Strategies for Writing eCommerce Emails (E113)

  • Joanna Wiebe
  • Founder of Copyhackers


The original conversion copywriter and founder of Copyhackers, Joanna Wiebe teaches a world of digital marketers in SaaS and eCommerce how to get the yes using li’l ol’ words.




Charles (00:00):

In this episode of the business e-commerce. I talked with Joanna Wiebe about how to write e-commerce emails. This is the business of e-commerce. Episode one 13.

Charles (00:15):

Welcome to the business of eCommerce, the show that helps eCommerce retailers start, launch and grow their eCommerce business. I’m your host, Charles Polaski, and I’m here today with Joanna Wiebe. Joanna is the original conversion copywriter and founder of copy hackers. She teaches a world of digital marketers in both SAS and eCommerce. How to get to yes, using little old words. I just started the show today to talk about what are the best practices for sending e-commerce emails. So, Hey Joanna, how are you doing today? Doing good. I love the topic of writing e-commerce emails, right? I’ve heard you speak in person a few times, so hear you have some experience writing emails. So what do you guys do? So what do you guys do at copy hackers?

Joanna (01:01):

Yeah, sure. So, well, there’s two sides of the Copyhackers business. One is the, basically the front of it, which is free and paid content. So we have a very active blog and video tutorials that we do. On helping, our real mission is to help entrepreneurs, whether that’s like a startup founder or somebody who’s running their own small service business, like a freelancer basically get their word out there. So there’s a lot of people who [inaudible] want to write better copy because they understand copies or online sales person, but it can be a very murky sort of thing to figure out. So our job is to help people that you’re out how to do that. And we did that with free and paid content. But the way that we make up the free and paid content is we work with not only in our own business on optimizing copy, but with clients as well. On, on doing the things we’re talking about right now. So testing emails that actually convert in this current world. Not just old ideas for email, but what’s new, what’s happening, what used to work that doesn’t seem to work anymore, things like that. So we have the two sides, the training business, which is free and paid, and then the agency side.

Charles (02:16):

Got it. Okay. So you guys focus mainly on the transactional email side of the promotion legal side.

Joanna (02:23):

So mostly like just coming up with a better email strategy for people, which largely focuses on segmentation first, but also like where are these communications coming from? What are they saying? What should they be saying? Most people we find, you know, there’s a lot of emails in play, like transactional emails, but the transactional email was set up by the person who set up the tool in the first place. So they tend to like, Oh, I’ll just write something quickly for a transactional email, which is a fine starting point. But there’s a lot you can do with a transactional email, just like there’s lots of, you know, promotional emails. So yeah, lots room to optimize in there for both, for everything, including outside of eCommerce. You know, the SAS world has triggered emails galore based on what you do or don’t do. So there’s a whole world, let’s stop to the right for now.

Charles (03:12):

Yeah. It’s one of those things where I feel like even the water has got a little muddy, right? Where even transactional emails still have a little promotional content in them. So it’s something you can almost do both together. I’ve kind of found,

Joanna (03:24):

Yeah, there’s room in transactional emails. Of course there’s like rules with these as well that you don’t want to get to a promotional in the transactional emails, but those are emails that get opened unlike emails that look like marketing emails. So those are really good opportunity to, to push a little more on at least getting your value prop out there so people really understand what your brand is and why they should keep supporting it.

Charles (03:54):

Okay. So let’s say I’m a new eCommerce retailer. I’ve been using the canned transactional emails there. Okay. and I do some promotional emails. Where would you recommend someone starts kind of digging in this process?

Joanna (04:09):

It’s, it’s I, you know, doing the basic audit of what you’ve got. So what’s actually in play right now? And then how is that performing? Just, and that’s, this isn’t an intense audit. This is sit down for three hours, block out some time in your calendar, open a Google sheets, and just like write out what you have when they’re being sent. So who gets them and when do they get them? What they say and then how they’re performing. So what are the open rates? Like what are the click rates like as a starting point, right? Because some of them will have paid conversion attached as well, but some of them won’t. So you can document that, that’s fine too. But the point is just to like get a sense of the landscape, like what are you actually sending to people? And then you can start to develop hypotheses, but what you should be sending to people, what’s missing based on better practices in email marketing and based on what you know about your customers and your business, what are you trying to do with your business? What are your business goals? Emails should be helping you get to those business goals. So are they, how can they and where is expect from you when it comes to, you know, digital direct response, including emails? Yeah. So start with an audit, a really simple, you don’t have to be a genius or a copywriter or an email specialist to just look at what you’re sending.

