Published on October 17th, 2014
Great emails are like a pair of warm thermal socks.
Like flannel pajamas. Like a cozy sweatshirt right out of the dryer. They’re a steaming cup of green tea with a drop of honey on a blistering-cold evening.
Great emails are so accommodating that it’d almost be shameful not to read the entire message.
Unfortunately, they’re also few and far between. Not necessarily because they’re hard to write, but because many see it as unconventional in a business setting.
This is great news for the rest of us, as it makes it that much easier to cut through the noise and come across as relatable. Here are some of my favorite emails, right out of my own inbox, that will have you feeling all warm and cozy inside.
Writing Conversational Email Copy
Be uncomfortably honest
First up is this email I received as part of Noah Kagan’s Email1K course.
As you can see in the screenshot below, it takes him a few paragraphs to even get into the topic at hand: growing your email list.
First he tells me about his current – and pretty unfortunate – situation. Immediately I feel connected and sympathetic. (Man, he’s in for a looong coastal flight.)
Eventually he ties it back to emails, but by now, I’m bought into the message. He’s given me a quick glimpse into his life, and by doing so, created a sense of empathy. Most of us have been cramped on an airplane before. It’s not fun. But this email sure is.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Leave it to Ann Handley to prove that even automated emails can sound warm and conversational.
After subscribing to any blog or newsletter, we all expect some sort of follow-up email. It’s standard. What Ann manages to do is transform this usually mindless procedure into an opportunity for creating a genuine connection with her followers.
Notice the bits of self-deprecation.
(Note to Ann: It’s no "modest” thrill to see your name in our inboxes each morning.)
Not only has she won your email address, but she’s also won your heart in the process.
Keep it real (and sometimes uncensored)
Emails are sorta like first dates and job interviews in that they’re a misrepresentation of how we really are.
In typical Gary Vee fashion, he gets his message across raw and uncut. In the process, he’s connecting with the very human side of all of us. (I mean, reservations are a pain in the ass!)
You get the feeling that this is exactly how Gary would articulate this message if you were sitting across from him at the bar clinking glasses. ("This place is the shit!,” he’d say.)
Bonus points for the foodie recommendation to close things out, Gary. Well done.
Keep it casual
Do you ever want to rank higher in search engines?
Wanna rank higher in places like Google?
The difference here is messaging your high school english teacher would be proud of, and the other is the way you actually talk to other humans.
Why does this change when we write? (Oh right, because it’s unconventional in business.)
But why is this about business? It’s about making a connection. Right now. Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers gets it.
It’s brief. It’s broken up into short phrases, ya know, kinda like the way she’d actually speak it out loud. As a result it’s a quick and easy read.
She also signs it with her shortened nickname (notice the absence of job title?) and uses spankin’ over spanking in her “PS.”
If I didn't know better, I’d think she sent this email just for me.
Talk about yourself (but not your product)
People are so used to being pitched in emails. To getting asked questions about “the current state of their project management platform.”
The focus is always on us as recipients. This is added pressure.
Sometimes talking about yourself relieves this pressure. (Don’t confuse this with waxing poetic about your company.)
One of my favorite newsletters is from Austin Kleon. He gets it.
Instead of trying to sell me his books (which are freakin’ amazing, by the way) he spends his time recommending other’s books. Books he thinks I’d enjoy.
He also talks about how he got to interview one of his favorite songwriters. How he can’t stop dancing to Fela Kuti.
Oh, and he signs his emails “xoxo.”
Doesn’t get more warm and cozy than that.
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