you here though, I learned the hard way. Make sure that that top image you have in your email isn’t so big that it bumps down most of the text. Remember a lot of people are reading on mobile these days and so it will help you if you want to use some sort of image header to have more of a short and wide image.
Now, I have one more free resource for you.
It’s my Launch Copy Checklist. It’s been downloaded more than 4,000 times—inside there’s a list of all the things that you need to have planned and drafted as you get ready to roll out your new product or service. I can’t wait for you to get your hands on it. Let me know in the comments below which of these tips you’re going to apply in your biz! Thanks for reading!