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Are your email campaigns getting lower click-through rates than you’d like?
If so, the problem could be the language you are using in your email copy.
To help you improve your email click-through rate and increase sales, we’ve teamed up with John Bonini, email expert at Litmus, to teach you how to write email copy that sells.
Aaron: Hey everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar presented by Campaign Monitor. In the webinar today we’re going to be chatting about the two different approaches to writing email copy and how you can use the right one to increase your email click through rate and drive sales. Joining me on the webinar today is John Bonini. John’s the head of growth at Litmus. And Litmus is an email testing and analytics platform that enables you to see how your email appears in over 50 different apps and devices. So things like there are various versions of iPhone and Android and the various different versions of Outlook. And make sure your images and your copy and your buttons and everything else in your email looks great before you press Send.
And I am Aaron Beashel, and I work on the marketing team here at Campaign Monitor. And we’re a simple, elegant email marketing platform that really makes it easy for marketers like yourselves to create and send, like, beautiful email campaigns. And we actually integrate directly with Litmus as well so that you can test your emails across the 50 different devices as you create them in their drag-and-drop builder to make sure that when you hit send, they look amazing no matter where your audience is reading them. Now before I hand over to John to start sharing all his awesome knowledge, I wanted to run through a few quick things with you guys. So first up, the webinar will be recorded and we’ll be sending around a link to the recording shortly afterwards, which means you can re-watch it, you can share it, you can do whatever you want to it whenever you need to. Secondly, if you have any questions that you want to ask us, you’ll notice there’s a little chat box in the bottom right-hand corner that you can use. However, we do things a little differently in these webinars, So rather than take questions from all your people, and then sort of answer only a handful of them at the end, we’ll respond directly to you in the chat and we’ll answer any questions that you have directly and we’ll talk you through any sort of follow up questions that you may have to really help you get that, like, that personalized sort of learning approach. And finally, if you want to tweet about the webinar and some of the great things John’s about to share with you, or if you just want to follow along with the conversation as it happens on Twitter, use the #cmwebinars. So with all of that out of the way, I’ll hand over to John to start sharing with you guys his knowledge and expertise on how to write email copy that sells.
John: Thank you so much, Aaron, Campaign Monitor for having me. I’m honored to be a part of this. So yeah, we’re talking about marketing and selling today. So this is something that I think, from my experience, makes a lot of marketers uncomfortable when you start talking about sales and when you start talking about selling, because it just carries this stigma that I think your customers feel, your subscribers feel and as a result, I think it causes marketers to, you know, get into some bad habits, you know, hesitate, you know, when they’re trying to promote. So I think this webinar we’re going to try to sort of ground everything and show you guys that there is a right way and a good approach to selling and that your customers will actually enjoy it.
So I wanted to start off though, by talking about email from a macro level, because you read and hear a lot about email, you know, in a lot of content and marketing circles about how, you know, there’s so many other platforms and email, you know. I don’t even give oxygen to a lot of the comments, right, because you’ve read them all about email not being as, you know, important as it was, or email being dead. That’s my favorite. But this number right here represents, and this is from Campaign Monitor, this is a Campaign Monitor original. This represents the ROI of email. So typically, brands are seeing a $38 return for every $1 invested in email. It’s highest digital ROI. So that includes everything else, that includes social, that includes everything. And there was a ton of statistics that I could have thrown on this slide. This one was my favorite, there was another one by McKinsey, that’s basically the order value of an email is 3X what it is of social media. So just kind of let that digest just for a second, we’re going to kind of get into how marketers view all these different platforms in a little bit. But I wanted to ground everything in this statistic, that email, you know, helps brands experience the highest digital ROI of any activity or platform that they’re using. Equally important, or arguably more important, is your customers, your subscribers prefer to hear from you via email. So when it comes to social media, when it comes to physical presence, when it comes to text messages, brands actually prefer the email message over anything else as a way to stay in contact with your brand.
