Biz Tips: 5 Ways to Write Persuasive Marketing Emails That Compel Readers to Take Action

Biz Tips: 5 Ways to Write Persuasive Marketing Emails That Compel Readers to Take Action


5 Ways to Write Persuasive Marketing Emails That Compel Readers to Take Action

Photo Credit: V3B

How to craft marketing emails that get opened (and clicked)

A few weeks ago I received an email marketing message from a particular company that really put a bad taste in my mouth.

It had no practical insights to offer (not even academically theoretical). And, to be honest with you, it really wasn’t even inviting. In fact, it was a bit demeaning in some areas.

In other words, the tone of voice was as if they wanted to make sure you (the reader) knew that they were all-knowing, and that you were not.

The fact of the matter is: nothing about this particular marketing message made me want to go further down this particular company’s sales and marketing funnel.

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Moreover, it left me wondering how much of that company’s advertising budget had to have been spent on promoting such a ridiculous message.

Because of these things, and out of worry for other marketers out there, I thought you all might find the following tips helpful.

1. Just say NO to the passive voice

When it comes to writing persuasive marketing copy, you want to try and avoid the passive voice at all costs.

The reason I say this is because, typically, sentences written in the passive voice are much more difficult to read, and therefore, harder to understand.

For example, to say “The promotion email went out by John” would be considered passive. The active voice for this thought would be, “John sent out the promotion email.”

Notice how in the active voice the responsibility for the action being made is being given to John in a direct way. The passive voice dismisses the responsibility and makes it that much more difficult to figure out who is doing the action.

You see, it takes more work for a reader to comprehend a sentence that is written in a passive voice than one that is not. And the harder it is for a reader to understand what he or she is reading, the more difficult it is to remember.

“When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.”

Enrique Jardiel Poncela

I would highly suggest blowing that quote up and hanging it above your workspace so that it is in front of you every single time you sit down to write. And before you writing anything — especially marketing copy — I would highly recommend you carefully consider those words.

Plus, remember this: communicating through the written word is all about making sense, and if people don’t understand what you’ve written (or it takes work for them to understand what you’ve written), then effective communication has not taken place.

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And if it’s a marketing message you are trying to communicate, understand this: if you are unsuccessful in making sense, you’ll be just as unsuccessful in making dollars.

In short, be sure to read through your copy a few times in order to identify any sentences you’ve written where you may have taken the passive approach.

2. Focus on what side of the human psyche you are trying to trigger

As a manager of a team, I’ve come to recognize that there are two types of trigger mechanisms that make up the human psyche.

You see, if you tell someone to not do something, it is human nature to do that which you were told not to do — I call this the fight response.

Consider the child who is told, “Don’t touch the hot stove!” If you were like me as child, when I was told not to touch the hot stove I became that much more intrigued as to why I couldn’t (or shouldn’t ).

From a management perspective, if you were to tell one of your subordinates, “You’re not suppose to do that!” or “Don’t do that!” the typical response is to become insubordinate and to deliberately disobey — to fight or become defense.

In fact, most subordinates immediately go into thinking, “Well, screw him. He’s just out to hassle me and give me a hard time. I’ll show him.”

In reality, this is not the case at all. For example, there was a time when I worked in the security industry — and what most don’t seem to realize is that security is really 90% safety and only 10% security.

You see, it’s not safe to leave doors unsecured when you leave a facility, even if you are only going to your car for a minute or to throw something away in a dumpster or to take a smoke break.

As a security guard or officer, it’s their job (their duty) to insure the safety of those within the facilities they are assigned to.

Therefore, they could either attempt to demand that someone not leave a door unsecured by saying something like, “You’re not suppose to leave the door open!” or they could do it another way— which I will share in a minute.

As I mentioned above, the typical response or behavior security officers often witness is: “Well, screw him. He’s just out to hassle me and give me a hard time. I’ll show him.”

In reality, a security officer doesn’t say things like this just because they want to hassle someone. You see, the intent of a security officer is to insure safety, not be a pest.

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However, the problem is that not many people outside of security actually “get” what security is all about (and there are some that are in security that don’t get “it” either), and what security officers are suppose to do.

And security officers also have this unrealistic belief that those outside of security should know or understand what security is all about.

That is why their approach is typically viewed by outsiders as, “He’s just out to hassle me and give me a hard time. I’ll show him.”

The truth is, there’s another way to get the desired response that you want. Remember, there are two trigger mechanisms, or driving factors that make up the human psyche.

You see, a great deal of our decision making process and behavior is influenced by the way a case is presented to us.

Photo Credit: The Human Company

For instance, there is another side to our human psyche that is all about being perceived has someone who is caring, compassionate, thoughtful, and selfless.

In other words, if the security officer was to change his or her approach, and instead of saying “You’re not suppose to leave the door open!” — with an attitude as if the person is suppose to know this already, he or she could say something like this:

“When you leave the door unsecured like you have, it makes things that much more unsafe for those inside.

In fact, imagine if you left this door open and went to the dumpster, like you are doing, and someone happen to be walking through this parking lot and noticed that door open.