Charles (05:32):

Okay. So at least starts with kind of getting everything it sounds like just in one place. Because what ends up happening is you have different emails come out of different tools that are like, and you stack for getting them over time. And these build, you have these random emails that go out from this tool that you installed two years ago that, yeah, I see that happening.

Joanna (05:48):

I have the Ray logo in it anymore. Like there are things that have changed right over time.

Charles (05:52):

Yeah. There’s things you’ll see if you actually start to do it. I’ve gone through this before and you find emails that are just factually, and you’re, you’re telling people and then realize this isn’t even right. Like I’m literally just lie like every day and it’s a transactional. You’re sending it, it’s just wrong.

Joanna (06:05):

Yeah, no, I think anybody who does this finds pretty quickly. Like, Oh damn, I didn’t know I was sending that quickly. Fix that. So yeah, it’s a really good basic first step, right? You can’t skip it otherwise you’re just going to have to go back and do that anyway. So start there

Charles (06:21):

And it’s probably nice to just be able to sit back and look at it all in one place. Right? So you don’t have to pull up and five different tools and kind of put everything back together. So

Joanna (06:30):

Yeah, and then I think it’s also good because you can appreciate how much, usually you’ll appreciate how much email actually does in your business. Like you’ll like how many different emails you send and what the impact is of those or the lack of impact where you, you go to an event for people in eCommerce and you’re hearing about email and you’re like, my business doesn’t run on email, but you do an audit and you realize like it doesn’t run on email because I’m not really sending anything. So maybe I should start sending things that could actually help me grow my business. Yeah.

Charles (07:04):

Yeah. So the, the email of a lack thereof, you’ll start to figure out, okay, so let’s say now you have it all at one place. You can review it, you can see you different open rates, but you’re a retail, you don’t know benchmarks or anything. It’s hard for you to even compare, you know, a transactional versus promotional. What do you kind of do next step?

Joanna (07:24):

So it depends. I mean it does always of course depend on your business goals. What do you want to do? And I think there requires also the buy in for you that email Ken, grow your business. Copy hackers. I talked about it being a training business on one end. There’s the service side of course, but the training business that’s full e-commerce, it’s just delivering courses online that you buy online. You go through a process. So our, our core business is an eCommerce business when it comes down to it. So [inaudible] I have seen for my business as well as for our clients who are any commerce, just how critical email is to growing a business. But a lot of people haven’t seen that. So there’s like the mindset, like the hurdle initially of even accepting that email can actually grow your business essentially like your business. [inaudible]

Joanna (08:18):

Is an email business. If you have customers giving you and leads giving you their email addresses and you’re not doing anything with it, that’s you know, you have to ask why, like why haven’t I been doing anything with them and is it, Oh I don’t know, time. Well if you knew it was a priority you would prioritize it. Right? So for me it’s like you first have to get past, once you’ve got everything, like you can see the lay of the land, then you can identify like why haven’t I been doing this? Like why don’t I it? And if it’s like I believe Facebook messenger is the way, or Instagram’s the way, or the only thing that I can really do to grow my business is use social. Everybody’s on social and nobody’s on email anymore. You have to then come to terms with that.

Joanna (09:01):

Like, do you actually believe that? Why do you believe that? And then go look at, go do some research on, on email. And what it does for e-commerce. So if you’re out, if you haven’t bought into it, it’s time for you to start assessing why you have. If you have, if you’re like, great, I love email, I want to do more with email. There’s so much that I could possibly do to grow my business. Then it’s a matter of like we have to get to a place of sending relevant emails. So you have your business KPIs, you have your goals. I want to make so much in 2020. I want to do, I don’t want to go from high six the years to at least 1.5 million. Let’s say you’re at 70 700,000 this year. You want to do 1.5 million next year. So doubling your business and then some, okay, cool.

Joanna (09:48):

That’s a good ambitious goal. How can email help you get there as one of many channels to get you there? And so a lot of people will jump in and be like, Oh I’ll go do some research on this. They’ll Google it. Something, Neil Patel had ghost written will come up and it’ll be like you need these three things. You need a way to collect email addresses, you need a nurturing sequence for these new leads. And then you need to have a way to sell directly to them. Let’s say. Let’s say that’s what is on this one particular blog post. So you take that and you think you need a nurturing sequence and you write one sequence, you don’t know what the hell you’re saying and you’re like, all I really want to do is have people come buy my stuff from me.

