So, every marketer is telling you that you need an email list…and that you should consistently email the folks on it. That’s neat. But just how in the heck are you supposed to go about that? The first step is to write words which turn into sentences which then become paragraphs. 🙂
Seriously, let’s walk through some proven strategies for emailing your list. The outcome will be building solid relationships and growing your business.
We’ll kick it off with a few, values-based guidelines.
Give and Educate
Over the course of the past ten years (man, that sounds crazy to say) we’ve ended up with an email list that’s responsive and actually buys stuff from us. Most email lists are set up to sell low-cost, low-risk products…we sell a coaching program directly from our email list. That, ladies and gents, ain’t easy to do. I’m not going to bullshit you and say that’s where the majority of new Strength Faction members come from, but it’s a number high enough to consider it significant. When we tell other folks in the business that we can do that, they look at us with surprise because, well, they can’t. There’s a simple reason why we can: we actually give great information away that people find useful.
Each week when I sit down to write my emails, my main goal is to give the folks reading them something that is going to impact their lives—if not that day, at least at some point in the future. I sincerely set out to help. Do I run a business that I hope they’ll eventually support financially? You bet your arse I do. But I’m also a human being that wants to see other human beings do well. On top of that, if I want a strong relationship with the folks on our email list, even if it’s only through email, I have to show them that I’m a person worth having a relationship with. You’re not going to like someone that just keeps peddling their wares in your face and asking you for things. You’re going to avoid that person.
But we all tend to like folks that give altruistically and sincerely. That’s what we have to do to earn the trust of our email lists. Be sincere and give.
Before we move on, I’ll add a quick aside that doesn’t fit under any of the other headings in this lesson. You need to show your personality. It doesn’t matter if your grammar is perfect. It doesn’t matter if you show how educated you are. But it does matter that you write in a way that people can connect with. People want to read words from a fellow human being that appears to be someone that they’d like to be around. If you write like you have a stick up your ass, and you’re not someone that typically has a stick up their ass, well, that’s just not going to work—it’ll come across as disingenuous. Plus, it just won’t be fun to read.
Action Item: Write as if you’re having a conversation with someone that you know well and enjoy speaking with. Just let yourself write, you can always fix it before you hit send.
One the hardest parts of emailing consistently is coming up with content. Problem is, content needs context. If you’re trying to pull something out of thin air every time you try to write an email, you’re likely going to struggle. But, if you lay out your content thematically from week to week, coming up with content will be much easier because you’ve given yourself context with which you can think. Let’s look at two examples.
Each week when I sit down to write the emails for the Strength Faction Newsletter (not the private email list that you’re on), I consider what we’re working on in the Faction that week. If we have lessons on program design, I write about program design. During the weeks that we talk about personal development, that’s reflected in my emails. I don’t always know exactly what I’m going to write when I sit down (more on that later) but I have themes with which to think.
Chris handles the emailing for our gym BSP NOVA. He emails our gym list only once per week, while I email the Strength Faction list three times per week. We’ll dive into frequency a little later on. Besides the difference in frequency, we approach themes in a similar way. Each week when Chris sits down to write the Monday email, he consults our Pyramid of Fat Loss. One level of the pyramid becomes the theme for the email. Again, Chris doesn’t always have what he’s going to write exactly hammered out, but having the context in mind allows him to be creative.
Action Item: Lay out a weekly list of themes based on the different things that you do to help your clients or based on the frequently asked questions that you receive.
In his book “Expert Secrets”, Russell Brunson describes the Seinfeld series (I’m pretty sure he took it from another copywriter, I just can’t remember who). Seinfeld was essentially a show with no story arch—each episode was a stand-alone that didn’t build on the last episode or lead to the next one. Folks often joke that it was a show about nothing. But it was funny. We can do the same thing with our emails.
What we do is take the weekly theme and then tell individual stories that fit within the theme. It could be a funny story from your life—or a heartfelt story from your life. You could tell a story about a past client success, or a client failure (because they didn’t take the message of your email seriously). The main goals are entertainment and teaching. Whether you’re making people laugh, making people feel deeply, or inciting confidence and motivation, you want to hit people emotionally.
So, how do you do this?
Well, the first step is keeping track of things that happen daily. You can actually log them, or when you sit down to write an email on theme, you can think back to recent events…or even past events. Consider big wins, big losses, and events that surprised you. Then what you’ll do is build a little story arch around the event that fits the context. You’ll tell a story. Here’s how:
Define a character…who is it?