Even over the physical store, which is actually pretty funny, like, people don’t want you to interact with them in a physical space, they want you to email them, right? It’s the preferred method of brand communication. A really stark contrast here is what social media came out to be in this survey from MarketingSherpa, much, much, much less. So again, this is to help sort of ground us and just sort of restate everything we already know about how email is very important and, and how valuable it is as a brand. But there is a disconnect here. Marketers get distracted, myself included. And the squirrel here in this case, for anybody who’s seen this phenomenal movie, “Up”, is top the funnel. There’s, even with all of this qualitative and quantitative data that I just, you know, spoke of, marketers are still distracted by other platforms. There’s a lot of things that we could be doing, social media content, writing more blog posts, Facebook promotions, content promotions in general, sponsored content, there’s so many things that we could be doing and probably just a few that we should. That’s going to vary depending on, you know, on your industry vertical and things like that. But usually email, it gets lost with most marketers when it comes to setting priorities. And list building does not count, because that’s more of a top of funnel initiative, you know, collecting email addresses and things like that. Marketers are very much concerned with optimizing everything for list building.
But it’s sort of like after that, when it’s time to email people, when it’s time to write copy and sell via email, people get distracted. And I was trying to think of a way like, how can I actually prove this, right? Because is this just an opinion? So, tried to find the closest thing I could to some sort of proof, right? So I went to inbound.org, which is, you know, a curated site of links, articles, conversations, podcasts, all kinds of stuff with marketers from all over. It’s well populated, highly used, it’s a great site to go to just connect with other marketers, right? So these are the top, sort of 30 topics on inbound.org. Look at what’s at the top there. SEO, social media, content, blogging, all top of funnel initiatives, right? And look where the email comes in. So I just want to restate. The highest digital ROI, $38 to every $1 spent, comes in as the number 21 most talked about topic at inbound.org. Now, of course, you have industry news in here, and things like that, conversion rate optimization, adverts, but email is sort of not top of mind, right? Again, marketers are distracted. There’s so many things that you could be doing. SEO, social, top of funnel initiatives generally dominate, you know, the mindset of a marketer. So, as a result, collectively, marketers have become obsessed with top of the funnel. It’s sexier, it’s easier to impact, even with the highest digital ROI, it’s almost email takes a backseat, right? And sort of the whole theme of that, is marketers optimize for search engines, they optimize for on page conversions in this continuous loop. Right?
We get found, we get people to give us their email address, and then we start over again. But what about email? Right? Like, what about email? What about the time spent to optimize the subscriber journey, right, to promote your products, to sell better, to communicate more effectively? This is as or even more important than anything you could be doing as a marketer. So also, you know, with all, you know, sort of things considered, there are a lot of things that you can optimize for. When it comes to email, like, what does optimization mean? There’s renderability, there’s making it to the inbox, there’s delivery rates, you know, why are we talking about, you know, why are we talking about copy? You know, because email optimization can mean a lot of things. So, why today are we talking about copy? Because here’s why. So, this is a screenshot from Daniel Pink’s best seller, “To Sell Is Human.” And he performed a survey when, and asked marketers, you know, or asked people in general, “When you think of sales what word comes to mind?” Now the bigger the word in this picture, the more frequently it was used to describe sales or selling. Pushy, yuck, sleazy, difficult, annoying, manipulative, boring, tough, aggressive. Like this is harsh feedback, right? This is what makes marketers’ jobs so difficult when it comes to email and when it comes to selling in general because they kind of overcompensate. They don’t want to come across as sleazy and pushy. So they kind of avoid selling all together, and which is no better than actually being pushy and difficult from a brand standpoint, because it still doesn’t achieve the goals that you set out to achieve.