Joanna (10:31):

Like what can I possibly put in this sequence? And that’s a really good, I think that’s like when we’re writing copy or when you’re doing anything, that question is a good signal. Like you might be doing the wrong thing. It doesn’t mean you are, but you might be doing the wrong thing if you have no idea what to do with it. Like it doesn’t actually make sense. So I think a nurturing sequence, the challenge with doing email right today is all of the messages that we’re all getting, which we all know, everyone’s getting a crap ton of messages. 5,000 plus a day, paying attention to four of those 5,000 plus a day. And that’s I think 2017 numbers. So 20, 20 with tic talk alone, totally blowing our minds with how many different stimuli are coming at us. We have to more than ever break through an email as a one to one way of connecting with your leads and customers and bringing them back is a really great way to do that actually.

Joanna (11:28):

But it doesn’t take putting a single nurturing sequence together and then throwing SAIS sales emails at them again and again, which is what somebody’s e-commerce business has come down to. If they even have a nurturing sequence, I’m a lot of them don’t, they just start sending this is a sale, here’s a sale, here’s another sale, discount promo black Fridays when I make all my money, et cetera, et cetera. So you’re blasting people and ultimately what’s coming out is you are being irrelevant. Our job when we’re smart email marketers is to send relevant messages to people and that takes segmentation. It doesn’t, and segmentation can sound like a really big scary word. Like, Oh my gosh, what do I even do? Like it’s so technical. It doesn’t have to be. So most almost everybody, if you have a CRM of any kind in place or you call it an email platform or an email tool, whatever you call it, and that could be something like drip or convert kit or MailChimp or whatever it is that you’re using.

Joanna (12:31):

Most of these platforms will have a way for you to identify what people care about and thus help to segment your list based on what they click. So segmentation, you need to put together a really basic segmentation strategy, which for most people who are in email marketing is really just like step one of segmentation strategy is figure out who I’m talking to and what they care about. Because the most common ways to segment are based on who the person is or what the outcome is that they’re looking for. So if you’re any commerce and I am on your site, I go to your site, you have one of those popups on there that’s like enter your email address to save $10 on your next purchase or whatever that thing is. Okay, great. I enter my email address. You’ve now captured it, you know nothing at all about me other than I was interested possibly in saving $10 on maybe buying from you, but it popped when I first got there.

Joanna (13:29):

And I might have actually no interest in buying from you because I didn’t take any time to learn anything about you. So fine. So you know nothing about me and you’re supposed to send me an email that I’m supposed to care about. How are you going to do that? Like that’s, and that’s a real question. How are you supposed to do that? So you can start by sending out things that other people have shown interest in. Other customers have cared that you are agreeing Brent or that you make everything in Minnesota in a warehouse and it’s super cool and custom or something else, right. But something that’s you already know is true about your business in different bunch of business. You start sending emails to these new subscribers and then what you want to do in those, and there are different ways to come up with the content actually put in there, but just as a starting point, a really quick thing to do is like what makes you different. Send that as an email with a link to like go explore all these different things you have on your sites. What I open and what I click is where you, that’s how you know things about me. That’s honestly the only way outside of exploring really complicated segmentation tools, that’s the best way for anybody who’s newer to this to know what to do,

Charles (14:39):

What you, what you opened and where you click. I want make sure people heard that one. Okay.

Joanna (14:43):

So if I open something that has a certain subject line that might be an indication that I’m interested in that. So if it was like the subject line is new exclamation points for moccasins from the Arctic. If I don’t care about Vermont, it’s from the Arctic, I’m not going to open that email. If I’m curious about them or I do care about them, I am. So that’s data you can use to of course, tell me to, to write to me again and again with more relevant things. And then of course the click is the most important thing. So one thing opening is something that I’m likely to do because I’m curious so I might be like anti-fur. And the reason I open it is because I’m like, is this real for, are they using real furry here? So I opened it, I read your email, said that it is real for, and I closed it because now I’m disinterested in you and I don’t like who you are.

Joanna (15:36):

So if you tag me as someone who is interested in for moccasins, you’re wrong. I was just opening because I was curious. What you want to do is tag most, I put the most emphasis of your tag on a M on the click. So if it’s like see all for moccasins as your button and I click that, then you want a TEG TEG in your email platform. Me as someone who shows interest in for moccasins or Infor or, and you can tag as all of these, it doesn’t have to be or it can also be an I’m interested in for, I’m interested in shoes, I’m interested in things from the Arctics. And you can tag me as that and now every time you have something, a new from moccasin, a new moccasin, a new thing from the Arctic, new footwear, however I was tagged next time you have to send something out about that.

Joanna (16:25):

You send me an email, everybody who’s been tagged that and that’s how I actually then open and start engaging with and buying from you because you have paid attention to what I care about. You didn’t have to do anything more than send the email and make sure you tag people appropriately based on whether they click or don’t click. And that’s it. That’s the most basic way to start segmenting your list. You’re going to end up with a lot of segments and then you have to just come up with a better strategy as you go. But don’t worry about that when you’re starting. Just worry about tagging people in your email platform based on what they click.

