How To Write A Promotional Email – The Ultimate Beginners Guide
Before we can get started on how to write a promotional email, there are a couple of things we need to cover first…
Why the effectiveness of a good email is overlooked…
The effectiveness of a good email is overlooked for two reasons:
Firstly, it is a widely accepted falsehood that ‘nobody’ reads emails anymore, and that it’s all about notifications, text messages and social media posts. Yes, those methods do have the majority of the limelight, but good old email dovetails with all of those methods perfectly – and I’ll cover just how a little later on…
Secondly, the reason why a good email is overlooked is mainly that there are so few ‘good’ emails landing in inboxes. So many companies now let somebody with brilliant photoshop skills and very little else fill inboxes with emails that look truly wonderful … but are of very little use as a promotional tool.
£138,787.00 from 6 emails in just 7 days…
The use of images is very important, but not at the expense of the correct amount of effective text (or copy). When these two elements are combined correctly the results can be very profitable – in fact, on one occasion, a small series of 6 emails added £138,787.00 to the coffers here over the course of just one week (but more of that in a minute).
The bottom line is that a good promotional email still get good results, and a very good promotional email – combined with a few other factors I’ll tell you about on the way, get amazing results like the one I’ve quoted above … and here’s how you do it.
First things first: remember, you are ‘selling’ the click…
The first thing to remember with promoting anything using email is that you are not selling the product … you are selling the click. The job of the email is to have your reader exposed to the material on the sales website, not replace it.
Of course, you can use what is being said in the copy to build your email (I’ll go into that in more detail in a moment) to generate that click – but remember, whoever owns that product has often spent quite a lot of time and money creating a website, writing copy and creating graphics and videos to get their message across.
You are not going to be able to replicate that in a 100, 200 or even 400-word email, so don’t try. To use another analogy, you are creating the film trailer here, not re-creating the entire film.
We’ll get around to actually writing something in just a moment, but before we do that – we have to be sure we are going to be emailing your subscriber list about the right thing…
Something you need to do before you even type a single word
It is boring but true that preparation is key and, as you might expect, there is preparation to be done here too. So, when it comes to getting the best results with your emails –the very first thing that has absolutely nothing to do with you typing a single word is to make sure you’ve picked the right thing to promote.
Finding The Right Product To Promote…
It may seem obvious, but if you are not intending to promote your own product or service you need to find a product that’s a good fit for thepeople you are sending the email to.
It doesn’t matter how brilliant your promotional email is – if the product on the other end of that ‘click’ is of no use to your subscribers … not only will you not sell a thing, you’ll damage the relationship with your readers by showing them something completely irrelevant to them getting the results they joined your list to get.
Bottom line is you should be offering a product to your list because you genuinely think it will improve their lot and not based on the commission you would get from the sales. I know it may seem easier to go for a ‘fast buck’ and promote any old thing – but people will soon get wise to what you are doing and simply stop reading your emails or unsubscribe altogether.
Vet Potential Products Carefully…
On average I’ll usually discard 8-10 proposals for every single one I would look into in greater detail and less than half of those will pass muster and actually get mentioned in the Lowedown. I will contact the person behind the system to come in and ‘Explain themselves’ and show me their results before I would consider promoting what they have.
I’m not suggesting you should interrogate every one of your potential partners in the same way – however, I would urge you to do due diligencebefore you email out anything you have not created yourself, and that extends to what your subscriber will be seeing when they click through…
‘Test Drive’ The Sales Process
As well as being a good fit and of use to your list, the product you choose must have a sales process that will bring positive results. By that,I mean strong sales copy or video that will ‘convert’ the visitors you send into sales, a payment process that doesn’t seem ‘scammy’ and a clear and simple guarantee.
What you’re looking for is a page or a presentation that, quite simply, you wouldn’t mind buying yourself … it needs to have a clear message in the headline … an appealing section just after that and lots of proof of results you can quote in your email…
Even better is a long list of testimonials, and a list of benefits to the buyer, both financial and personal … in fact, anything that catches your eye jot down (or even copy & paste onto a Notepad or Word document) and you can use this as your ‘crib sheet’ for the next part of the process.
You might want to ‘dry run’ the process your subscriber will be going through when you point them in the direction of this product, and see anything that might put them off of buying. You can then make a note of it as something extra to mention in your email to pre-empt any prospective worries…
How To Write A Promotional Email … OK, now you’re ready to start…
When you’re happy you’ve found something that is of use to your list, has a good sales process and nothing that will give anyone the ‘jitters’ – you can finally start constructing your promotional email.
I use the word ‘constructing’ deliberately because what we are going to do is put this together according to a formula … it’s certainly not the only formula – but it’s a really good place to start if you’ve never done anything like this before.
That All Important Subject Line
The first thing we put in place is the title or subject line, the words that will appear in your readers inbox and make them open your email in the first place (sorry to mention this – but even the best in the business will have less than half of their emails read) so this needs to be as good as you can make it.