With the right approach, people actually enjoy being sold to. Right? Like, buying stuff is fun. Spending money is fun, especially when it’s things that solve your problems, or things that you just want, or things that serve yourself interest, which we’ll get into, buying stuff can and should be enjoyable. It’s all about the way we position ourselves and the words that we use matter, which is what this webinar is about. And finding that right balance and the right email copy to do so. You know, and kind of what I found is, and, you know, through research, through experience, and frankly through the advice and reading of others, is that there’s really two fundamental approaches to writing copy to sell and to promote in email. And anyone who maybe has read Adam Grant’s book, “Give and Take” which if you haven’t, highly recommended, will be familiar with these. The first one is dominant selling. From a brand standpoint, this sounds good. Like, we need, you know, we need sales that’s going to achieve numbers, we need to hit goals, we need to grow by 3X, whatever it is. Like, dominant selling sounds like it’s the way to do that. How Adam Grant describes dominant selling in “Give and Take,” is that, it’s tactics that rely on powerful communication. And you are all familiar with this. You receive emails every single day that rely on this method. The communicator or, you know, the brand that’s emailing you or the marketer or salesperson, they try to claim as much valuable as possible by basically trying to be superior in some way to you. They speak forcefully, they’ll raise their voice, obviously this would be in a physical setting, in order to assert their authority. And they’re certain, right? They’re certain that what you’re looking for is what they offer.
You do not have to go anywhere else, they know your problem, they know how to fix it, you just need to listen to them, you know. Oftentimes, they’ll use accolades, awards, their experience, you know, some kind of cheesy title to be able to convey this level of authority over you in order to influence a sale. So that’s what dominant sales is, doesn’t really sound great, really, when you when you get down into it. And like I said, you receive emails like this every single day. These are just two, I kind of blacked out the guilty parties here, but these are two. The first one sort of is, is all self-promotion. “Here’s what I do, I tripled this, I closed revenue with this, I grow, these are the things that I do.” And I don’t really know how this applies to me. These are directly out of my inbox. The second one is basically the company’s mission statement. “Here’s what we do. Here’s who we serve. Here’s the industries we’re in.” I haven’t even scrolled and I have no clue what this email is trying to say. And look at the message at the top. Is this message spam? Like, my email app actually suggests this email is spam. You know, they’re trying to go off of what they do and their reputation and what industries they serve. They’re trying to establish dominance. They’re trying to assert their authority over me in order to somehow influence my actions. And like I said, there’s a lot of examples of this. You receive these every single day in your inbox. Why doesn’t this work? Right?
You would think that this would work because, you know, Adam Grant says this in a book like, it’s sort of a zero sum game. The more power that I have as the marketer, the less that you have. You can’t really have it both ways. So we can’t share the power. So if I’m trying to assert my authority over you, and I’m trying to claim as much control and power as possible, you don’t have any as the buyer. And that’s just not how a lot of people prefer to communicate with the brands that they subscribe to, or buy from, or just purchase things in general. Because really, if you’re going to take that method as your primary tactic for selling and promoting, you’re setting yourself up to be it’s you against the customer. It’s now an adversarial relationship.
It’s not a collaborative relationship, you’re not practicing any reciprocity at all, it’s an adversarial relationship, where now you are against the customer. That’s not really a great place to be, you know, in any situation, especially when you’re trying to sell something or influence others in some way. So what’s the other fundamental way? Like, okay, so dominant selling doesn’t sound like something that’s going to work for your brand. But how else do you sell? All right. If I’m not going to try to establish any sort of authority, and I just gave you examples of really inflammatory versions of emails in my inbox. There’s much less subtle ways that people use dominant selling, but it’s still just as ineffective. They’re leading with all the information about them up front. It’s all brand-centric. This is also dominant selling, it just might not be as inflammatory as the examples that I just showed you.