Charles (17:03):

I like that. That’s one of those things I feel like most people are just doing exactly what you said. Just a blast, right? Of just, I forget. Same thing everyone’s gonna hear about the moccasins, but maybe a lot of people don’t want to wear moccasins. So that tagging is huge. But how, how many texts did you have? Cause I feel like this could go crazy real quick

Joanna (17:22):

And it could honestly, and I know that some people are like if you were tags are better, but actually like you’re talking about a lot of rich data here. If you have a good like, and this is where email a good email marketing platform helps you sort your tags well so I can go through and make a better like group or segment based on multiple texts. So for me, I have tried, my team is like Joe make fewer techs. Like we can’t keep up with this, but I find it useful to actually come down to segments. So for me, I fit into the camp of people that’s like, if you need to know, just tag it, just like tag it. If it’s going to be helpful at all, just use a new tag or look up an existing tag that you have and make sure you’re not like making different versions of the same Ted egg, like interested in for moccasins or interested in moccasins, colon fur or something like that.

Joanna (18:16):

Like those are the same tag, so make sure you’re not doing that. But other than that, I don’t have, honestly, I know some people do. I’m from the school of thought. That’s like if you need to know if it’s going to potentially be useful at some point, tag it. That’s it. You never, you never know. Oh and there’s data that’s already in place that you don’t have to worry about tagging so you don’t have to worry about like tagging based on when they signed up or when they were most engaged. Like most email marketing platforms will let you pull that data anyway. So you don’t just tag based on user behavior and what that indicates to you. Yeah, but don’t, don’t, I wouldn’t, I honestly, I don’t even think about the number of tags I use. Just that’s what the email platform was for, but that’s not my job. And it shouldn’t be your job either.

Charles (19:02):

Yeah. I just go crazy with tags. I know go crazy with tags

Joanna (19:07):

I end up with like just if you put so many tags together that’s like interested in from moccasins and lives in Minneapolis, those are two tags you decide to pull together because you want to like have a really relevant message. You could send an email that says, Hey, you live in Minneapolis, or Hey, for everybody who lives in Minneapolis, these are moccasins go along way and a picture of them in front of something. Minneapolis, if I live in Minneapolis and I were, and I like [inaudible], they’re going to live in six people on your list, but you might have a hundred percent conversion rate on that. You sold six for moccasins. So the people in Minneapolis in that one moment, because it was so relevant, it’s going to mean you know, smaller, more targeted messages going forward. But that’s where a lot of tags will at least help you. No what to send and be able to send the most relevant messages. So yeah,

Charles (19:58):

Go crazy. I think that’s what a lot people missing. That part right there where you said, okay, if you have six people in that, now you have, you’re not talking, you’re blasting your list of thousand 10,000 a hundred thousand subscribers. You’re literally hitting those six people that actually probably want this whatever you’re selling. And so it’s not, Hey, let’s see how many, you know, just how many opens we get, period. It’s a percentage. And if we hit six to 10 and they all buy, that’s a phenomenal return.

Joanna (20:26):

And now their customers and you can do so much more with them now that they’re actually, they’ve said yes to you and given you money that time they’re bought in. Now they’re good to send emails that are more around your brand so they can not just see you as a place to go to get a good but a place that feels good to go to get a good where I like believe in it and I understand it. So yeah. Yeah.

Charles (20:50):

Yeah. I’m glad you mentioned drip too. If they’re actually a sponsor of this this episode, and I know they lie, they do a lot of auto tacking too. So things like if you purchase, that can be a tag and there can be tags on product. So there’s all this stuff you can do. I know a lot of ESPs have these different features, but using the tagging a lot can be done automatically, which is amazing. So a lot of the heavy lifting, if you dig in there, you’re going to have users already and they’re going to have all this data kind of already linked to them today profile, which is very cool. So now what do you do on the other side? So now you start collecting all this data, you know, all these people [inaudible] what they’re interested in, these very, very specific tags. How do you use that when you’re actually building, drafting your emails to write to them?

Joanna (21:33):

So for actually doing the writing or for taking that strategy,

Charles (21:38):

What do you do? So the next step of the strategy, right? So now you collected all this data, but now you want to do something with it. Like what is the actual thing? Should you be writing to them off our promotions? Or what is the thing you should be sending to these highly targeted let’s call them like mini lists.

