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

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

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

Why You’re Not Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention

The nuance of selecting the right word

By Shannan Seely

“See, the best interpreters are part linguists, part diplomats. They have to know the politics behind each word,” Danny Hajek, National Public Radio reporter.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer.

How do you want him to feel when he visits and reads the copy on your website? Like you’re speaking directly to him? So he feels like you understand him, can relate to his concerns and have the knowledge to solve his problems?

Do you want him to think, “These people get me!”

Many writers inadvertently fail to foster these feelings online with a prospective customer. Let me explain the three reasons why and how you can fix it. Continue reading Why You’re Not Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention

Creating a Picture in Your Reader’s Mind = More Memorable Content

Paint and paint brushesWhen I rewrite my drafts, sometimes I get impatient. I cross out filler words and clichés and still, the content is blah. The words I use are so boring that I’m easily distracted by our family cat, Coco, or the contractors pounding on the roof shingles of my neighbor’s house across the street. (Do they need to pound at 8 o’clock in the morning?)

As writers, what can we do to engage our readers, even if the readers are ourselves? Here’s one easy trick to make your content and my content more memorable. You already know this powerful editing tip, but do you use it regularly? Continue reading Creating a Picture in Your Reader’s Mind = More Memorable Content

The Three Actions You Need to Take to be an Effective Content Marketing Team of One

439H (1)

I admit it. Business-to-business and healthcare companies who only have one or two people responsible for content marketing is a boon for me. It’s true. Small teams need, hire and value freelance copywriters. But it’s also true that I hate seeing clients run themselves ragged trying to keep up “feeding the content marketing machine.”

So consider doing these actions if you or you and one other person are responsible for creating content in your organization. Continue reading The Three Actions You Need to Take to be an Effective Content Marketing Team of One

Read This if You Take Writing Seriously

Shannan with Ann Handley2
My picture with Ann Handley, after her presentation at Content Marketing World 2017

Were you assigned to write a blog post that’s due next week? Oh, horror of horrors! Are you worried about starting with a blank page? Do you dread writing a story from scratch?

Every bit of writing in marketing has an objective. And that can be worrisome if you don’t know your objective. If you think the words matter, then you take writing seriously. So if you’re in this camp, you may want to keep reading.

I’m sharing some pointers from Ann Handley’s presentation at Content Marketing World 2017  – Writing Secrets from Productive and Prolific Writers (the Jerks!): How to Create Better Content When No One Has Enough Time.

Her advice just might boost your writing today.  Continue reading Read This if You Take Writing Seriously

Why Defining a Strategy and Not Wavering Works

At Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Amanda Todorovich gave a talk – How to Build a Killer Content Marketing Strategy – on Cleveland Clinic’s effort to grow an audience for the organization’s Health Essentials newsletter.

Todorovich, director of content marketing, manages a team of writers, designers, digital engagement strategists and project managers. Her team is responsible for the #1 most-visited hospital blog in the country.

The newsletter started at 0 visits and grew to 5 million visits per month in October this year.

I was inspired listening to her talk. She does not minimize the effort required or the mistakes made along the way. You hear about the trial and error. Her presentation shows the possibility of building an audience in a highly regulated field. Health Essentials is a living example of what happens when you do the work, persist and continue to do the work. Eventually, you will earn good results.

So how did she and her team reach this readership? Continue reading Why Defining a Strategy and Not Wavering Works