A New Strategy for Emails That Engage and Actually Get Read

Jenna Kutcher 

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August 7, 2019


Did you know that 58% of humans check their email FIRST thing in the morning — crazy, right? And not exactly efficient, but we want to see what we missed. Email marketing is a nerdy topic but it’s one of my absolute favorite topics. Without fail, at every event, I get asked, “If you were to focus on growing ONE thing in your business that would impact profits, what would it be?”

I always say, “My email list!”

I’ve talked a ton about email marketing on this show and in this episode we’re diving even deeper into the strategy behind writing engaging emails and making sure they are read through improving your open rate. You KNOW this is one of my favorite subjects, like, ever.

By the end of it, you’ll know how to get the best tone for your subscribers to feel like they know, like, and trust you, plus what you should REALLY be saying in your emails to keep people interested in you and your business. And I’ve got some some easy ways to make your subject lines catchy and captivating, so people actually want to click and read — you know, when they open their email first thing in the morning!

Why Email Marketing?

Email marketing is THE most effective online marketing tactic. Second is social media and third is content marketing, which is mainly blog posts and other written content on your website.

The fact that email marketing beats out social media and content marketing might surprise you. After all, social media is the thing we all feel so inclined to grow and engage with every single day. It’s the most community-driven by far, but there’s also a whole lot of noise on social media that it can be challenging to set yourself apart on the various social platforms every single day.

With email marketing, you’re delivering amazing content right to somebody’s inbox. You’re not competing with hundreds of other photos and captions on someone’s feed, and you’re not hoping people will land on your website to read the content you’re writing. It takes all the heavy lifting and hoping out of communicating with your ideal audience, and it’s a far more powerful and proactive way to get people to eventually take action. It’s a personal means to connect and create a dialogue with the exact people you need and want to be serving.

Start with Research

The first thing I want you to start thinking about when considering your email copy or email offer is what are YOU are willing to sign yourself up for? We’re all subscribed to dozens, if not hundreds, of brand and business email lists.

There’s a reason you initially opted in to each of those you subscribe to, so start digging into who and why you sign up for certain lists. What was the “offer” or incentive that made you jump at the chance to add another email to your inbox? Was it a coupon code? Or a free download? Or a cheatsheet? Or access to something? What was it that initially got you to insert your email address in order for them to get you as a subscriber? Sit down, open up your inbox and take a peek at the top 10 emails and see if you can remember the WHY behind you getting on their list!

Start doing a little market research — who do you personally look up to in your industry and how are they using OR underutilizing email marketing in their business? Pick out three businesses or brands that you would consider role models, and look at how they position themselves. Spend a few minutes poking around their space on the web, their social media, see how they are focused on email subscribers.

What is their invitation for people to opt into their emails? How do they phrase their offer? What kind of voice do they consistently portray — is it bubbly, witty, conversational, and enthusiastic, or is it more black-and-white, informational, and structured? What kinds of words do they use to engage their audience and get people excited for what’s to come? If we want people to read and open our emails we first have to give them an offer that they can’t refuse, access to land in their inbox in the first place.

Now, let’s say you’ve found 3 people who are rocking it or you want to learn from, see how you could apply some of their techniques to your own business. Maybe they emailed a ton and you loved it or maybe it felt overwhelming. Maybe you were excited to hear from them but they didn’t reach out and you were underwhelmed or bummed out. Pay attention to the context, what the purpose of the emails are, how they leave you feeling.

Take the market research whether it was positive or negative and use it to formulate a plan for yourself and your own strategy. Put your own spin on it to make it connected and totally personalized to you, your business, and your mission. Implementing similar styles and techniques of other, more successful businesses is one of the quickest ways to update your content and make it more valuable to your audience. And just a side note, always remember the difference between inspiration and imitation… Allow yourself to be inspired but don’t copy!

Writing Copy for Your Opt-In

Your opt in offer or what you decide to use as the hook to get someone to give you their email address is one of the most important copywriting decisions in your email marketing strategy. What you write to get people interested in you and your business enough to hand over a direct pathway to their inbox has to be impactful and influential.

First things first, give the people what they want! Consider how different these two opt in messages sound: “Sign up for my newsletter” with a spot to leave their email and name. OR you could do something like: “Let’s keep this party going — grab 15% off your next purchase!” or “I’m revealing my 5 must-have apps to grow my Instagram.”

As a consumer, it’s much more interesting to get something in exchange for handing over your email address. Provide value, something that is enticing enough, and an offer it in a unique and captivating way that represents who you are and gets someone excited about their future with you.

Your opt in could be free offers, like a special mug or magnet with their first purchase or a half-hour complimentary coaching call. It could also be great discounts or the promise of valuable resources and updates they won’t want to miss out on. You could offer the opportunity to join a waitlist for a sold-out event or new offer that you know is super popular or going to sell out.

Once you’ve got people opting in, send them a thank you, confirmation or a welcome right away. If you promised a discount code or a freebie, make sure it’s delivered to their inbox ASAP. I did an entire episode about nurturing your email list through a specific sequence and how to create a welcome sequence for once someone signs up, so if you want to tune in, head to jennakutcherblog.com/nurture and you can learn all about that specific topic.

Your emails should have one mission and one mission only. They’re a tool to allow your audience to know, like, and trust you on a deeper level. You’ll use them to serve, serve, serve, and serve some more before EVER selling. I so often see brands only popping up into inboxes when they have a new product or service to push. This is the fastest and surest way to LOSE subscribers. Who only wants to be sold to?