Joanna (21:53):

Sure. 100%. So it’s a question of what you want to sell. And when you want to sell it. So you’re in eCommerce, branding is good, but people buy online like this. Like you want to get people back to your site to buy. So then it’s a matter of like, what is your, what’s your, what’s your calendar like, what are you planning on selling and when are you planning on selling it? And if you’re like, I don’t have a calendar, I have a lot of stuff. Okay, so you have a lot of stuff. What is that stuff? And do you want to sell it all, all the time, every like, or what do you, what do you want to do? And the email can do whatever you want it to do, right? If you are like, okay, I want to send a sales email every single day to everybody on my list, but it has to be relevant to them on that day.

Joanna (22:37):

Okay, that’s a perfectly fine strategy. You’ll just have to look over the text on your list and start identifying like, okay we have tags for these 15 different things that match up to these 300 products. What can I do with those and then put together a really basic calendar, like just like a content calendar or an editorial calendar, but you’re doing it for email. It was the most natural place is like send, starting with the tags is the best place to start because if you start with the product and say, Oh, I want to get this product out there. But you haven’t, you might not have seen many people or maybe a lot of people aren’t interested in that product or they haven’t shown an interest in something like that product, but they have shown an interest in other things. So then it’s just a matter of like, what are the surefire winners?

Joanna (23:31):

How can you put those in a calendar? And then what are the other things you want to promote to those people additionally when it comes down to it, but the strategy can go any way that you want it to. It’s really just like, what are your business goals? How do we zoom in on those for the month, the quarter? And then of course, the whole year. And what are people already showing us they care most about. And if it’s like, Oh, we haven’t got anybody tagged to cares about this, but we know this X is our most popular product, or a lot of people click on it on our website, but they don’t go through with buying it, then maybe we need to send a sales email that better unpacks the value of that particular product. So it’s a matter of coming up with an actual calendar based on what your customers have shown they care about most.

Joanna (24:19):

And they’ve shown about that by texts and then they shown it based on your like Google analytics or what you’re seeing on your website for what people care about, what they’re maybe hovering over most. If you do click tracking on your product page and on other pages, like where are they showing interest? And then you can send an email to your whole list if you’re like, okay, I don’t have a tag for this fur coat. I don’t know why first, since I’m not a per person at all. But that’s something that’s probably what’s on my mind. But you have like a fur coat. You don’t have anybody tagged that they care about it for a coat, but you’re seeing a lot of interest on the side and people are going to the fur coat. Okay. Should you send an email about this?

Joanna (25:02):

Yeah, you shouldn’t send an email about this, but what you should do is make sure that you tag people again based on whether they click on this and you can expose your list to the new products that they should be discovering. Use email to help them discover those products. The better they can discover, that’s more closely tied to what they’ve shown they care about. Great. But there might be a new product you have that nobody’s had the chance to indicate that they’re interested in because you’ve never presented it to them or they just haven’t run across it so you can expose them to it. If they don’t click, if they don’t click through, then that’s a signal to you that they were not interested in it and don’t keep sending them things that have to do with that kind of product. So it was really just like, again, put a calendar together. This is not have to be complicated. This is again another Google sheet. You wouldn’t believe how many Google sheets I have and we have for our clients that just lists out what people are interested in, how you know they’re interested in it and then how you can expose them to new things and then just put it in when you want to do it. It’s when it comes down.

Charles (26:00):

Yeah, I liked that. Expose them to new things. It kind of allows them to like raise a hand and say I’m interested in this. And that’s when they start getting more emails on that. So it’s not just you want to sell, you know you have your for a coats or whatever it is and you just keep blessing them endlessly. Cause I’ve had that happen too where I’m just blasted with stuff I don’t care about and eventually you subscribe. It just always happens and you get burnt out by the 30 mil or whatever it is.

Joanna (26:25):

You’re nice. You want to subscribe when you’re most people, you just hit spam on it and move on with your life. So that’s something else we’re fighting against as email marketers is the nice people in the room will hit unsubscribed because they know how it can negatively impact a business when you hit spouse. That’s not most people though. Most people are just like spam.

Charles (26:47):

Yeah. Doing a little email marketing. I kinda, I feel on the other side so I kind of know what they’re going through. So I always do the unsubscribe. I’ve also got the thing what people reply back, unsubscribe me from this email like I did on scribe button. Why did you say, why did you reply with that?

Joanna (27:01):

I’ve had, I know where you’re like, I’ll just hit that book.

