Steal Like an Email Copywriter

Shannan Seely in RIT t-shirt

Get inspiration from your inbox to reignite your enthusiasm for writing emails

This article is filled with gratitude to the office staff at the Parent and Family Programs at Rochester Institute of Technology. Here’s the story …

We moved our oldest daughter, Claire, to the college dorm last month. She’s enrolled at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. And I feel like she was prepared, and we were prepared because of the Parent and Family Programs staff.

Well, true, Claire was organized. She kept her parents on track, but RIT was a positive influence.

Let me explain.

Initially, my husband and I scoffed at the emails we were receiving from RIT. Oh, this message is meant for helicopter parents. Adults who monitor their teenagers 24 / 7. Parents who are resisting the transition of their parenting role. Less micromanagement, more shifting responsibilities to their child.

Their boy or girl is a young adult, whether the parents are ready or not. Eventually, their child will need to do his or her own laundry.  

But then we – okay, actually me, because I’m the one who reads the emails – came across information I didn’t know.

The message recommended checking your health insurance to determine what coverage your student will have when they move to Rochester. Some health insurance plans have limited out-of-network coverage. Turned out, she needed in-state health insurance coverage for her out-of-state college student status. And the emails informed us about the options.

Thanks to the emails from RIT Parent and Family Programs, we learned this before she started college. My husband signed her up with the appropriate insurance. Yayy! Peace of mind. For her. For us.

I’m in the Parents of RIT Club

I continued to feel the emails were useful. Stuff I wanted to know. I felt like the emails were written to me personally. But I know I was one of thousands of subscribers.

Write as if you’re emailing one good friend, because that’s how people will get to know you, like you, and trust you. Henneke Duistermaat

How did the staff make me feel like they were writing exclusively to me? And why does this matter? Because you can learn from RIT’s emails. Even if you’re in healthcare, pharma or business-to-business. Because RIT completely looks at the reader experience. (I know, I know, they are a high-tech design school. But bear with me.)

You can do what they do. And your subscribers will be grateful.

At first glance, this email looks basic. And it is. But basic is effective.

RIT Students on Campus newsletter
RIT Prepare Your Student

Have you joined an email list only to be disappointed? The email messages did not align with what you expected. A waste, really. You thought, they say I’ll get this, but I end up receiving junk I don’t want.

RIT emails exceeded my expectations. And that’s why I’m bragging about these emails.

What do Rochester Institute of Technology’s emails do well?

1. The copywriter starts with a purpose and sticks to it

She studied what the parent was trying to accomplish. For me, my objective was to support Claire this summer to successfully start at RIT. And not go crazy.

Then the copywriter collaborated with the marketing team. They discussed how much the parent knows. What do they not know? What level of understanding did they have? And what did they want to know, need to know, to get to their destination? Perhaps the parents’ destination was to become fully aware of RIT programs and resources for their child.

Never underestimate the persuasion of a clear email message. Basic is so fascinating. Shannan Seely

Continue reading Steal Like an Email Copywriter

Website Quick Fix #2

Improve your B2B website headlines with these 3 helpful copy tips

(What is Website Quick Fix? You watch over my shoulder via video as I talk through a webpage’s copy and pinpoint copy challenges. Then I share tips to improve the copy. Too busy for video? Catch the written summary below.)

Neogen, an international B2B biotechnology company

★ What’s a good B2B website headline?

On your website, are the headlines capturing your prospect’s attention? They are the first words your prospect sees. What impression are they making?

You could just use a free headline analyzer – type your headline and you’re done.

But … how do you know for sure?

In Website Quick Fix #2, I look at a website for an international B2B company. Their sales have grown during the past year. Are their headlines keeping up?

The website: Neogen

Neogen develops and markets products for healthcare, food, and animal safety. They’ve expanded in biosecurity, The company offers multiple products with government approvals to fight COVID-19.

The spotlight: B2B website headlines

The headline is the most important set of words on your webpage. Good copywriters know its value, so they work hard in creating it.

★ What’s the purpose of a headline?

According to the great copywriter, Gene Schwartz, the headline has one job to do – to stop your prospect and compel him to read the second sentence of your copy. Gene’s professional life preceded the internet. But he also said your second sentence has only one job – to encourage your prospect to read the third sentence of your copy.

To start the review, let’s visit the page, Neogen Life Science Research:

Neogen B2B website headline

https://www.neogen.com/solutions/life-science-research/

As you put yourself in your buyer’s shoes, read below:

Headline: Your Provider of Industry-Preferred ELISA Test Kits

Would this headline stop and compel you to read the first sentence of the copy? No. Some B2B websites are guilty of poor headlines. Marketers may think the headline needs to be straightforward. And straightforward can be boring.