So if that doesn’t work, if talking and trying to position yourself in such a way that sort of clearly and confidently conveys yourself as the obvious solution to everybody, then how else can you write copy? How can you influence? How can you sell? There’s another method of selling called powerless selling. And right away, this sounds counterproductive. But it doesn’t mean that you’re powerless as a marketer or a brand, like you exert no power and you have no control over what you’re selling or promoting, it just means that you’re relinquishing control, almost. It’s now a relationship, it’s collaborative, it’s, you know, the sum of everything together is greater than the whole. So it’s not adversarial anymore, right? You’re sharing control, you’re sharing power, you’re trying to figure things out together. This is what powerless selling is all about. You’ll see this in your inbox as well. This is when marketers are kinda speaking less assertively and I said, kinda for a reason, because they were, used words like that, and we’ll get into more phrases that you’ll often, commonly seen as associated with powerless selling. They’ll speak less assertively, they’ll express doubt, they’ll even ask questions or rely on advice from you or others. They’re not afraid to express vulnerability in any way, which in other words means they’re just like you. Right? They’re just like you. They’re trying to learn more about you. They’re not coming from a place of power, entitlement, being elitist. They’re coming from a place where they get you. Right? They relate to you, they understand, and they’re trying to help you through this problem. And to do that, they speak a little differently.
So as I said, these are some words that you might see associated with powerless selling in emails, you know, it’s all these tentative talk sort of phrases. You might hear hesitations, you’ll see, “Well, um, you know.” You’ll see people actually write these in emails now, which is like, why would you write a hedge or a disclaimer? Like, why would you include “um”? It’s done so to sort of ground themselves, to be more human, to be personal, to relate to you. You’ll hear hedges, kind of, sort of, maybe, probably, I think, disclaimers. You’ll see plenty of emails that say, “This may sound crazy,” or “This is interesting,” or “We found this crazy,” questions. “That’s interesting, isn’t it?” Or just questions in general. Like, these are all examples of tentative talk that people will use to sort of relate to you and empathize and sort of ground their message. It’s this message of like, we’re sort of, you know, we’re on the same side here. We’re helping you figure this problem out together.
Here’s a good example, this is from Prezi. “We thought you might like this new Prezi template.” Like, most corporations or enterprise businesses, you know, that still operate in a very traditional manner would look at that and probably either fire whoever was writing the email copy, laugh, cry or all three. “We thought you might like this new Prezi template”? Why are we even suggesting that somebody might not like this template? You know, they’re coming from, they’re taking the approach of powerless selling. They’re not coming from a place of control and saying, “This is the template that you need,” you know, “Don’t waste your time on anything else.” They’re coming from a place of empathy, you know. They kind of understand that, you know, you have a ton of uses for your presentations, you might have a ton of different formats, “This could be of use to you,” you know, “Let’s figure this out together.” It’s much more approachable. It’s much more approachable, especially in email format, when somebody takes this stance. It’s more friendly and it relinquishes power. This email does not have any sort of authority over me anymore. And as a result, I’m more inclined to act in the way that they want me to because I’m open. I haven’t closed my mind off. When you saw those words earlier about what we all associate with sales, what happens is, we start to shut down, we have defense mechanisms that actually kick in when we think we’re being sold to. We delete messages, we mark as spam, we hang up on telemarketers. We all have these built-in defense mechanisms. Powerless selling is a way around it because now it didn’t go off, nothing fired, nothing triggered in my mind. This seems really friendly and approachable. So this is a great example of powerless selling in action.
Here’s another one from Boombox, which is like a polls and surveys app. You know, I won’t read the whole email, but basically what the copywriter who put this together saying is, “You know, I might not be the right person to discuss trends and what’s in style and thankfully no one is asking me to.” Again, traditional business, traditional copywriting would look at that and toss it right in the garbage. “We’re suggesting that we’re not the right people to discuss with?” Now obviously this is a brand that’s using a case study to tell their story, so it makes sense, right? He’s not just saying that the brand has no clue what they’re doing. But he’s using, again, he’s using powerless selling, he’s using tentative talk to be more approachable, to get me to continue to read. Again, none of my defense mechanisms have triggered and sent me to delete this email or mark it as spam or feel like I’m being sold to. It’s much more approachable. And again, none of these, I didn’t go digging for any of these emails. These emails are all from my inbox and I opened them for a reason, and I happened to just save them in case I ever needed them in presentations like this, obviously, present a great use of them. So all these emails I organically opened, read, and experienced not from a place of, “How can I use this in a marketing presentation?” but because I generally liked it. It was good marketing. What’s another way? So tentative talk, right? We don’t always want to sound confused, right?
