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One thing I consistently notice about clients who come to me about e-mail copy is that they don’t know how to leverage the power of e-mail to maximum effect.

Typically, these clients will be new internet marketers who have recently decided to start using autoresponder software for e-mail marketing. They want to promote a product to their e-mail list, but they don’t have a strategy in place to make use of e-mail as a platform.

“Just write me a sales letter that I can distribute to my mailing list,” they might say.

Or even better, “just write one e-mail I can use over and over again, no need for anything fancy like a newsletter.”

Of course, successful e-mail copy follows the same principles as successful sales page copy.

However, there are certain factors that make e-mail copywriting a unique challenge in and of itself. First, there is the the fact that, with e-mail, you have the possibility of creating familiarity by reaching out to people repeatedly, a possibility that takes some creativity to harvest to maximum effect. Secondly, there is the fact that e-mail copy, even when sent out en-masse via autoresponder, has the power to build a personal relationship with the recipient, especially when it avoids the trap of being overly aggressive and “salesly.”

These factors can make e-mail copywriting somewhat more challenging than writing website copy, but they also present the opportunity for better conversion rates. After all, the money is, as they say, in the list. With that in mind, here are the three “core” principles of e-mail copywriting that, if followed properly, will help you make the greatest amount of money possible from your list.

1. Be informative, not “salesy.”

There are times when it can be appropriate to come across as “salesy,” but an e-mail marketing campaign isn’t one of them.

People instinctively see aggressive sales messages in their inbox as spam. Of course, some people might have opted in to your mailing list eagerly, with the intent of finding out more about your products. This small group of people might respond well to an overt sales message straight to their inbox. However, the vast majority of people on your list will have opted in without putting much thought into it, and they aren’t going to appreciate getting “sold to” right out of the gate. Deliver an informative, value-adding newsletter, and you’ll build trust, which will convert to more sales in the long term.

2. Build a relationship.

I alluded to this earlier when I said that e-mail copy has the ability to build a relationship with the recipient by using a personable tone instead of a salesy one. When you write to your list as if you were writing to a friend, you disarm your readers and create a sense of trust. One way to do achieve this is to make sure you capture your subscribers’ names in the opt in form. Another way is to pepper your pitches with personal pronouns (“you,” “we,” “I”), to make it seem like you’re “conversing” with your reader one on one. Yet another way is to deliver a series of short to medium length messages instead of one long “sales letter.” Using all three of these tactics in combination can be devastatingly effective.

3. Nail the subject line.

If you’ve read anything at all about any kind of copywriting, you’re probably quite aware of the importance of opening your sales letter with a compelling headline.

Well, if a good headline is important in a sales letter, then an effective subject line is REALLY, REALLY important in an e-mail message. When you write e-mail copy, you have a challenge that you don’t need to deal with when writing website copy: you need to get the reader to open the darned message. Your open rate will rise or fall on the basis of two things: one, how much your readers trust you; and two, whether your subject lines create interest. The first factor takes is based on a million and one complex variables, but the second factor is partially in your control every time you compose an e-mail. Therefore, whenever you write an e-mail subject line, make it count by following the three most important headline writing principles: create urgency, imply value, and target your ideal customer.

If you can successfully implement the three principles above, I can guarantee your e-mail open rates (and conversion rates) will go through the roof. However, the general principles of sales copywriting still apply when writing e-mail copy, so be sure to brush up on your general copywriting skills before you dive in and start building that newsletter, e-course, or e-mail sales letter.

Till next time,


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