An easy win is to base that all important subject line on the headline of the product sales copy … (unless of course there is a more relevant concept elsewhere in the text that is tailor-made for your list)
Obvious but different ways for the beginners to go are either ‘blatantly obvious’ or ‘intriguing cryptic’ … for example ‘This trading system could make you £217 by lunchtime today’ or something like ‘Discover this easy technique which put £217 in my pocket in just 3 hours’
Curiosity gets clicks (but don’t ‘bait’ people)
Another approach, once your list has got to know ‘you’ is to go for all-out curiosity. Subject lines like ‘I didn’t believe this…’ or ‘My most embarrassing mistake ever…’ get the best open rates because, quite simply, curiosity gets clicks.
If this works so well, the obvious question is why not do it from day one? Well, the answer to that lies in the rather muggy world of ‘clickbait’. By now everybody will have clicked on a curiosity based headline like ‘You won’t believe what she looks like now’ only to be faced with 4000 words of pointless dirge interspersed with far too many adverts.
For this reason, people are rightly suspicious of any subject that reads like clickbait, so do not use anything like this until you have built enough trust with your subscribers for them to know this is not going to happen.
Stand Out From The Crowd
As well as an outstanding subject line, you also need to make sure your promotional email gets noticed in that long list of emails in your subscriber’s inbox. The current way of making your email stand out is to use an Emoji in your subject line.
You might think, as I did initially, that having a smiley face or a graphic of a birthday cake in your subject looks less than professional, but it has been proven to boost open rates. However, I will need to add a quick caveat at this point.
The main reason why emojis work is that not everybody uses them, so those that do stand out. Obviously, as emojis become used as standard, their impact will wain. With this in mind, please treat the recommendation to use emojis as a temporary thing rather than cast in stone.
Now To Pander To The ‘Chimp Brain’
Once your subject line (don’t forget that appropriate Emoji) has done it’s one job there’s one quick thing to get out of the way…
I don’t want to shatter any illusions, but some of your subscribers, once they have seen that it is a promotional email, will, (almost regardless of what you have written) click on the very first link to see what it’s all about – so we need to give them the opportunity to do so as quickly as possible.
This is easily achieved by producing a one-paragraph summary of the main points of the sales copy with the first link to the sales copy underneath. For example ‘The other day I was reading about a unique system that has been used successfully for nearly a decade and has earned one man over £1.4 Million in that time … I was so intrigued I resolved to find out more – to discover what my search revealed’ – then place your ‘click here’ or ‘click here now’ link
Time To Fill In The Blanks
Next in our ‘fill in the blanks’ email method you should probably create further paragraphs about…
i) The proof in the sales copy, the success stories that would usually be a very highlighted part of the products pitch. Quote any testimonials that caught your eye and explain why they did … remember you are not just presenting a précis of the sales copy – you are telling your subscribers why you think it’s right for them
ii) The benefits of the product, presented clearly and concisely for your subscribers to read (this is where you’d perhaps go for a bullet point list) again explaining why you think these factors will be of benefit to them and why these benefits would solve one or many of the issues that these people joined your list to solve … if your subscribers joined your list to get more traffic to their website – how does ‘Traffic-o-matic’ solve that problem for them?
iii) Lifestyle and long-term benefits should also be covered – is this easier than getting a job? Can it be done around other commitments? Does it take less time than what they are doing now? Is it blooming hard work but will make them a lifetime’s worth of wages in a few years? Again, you need to explain why this is right for your subscriber…
iv) Always look at the guarantee – if one is offered. If it looks dodgy to you it will look dodgy to your subscribers and you shouldn’t be promoting it. Often though, guarantees can also be the thing that makes those who might be hesitant take a look … so if you think it’s a good one – make sure it gets a mention.
Check before sending
Your email should contain some or all of the above sections you can combine – just include whatever you think presents the strongest case for why you think this particular product is right for your subscriber – and why they should take a look at it. Each of these sections should be concluded with a ‘call to action’ and a link to the sales copy.
In this ‘fill in the blanks’ method, what we would have last of all is a piece summarising the points with a final call to action. Without wanting to sound like a broken record, this again should be why you think the product is right for your subscribers, not just a ‘potted’ version of the sales copy.
And then comes the ‘P.S.’ … these are particularly important and can be the difference between people taking a look and not bothering … this is where you re-state your ‘greatest hits’ from the sections above, and of course, here’s where you add your final link…
Neverlook spammy or scammy
Whether it happens to be a foreign prince in financial peril, an eastern bride convinced you are ‘the one’ or the offer of certain physical ‘enhancements’ – we’ve all received a spam or scam email of some type. So what we want to do is avoid having your email look anything like any of those in feel or structure.
Remember, we are talking about your first promotional email here … up until now you will only have sent your subscribers information. That information won’t have been in short, sharp, catchy sentences so neither should this.