Another way, and this sounds really basic, is to ask questions. Right? Questions appeal to somebody’s self-interest, because what happens is the reader now internalizes the information that you’re presenting rather than just read what you’re telling them. And that may sound obvious, but asking questions actually influences people’s behavior. If anybody’s ever read Robert Cialdini’s, I believe it was published in the 1980s, you know, work, “Influence” another highly recommended book, I should start a book club here. He says in the book that they ran a study where they were trying to get people in an election to show up to vote, to, you know, a certain population. I think it was younger, you know, individuals, 18 to 25. How can we increase the number of young people coming out to vote? And what they did was they simply sent an email to a group of people asking them, “Did you plan to vote this November?” And then they sent a control email that said all the reasons why you should, didn’t ask them, it just told them all the reasons why it’s important, it’s your civic duty, etc, etc. The email that just asked, “Are you planning to vote in November?” actually increased significantly the number of people in that audience that came out to vote. Just by asking the question, it caused them to internalize this information and sort of work that out on their own. “Should I vote? Why should I vote? It is important.” But they allowed the customer, so to speak, to figure that information out and internalize it rather than just basically shout at them some information on why they should do it. The same thing goes in your emails. Asking questions, why do you see it so much? Because it works and it’s powerful when it comes to influencing.
So here’s a couple of examples here from Lifesum. You know, tracking a healthy breakfast. “What does a healthy meal look like?” You know, again, they’re asking a question, they’re not telling you what one looks like. They want you to sort of internalize the information, learn more about food ratings, start tracking what you’re doing, but again, they’re using a question in order to influence. Hipmunk, they lead with a question. “Need flight advice?” Now, that sounds, “Oh, that’s a throwaway question.” They could have just jumped right in, and, you know, there’s questions throughout this, you know, one of the last ones, “Flexible with your timeline.” Again, another brand that uses questions to hopefully help you internalize the information that you’re about to consume so they can influence your behavior in a positive way. Now, so those are sort of like the pillars of actually talking and writing copy in a powerless selling sort of way. But how do we structure it, right? You can’t just write an email that says kinda and asks a question and expect to sell anything. So how do we actually put forth a framework for writing emails that achieve powerless selling and therefore sell better?
So, really the first step here is relating to the problem. You need to lead with empathy. And this might differ from what you read elsewhere that says, you know, that the first step is identifying a problem or working with the customer to identify a problem. At this point, given the technological advances of automation software and everything else, your customers expect, and not only that, they know that you know everything about them. They expect you to already know their problem and they want you to relate to them, right? So it’s advantageous that you already know what the issue is and lead with you relating to their problem, lead with empathy. This is one from Dollar Shave Club, “Oh, oh, forgot about Father’s Day?” This is interesting because Dollar Shave Club knows this about their customers. They value convenience over price, over other things. You know, instead of having to go to the grocery store to buy more razors and shaving cream, you’re just going to send it right to my doorstep. Oftentimes, that kind of behavior can also lead to laziness, forgetting things, because you’re not at the store, it’s just one less thing that you have to remember. So they kind of had this playful email that they sent out sort of, again, trying to lead with empathy relating to their problem, “Did you forget about your dad on Father’s Day?” You know, “Send an E-gift card and we can deliver it .” You know so this was a way that they were sort of relating to a very common problem, the day and days before it would actually happen.
