How to Slip Into Someone’s Inbox and Make a Sale
As a copywriter, I make my living writing sales emails and telling stories for brands.
Before I do that, I have to convince people they need me to write for them. Most of the time, I’m lucky to have a steady stream of clients who find me through word of mouth or stumble on my website. Other times, I have to swallow my pride and pitch brands on the way I can help them grow their business.
A few weeks ago, I opened my inbox to see a big, fat sales pitch staring me down.
After sending out tons of these, it was thrilling to be the one on the receiving end. No doubt, this feeling will fade. I’ll soon view cold pitches that land in my inbox the same way view I view messages from old flings who slip back into my DMs: intrigue about what they could possibly want, mixed with an overwhelming desire to banish them from my mental space forever.
But for now, I thought it’d be fun to take what I know about copywriting and dissect this email sales pitch so you can learn how to write emails that sell.
Ready? *rubs hands together* Let’s dive in.
Subject line: Strike when the iron’s hot
Well *claps* Done *claps*.
The subject line — like a headline — is the most important element to nail. It’s the first thing your recipient will see and will determine whether they open your email or viciously swipe it away.
An effective subject line should successfully draw your reader into the rest of the email by grabbing their attention or sparking curiosity.
‘Strike when the iron’s hot’ is clever. I simply had to know what he was talking about, and the phrase itself implies urgency. I couldn’t resist tapping on the email at 12:35 at night.
It was far better than something generic or super sales-y like: ‘Try Our Revolutionary New Software.’
This is a subtle point, but I like how the subject line was written in lower case instead of title case. It makes the email look like it’s been sent from a friend instead of a promotional brand email, which again, made me more willing to open it.
Takeaway: Craft an intriguing subject line that sparks curiosity and grabs attention.
Hey there, I just found your site, quick question…
I really wish he’d addressed me by my first name. Even though I know he probably sent this email to ten other people, I would have appreciated the extra personalisation.
I, like most humans, adore the sound of my first name. It makes me feel special and chosen knowing you’ve made the effort to get to know me and my business. My name is all over my website. It’s hard to miss.
Addressing your pitch or sales email directly to the recipient transforms the message from a generic, sales ad to a warm, personal letter. It makes your reader sit up and pay slightly more attention to the rest of your copy.
If you’re creating an automated email sequence for your email list on a service like Mailchimp, adding a first name tag like “Hey, |First Name|” makes a world of a difference. It’s the little details that count.
Takeaway: Always personalise the message by including the recipient’s first name — especially if it’s all over their website. And please, god, spell it correctly. It’s jarring to read a message that has your name spelt wrong.
My name’s Eric, I found ashchow.com after doing a quick search — you showed up near the top of the rankings, so whatever you’re doing for SEO, looks like it’s working well.
Why, hello, Eric. I’m incredibly curious to know what you Googled to find me. But I also know you probably have a bot that automatically preys on websites like mine. Despite this, it’s nice of you to acknowledge that I’ve done some work to improve my website.
I would have liked a sentence at the start explaining he knew what my business was or a compliment about my writing. One, because I like it when people stroke my ego and Two, it builds rapport — another key element in the sales process.
Takeaway: If you’re crafting a cold pitch or sales email, always tailor it to your recipient. Include a sentence to acknowledge their work, achievements, or what you admire about them and their business. This is Email Etiquette 101 and will endear your recipient to you.
So here’s my question — what happens AFTER someone lands on your site? Anything?
According to Joseph Sugarman’s ‘The Adweek Copywriting Handbook’, every sentence in your copy must be so compelling that your reader can’t help but continue reading till the end. By stirring up more curiosity and intrigue, this sentence gives me no choice but to keep reading further on.
Takeaway: If you want readers to read your entire message, you have to write short, compelling sentences that stir up curiosity and intrigue.
Research tells us at least 70% of the people who find your site, after a quick once-over, they disappear… forever.
I don’t know if this statistic is true. But I do know there’s something about numbers that make our hearts skip a beat — even if we claim to be writers who abhor math. Numbers give certainty and predictability. Adding this ‘solid statistic’ adds a layer of credibility and authority to his pitch. It’s more compelling than saying: “the majority of people who find your site…disappear forever.”
Here, Eric is also setting up the classic PAS structure: Problem — Agitation — Solution. I first learnt this formula from Eddie Shleyner. It’s classic because it works — you’ll see what I mean.
Takeaway: Use actual numbers and statistics for credibility.
That means that all the work and effort you put into getting them to show up, goes down the tubes.
Why would you want all that good work — and the great site you’ve built — go to waste?