That person could easily enter the building and do something extremely dangerous — like become an active shooter, you name it.

How would that make you feel? If someone were to enter the building through a door that you left open, and ended up shooting and killing people — how would that make you feel?

It wouldn’t feel very good, would it? You would feel at fault, wouldn’t you?

Well … look, I’m not trying to be difficult. And I’m not trying to hassle you. But what I am doing is asking for your help. You see, security and safety is everyone’s responsibility — not just that of the security team. And we need your help so that we can better help you.

Will you help us by remembering to shut the door behind you when you leave?

Did you notice what I did there? I triggered the part of the human psyche that wants to be perceived has someone who is caring, compassionate, thoughtful, and selfless.

You see, by informing the person of why they are suggested not to leave the door open — and by telling them that you need their help to insure the safety of everyone in the building — there is this internal drive to not want to experience that feeling of guilt or fault for something major that might or could happen due to a certain behavior or decision they made — I call this the comply response.

With this in mind, consider what part of the human psyche you are trying to trigger when you are writing out your marketing copy.

Are you triggering the fight response, where people want to deliberately give you a piece of their mind and go against what you are asking them to do?

Or are you trying to trigger the side of the human psyche that wants to be perceived has someone who is caring, compassionate, thoughtful, and selfles — the comply response.

While this is something you’ll want to A/B test against the alternative to determine how your readers and prospects will respond, there is plenty of research to back up its effectiveness.

3. Readers will only recall what you wrote first and last — so these are the areas you should focus on the most

Photo Credit: Daily Herald

There was a 1962 study done by Mr. Murdock known as the “serial position effect.” According to the study, people are more likely to recall the first and last items on a list rather than what is located towards the middle.

Mr. Murdock tested this theory by asking participants to study a list of words that varied in length (anywhere from 10–40 words), and then had them recall what they could remember.

What he found was that each participant’s ability to recall any word was heavily dependent upon the position of the word in the list. For instance, earlier words were recalled more frequently than those that fell in the middle.

The reason for this was because the items that appeared early on in the list were distinguished from the others as a result of what Mr. Murdock called the primacy effect. Moreover,the words that fell at the end remained in the short-term memory spectrum, which he referred to as the recency effect.

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Now, when it comes to applying this type of insight when writing out your marketing messages, I would suggest carefully considering the way you position information within bulleted or numbered list, or throughout your copy altogether.

For instance, you’ll want to start strong, making sure that you get your most valuable information out first, and then end with a call-to-action that’s hard to forget.

4. Take advantage of the comparison method — show, don’t tell

As you know, there are two sides to every story, and just like every decision, we need to be able to compare two different options before coming to a well-throughout conclusion.

You see, when it comes to writing your marketing messages, it’s important to shape your argument in the format of a relatable comparison. In other words, people needed to be reminded — throughout your copy — why they don’t want to pick the alternative option — that alternative being not buying your product or service at all.

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Whether it be a metaphor or a story, embedding the hard evidence of your case in something familiar helps to eliminate the amount of explaining you have to do when it comes to getting to the close (or call-to-action).

As you know, less is more. And you’ve heard it before: show, don’t tell. When you take this approach it leaves you with more wiggle room for what’s important — like getting pass their objections.

Moreover, as we’ve already discovered in the points above, often times drawing a connection between two things will evoke an emotional response, which can be used to your advantage.

In other words, as you may already know, people always buy based off emotional reasons first. Then they use logic to justify their emotional decision.

Considering how our emotions influence our decision making process, you’ll want to focus on creating a story that speaks to your reader’s pathos.

5. The facts Ma’am. Just the facts

Photo Credit: Watchman on the Wall

I’m sure you can agree, just about everyone has an opinion these days.

However, the problem with opinions is that they can be misleading, and easily debunked.

Facts, on the other hand, not so much!

Tot hat end, the success of your marketing messages relies heavily on your ability to back up your claims.

In other words, if what you say can’t be backed up by something (or someone) credible, you’re giving your readers no reason to take you seriously. Consider this quote:

“The number one most important element in order to have successful persuasion is credibility. And the number one way to gain credibility is to be introduced through someone who is perceived as credible.” — Adam Michaels

Now, let me show you what this might look like:

A) Our content marketing is awesome.

Says who?

B) We were named The Best Inbound Content Marketing Agency of 2018 by HubSpot.

Nailed it!

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To make sure that your next marketing email messages are more than just a collection of weightless opinions, be sure to carefully dissect your copy in order to identify its weak points.

The objective is to communicate a marketing message that makes sense, triggers the comply response within the human psyche, presents your most valuable information first (or last), provides a comparison that makes your messages more relatable, and, finally, focuses more on facts than opinion.

William Ballard, MBA is a highly sought after business strategist, marketing consultant, and founder of William Ballard Enterprise. He has been involved in digital marketing since 2009 and business management since 2013. William served a short stint in the military before becoming a serial entrepreneur. Since then, he has written 6 books and e-books and has no plan of slowing down.

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5 Ways to Write Persuasive Marketing Emails That Compel Readers to Take Action was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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