This one’s from Grammarly. “Meet your secret weapon. You’ve got three assignments due Friday and the semester just started. That brings back very bad memories, but let Grammarly Premium be your secret weapon.” So again, they’re relating to the problem right off the bat, they’re leading with empathy. You know, they know that the workload at the beginning of the year is not only stressful but it’s overwhelming because you just got back into it, “We can help you in some way, let us help you.” So they’re relating to your problem right off the bat, they’re leading with empathy, they’re not leading with products, right? And you might be saying, “Well, they’re saying yeah, meet your secret weapon, Grammarly Premium.” No. They’re leading with empathy and the problems that you’re having that first semester and then they sort of use their product as a way to solve that problem within context. So that’s sort of that balance that you want to strike, is lead with the problem, relate to it, and show how your product sort of fits within context of solving it. Here’s another one, a bit cold. So this is funny too, because it actually uses a question, right? “Autumn. Welcome back. We recognize the feeling of wet and cold toes, your little way of saying hello. But we’re prepared this time.” It’s playful, right? They’re relating right off the bat. It’s fall, you’re cold, the seasons are changing, you’re packing your summer clothes away, which is always depressing. They’re relating to that.
They lead with a question and they lead with relating and they lead with empathy. They don’t lead with product. Again, they use product as a way to place what their solution is within context of your issue. “It’s cold, I’m packing my summer clothes away. I don’t fit into last year’s clothes, equally is depressing.” But again, asking questions and leading with empathy and then using their product to place within context. In this case, as I said earlier, it’s not you against the customer anymore. Now it’s you and the customer against the problem, which is a massive shift. Right? Like, it’s you and Grammarly against that first week back at school and being graded on grammar. Right? It’s you and the customer against autumn, which is a big one. Right? Team up with your customer, collaborate. And when you do this, you’ve now shifted from an adversarial relationship to one in which you’re working together to solve a problem, which is so huge. You know, it’s using the sort of copy techniques we talked about earlier, leading with empathy, is sort of 101 for getting on the same team as your customer. And when you’re in a position alongside of them against the problem, it’s much easier to sell, there’s no defense mechanisms, there’s no triggers going off. It’s much easier and much less stressful, much less slimy and sleazy and pushy and all those other ugly words. Those things don’t exist anymore. It’s much easier to sell on behalf of your brand and achieve the goals that you’ve set out. What’s another one?
So all right, so we’re leading with empathy, we’re relating to the problem. But that second piece where the brand comes in, right? Appeal to somebody’s self-interest, which is really the first and only rule of influencing anybody. These are always uncomfortable things to talk about with marketers, right? Only you care about your brand. Your customers may be fans of your brand, you know, for sure, we all see people that wear, you know, the Applet-shirts or they have stickers of, you know, brands on their laptop, whatever it is. They may be fans of your brands but they’re only fans of your brand because of how it makes them feel. Not because that your brand had, you know, had great top line revenue or great profitability year over year, they’re fans because of how it makes them feel. Right? So the sooner you sort of come to understand and embrace the fact that your customers only care about themselves, you’ll be able to sell and write copy more effectively. And really the three things that people care about most when it comes to self-interest, at least from a marketing and sales standpoint is, is it easy, is it fast, and is it, you know, relatively cheap? It doesn’t have to be all three. But those are the three big things, fast, easy, cheap, going back to the days of David Ogilvy that have always sold most effectively. So, you know, if you can use one of those as a lever to appeal to somebody’s self-interest, then you’ll be in a much better position to sell. So let’s get into how that works.
