Marketing March 22, 2014 Last updated September 18th, 2018 2,213 Reads share

Email Marketing For Startups: Quality Writing That Converts

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As a startup, resources are limited – both time and money. That’s why email marketing sounds so appealing to many business owners. The cost is minimal and the time you’ll invest is significantly less than other marketing tactics. However, email marketing also happens to be one of the most frustrating forms of outreach. We’ve all been there.

You have a mind-blowing message you want to share – a new product launch, an upcoming event, a massive sale. You write the perfect email. You hit send. Later, you check your email stats and come up against a sad reality – your email marketing efforts have failed. Few people opened the message and even less of your target audience took the time to click through. It’s frustrating.

Is There Anything That Can Be Done?!

Yes! You can salvage this very viable marketing technique. You just need to face a few realities first.

  1. The email message you worked so hard to create was crap. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
  2. Everyone’s email inboxes are full. Few people actually want to get one more message. You should feel honored that people have even volunteered for your subscription list in the first place.
  3. In order to be successful, you must move clients through a funnel – they must open your email, read what you wrote, and take action.

The first two points are the most difficult to swallow. And the last point is the most difficult to implement. However, once you’ve accepted points one and two, we can tell you how to be successful with point number three.


Step #1: Get Them to Open the Email

Most inboxes are overflowing with messages. As such, your well-crafted email is just one of many. Plus, with the invention of Gmail tabs and high-powered spam filters, you have to put up quite a fight to even make it into the inbox. So how do you stand out in a crowd?

The first impression people will have of you and your message is the subject line. If you can’t manage to get the reader’s attention, you don’t stand a chance of getting them to open the email.

Here are some tips on crafting an eye-catching, action inducing subject line:

  • Tell them about the awesomeness that is inside. Let the reader know the benefits they’ll experience if they open your message. Of course, you’ll have to follow through on those promises.
  • Appeal to their emotions.
  • Include a number. Numbers – like 4 or 47 – act as a roadblock for a wandering eye as it scans the inbox.
  • Be unique. Use unusual, even bizarre, vocabulary to heighten curiosity.
  • Tell readers they’ve committed a grave error – and your message will solve their problems or rectify their mistake.

If you are still unsure how to craft a killer subject line, sign up for emails from other industry leaders. Check out what phrases and wording they use to capture attention. Naturally, you won’t want to copy their efforts (after all, this is all about standing out – not blending in).

The last thing to consider when trying to inspire readers to open your email is this: who is sending the message? Do your emails come from Company X or John Doe? Would you rather read a message from a massive corporation, knowing you are just a faceless person in a huge crowd or would you rather read a message from your best friend?

It is difficult for readers to attach loyalty and trust to a company. It is much easier to build a “friendship” with a person. Be a person. Put your name on the line – literally.

Step #2: Get Them to Read the Email

Believe it or not, the hardest part is over. You’ve managed to get their attention. But just because the hardest part is over doesn’t mean you can slack off. You still need to bring your A Game when writing the body of the email.

Here is what you need to do.

  • Be direct and to the point. Keep your missive short. Once you’re done writing, go back and edit. In fact, when you send your next email, try to cut the content in half.
  • Don’t use a template. This is far too generic and impersonal. Readers will know what you’ve done.
  • Don’t automate your greeting – or use the same “Dear So and So” with every message. Switch things up a bit. Good morning. Greetings from sunny Florida.
  • Use first and second person. This means using the words “I” and “you.” Omit third person references like “he” and “they.” You are writing to real people, not an impersonal crowd. Plus, “you” is one of the most persuasive words in the English language.
  • Stop thinking like a marketing professional or business owner. Be a person. Write like a person.
  • Show a little (or a lot!) of your personality. Be quirky, unique, interesting – anything but dull and boring.
  • Since you are trying to be a person, cut back on the corporate image. Go for a minimalist email design. Don’t slap your logo or company motto on every available whitespace.
  • Stop thinking of your subscription list. Think about a single person (and as a startup, your list might include just one person!). If you think about writing to a single person – rather than an entire list – you’ll come across as more personal.
  • Don’t be a creeper. Go ahead and personalize the email. But don’t insert the reader’s name a bunch of times in the email body. That is just weird.

The last three tips are perhaps the most important. Are you paying attention?

  • Don’t waste the reader’s time. Only write when you have something truly important to say.
  • Don’t be selfish. Selfish people only write when they want something. Rather than send a message that only benefits you, provide helpful, useful, valuable information to the reader.
  • Reward your audience for reading. Offer a discount, secret insider information – just something to say thanks for sticking around.

Step #3: Get Them to Take Action

It doesn’t matter what you want them to do – come to your grand opening, try your new massage technique, or opt for the upgrade when they purchase a new car – every email message should have a call to action.

In order to get readers to actually do what you want them to, you need to consider the following:

  • Don’t “sell” before they are ready to hear it. Build trust first. Then, offer the sell.
  • Don’t sell a product. Sell the benefits of the product.
  • Alternately, you can sell solutions. Tell readers what they’ll miss if they don’t take action. Let them know about the drama/problems/headaches they’ll avoid by buying what you have to offer.
  • Include a deadline. Otherwise, people tend to procrastinate. A deadline creates urgency and induces a faster response.
  • Be clear and concise. Let readers know exactly what you want them to do.

Email marketing can be successful – if you take the time to do it right. As a new business owner, it is one of the most cost and time effective techniques to reach your target audience. Consider these three steps and you’ll see results in no time!

Have you tried email marketing in the past? What have you found to be successful? What were the biggest frustrations of the process? Let us know!

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Mike Hanski

Mike Hanski

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