Charles (27:04):

Yeah, well cause it’s actually easy to hit the button than to go back into your own tool, which is the, the comical part of the whole thing. Yeah. Anyway. Okay. So I think, yeah, so if you’re nice, please always just hit the unscrambling. You can all do it yourself if you’re listening, but that’s a different story. So when you’re actually sending them the emails, what sort of content, because we’ve all seen kind of the promotional discount, that sort of thing, but it gets boring. And you can only do that so many times. So how do you kinda like layer that in stack in something in between? It’s not that,

Joanna (27:37):

Yeah. Well that’s one of, that’s like, again, one of these signals to pay attention to like if it feels weird or if it feels common or feels like white noise, it’s probably is. So what we’ve found, and we do a lot of testing of emails, so we haven’t talked about that here, but we’re always testing emails, lots of them for sass, but also for e-commerce. And we have been fine too. That, and this should come as no surprise, right? As any marketer in the room. And when you say it, when I say it, you’ll be like, yeah, obviously, but nobody’s doing it. So what we’ve been finding is obviously you have to do something different from what people are used to seeing. So the, and it’s not different for the sake of different, it’s different for the sake of actually being something to pay attention to.

Joanna (28:26):

So first things first, the subject line, does it look like it’s coming from a marketer? So do you put it in like title case where it’s like Vermont cousin’s for everyone and it has F capitalized M F and then E like, okay that looks like marketing that just looks like marketing. Cause my friend doesn’t write that to me. My boss doesn’t send me an email with those emails with there, with everything entitled case. So think through how it actually looks in the inbox. Like how does your subject line appear? Does it look like marketing? If it looks like marketing, don’t do it. That’s it. If it’s sounds like marketing, don’t do it. And that’s where the copy that you’re going to actually write shouldn’t come off as something that a copywriter wrote. And I’m a copywriter. So it’s like people are like what you wrote?

Joanna (29:15):

No, but it should never, I should, it shouldn’t sound like copy. It shouldn’t sound like it’s polished. It shouldn’t sound like it’s put together by a boardroom. And so often marketers love to Pat themselves on the back that, that sounded really good. That sounded like marketing actually and nobody cares. So we’ve done so many tests on this and the copy that the email copy that the quote unquote boardroom likes that you might like, that you would even describe as, Oh, I like that. Throw it out, throw that out the door. Don’t send it. You can send it, but you’re not going to be happy with the results. Don’t over-design your emails. A really good example of the kinds of emails that we’re testing and seeing get through is for, these are not a client of ours. They’re called sticker mule. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them.

Joanna (30:07):

Sticker mule, like the sign up just because one, their products are actually really, really cool and affordable. But to their email, they’re an eCommerce company and their emails are text. They’re straight to the point. And you know, I open them all the time, all the time. I have bought more from sticker mule then like this box here is full of crap from sticker mule that I was just like, well I gotta have that, but they don’t look like marketing, but they’re also not trying to be your friend or come off as extra cool. They’re just an email. So we’re all very busy over complicating things like reading the blog post about how to write an email and forgetting that’s your, you’re actually a person talking to a person. That’s it really. There’s nothing weirder about it than that. There’s basic things to do to make sure that you’re not flagged in ESP is like, that you’re not flagged as spam because you use the word free.

Joanna (31:14):

Or the word free was too much. Like for the ratio of number of words reappear too frequently because you had a really short email and you basically said like, Hey, some freestyle over here, checking out with a link. That’s probably gonna. Like that’s the kind of stuff we want to worry about. Like are you saying words that will get you misfiled? What you want to do is of course get to the first tab in Gmail for anybody who uses Gmail and so many businesses and people use Gmail. So I want to get to that first tab, not be marked promotions, not be marked social or not being filtered out to anywhere else. How do we do that? Identify like what do you open in your inbox? What do you read in your inbox? What do you take action on in your inbox?

Joanna (31:56):

And newer that do the same thing. Don’t overcomplicate it. Send a text email, not text only because then it’s hard to track open rates, but use HTML that’s way stripped back to basically text only with like maybe your little logo down at the very bottom with like your unsubscribe and everything. Just to make sure that people know, like this isn’t a spoof. This is real. Like this is a real email. It’s branded, it’s from you. Make sure your from name is something that they can reply to. Like when your actual email, that kind of basic stuff that you’d expect of any email that you respond to. That’s really all it comes down to. Don’t overcomplicate it and sign up for sticker mule. So you want make it so you even want

Charles (32:40):

To use, would you as let’s say the founder send them, would you use your email and your name, send it that way? Or do you want it to be like newsletter at wherever?

