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A Simple Approach to Writing High-Converting Emails

Get this right and you’ll see increases in…

  • Email open rates
  • Email click rates
  • Landing page conversion rates

I’m about to share a method for writing high-converting emails by focusing on the “job responsibilities” of each element in that email.

Those elements are…

  • The subject line
  • The body copy
  • The landing page

Each element of your email has a single job.  The smart email marketer employs each element to do its singular job.

The frustrated email marketer uses the elements to perform multiple jobs or, even worse, the wrong job.

Let’s take a look at each element of a single email and the role it plays in driving traffic and conversions.

The role of the email subject line

The subject line has one job and one job alone — to sell the OPEN.

Don’t try to use the subject line to sell the click, the opt-in, or a product.  That is not the function of the subject line.

Choose your weapon

There are two main types of subject lines…

  • Blind – A curiosity based subject line intended to maximize open rate.
  • Direct – A benefit based subject line that qualifies the reader before opening.

Take a look at this curiosity based (blind) subject line from Uber…

email-job-1a

Blind subject lines like this one almost always increase open rates.  But, there’s a downside. While the open rate will increase, the click rate and/or the conversion rate on the landing page will often decrease.

The reason?  The subscriber opening the email is not pre-qualified by the subject line.  At some point, either in the email body copy or on the landing page you’ll begin to reveal the offer, and a larger percentage of those that opened up because they were curious will find the offer irrelevant.  So — they’ll bail.

Blind subject lines draw the subscriber in by their curious nature but, in the end, the offer may not be relevant to them.

Consider the difference between the curiosity based Uber subject line and this one from Mint.com

email-job-9

This benefit-driven (direct) subject line qualifies the subscriber.  If they’re not interested in growing their savings… they don’t open.  But a higher percentage of those that do open are more likely to click and convert.

The subject line pre-qualifies them.

Which is better?

Should you use curiosity or direct benefit in your subject lines?  The answer: mix it up and watch your email metrics.

Monitor…

  • opens
  • clicks
  • and conversions

…by subject line.

But don’t stop there — aggressive, curiosity based subject lines can leave some subscribers with a bad taste in their mouth.  If you cross that line you’ll see a greater amount of unsubscribes and complaints on your emails.

Now that you know the role of your subject line, let’s look at…

The role of email body copy

The body copy has one job — sell the CLICK.

Just like the subject line you can choose to use curiosity or direct benefit in your email body copy.  The same rules apply — curiosity based email copy will increase your click-through rate but will often decrease your conversion rate on the landing page.

Take a look at this curiosity based email body copy from Survival Life…

email-job-6

Notice that the subject line is blind and, for the most part, so is the body copy.

Balance that against the clear benefit laid out in this webinar sign-up email from KISSMetrics…

email-job-13

The benefits of taking action on this email (registering for the webinar) are directly outlined in the email.  This pre-qualifies the subscriber and will enjoy a higher conversion rate on the registration page (but a lower click-through rate) than if they had employed curiosity in the body copy.

Email Body Copy Structure

Unless you’re writing a quick, punchy 1-2 sentence email, include at least three links to the landing page in your email body copy.

But here’s the critical thing…

Ideally, each link in the email should provide the reader a different psychological reason to click.

Those reasons are, in order of appearance…

  • Curiosity
  • Direct benefit
  • Scarcity

Take a look at this email we sent promoting an offer…

email-job-8

Notice the change in reasoning from one link to the next.

After all, why use curiosity in the second link when it didn’t get the click in the first link?  Why try another benefit in the 3rd link when it didn’t work in the 2nd link?

Mix it up and watch your click-through rates soar.

Ok… we know the role of the subject line and body copy but what about…

The role of the landing page

The subject line did its job — it got the OPEN.

The body copy did its job — it got the CLICK.

The role of the landing page is to sell the OPT-IN or SALE.  

While the landing page is not technically a component of the email — it’s critical to understand that neither the subject line nor the email body copy can do the job of the landing page.

We cover best practices of landing page conversion herehere and here.

But the big idea I wanted to cover as it pertains to the flow of your email marketing is to…

Maintain “scent”

From subject line to email body copy to landing page your marketing should “smell” the same.

Your marketing should remain congruent.

The design should smell the same. The benefits should smell the same.  The offer should smell the same.

When the “scent” of your marketing breaks from subject line to body copy to landing page — conversion suffers.

Let’s take a look at a campaign that uses…

  • A direct, benefit-driven subject line
  • Direct, benefit-driven body copy

Notice how the message remains congruent from subject line to landing page.

Here’s the subject line…

email-job-10

Now, notice how the body copy remains congruent with the subject line…

email-job-11

On the landing page, the design holds congruence with the email — using the exact image from the email.  Precisely the same offer that was made in the email is made on the landing page.  And the benefits stated on the landing page are reworded and expanded versions of the benefits outlined in the email…

email-job-12

This may seem like common sense… but it certainly isn’t common practice.

Next time you sit down to write an email — focus on the roles and responsibilities of each component of that email.  Your conversion rate depends on it.

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