Open secrets to email newsletter writing
There are some secrets to writing great email newsletters. Well, they’re not secrets anymore. Even so, more newsletter writers could take note of them and then we’d have way better newsletters to read!
Tyler McCune, a copywriter who specializes in email newsletter writing, is this week’s guest. Tyler has studied email newsletter writing closely, and follows all the masters, such as Marcella Allison, Matt Furey, and Ben Settle. Tyler shares email newsletter tactics to massively improve engagement and open rates.
Develop a relationship with your reader
Successful email newsletter writers focus on developing a relationship with a reader, and recognize that a newsletter is actually a very intimate medium . . . similar to the way people wrote to penpals years ago, explains Tyler.
“If you think about it that way, like you’re just writing to your pen pal, and you’re trying to entertain them and say, ‘Hey, maybe you want to buy this thing’. You’ll you’ll stand out in the inbox over everyone else who’s just pitching,” says Tyler.
A big part of the art of newsletter email writing is combining the entertainment and the valuable information in with a sales pitch.Tyler McCune
“This is like copywriting 101. It actually comes from the world of direct mail, which most people call junk mail. You’ve probably gotten this where it looks like a magazine and you flip it open and on page three, they’re trying to sell you,” says Tyler.
“If you read those, it’s really amazing because they’ll just have pieces of information there that doesn’t have anything to do with buying the product, but they’re just trying to demonstrate that they’re knowledgeable and that they’re going to give you valuable information.”
Know your newsletter audience
If you’ve succeeded at copywriting 101, the next step is knowing your your audience, what they desire, how the action you want them to take ties into that desire, and then making the link very clear for them.
One of Tyler’s influencers in Clayton Makepeace, who said: “First you sell the relationship and then you sell the product.”
Tyler expands: “If you really think of it that way, if you focus on selling the relationship . . . a lot of copywriters will say ‘If I was going to sell this to my mother, what would I say?’. You wouldn’t use some manipulation tactics like ‘If you don’t buy this you’ll never get the option again.’ You would be like ‘Hey mom, like I know you have this problem and I found this thing that will help you solve this problem. Are you interested in it?’.”
Add value with your content
In effect, it’s really a mindset shift, because most of us have been conditioned to not like salesmen because we think of like the cheesy car salesman or something similar. Tyler views sales as a service and takes the approach that for everyone on his list their time is very valuable.
I want to add value to their life every single day whether or not they buy my product . . . I’m trying to serve those poeple because that’s that’s how you build a brand – You keep on building added value, entertaining people, or selling the relationship.Tyler McCune
Tyler acknowledges that not everyone’s going to buy the first time they read your email. In fact, if if that happens, you might not even be using the right tactics.
“The reason you want to get your first email newsletter opened is because then there’ll be that much more likely to open the second one if you get the second one open they’ll be that much more likely to open a third one, and then on and on and on,” says Tyler. “And maybe after 100 or so they’ll buy from you and they’ll be a really good customer for for life.”
Find your client’s voice
When Tyler wins a new client, a big part of his preparation is studying the client’s voice. He will ask them a lot of questions (see below in show notes) and also record a phone call with them to analyze their speech and phrases and understan their voice so that he can replicate it in his writing.
“I’ve gotten testimonials from people who were like, ‘Wow, you nailed my voice’. I mean, that’s, it’s really part of the art of copywriting. It’s not such a mechanical thing. It doesn’t come when you write. It really comes from the research, understanding the audience and understanding the client’s voice.”
Advice for internal comms
Pros working in internal comms must wonder how all this applies to their email newsletters. Use this key tactic – make your newsletters entertaining. Drop the staid business speak and add light humour to your internal newsletters to increase open rates.
You may work in an organization that doesn’t encourage humour, but find case studies that show improved engagement rates and lobby for it and and you’ll eventually have win managers over.
The copywriter’s biggest mistake?
You may think that a copywriter’s biggest mistake is bad writing, typos, or incorrect punctuation. But no, Tyler says it is being boring. In other words, you really don’t know what an audience wants, and you end up talking about things that they’re not interested in.
How to improve your newsletter writng
For copywriters looking to imporve, Tyler is a big advocate of having a good copywriter read your work. If you can’t find someone to do this, a friend may work. Next, be sure to read your copy outloud and you’ll hear it very differently and find ways of improving it.
Next, work on writing more concise copy and reduce word count. Finally, work on your transitional words and phrases so that people understand the flow of your story. A confused or lost reader is one who’ll leave.
Finding a copywriter to suit your voice
“I’ve subscribed to a lot of email newsletters. I’d rather have very unique voices that are focused on entertaining me rather than just giving me more information, so it’s not like one way is right or wrong,” explains Tyler.
The key to finding a writer who’s going to be a good fit is asking them a lot of questions about their work and what kind of voices they can write in. Eqally, expect a writer to do the same, and ask you as a client a lot of questions.
Resources from Tyler:
Exclusive offer from Tyler: Contact Tyler at tyler at copybymccune.com and he’ll critique your newsletter if you tell him where you found this offer.
Questions to understand market:
- What are the hot-button issues that keep them up at night, staring at the ceiling, heartburn boiling their esophagus?
- What are the top challenges, problems, and frustrations they face on a regular basis?
- What are their “secret desires”? (the things they may never verbalize to others, but secretly want most)
- What questions do they ask you or your team repeatedly?
- What problems or challenges do they look to you to help solve?
- What are the biggest obstacles in their way when it comes to buying?
- What are they currently buying that is similar to your offer? Who is selling it and how?
Client voice questions:
- What is your company philosophy?
- What are your pet peeves?
- What is your ‘vibe’ (friendly, quirky, strange, serious, funny, smart…)?
- Do you have examples of copy you love?
- What is your mission? What change are you trying to make?
- How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie (my #1 book for non-copywriters to learn copywriting and marketing)
- Overdeliver by Brian Kurtz (a great resource to go deeper into the history and evolution of marketing — comes with many valuable bonuses)
- Systematic Magic by Vance Morris (an ex-Disney employee’s take on customer service — and how marketing and customer service interact)
- A-List Copywriter & Copy Mentor Kim Krause Schwalm (great tips about copywriting, from one of the world’s greatest working copywriters)
- Eddie Shleyner’s VeryGoodCopy (short, actionable insights, that are beautiful and fun to read)
- Sean D’Souza’s Pyschotactics Newsletter (bi-weekly, long-form articles from one of the world’s greatest unknown marketers)
- Weekly World News (just for fun — lots of copywriters read the tabloids to spark ideas).
And talking about newsletters . . . sign-up for ours while you’re here!
Need a tech management consultant?
Do you need a technology management consultant? Kevin McCall has extensive hands-on and leadership experience across diverse industries and organizations. Kevin can be reached at Kef.ca. He’s also one of this week’s episode sponsors.
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