It's Monday -- that means it's time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

How important are emails to your marketing efforts?

If you’re like the vast majority of direct marketers today, you’re going to say “VERY IMPORTANT!!!”  With three exclamation points!

It’s because email drives more online conversions than any other online channel.

That is, more money is made via email marketing than via search engine marketing.  Or other advertising.  Or SEO.  Or social marketing.

When it comes to driving actual revenue in through the door online, EMAIL IS KING!

It quite literally pays to get GREAT at email marketing!

Today’s Mailbox Monday is about that.

About how to get people to open your email, and build their interest enough that they click through to your sales page.

I’ll get to the question — and my answer — in a moment.

First, remember that Mailbox Monday NEEDS YOU to be awesome.  Send in your questions about STORY SELLING, marketing, copywriting, sales, business-building, and more to

I’ll answer your question in an upcoming Mailbox Monday issue.

Now to today’s question…

Hey Roy,

I’m a junior copywriter for a division of Agora and have been struggling to find my lift note stride.

I read your article, “The Pledge, The Turn, The Prestige…” but I’m still not fully getting it.

In your example, you’re able to leverage Doug Casey’s awesome story… but I can’t do that with the lifts I’m writing.

At the moment, I’m just writing back end lifts and don’t have somebody’s fame to leverage. Plus, we’re trying to come up with fresh angles because a lot of lifts have already been written for these promos.

Could you go into some more detail on this tricky topic, please?


– K

I love this question — because it most definitely points to the #1 biggest NOVICE MISTAKE when writing marketing emails…

Before I dive into that though, a quick note.  If you haven’t read the article linked above — (or here again)  “The Pledge, The Turn, The Prestige…” — you probably want to do it.

It’s by far my single-favorite way of describing what to do in an email lift note.

And because I was asked to come at it from a different angle, I’m not going to rehash those concepts.  If you haven’t read it though and this topic is of interest, you most definitely want to read it.

Okay, back to that big mistake.

Most novice copywriters try to say WAY TOO MUCH in their emails…

It’s actually a symptom of a broader mistake in copywriting — the desire to over-explain, over-tell, over-write.  (I’ve been guilty of it, too.)

Copywriting is all about getting response.

Sometimes, response comes from giving a LOT of information.  For example…

— If someone doesn’t know you…

— If the product and its benefits are complex or difficult to understand…

— If the sales process is extended and involves many factors…

— If the product category is new to them and they need to understand it before purchase…

These and a number of different factors may lead to the prospect needing more information before they can respond.

And in these cases (and others), it might make a lot of sense to have very long copy, such as a 1-hour VSL.  Or, if you’re using direct mail, a complex and multi-part direct mail package that could take a really interested prospect an hour or more to work through as they learn about your offering and make their buying decision.

In these cases, long copy is good.  It needs to be long enough to say everything it needs to say (but no longer!).

Here’s the thing though.

That copy is designed to actually get someone to make the purchase decision.  To pull out their wallet, grab their credit card, head straight for the order form, fill it in, and submit it to you.

Emails, on the other hand, don’t need to make the sale!

Whereas that long sales copy needs to bring someone to a big commitment, an email only needs to bring someone to a very small commitment.

An email — at least, a marketing email such as a lift note — is ONLY required to get people to click.

If you are doing anything more than trying to get the right people (potential customers) to click through to your sales message, you’re doing too much.

— If you’re trying to establish credibility in your emails, you’re doing too much…

— If you’re trying to tell your whole selling story in your email, you’re doing too much…

— If you’re trying to start selling your products, you’re doing too much…

— If you’re even giving the benefits of your products, you’re doing too much…

— If you’re doing anything other than compelling the recipient to click, you’re doing too much!

ALL your email marketing lift note needs to do is go out, grab the attention of the recipient, and get them to click through to your website.

First, let me give you the EXCEPTION…

The biggest exception to what I’m telling you is when you’re running an internal, limited-time sale.

Most often, at the beginning of the sale, you go out with with a message that conforms to everything I’m saying here.

But by the end, when the deadline is approaching, you should start to work the offer into the email itself.

Because internal sales are dealing with people who are already familiar with you (by definition — they’re going to your internal database of prospects and customers), you can get away with the occasional offer-focused email.  Especially when it’s tied to a deadline they would benefit from knowing about, even if they don’t click through to your website.