It’s like going on a first date and having someone propose… when you don’t even know if you want a second date. Think of emails as a way to have a conversation with your audience, not bombard their inbox with pitch after pitch. I follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to serving vs. selling and when I do sell, I try to treat it like an invitation, not a hard sale.

Create an Experience

Consumers expect your product or service — but what they don’t expect is a unique experience that only you can offer. That experience, the one you craft and intentionally create is what is going to leave them raving fans.

One of the biggest rules of email marketing is consistency. You want to be reaching out and delivering content on a regular basis. Your email interaction with your audience is all about creating an experience that fosters a friendship or relationship between you and them. Keep things real and light, but give them tangibles they can walk away with. The biggest ways to provide value to your subscribers is to show them how to make money, save time, or simply add joy to their lives.

Don’t overthink this step with a grandiose brand vision or voice, but more so think of it as writing to a friend — just one person.

Watch how leaders in your industry handle email marketing and then start following suit. And if you can’t find anyone in your industry executing email marketing, look outside of it to one that might have a similar audience or mission. Often this just means you’re ahead of the curve in your industry and this is good news!

How to Format and Write Your Email

You want to write your emails intentionally in a way that’s as easily digestible as possible. That means short sentences. It means no more than three sentences per paragraph. We actually use one sentence lines just to keep things easy to read, formatting emails like that makes it more to the point and snappy.

You want to state exactly what they’ll get out of the email somewhere toward the top of the copy — within the first or second paragraph is best, we call this above the fold. Essentially making it really easy for someone to decipher who the email is for and if the call to action is in fact inspiring action from them.

If you’re struggling on creating email content, think of the goal of that email — each email should have a goal — and then write the way you would if you were connecting with a friend and asking them to take that action with you. If that doesn’t make it easier for you, write the same way that you speak, record a voice note as though you’re telling a friend about something and then transcribe that into an email. Make it conversational and easy to understand.

Copy writing should incorporate psychology, timing, headlines, and strategy. Your copy or content should be well timed, should make people feel understood, should grab their attention, and should have a clear goal.

Think back to why they initially signed up to join and how can you over deliver on that? What do people want from you and from your business? What questions do they have about your industry? When does your audience need to hear from you? What emotions can you evoke? What are the next steps for them as a subscriber?

Create a plan around all of these answers, including the topics you’ll regularly write emails addressing, the schedule down to the day and hour that you’re sending out a blast, and the areas your people need reinforcement, support, and guidance. The goal here? One email per week — that’s it.

Your emails don’t have to be anything fancy, but they do need to engage your audience and make them feel something. With continued value and storytelling and sharing honestly, your audience will become so endeared to you that when it IS time to sell, it’ll be a no brainer. They’ll have such a deeply ingrained relationship with you that they’ll trust and believe in whatever you’re offering them. Think of each email as you dropping breadcrumbs down the path so that when the time comes for you to make the pitch, they are ready and have already had their main objections and questioned answered along the way.

Subject Line Tips

We often feel stumped and overwhelmed by subject lines because it’s such a limited space to convince people that YOUR email’s worth opening. And if you think a lot about your subject lines, let me be the first to commend you and say job well done! These should take a decent amount of time because they’re arguably the most challenging and important part of putting together an email.

The email is the meat. It’s the education and the value and the stories that you know your audience will LOVE. But how do you condense all that juicy info into a small line of text that entices people to open it rather than click delete? After all, if they delete it right away, all your work is for nothing.

If you’re spending all of your time creating the content for inside the email and slapping on a quick subject line, I’m going to challenge you to flip that script because your hard work is landing in the trash before anyone even opened and enjoyed it. Subject lines impact open rates and no one will get your goodness if they don’t first open the email up.

You want to hedge the line of clickbait — you know, those really tempting and alluring headlines that grab people’s interest right away — think National Enquirer headlines but far more ethical and delivering on the actual promise.

Like: “What these billionaires are hiding” or “Poisoned by too much botox” or “Alien baby found” — like these are actual headlines on the covers of National Enquirer and they absolutely get people to open magazines.

Don’t go that extreme, but DO see the importance of creating a headline or subject line that gets people’s attention. You have to realize it’s NOT clickbait in the bait-and-switch sense. You aren’t over-promising in the subject line or exaggerating just to get people to open it. Whatever clever and creative quip you write up should and will represent the awesome material inside the email.

I have 7 categories of types of subject lines that I generally work from and that can be used for pretty much any type of business and subject matter! I actually created a freebie to help you create epic subject lines at jkemaillist.com. Get your hands on 50 subject lines that I created to help you plug in your info and get your emails opened.

The Big Picture

Press play on the episode above to hear all my tips, tricks, and advice for creating email copy that captivates readers, endears them to you, and allows them to trust you so that when it IS time to sell, it’ll be a no-brainer that YOU’RE worthy of their hard-earned money. Emails really don’t have to be as complicated as we sometimes make them out to be. They’re such a tremendous tool for keeping in touch with your ideal customers and pruning a mutually beneficial relationship that’ll last a long time. Just make sure to be yourself, keep it simple, and always deliver as MUCH value as you possibly can, and you’ll be absolutely golden.

If this has inspired you or simply nudged you into pursuing true email list growth, head to growanemaillist.com and sign up for my totally free workshop where I show you how to algorithm proof your business with an email list and walk you through the how-to’s behind email marketing. You also get to learn about my best-selling program all about growing, serving, and driving profits through an email list. It’s seriously my favorite and I’ve walked thousands of entrepreneurs through the process of starting, growing, and serving their email list. It’s the #1 way I drive profits in my business and likely a marketing piece you’re missing!

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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