Because the odds are they’ll just skip over calling or even grabbing their phone, leaving you high and dry.
Now, Eric’s moved onto agitating my pain point. He’s pushing down on my metaphorical bruise and making me wince at the consequences of not solving the problem: my precious hours and dollars being thrown away.
His email is freakishly timely.
It dropped into my inbox the week after I pulled two overnighters and guzzled a bottle of wine trying to rebuild my website and make it slick.
I like the language and imagery he’s using here. The phrases: “Goes down the tubes” and “leaving you high and dry” vividly describes the consequences of ignoring my problem. I can actually see my precious money and hard work slipping down the drain.
Takeaway: The more you can amplify the pain and illustrate the consequences, the more likely your recipient will see the need for your product or service.
But here’s a thought… what if you could make it super-simple for someone to raise their hand, say, “okay, let’s talk” without requiring them to even pull their cell phone from their pocket?
You can — thanks to revolutionary new software that can literally make that first call happen NOW.
Talk With Web Visitor is a software widget that sits on your site, ready and waiting to capture any visitor’s Name, Email address and Phone Number. It lets you know IMMEDIATELY — so that you can talk to that lead while they’re still there at your site.
Now, he’s offering his service up as the solution; the answer to my prayers.
He does this by once again adding in a pinch of intrigue: “What if…” and then spins the story of how my problem can be solved.
Again, I like how he paints the picture of someone raising their hand and saying, let’s talk. It’s much more compelling than if he had written: “what if you could make it easy for someone to contact you.”
Takeaway: When it comes to persuasive copy, the more specific you are, the better. Again, it’s all about the details.
You know, strike when the iron’s hot!
Clever. I like that it ties back to the subject line so I know it isn’t just some clickbaity scam. It also reinforces the need for me as a business owner to act quickly.
When targeting leads, you HAVE to act fast — the difference between contacting someone within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes later is huge — like 100 times better!
Again, note the use of numbers here. It helps solidify the return I’ll get if I invest in his service.
Imagine how powerful this could be — even if they don’t take you up on your offer immediately, you can stay in touch with them using text messages to make new offers, provide links to great content, and build your credibility.
Just this alone could be a game-changer to make your website even more effective.
Strike when the iron’s hot!
When you’re crafting any sort of sales copy, you have to show off the benefits more than the features. Like everyone else, all I really care about is how will this make my life easier/happier/better? The benefits here are: it’ll help me build my credibility and make my website — the one I invested hours and tears into — more effective.
Takeaway: If you can get your recipient to visualise and imagine the transformation they’ll undergo when they use your product or service you’ll have a better chance of closing the sale.
CLICK HERE http://www.talkwithwebvisitors.com to learn more about everything Talk With Web Visitor can do for your business — you’ll be amazed.
Eric includes two CTAs like this throughout the email. This is perhaps the most important part of the message: asking for the sale.
Funnily enough, you have to ask for what you want. You can’t expect people to connect the dots themselves. You have to make an offer and then tell people what you’d like them to do after reading your email or pitch. Do you want them to email you back? Click the shiny red button that says Buy Now? Sign up here?
Most people hesitate when they get to this point. I do it too. In real life, I’m almost always scared to ask for the things I want, especially when it comes to money. I don’t want to come off as aggressive. I don’t want to be pushy or sales-y or have people roll their eyes at me.
To help you overcome this fear, I’ll let Ray Edwards step in and take over the mic:
“If you truly believe you have a solution that will solve a problem for people, why on earth would you not be as direct as possible in telling them how to get the solution? In fact, aren’t you doing them a disservice by not making the strongest case possible?”
Takeaway: If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
I’m not going to take Eric up his offer because I’m not his target customer. The idea of calling people while they’re actively browsing my website and judging my innermost thoughts, makes me want to hurl. It also sounds low-key invasive and I shudder to think of all the websites that have captured my personal data.
But if I was a business that needed to talk to potential customers instantly and didn’t care about being invasive, then yes, I’d probably click the shiny link.
Some final tips to help you craft a persuasive sales email or cold pitch:
- Write in short, simple sentences. This email was ridiculously easy to skim and understand in less time than it takes to brush my teeth. If your sentences are too complex and hurts my brain to read, I’ll delete you.
- Keep it conversational. I’ve never met Eric in real life, nor do I want to. But I felt like he and I were sitting and having an amicable chat over coffee. When you write conversationally in a way that speaks directly to your recipient, they won’t feel like they’re been sold to and you’ll naturally build rapport.
- If you’d rather someone else write your emails, say, a copywriter like me, then send me a love letter here.