So here’s an email from UncommonGoods. “We have a feeling that these goods are right up your alley.” So, you know, they’re using some sort of personalization techniques and algorithms based on the things that you’ve looked at to be able to show you other things that you may be interested in. You see a ton of this now, right? Like, you see a ton of emails like this now. This is pretty much old hat, but it works. It’s about you. It’s about the user. They’re not trying to push product on you that you haven’t shown behavior to have found interesting in the past. This is from Airbnb. “Where will dad go first?” So another Father’s Day sort of promotion. “Let him pick where the next family vacation will be. Send a gift card.” Besides the logo, there’s no mention of Airbnb. It’s all about dad, and your family vacation and different cities, New York and Chicago and sending him a gift card, right? This is all appealing to your self-interest. This is an easy way for me to pick out a gift for Dad, it’s going to mean something. So it appeals to that, it’s easy. I don’t have to go anywhere, you know, going to the store to find gifts is a nightmare. It’s easy, right? It’s easy and it’s relatively cheap, you know, comparatively. So again, it kind of appeals to easy and cheap, comparatively. And here’s one that was really interesting. It was designed to look like a text message, which immediately got my attention because automatically your mind goes to, “This is a text message.” Really creative way of simply telling you that they’ve discounted everything on the site by 15% at Print Studio. That was great, right? Like, that appealed to cheap, right? And when I say cheap, I really probably mean economical, financially. So this is appealing to one of the most powerful elements of self-interest that exist, my desire to save money. You know, so if I’m a member of Print Studio and I can get 15% off, that’s great. You just appealed to my self-interest, much better position to sell. Right? And the way that they did this, it’s just bonus points for designing it to look like a text message, immediately grabs your attention, it looks familiar, it looks friendly because you’re not really texting with people that aren’t your friends or family or somebody that you have a relatively close relationship with. So right off the bat, it gives you this feeling of friendliness. This is something or somebody that I know.
So really creative way to use powerless selling and to appeal to somebody’s self-interest in a really personal way. So there’s a last sort of element too that works. And I want to make sure that I preface this because personalization is a word, because of the technologies that we have available, that might get tossed around a lot, but nobody quite really grasps what it means, or at least a lot of people don’t. So executing a personalized experience is super important, you know, for achieving powerless selling and to appealing to self-interest, to relating to a problem, you know, all of the above. The key is to personalize the subject matter, not the subject themselves. And this is a massive difference. Because, like I said, we all have the technology to be able to identify whoever we’re emailing and use their names, use their geographic location, use their company name, their job role, their sex, their age, you know, whatever information that we can collect on people and that we do collect, we could then use to “personalize our emails.” But unless you’ve placed that information, demographic, behavioral, whatever it is, it’s not personalization. It’s just mediocre use of technology because everybody can do it now. So a real personalized experience is about personalizing the subject matter that you’re sharing, that you’re writing copy for, not the subject themselves. And I want to share, you know, a personal story of it working well on me. So Dollar Shave Club, who I mentioned earlier, I’m a customer of.
So this was an email that I received shortly after I signed up for the first time. So this was probably last Fall. And for people that are, you know, listening and saying, “Well, I’m looking at your headshot on [inaudible 00:33:58] there and you have a beard.” You know, There’s some spots, you know, on the face that you have to clean up so you don’t look like a complete mess all the time. So that’s why I’m in the Dollar Shave Club. I get that question whenever I use this example. But basically, what they did was they sent this email before my first box shipped out. And right away, it looks like, okay, this is just standard personalization, right? That my first box is about to ship, do you want us to toss more in? Sure, it does. But I mentioned this earlier about Dollar Shave Club. They know this about their audience. They know that their audience values convenience over price. They value easy over fast and cheap, you know, the two other elements that I mentioned earlier. So if I don’t want to go to the store, or if I don’t want to go to store and have to remember to buy razors every whatever it is, there’s a good chance I also don’t want to remember or buy shaving cream in large quantities and have to run out and run out to a corner store. So what they do is they use this information to personalize the message to me. Nowhere in here is my name or any sort of other demographic information. All they’ve done is appeal to my self-interest and personalize the message based off what they know about me and their customers, that I value convenience. “Before we ship these box of razors out, you want us to toss some shaving cream in there too so you don’t have to go out and get that? Because we know that about you.”
