Maybe you’re a business owner. Maybe you’re copywriter. Either way, you’ve worked hard on that email. You’ve written and re-written it in hopes that the people on your distribution list will open it, read, it, and click on your links. If it ends up in their spam mailbox, you’ve tried to make it compelling enough that they will move it out of the spam zone and whitelist your email address. And, most importantly, you’ve done all in your power to ensure that your readers will sit up and respond to your call to action.
So why aren’t your emails converting?
Here’s a list of five of the biggest mistakes that keep emails from producing big gains.
1. You don’t know your target audience. If you’re writing for a supplement company and your email list includes women over 60, the product that helps you get positively ripped at the gym won’t likely resonate as much as the product that rejuvenates the skin.
We can’t overestimate the importance of understanding the people on your list and what makes them tick. What are their pain points? What have they tried in the past as an alternative to your product? Why hasn’t it worked? You could have the best-executed email in the world, but if it isn’t relevant to your list, it will fall flat.
This ties into the all-important “R” of my 4-step RMBC copywriting process. The R stands for research, which should always precede your emails. Get out there on the online forums where your target audience hangs out and find out what they’re talking about. Read reviews of products that are similar to yours on Amazon to see what people like and hate. It’s an exercise in futility to start writing before you know what your email list is all about.
2. You don’t have a strategy. Your overall strategy is going to look very different based on your email list. If you’re trying to position yourself as a guru or thought leader and build relationships of trust with your community, your email strategy will be a world apart from the one you would build for a faceless, “churn and burn” list that you’re targeting to try to sell a product.
For the former, you’ll focus on volume and frequency so that you have a consistent presence in the inboxes of your email list. You may not have a call-to-action in every email or even most of them because you’re focusing on building relationships and trust—not just making immediate sales.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to move a product for—say—a health supplement company, you’re not going to worry about bonding with every person on your list, nor are you going to go to extreme measures to try to keep people from falling off the list.
Based on your list and what you’re trying to accomplish, map out an appropriate strategy that dictates the style, type, and frequency of your emails, and stick to that strategy.
3. You don’t have a “big idea.” You should never start writing until you have a focused idea—something that is of interest to your target audience and meets their needs and wants, something that drives your readers toward a “desired end.” In many cases, this endpoint will be a clear and compelling call to action. Your subject line, your body copy, every story you tell, every statistic you share—it should all unite in support of your big idea. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your readers’ time and confusing them.
4. You’re not personable. People make time for a friend, so make your email sound like it’s coming from one. Your writing should be conversational, not lofty. It should show some personality.
One sure way to sabotage a personal connection is to go in with too much technical jargon. You could pontificate about blockchain and market capitalization and non-fungible tokens, or you could talk about how a guy living in a van in Dothan, Alabama, sold his old record collection for a few hundred dollars, invested in a new type of currency, and became a millionaire.
Your email shouldn’t read like a textbook. It should draw your reader in, resonate, entertain, compel, and ultimately motivate them to action.
5. You haven’t tested it out. A trial run can keep your email from tanking for small and easily avoidable reasons. To run an accurate test, set up a new email account and send your email to this account. Make sure to do a live test—don’t just send test emails from the software you’re using, as those may come from a different IP address.
When you receive the email, check these components:
• Design. Due to operating system, browser, and device updates, templates that have worked great in the past may malfunction.
• Links. Imagine if your call to action led to a broken or incorrect link!
• “From” name. Is it correct?
• Subject line and preview text. Are they concise, enticing, and error-free.
• Images. Are they displaying properly? Is the alt text showing up? Are they clear—not grainy?
A couple of months ago, I organized a panel of some of the best email marketers in the world and invited them to share their secrets on YouTube. It was an insanely valuable hour and a half, and the panel members were giving away secrets like candy. But what really struck me was how even a slight twist of the dial could make all of the difference in an email’s profitability.
For example, Joey Percia talked about how just tweaking a subject line helped increase an email’s revenue by 300%. And then Troy Ericson jumped on and talked about how something as simple as running a live test can get people out of spam and exponentially increase revenue from emails. And then I talked about a financial publishing company in New York that switched from a guru to “churn and burn” approach that was not congruent with their email distribution list. Having the wrong strategy and style for their list sunk a multi-million dollar financial publishing company. The little things matter.
My recommendation to you is to pick a couple of things from this list and start tweaking. Even small changes can make big differences in driving up the returns on your emails.
Need more tips for emails and copywriting mastery? Check out my RMBC copywriter training. It will teach you how to write better copy, faster. And if you’re looking to be part of an elite copywriting community, check out my Copy Accelerator Mastermind. It provides mentoring and feedback from some of the best copywriters in the industry, and it will help connect you with opportunities to write for some of the biggest names in direct response.