Of course, you can use this more succinct approach when your subscribers are more used to seeing promotional material, but put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes…
So far what they’ve seen from you will be flowing, valuable content – and then all of a sudden they see a series of short lines containing few words and a lot of links. It’s going to look like spam and break down whatever trust you have established so far.
As with curiosity based headlines, it may not be best to use short, sharp emails until your subscribers are sure it’s not going to take them anywhere they don’t want to go…
How To Write A Promotional Email … Get the timing right
I get asked all of the time – ‘when is the best time to send a promotional email ?’. Well, the answer to that comes in two parts, and like so many things I get asked, the short answer is … it depends.
There is, of course, a wider timing element that directly affects the overall results you get from any email (or series of emails – as you’ll see in just a moment) … but for this to matter at all, you have to make sure the email gets read in the first place.
When Is The Best Time To Send An Email
Genuinely, there isn’t one rule for everybody – you’ll only find this out by testing over time. I can, however, save you some of the efforts by telling you the absolute worst time to send one … and it’s probably not when you think…
I bet you do this yourself. You turn on your computer in the morning or look at the emails on your phone after you’ve completed your morning necessities. A long stream of emails will appear in your inbox and you go through deleting as many as you can, actively looking for a reason NOT to read them and only bothering with the most urgent.
Do your best not to get caught up in this. It doesn’t matter how good your subject line is, or how effective the Emoji … your email stands considerably less chance of being read if it’s part of the mass download that happens first thing in the morning than if it arrives a little later all on it’s own.
Same Time, Same Place … Zero Results.
Another bad time to send emails to your subscribers is exactly the same time every day or week. If your subscriber knows that your email will arrive at 10am every Tuesday, it won’t be long before it starts being ignored.
Vary the time and day you send your emails, so your subscriber list does not become complacent about what you are sending them. I’m not going to use the phrase ‘keep them on their toes’ but you’ll appreciate that variously timed emails get more attention than something that arrives regularly like clockwork.
Right then – that’s how you write your first promotional email for your list, it might even be the best way – but only time and testing will discover that …
To move on from here, it’s testing, testing, testing all the way … longer, shorter, more links, fewer links … it’s a case of tailoring it to whatever gets the best response from your subscribers.
The next thing you should do, starting today, is to start a ‘swipe file’ – a little store of all the emails you thought were particularly effective that you can scour for tips and in some cases use almost word for word.
Your email writing will be a continually evolving process – and your results will, as with many things, improve over time – especially when you include one extra important factor…
The “£138,787.00” promotional Emails…
Now, as promised above, to the wider aspect of timing your promotional email.
The factor that can really, truly, affect the results of an email … bad timing can make a good email die a death … good timing can make a pretty average email seem like a really good one … and when you send a really good email (or series of emails) at exactly the right time – you can, on occasion generate an extra £138,787.00 of revenue…
You’ll know that I’ve written before about sending mailouts (the paper kind) and the different response if it’s a sunny day or rainy day when it lands. I’ve also talked about making sure you know when all the particular holidays are in any territory you are looking to promote to so your message doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
Two of the biggest ‘timing’ factors in the sphere of sending emails, though, are in fact product launches, and (sometimes more importantly) when a product is closing…
Product launches can be messy affairs, and we would usually give them quite a wide berth. The problem with launches is that ‘everybody’ wants to be in on them, so if your subscriber is on the list of more than one person – they are going to get quite a few, very similar emails about the same thing.
Not only does this present the prospect of your subscriber being ‘sick of the sight’ of another email about so-and-so, and having them hit the unsubscribe button on the bottom of your email because yours is the eighth one they’ve seen that day … but having all this opportunity to buy creates a feeling of abundance.
Yes, there’s all the hype working for you – but it’s also working for everybody else too. The fact that people are being bombarded with it all infers that something is quite plentiful and there’s no real hurry to get involved.
Much better then, some would say, to target when a product is closing so you can target a deadline, and make much of the scarcity of time left to get involved.
Scarcity provokes action
A well-timed message (or even better, a few emails providing a countdown to the cut-off point) to those that were interested, but just had it on the back burner, or were just the type of people who leave everything to the last moment (I’m sure you know one or two…) can instigate the right win/win reaction.
They don’t miss the opportunity to get hold of something they wanted to buy, and you, of course, have the benefit of being involved in the sale.
You can see now how effective a well written, well presented, well-timed email can be … however, you could be forgiven for asking what makes it more effective than a Facebook post, text message or even a letter through the post?
Promotional Email – A Vital Piece Of the Puzzle
The simple answer is that it is not the most effective strategy. None of them in isolation work, as well as when all of them are combined. We all consume media in so many different formats now that to exclude any that are relevant would be just plain daft.
Of course, if your target audience aren’t great Facebook users or aren’t glued to their phones, then biasing your efforts in favour of ‘old school’ methods makes great sense.
Promotional email is a vital part of this puzzle and time spent getting it right rather than dismissing it as ‘old hat’ can add hundreds, thousands or even many hundreds of thousands of pounds to your yearly revenue…