What was happening in the start of the story? What did they want?
What obstacle did they face?
How did the overcome it?
What was the success of overcoming it?
If this seems daunting, fair enough. But it doesn’t have to be. You can literally work through that entire arch in one paragraph. Check it out:
“A little while back I had this client named Sam. Sam was great. She was always on time for sessions and she was super fun to be around. Problem was, Sam wasn’t getting results…and we both knew it.
At first, I really thought it was my training, but then I decided to have a meeting with Sam. I asked her some questions and listened. We ended up talking about nutrition.
Then Sam mentioned that after training sessions she would always get a huge, peanut butter smoothie from the shop around the corner. And at night she’d snack on what she thought didn’t add up to that many calories. (Spoiler alert…it was A LOT of calories.)
I asked if she was tracking anything. She said that she wasn’t, so I asked her if she’d be willing to track her food and drink intake for a week. She did…and she was super diligent with it.
At the end of the week, we learned something…Sam was eating WAY more than she thought she was. It was all of the extra calories that was keeping her from dropping the fat that she wanted.
Once she had awareness, we set up a plan based with simple habits to help her drop the fat.
Sam was consistent with each of the habits, and guess what? She started to get results. BIG TIME!
So, here’s the deal…if you want to change, you need to have some awareness of what’s currently happening. Without knowing what’s really going on, you’re acting blind.
Oh, and Sam has dropped the fat and really kept it off. It’s awesome.
P.S. If you’d like some help with changing your behaviors and dropping some fat, just reply to this email and we’ll talk.”
See…character, problem, solution, success.
You can do that, too.
Signatures and Super Signatures
If you’ve been opening the Strength Faction emails, and also happen to be on the Strength Faction Newsletter, you’ve probably noticed that the signature is the same every time:
Having a consistent signature is good for getting your message across. It’s a nice piece of branding. But it’s also a great place to put a call to action. Let’s look at the example email from above.
“P.S. If you’d like some help with changing your behaviors and dropping some fat, just reply to this email and we’ll talk.”
The entire email led to that call to action. I led the reader through a story they could relate to, and during the process, I showed them how I could help them—then I gave them the call to action to ask for help.
Listen, I’ll level with you…I don’t do this every time because I don’t like to make an ask every time. I don’t want people to feel like I’m constantly selling something to them. A lot of times my call to action are directing people to something useful that they can access for free—a podcast, a video, etc. But eventually you want to have calls to action, and the P.S. of your signature is a great place to put them.
To make it effective, you have to train people to look there. So, include a P.S. in your signature often. It could literally be anything that’s entertaining and informative…but you don’t want to make it total shit, otherwise people will stop looking there.
There’s also a thing called a super signature.
Super signatures outline different ways that you can help and allows you to display your offerings—free and paid.
It usually goes a little something like this:
“P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are a 3 ways I’m here to help.”
…and then you list those three things. Again, these are your offerings, free or paid. If you don’t have enough offerings to include a super signature, don’t, it’s no big deal. You’ll get there eventually.
Here’s an example:
Ok, let’s talk about two more tactics.
Make it Readable
People don’t read emails like they read articles or books. The want to scan and they don’t want to spend a lot of energy. So, make the font a little bigger than usual, and don’t write for more than two continuous lines. If you want people to pay particular attention to something, don’t be afraid to italicize it or make it bold.
Honestly, this is really up to you and your list. When I say you, I mean how often can you realistically email? If you tell yourself that you can do it every day, but in reality you can really only do it once per week, you’re going to be frustrated at your lack of productivity. I’d recommend at least once per week to drive engagement. But if you’re not emailing at all right now, twice per month is better than nothing.
When I say your list, I mean taking their temperature on how often you email and what their expectations are. Marketing experts often say the more you email the more you sell. I don’t think we can make blanket statements like that. I say that because I experimented with the Strength Faction list.
For years, I emailed three times per week. Taking a marketer’s advice, I bumped it up to five times per week…with dire consequences. People started dropping from our list like flies, and we didn’t increase sales at all.
Frequency is really about establishing a pattern that sets an expectation and then sticking to that expectation. If you are going to email twice per week, then email twice per week and stick to it. Maybe you can bump up to three, maybe that’s not a good idea for your list—it’s ok to run that experiment. The key is just being consistent within the expectations that you set for the folks opening and reading your emails.
Ok, you have the skinny on getting started with writing solid list emails. All that’s left to do is to write. So go do it—no one ever got better at writing by avoiding it.