From the prospect’s point of view, this headline isn’t engaging him.

Continue reading Website Quick Fix #2

Website Quick Fix #1

3 crucial copy tips to improve an existing healthcare home page

(What is Website Quick Fix? You watch over my shoulder via video as I talk through a webpage’s copy and pinpoint copy challenges. Then I share tips to improve the copy. Too busy for video? Catch the written summary below.)

ABB OPTICAL GROUP, a B2B Healthcare company

How’s your website performing?

You expect your website to represent your company in the best possible way every day, 365 days a year. Even the days when you’re on summer vacation. (And I hope you’ll be taking a vacation this summer. You deserve it.)

Websites are an investment, of course. You were probably amazed when you learned the cost of launching a new one, not to mention routine maintenance. Your website is important and worthy of your attention.

How’s your website performing? Could boring copy be a contributing factor? If you feel like your website needs a refresh, where do you start?

You start by examining the copy.

In Website Quick Fix #1, I review the home page of an existing healthcare website. Everything I summarize here can be applied to other industries too.

Continue reading Website Quick Fix #1

You + This Copywriting Concept = More Sales

map for customer journey

Understand your prospect’s 5 stages of awareness to write more effective copy

Copywriting. Looks easy, but it’s not.

As marketers, we have problems when we write marketing copy, whether we do the writing ourselves or hire a copywriter, we agonize over this issue:

What do we say?

and

What does our prospect need us to say?

But a concept used by experienced copywriters can help us. Let me share the concept and show you how I applied it to website copy.

What’s the Concept?

The 5 Stages of Awareness of your prospect.

How to get inside a prospect’s mind

Before we write, we think about what we need to say. We know we need to focus on the reader.

We need to determine their point of view to persuade them to take action. So how do we do that? By listening to the prospect, which includes understanding the prospect’s stage of awareness.

The 5 stages of awareness is a scale. It shows how much your prospect knows about your products and services. The concept also shows how much the prospect knows about his needs, pain, and problems.    

The concept was coined by renowned copywriter, Eugene “Gene” Schwartz. And he wrote about this in the book, Breakthrough Advertising. The book was published about 50 years ago, but don’t discount this idea of its age. The framework is foundational to good copywriting.

So you need to measure your prospect’s awareness level to write to him or her.

Continue reading You + This Copywriting Concept = More Sales

How to Write a Great Testimonial for Your Vendor

Woman shouting testimonial

Show your support for a local business and boost the economy

Love it when you receive a recommendation? You appreciate the customer taking the time and effort, right?

You’re a customer too. How about you pay it forward?

Has a company provided outstanding service recently? Happy with a vendor and want to support their business? Let’s show our appreciation.

Why not write a customer testimonial on their behalf?

Andy Crestodina inspired me. Andy, cofounder of Orbit Media Studios, suggested asking loyal customers to give testimonials. Of course, he has tips on how. And you can apply this to giving testimonials as well.

Let me share tips I’ve gathered to ease the burden of writing a testimonial. You can nip the hesitancy to start. Drafting an effective testimonial won’t take you more time to write than an average one.

Plus, you can use your influence for good. You’ll help your vendor grow. And that’s gotta feel good to contribute to another’s success, right?

Continue reading How to Write a Great Testimonial for Your Vendor

Get Persuasive-worthy Testimonials with this Makeover Formula

black make up paletter by Kinkate

Use this formula when you or your team need to gather and optimize testimonials quickly

You want to add social proof to your sales emails. Good idea! If you need something fast, I suggest using customer testimonials. Compared to other forms of reviews, customer testimonials are different because they are sought and selected by you.

You can:

  • Choose the customer who gives the testimonial
  • Control what message is displayed
  • Decide where the testimonial is placed in the email

Word-of-mouth and third-party reviews don’t allow that flexibility.

Use customer testimonials

“When value is demonstrated rather than described it immediately becomes more relatable … Showing is more powerful than telling because it reflects the customer’s desire, problem or dilemma (alongside your potential solution) back to him. This is why success stories build trust in a way marketing copy never can.” Bernadette Jiwa

Your prospective buyer is bombarded with choices. As he considers what product or service to buy, inner tension builds. He’s looking for reassurance. Good testimonials minimize the friction a prospective buyer experiences inside his head. When he reads other customers’ opinions, he instinctively views this feedback as fact.