So I got this email and I thought it was brilliant. I was like, “Yeah, obviously.” So I put the shea butter in there and I’ve been adding that every single time. So that was a brilliant way to upsell and that’s been a part of my purchasing behavior this entire time. So again, nowhere in here was there any use, sleazy or cheesy use of personalization tactics. Like I said, most people will look at this email and think there’s no personalization going on whatsoever. There’s nothing about your name, there’s no information about you as a buyer or a person in general. But what they did was they personalized the subject matter and tailored it to me and my sort of worldview and my self-interest, and as a result, you know, they increased my customer value, my customer lifetime value for them. And I use this example all the time when I’m talking about email personalization. And it always surprises people because, like I said, it doesn’t look like there’s any personalization going on. So that’s really the last step that goes into, you know, sort of those pillars for putting together emails, you know, that achieve powerless selling and sort of adopting that framework. You want to relate to a problem, you know, you want to lead with empathy. So don’t just identify a problem, don’t tell them how your products are, lead with it, relate to it. You’re just like them, right? You know, the reason why many people are in business to begin with is because they experienced a problem first and thought of a solution. So use that to your advantage. Lead with empathy, then appeal to people’s self-interest. Right? You know, you know people value fast, the value easy, they value, cheap, they value one of those things. Use that to your advantage.
That’s when your product comes into play and sort of presents itself as a fast and easy or cheap alternative to being able to solve that problem that you just empathized with and related with. And then if you can personalize everything based on what you know about your customers and personalize the subject matter and the way that you’re presenting your products to them, you’ll be far and away ahead of everybody in your market, your competitors, as far as sending emails that really influence the behavior of your customers and sell better. And that’s really the framework for writing email copy that sells. So I just want to thank Campaign Monitor again, for having me out and for Aaron, for the introduction. Honored to be here. And Aaron, I’ll kick it back to you.
Aaron: Thanks, John. That was really awesome. I completely agree with this, you know, I guess the more colloquial approach of powerless selling and then how it helps you relate to your audience more and it does a better job of showing how your product can help solve their problem or improve their life, and how that ultimately results in more clicks throughs and sales for you and your business. And I loved the different tactics that you mentioned as well to implement powerless selling and create more relatable copy. Things like using questions, the colloquial language, leading with empathy or brewing stuff. So…
John: Was there anything going through your head as far as examples when I was going through that? Because usually what happens is everybody is, “Yeah, I get emails like that every single day.” And you don’t often think about it and then you realize afterwards how powerful it is.
Aaron: Yeah. I think for me, like I’ve done a bit of writing on the Campaign Monitor blog and a couple of my favorite pieces and some of the ones that were the most popular where these copywriting formulas, you know, these, the BAB formula and the PAS formula and stuff and they’re all invented by you know, the David Ogilvys and the genius copywriters of the world. And most of them are actually, just challenge you to do the same thing, right? Like, it’s rather than just writing about your product and your features and everything like that, it’s actually think about your product and how it solves the problems in people’s lives and lead with those problems, and then present your product as a solution to the problem rather than just as another product with X, Y, Z features kind of thing. So I think, you know, as you were talking through that and presenting those different ways of doing it, those copywriting formulas came to my mind and it really just, I guess, sold to me how really the key thing across all of this, and whether you’re using a formula or whether using the different tips that you mentioned in this in this webinar, the key thing is to lead with empathy and to really position your product as a solution to people’s problems rather than just trying to jam it down their throat with features and everything like that.
John: Agreed, 1,000%.
Aaron: Perfect. So to wrap everything up, as I mentioned at the start, we’ll be sending out a link to the recording of the webinar. So keep an eye on your inbox for that and feel free to share it with anyone you think might get some value out of it. And also let us know your thoughts on the webinar on Twitter using the #cmwebinars. We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback and anything else. So that’s all from us. A huge thank you to everyone who came along. Hope you got a lot of value out of it, and have a great day.
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