A few weeks ago I received an email from a social software company that shook my faith in marketers.
It was overly assumptive, uninvited, and employedtext that was styled like this.(I wish I were kidding.)
Not to be the schoolyard bully, but nothing about this email made me want to take next steps.
Worried that there were more ineffective marketing emails out there just like it, I decided it was time to correct this issue.
So I put together a cut-and-dried list of tips to walk marketers through how to write more persuasive marketing emails. You know, emails that get opened (and clicked.)
1. Scrap the passive voice
When it comes to persuasive writing, you want to avoid the passive voice at all costs.
Typically, sentences written in a passive voice are overly complicated, thus they are harder to understand. Take a look at these examples:
Active: No one clicked on the marketing email.
Passive: The marketing email was clicked on by no one.
Active: John painted the new conference room.
Passive: The new conference room was painted by John.
Active: Kate will celebrate her promotion tomorrow.
Passive: The promotion will be celebrated by Kate tomorrow.
It's clear that the sentences written in an active voice are far more concise than those that are not. This type of simplicity makes it much easier for recipients to understand and remember.
Aware that writing is rewriting, be sure to read through your copy a few times to identify and alter sentences that take a passive approach.
2. Focus on framing
A great deal of our decision making process is susceptible to the way in which a case is presented to us.
While we wouldn't normally suggest that you take a negative approach, often times people's fear of missing out weighs heavier than their interest in gaining something.
With this in mind, consider framing your copy to reflect the outcome of choosing not to take the desired action. Will it cost them money? Will it put them a step behind their competitors? Will if cause people to look at them differently?
While this is something that you'll want to A/B test against the alternative to determine how your recipients respond to it, there is plenty of research to back its effectivity.
3. Pay attention to what comes first (and last)
According to the "serial position effect", people are more likely to recall the first and last items on a list rather than the middle ones.
In 1962, Murdock tested this theory by asking participants to study a list of words that varied in length from 10-40 words and then recall them. He found that the participant's ability to recall any word was heavily dependent on the position of the word in the list. Earlier words were recalled more frequently than those that fell in the middle. (Source: SimplyPsychology)
Earlier words were recalled more frequently than those that fell in the middle.
The reason being that items that appeared early on were distinguished from the others as a result of the primacy effect, and at the time of the recall the words that fell at the end remained in the short-term memory (recency effect.)
To apply this insight to your marketing emails, consider the way you position information that appears in a bulleted or numbered list. While breaking down content into lists helps to ease readability, you'll want to be sure that you make your most important point first, or save them for last.
This concept can also be applied to your copy as a whole. Start strong, making sure to convey value right off the bat, and end with a call-to-action that's hard to say no to.
4. Draw a comparison
Shape your argument in the form of a relatable comparison.
Whether it be a story, a metaphor, or an analogy, rooting your point in something familiar helps to eliminate the amount of explaining you have to do. Aware that less is more, this approach leaves more room for what's important.
Not to mention, often times drawing a connection between two things will evoke an emotional resonance which can be used to your advantage.
Considering our emotions are highly responsible for driving our decision making, you'll want to focus on creating a story that speak to their pathos.
5. Avoid opinions
Despite not asking, everyone has an opinion these days.
However, the trouble with opinions is that they're easy to argue. Facts aren't.
With that said, the performance of your marketing email relies heavily on your ability to back up your claims. If they're not rooted in something credible, you're giving the recipients no reason to take you seriously. Let's take a look at the difference:
A) Our blog content is awesome.
B) We were named Best Inbound Content by HubSpot.
To ensure that your next email is more than just a collection of weightless opinions, be sure carefully dissect your copy to identify weak points. The goal is to present the recipients with a case that is hard to poke holes in.
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About Carly Stec
Carly Stec is a Senior Content Strategist and former Marketing Blog Editor at HubSpot. Prior to HubSpot, she got her start here, at IMPACT, as the Content Marketing Manager from September 2013 - March 2015. Carly has a strong affinity for New Haven pizza (#TeamModern) and anything Kate Spade. She currently lives in Boston with her fiddle-leaf fig, Boyd Tinsley.