Good customer testimonials add credibility to your offer.

So read my tips and learn how to enhance your customer testimonials. If you act on these ideas, your testimonials will resonate to your prospective customer.

Continue reading Get Persuasive-worthy Testimonials with this Makeover Formula

Reexplore Using Testimonials in B2B – 8 Facts to Know

Bacon soap advertising tin

Have customers tout your company’s distinct benefits

Hey, you. Person in charge of your company’s marketing. B2B marketer extraordinaire. You’re good at what you do. And I think one reason you stay ahead is you’re always on the lookout for the next best marketing trend. A better way to get more leads, gain more customers, you know, make more sales.

But there’s a marketing tactic you’re not using.

Or not using enough.

Customer testimonials, a form of social proof.

Why use customer testimonials?

They’re versatile and unique to your company.

Doug's Fish Fry restaurant bumper sticker

“Testimonials are sought and selected by you. This means you have full control over which testimonials are used, as well as where and how they are displayed.” Sujan Patel, owner of five SaaS companies

Why you need testimonials

Continue reading Reexplore Using Testimonials in B2B – 8 Facts to Know

Use This Highly Irresistible Idea to Cut Through Marketing Clutter

Image: Hersheys.com

Convey your message in tempting mini-candy bar style

What’s your snack of choice these days working from home? For me, I love mini-size candy bars. Did you know the tiny confections have been around since the 1930s?

Let me back up. I can’t say eating a fun-size candy bar is by choice. A more precise phrase to describe my behavior is giving into a snack of temptation.

So why are these so irresistible? What’s their appeal? And why do I bring up the topic?

Mini-size candy bars by Mars, Inc.
CandyFavorites.com

1) Mini-sized candy bars = bite-sized chunks of information

If you think about it, eating a “junior” candy bar is a complete package. The bite-size sweets still contain the chocolate, the caramel, the peanuts – the value of a regular-size bar — but they’re also encouraging you to want a little bit more.

They’re a ready-made “grab and go” dessert. Tempting to devour. And people do. I do.  

So when you’re trying to convince a prospect to buy your product or service, think about conveying your message in a mini-candy bar style.

Continue reading Use This Highly Irresistible Idea to Cut Through Marketing Clutter

3 Techniques to Persuade Your Reader to Turn the Page

Wall of Mirrors painting by Claire Downey

Image: The Wall of Mirrors by Claire Downey

Lessons from Grover in The Monster at the End of This Book

When my daughters were young, we’d pile into the navy blue Honda Accord (a boxlike-design model year) and go to the public library every week for story hour. We’d check out dozens of books and scoop them up into our totes.

I was doing a weight-lifting regimen back then: hauling book totes and childcare bags, and lifting children in and out of car seats, high chairs, bathtubs, tricycles. I swear I had Michelle Obama biceps and triceps. At least back then.

On some occasions, the books they chose as their favorites would be mine too. Such as this one:

The monster at the end of this book book cover
The Monster at the End of This Book
Written by Jon Stone and Illustrated by Mike Smollin

When I needed to find a book for a toddler gift recently, I knew which one to choose. Before I wrapped it, I handed the book over to my teenager. She smiled and said, “Oh, I remember this book.” And we read aloud, “So please don’t turn the page.”

And, of course, we turned the page.

Jon wrote a classic children’s book featuring Grover. It’s not only funny and entertaining, but also steeped in persuasion. You can apply his techniques to update your marketing messages. Here are three principles of persuasion he used:

Continue reading 3 Techniques to Persuade Your Reader to Turn the Page

Welcome Emails Increase Your Open Rates by 82%

Welcome scarecrow wall hanging

Try an easy technique proven to improve your email engagement (and not everyone does it)

How’s your email marketing going?

I hear you’re focused on growing your email list. Good idea.

Over 200 marketers and 25 leading experts were asked in a recent study, which digital marketing channel generates the most return for your organization?

“About 59% of marketers said email marketing continues to generate the most return-on-investment.” Emma 2018 Email Marketing Industry Report

Email is your gold mine

So you’ve joined your peers in viewing an email list as a big asset.

And you can’t stop once you gain a subscriber. No, you’ve got to win him over to earn his long-term engagement, you know, reading your emails and taking action. Perhaps buying your product or service. Becoming a customer.

Because the value of an email list is the level of engagement, not the size of the list.

Curious to know the technique that will boost your email open rates by 82%?

Continue reading Welcome Emails Increase Your Open Rates by 82%