Joanna (32:48):

No, exactly. So you won’t respond to a newsletter ad. If someone wrote to you, you wouldn’t, you would be like, eh. So don’t do anything that just used yourself as the most basic filter. Just like be observant of your behavior. So if you wouldn’t respond to newsletter or if you did and you got some bounce back that was like, thank you for your message, we will forward this to support. Like why didn’t you just send it directly to sport in the first place? I didn’t have to get that. So the from name should generally speaking be a person since name. It doesn’t mean it has to stop out a person’s name. It might be Joanna at copy hackers or Joe at copy hackers. Other times it’s Joanna. Other times it’s other things, right? It depends on who you’re sending it to and how much they know about you.

Joanna (33:32):

When we think about your phone and reading through your emails on your phone, the front name is bigger than the subject lines. The from name becomes a huge way for your prospect to filter out whether they should listen to you or not. If you’re like [inaudible] eCommerce company, I’m not, I’m just going to scroll past that in my inbox. But if you’re like Steve at e-commerce co or something like that, then maybe okay, I remember e-commerce go like I’m going to pay a little more attention or if you’re just Steve, I’m going to pay that much more attention. Cause like what Steve, which they wrote to me now you have to be careful. You’re not like doing like dark pattern kind of stuff, but you’re not. You’re just paying attention to what people pay attention to. We like people, we don’t like companies, so open up that email.

Joanna (34:20):

Once you have that from name, the reply to, depending on the email platform you use, you can usually have a, you can enter the email like the senders. So it’s like we’ll send our emails, but when you hit reply, then it goes to but as far as you’re concerned, until you hit reply, which you won’t often do it’s just an email from Joe. If you do hit reply well I want it to go to a box where everybody else actually will answer your email. So you obviously need a strategy for that. But that’s really it from name is very important. People don’t like companies fill in the blanks between those two things. That’s about it.

Charles (35:02):

Got it. So it sounds like kind of the two litmus test head and say, is this a good email? You write the email that you sit back and say, is this an email a, I would write to a friend. And then B, is this an email that I would reply to? You know, if I, if I received, and if you kind of answered yes to one a bolt, you’re headed in the right direction

Joanna (35:19):

Generally. Exactly. But the caveat there is that once everybody does that, now it’s white noise. So we have what we call, what we do is we call it breakthrough or bust emails. So the idea is that you come up with something that’s so different from expectations that you feel uncomfortable. That’s where you’re like probably in a good position to actually get to a place of breaking through. So your job is whenever you’re writing copy, your job is to basically sit on the edge of the blades. Like you, it could go either way, whatever you’re writing. So sticker mule, I pay attention to sticker meal because nobody else sends emails like that. That’s it. Then I look at someone like a newsletter or CB insights. CB insights is another really great one to sign up for it. It’s a newsletter, which is typically adult thing, except he signs every, every newsletter off with, I love you Colin.

Joanna (36:20):

And then his name, it’s such a pattern interrupt that I’m like, this dude is awesome. So I have to always listen to everything he says. And plus the content is actually really good, but everybody started signing, I love you. Then it would become, you know, that thing. Now you have to move away from it. So what do you want to do is write an email that’s different from expectations. So what are your competitors doing and not just your competitors, but when you think about your audience, where they’re subscribing, what emails they’re getting, what are they used to seeing? If they’re, you’re like, well they do a lot on Facebook. So Facebook writes to them, sends them an email whenever X happens on Facebook and they have to click through and it’s always the same template. So they’re used to seeing emails like that. We’re going to break that pattern and do something Zack opposite from that. So it’s not just a about, it’s about identifying conventions, doing something quite different, so different that you’re uncomfortable. And it could be either a huge breakthrough for your business or an absolute fullest and you don’t know which one it is. And that’s when you send that email, that’s when you start testing those kinds of different messages said differently and arrange like organized differently in the email itself so that you are not likely to become white noise.

Charles (37:36):

I’m still being relevant with your segmentation. Yeah, I like that. What are, if people, if someone sit sitting there and they want to push themselves this month, they want to send that breakthrough robust email. What is, other than signing, you know, I love you at the end. What are a couple of other ideas they can, people can just try like some, some examples of things. People could just try this month to see what they can do and push himself a little bit.

Joanna (38:00):

Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of different ways you can go once you’ve identified your voice, that will help a lot. So what’s the, what does your brand sound like? And if you’re like, Oh, I don’t know what it sounds like. Try something like honestly put on a character. Like when I’m teaching copywriters I have them write things in like, okay, take this, block this email and rewrite it as if you’re an E or, or rewrite it as if you’re Gandalf, that sort of thing. So try pushing a voice. That can be a good way to kind of cut through. Some people won’t like it and they’ll reply to and say like, this was dumb and you’ll be like, you’ll probably get hurt feelings. But what’s interesting is that they read it and they actually were moved to do something. So one try different voice.

