The 7 Commandments of Writing Emails that Sell (& The Ice Cream Diet)

We’ve seen it a million times if we’ve seen it once, GLAD WORKS friends. A business owner spends a lot of time and money getting an email marketing campaign together only to have it do a big giant belly flop into the FAIL pool.

It’s a shame when that happens and it makes us cry real tears of sorrow and regret because we know what could have saved that campaign. We could have helped. But all those failures have not happened for nothing because we’ve studied them and learned from them. Today, we will impart some of that wisdom.

Learn from us, Grasshopper.

Commandment #1: Thou shalt not use words like Free! Hot! Sale! or Act Now!

Consumers are inundated with messages like this every day. Your email is going to get lost in the fray if you do that. You must fight the urge!

Commandment #2: Thou shalt write a compelling and honest subject line

As with any email you send, you’re faced with the challenge of coming up with a subject line that shouts “READ ME!”  A good subject line presents the content of the message while managing to be interesting and compelling at the same time. When writing your subject line, try saying what value there will be in reading the email. For example, you can say “Lose 20lbs eating ice cream! Here’s how!” instead of “Ice Cream! Act Now!”  The first example tells you that you’re going to read about how ice cream can help with weight loss, but it also hints that you’re not going to lose 20lbs unless you read this email. 

Commandment #3: Thou shalt keep the message to the point

Your readers are just as busy are you are, so you don’t have much time to get your point across before they click away and move on to the next thing. Some say that the best way to market to people is to include a clever anecdote at the beginning of the message, but we don’t know about that. A concise (yet detailed enough to be interesting) opening seems more appropriate to us.

That said, there are going to be times when an anecdote is perfectly appropriate. In fact, if we use our ice cream weight loss example, an anecdote about how someone lost 20lbs by eating ice cream would be completely perfect!

Do what makes sense for what you’re trying to accomplish and make sure that whatever you choose, you have a point and it’s very clear to the reader.

Commandment #4: Thou shalt obey the rules of good design

For the love of all that’s good and decent in the land, make sure your email is pleasing to look at. Pick one easy to read font in only one color and keep things looking clean and consistent. You don’t want your reader to get a headache.

Commandment #5: Thou shalt tell people why they care about your message

Like we said earlier with the subject line, you need to give people a reason to care about what you’re saying. So, for example instead of something like “sign up for our free ice cream diet newsletter” you could say “Sign up for our free ice cream diet newsletter and get recipes, advice and tips from a trained professional every week.”

Commandment #6: Thou shalt tell people what to do

Congratulations on making it this far! Your reader opened your email and read it, but now what?  Tell them what to do, of course!  Do you want them to sign up for something?  Watch a video?  Shop your semi-annual sale? Tell them specifically what you want them to do, otherwise they’ll close the email and walk away without having done a thing!  That would be a terrible shame after you’ve come this far!

Commandment # 7: Thou shalt not overwhelm people with too much content

It’s so tempting to pack as much stuff as you can into a single email, but try to resist. People aren’t going to read about every new product launch, plus all your sale items, plus whatever else you’ve got going on. Save the product launch and the other “newsy” stuff for an email newsletter. Keep your focus on the one thing you want people to take action on. If you have several, break them up into separate emails and spread them out.  You don’t want to overwhelm people with too much content, which is exactly why this blog post has only seven commandments instead of ten!  You're welcome.

So that’s it, GLAD WORKS friends. Keep these rules in mind and your emails will start working for you!

The ice cream diet on the other hand? 

We’re skeptical.


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