Aside from that, follow what I’m about to tell you…

The critical components of your marketing email…

The sender: Think about this: when you get an email from your mom (or your spouse/partner, or your sibling, or another loved one), do you open it?  You do — almost no matter what the subject line or anything else says.  The single-biggest factor in getting your email opened is WHO is sending it.  Preferably a PERSON, not a company, should be in the sender field.  And the better reputation you have with your list, the more likely it is that it will be opened.

The subject line: Here you have a big challenge.  As someone is looking at their email inbox, a couple things are going on.  On one hand, they have infinite distraction.  They’re looking for anything to take their attention — including Facebook or anything else that’s NOT email.  On the other, they are in filter mode.  What can I delete without reading?  We all have email overwhelm and want to get rid of as much as possible.  Your challenge is to either 1) ENTER the conversation in their head, or 2) CHANGE the conversation in their head.  Either way, you have to do something that gets their attention, and piques their curiosity enough that they will click into your email.  The best thing to do here is to make sure you work in a combination of BENEFIT plus CURIOSITY.  Even better if it’s in some strange or jarring way that demands attention.  The entire goal of the subject line is to get them to open the email.

The body: Here I’m referring to all the copy and content of the email, with one exception (below).  Once you have a reader, your biggest goal is to make what’s on the other side of the click so compelling that they can’t help but do it.  What do I mean?  Well, if they click, they’re going to get something.  They’re going to get your sales message.  But that’s not what you tell them!  Rather, they’re going to discover something incredibly interesting, that’s going to change their life.  They’re going to have something shocking revealed to them, that will demand attention lest it cause severe pain and hardship.  They’re going to learn a really simple tip to get more of what they want in life — and less of what they don’t.  Or, they’re just going to get a really interesting story that is tied to some benefit or ideal situation they’d like in their life.  The novice mistake here is to start to give away what’s on the other side of the click.  What pros know is you have to be a total tease!  Let them know about the OUTCOME or the BENEFIT, but don’t let them know what gets them there.

Pro tip: think about more than just copy.  I’ve seen some incredible lift notes that made excellent use of a picture in getting the click.  It was always unclear what the picture represented, and you had to click through to find out.

The call to action: Finally, you have to get them through to your website.  Now, I wrote this as singular, but it should be plural: calls to action.  Most emails benefit from having 3 or more calls to action within even a couple hundred words.  You can overdo it, but even short emails can usually include 3.  Make sure at least one is above the fold.  Your calls to action should focus on one thing: fulfilling the tease of your email body.  You teased them, now you tell them, “to get it all, click here.”

Now, here’s how to make it all come together…

Note this is a really long email.  But I wrote it to teach, not to sell.  (If you want to know what I’ll have for sale NEXT though, click here.)

With all this direction and information packed into your head, I want you to take a deep breath.  Now, breathe out.  Breathe in again.  And out.

Now, I want you to picture all this incredible information about what makes great emails melting into your other copywriting and marketing knowledge in your brain.

Let it mix together — you don’t want to hold the specific how-to steps in your head.

The goal is to let it influence what you write, but not let it become a template.

Now, start to look back at what your sales copy says.  What’s really interesting about it?  Are there any particularly compelling stories?  Is there a unique benefit or angle you haven’t seen others using?  Is there a mystery you solve?  Is there a really pressing problem your target market has, that your copy (and your offer) address?

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, you have some topics to write about.

Break down the details to only the most compelling things to tease about — NOT give away.

Start writing.

Start writing at least 10 or 15 quick emails (200-500 words each) that point to that content.  If they suck and you know it, scrap them.  But make sure you start at least 10.

Remember, all you’re doing is introducing them to the idea — you’re not revealing it.  You’re teasing it enough that they want to know more, but not giving enough to them that they no longer have to click.

Then, right when you feel like you’re getting to the good stuff in the email, ask them to click through to learn the rest.

By doing this a LOT of times, and multiple times with the same ideas, you’ll be training yourself to write better and better.  To find more compelling ways to present ideas.

The good news is, the more you practice this, the better you’ll get at all sorts of copy that needs to suck the reader in.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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