Joanna (38:46):

If you don’t already have one, you don’t have to make it aggressively different. But try, try like just getting people to pay attention to you, not because you’re aggressive, but because you’re interesting. Like what was that? That was cool. Try a copywriting framework if you’re like, okay, well we’re sending emails, I feel okay about them, we have the voice, et cetera, but I’m not sure what to actually say and how to move people through my message. Then find a copywriting framework where we very often use and teach. Something called P a. S. so if you’re not familiar with it, it’s problem, agitation, solution. So you open with the problem that you believe your prospect has. Like my shoes, my feet are fricking cold cause I live in Minnesota. Agitate that with, I can’t even go outside to get my newspaper and it’s buried in the snow out there.

Joanna (39:35):

I have to get there. So you’re agitating the problem and then you sold it like, okay, I’m going to need, here’s what will actually help me do that. So I can go from indoors to outdoors in my new for moccasins, which are great for Minnesota problem, agitation solution, that’s it. It’s really straight forward because it opens in problem. Most people are living in problem States and they’re actually trying to solve those problems a lot. So a lot of marketers like to jump over problems straight to solutions because that’s the happy outcome. And you’re like, that’s not already once they’re buying happiness, which is true, but a lot of us forget about our misery. Where does like so tuned out of everything because CNN versus Fox news and we’re just like, what’s, I can’t even feel anything anymore. So you bring them back to that initial pain that they forget.

Joanna (40:24):

They feel, I might not be sitting here going like, my feet are cold, but I get the email, it says this thing about my feet being cold. I’m brought back to that moment of tension in my life. Then you agitated a bit. Like you don’t just stop there. You’re really make me feel it. Then you can solve it. And by that point, I’m sitting here with toasty feet, but I’m remembering get very cold and that I may want something. And even if I don’t, I know my sister has that problem and it’s a good gift. So I might go look into it at that point too. So try voice, try [inaudible] frameworks. So you can look up copywriting frameworks all over the place. Copy hackers has a gigantic list. If you search copywriting formulas, come up at the very top so you can find that anyway. And then other things like there’s this thing called the nine word email.

Joanna (41:14):

So I recommend that you Google that. It’s not some, I think it’s nine word or seven word, it’s short. But the idea there is it’s to like re-engage people, which is really useful for e-commerce. It’s great. It’s used often for like a sales for services and things like that. But if you know that somebody signed up has been tagged as like they’re interested in in moccasins and they’re interested in something else again for great. So you have those two tags but they haven’t bought anything from you yet. They’ve shown interest in it, but lots of time has passed. So you need to reengage them. Very simple way is to take that nine word email, which is basically like the email has their first name with a question Mark as a subject line. So Joanna, question Mark, great. Personalized, feels relevant already. Don’t overuse it.

Joanna (42:07):

Use it for this email only then you open it. And it says the language is effectively, are you still interested in for moccasins, question Mark and then signed you. That’s it. That’s the whole email and this has, you’ll have to look it up and see all of the results that people get with it. What it’s really worth a test. It’s probably something you are not doing, and it’s probably true that someone was actually interested in that, but you decided to send them this really over done email. They went to your site, they looked around, they couldn’t remember why they were there in the first place. They’re like, I’ve got other things to spend money on. What do you send them? This one email that focuses them in a single sentence, just one question targeted at them feels one-to-one. They hit reply to say, yes I am, and you have an automation set up where if they send back anything, you then follow up with an automated email that’s like, Oh, okay, well just in case you want to take a look at our new selection. Here they are with a link to that really straightforward thing you can do to reengage people again if you know what they care about in the first place.

Charles (43:15):

Yeah, that’s a good one. I’ve done that exact thing before. It’s amazing how many buys you get and you get people, you get people like apologizing to you going, Oh, I’m really sorry I got busy. And I’m like, okay, I know, but I don’t have to like upset you. But like, and they start telling me like a, like a problem you like, it’s okay, you can still buy it. It’s still like, yeah. So yeah, that one email that, that’s a great tip right there. And it’s one of those things you could probably send, I don’t know, once a year, once a couple of times a year, but it gets a result, which is amazing. So that’s awesome. Cool. All right, I think this is super helpful. A lot of tips. We kinda crammed into one little episode here. I love it. So if people want to check out the blog, you guys have a great blog by the way, so people want to check that out. What can they do? So

Joanna (43:58):

Copyhackers.Com that’s copy hackers with an S.

Charles (44:01):

Awesome. Thanks a lot for coming on today.

2 Replies to “Strategies for Writing eCommerce Emails (E113)”

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