Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How To Write Emails that Sell (and that People Love to Read)


By Ben Settle
The vast majority of email marketers make one of two mistakes:
  1. They give away too much content without doing enough selling
  2. They do too much selling without giving away enough content
And it’s costing them a lot of money.
But there’s also a third way that hardly anyone uses.
A way that satisfies your audience’s desire for content while also persuading them to buy. In a way that is fun for you to write, and for your subscribers to read. In fact, even if you are blatantly selling, people often don’t care and actually welcome your pitches.
Believe it or not, I blatantly pitch almost every week day using this method. In some cases, I pitch my product on the weekends, too.
Since I started using this method almost 4 years ago, my sales have never been higher.
And even though I’m always pitching and selling my products, I get few (if any) spam complaints. Hate mail about my daily email frequency is non-existent. And it’s a cold day in Hades when I teach anything found in my paid products.
Customers have never been happier, and my list has never been more satisfied.
So what’s this big email secret? And, how can you use it?
It’s called “infotainment.”
This is just as it sounds — merging information with entertainment. The best infotainment description is from Alan Alda (who played “Hawkeye” in the hit TV show “M.A.S.H”). He was being interviewed about his friend Don Hewitt — founder of the show “60 Minutes” — who had recently died, and he was asked why the show was so popular.
Alan Alda said (paraphrased):
What they do is give viewers a great-tasting hot dog but that nourishes them like broccoli.
This is exactly what infotainment does.
In other words, your content is presented in a way that’s fun to consume, but still delivers real value at the same time. This one approach has allowed me to dominate in virtually all the markets I’ve written emails for — even when using a weak sales letter to a small list. And while I now use dozens (well over 50) ways to use infotainment in my emails, the following 3 ways alone can get the job done no matter what kind of product or service you sell.
Work them in to your emails (starting today) and watch what happens:

Infotainment secret #1: inject your personality into every email

Just being yourself (warts and all) in emails can bring you more long-term response than any other email tip, tactic or “technique” combined.
Even if you have the highest prices and don’t have the best product, the fact you’re “for real” creates a bond of trust that makes people want to buy from you and only you.
So go ahead, crack a joke.
Have an opinion that’s not popular.
And let your unique personality shine through in every word.
Show customers the real you … and they’ll cheerfully open their wallets.

Infotainment secret #2: tell stories

Stories are a great way to sell in emails.
I don’t care what the product or service is. If you can work in a story, your chances of making the sale go up dramatically.
For one thing, stories are naturally entertaining.
Think back a few thousand years. Stories were the only real entertainment people had. They didn’t have TV or radio or the Internet, just stories — which are a great form of entertainment.
It’s very easy to process information from stories, too.
We’re “hard wired” to learn from and communicate through them.
And, in many cases, it’s the most persuasive way to get someone to do what you want. Whether it’s persuading someone to buy your product or persuading a child to be careful of talking to strangers — stories inspire and motivate people to take action.
Many times sales are made just from the story!
Just look at the hit 80′s movie “Top Gun”.
That movie “sold” thousands of young whippersnappers on joining the Navy, even though it never once pitches anyone on it. (The Navy even put recruiters in movie theaters where it was playing.)
As the old adage says:
The more you tell the more you sell. And this is especially true if you’re telling stories.

Infotainment secret #3: pop culture references

Finally, one of my favorite ways to be infotaining is “piggy backing” off of pop culture.
I’m a big fan of doing this not only from a personal point of view, but because as the late (great) copywriter Eugene Schwartz said: That’s your market. Those are the words, the feelings, and the hot buttons that motivate them.
What I like to do is work pop culture analogies, references, jokes and even quotes into my emails. If nothing else, it keeps your emails fun, loose and interesting (all of which combine to make emails more readable and “buyer-friendly”).
So always be asking … what’s popular?
What are the most-watched TV shows?
What movies are people raving about?
What magazines, radio shows, books or websites are hot with your market?
Then dip into those wells over and over. Reference them in your emails. Turn them into analogies, lessons or stories. It’ll be fun for your market to read (and buy from) as well as fun for you to write.
And that’s all there is to it.
The above are just three ways to be infotaining in your emails.
There are dozens more, but if you only work these three into your emails, I believe your sales will go up, with your subscribers and customers looking forward to hearing from you — while making your competition irrelevant.
About the Author: Ben Settle is a direct response copywriter and email marketing strategist.