Don’t scoff, save! Plus: a surprise sequel

Ep. 2 Takeaways from Budget Breakthrough

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About this episode
Let’s dive into the strategies and methods used in the dazzlingly simple email Jo wrote for a pricey EdTech brand we featured in Episode 1.  Plus, don’t miss the surprise sequel to this email story!

(1:35) Takeaway #1: Email isn’t dead, but it is getting stale. Instead of chasing new, shiny platforms, how can you do email “fresh”?
(3:08) Takeaway #2: Don’t scoff – save! Use “bad” emails to inspire good ones.
(3:48) Takeaway #3: Just do behavioral emails. The work is worth it.
(4:22) Tip: Gmail will thread – and bump up – a second email that has the same subject line as the previous email.
(6:02) Takeaway #4: Evaluate your strategy against the big picture. Make sure any cleverness/fun/creativity isn’t getting in the way.
(7:11) Takeaway #5: Don’t forget the Rule of One. Write to one person. Picture that one persona, and write to them.
(8:10) Takeaway #6: Don’t underestimate intangible urgency. Structure drivers and motivators as urgency plays. Plus: Know Thy Customer
(9:32) Takeaway #7: Tease cautiously. Use them for exciting launches or drops, use them if you’re a cult brand, and make sure you include a CTA.
(10:49) Bonus: 1:1 abandoned cart emails work really well for pricier products

Links from this episode:
Take another look at the email we featured in Episode 1
Take a look at the surprise sequel abandoned cart email
Get Nikki’s email musings at ⁠ ⁠

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I happen to know which company this is that Jo wrote this email for, and I saw someone else post their abandoned cart email, and what’s so cool about it is that you can see how the team took the groundwork of what Jo created, what she stole from the nine word email, and they stole that and used it for their abandoned cart. It’s so cool. Welcome to Email Swipes, where we peek behind the scenes at the emails that catch your attention and earn their place in your swipe file. Every other week we’ll talk to an email expert about an experiment they ran and in the following episode we’ll dive into the strategies and methods used in the email so you can inform and inspire your own email work. I’m Nikki Elbaz, the copywriter behind winning emails for eight and nine figure SaaS and e-commerce brands like Shopify, Four Sigmatic and Sprout Social, and I know that hearing the background stories to these emails will help you turn pie in the Sky insights into plug and play actions. Ready to make inspiration tactical. Let’s go First. A quick recap of the email we discussed last week that we’ll be digging into today. Hi, joanna, are you still wondering how you can incorporate blank seamlessly into your existing curriculum? I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, so you can make a go, no go call before the end of budgeting season. Just hit, reply and send me your questions. Thanks, melissa. I’ll be honest, it’s a little intimidating critiquing an email written by your mentor, but we do what we gotta do, so let’s go. Also, truthfully, these takeaway episodes are less about critiquing the emails that we are swiping and discussing and more about breaking them down, seeing what methods we can take away, what insights we can take away, what ideas, what strategies, all that kind of good stuff. The first thing we touched on nothing to do with the actual email itself, just something that we were talking about is the idea that email is far from dead, and Jo totally sparked an epiphany for me that new platforms are so much more fun and engaging because they’re new, not because they’re doing better, because they’re better by definition. The fact that they’re new means that there are way fewer templates and rules and playbooks for these new shiny platforms, so everyone on them is innovating, and innovation and new ideas and things like that are way more engaging for us as an audience. Take your typical abandonment sequence An hour after shopping you get a. Did you forget something? Email? Do you remember the first time you got one. The first time you got one, it was the coolest thing ever. What they saved my card. They know what I want. They’re asking me if I forgot something. It’s so cool Now. It’s annoying, it’s creepy, it’s eye-roll worthy because you’ve seen it a thousand times. So take away number one. Let’s not get so disweighted by the whole email is dead argument and realize that, yeah, like Jo said, a lot of people are just not doing email well, not because they’re doing it badly per se, although obviously there’s plenty of that but because it’s getting stale. So, instead of chasing new shiny platforms, can we breathe life into a platform that we know works well but maybe just need some revamping? I mean, hey, one way is listening to this podcast. So go you. Now let’s dig into the actual email itself. I love that. Jo saw an email somewhere, saw how they missed an opportunity and then used it. It’s easy to critique things. It’s easy to roll your eyes every time you see a brand fail at email. It’s easy to get annoyed. It is way more productive, however, to write down missed opportunities in a doc, save it, let it germinate into an idea. You never know what missed opportunity will be a great idea for you and the email problem that you are working on. So take away number two. Don’t scoff save. Write down everything you see. Good, bad ugly swipe from everywhere. Don’t just remember the good stuff and don’t just roll your eyes at the bad stuff. Remember the bad stuff and use it to do the opposite. In passing, jo mentioned that this email was sent to those who showed a bit of engagement, and that’s actually a really critical point. Working with subscriber behavior is a pain in the neck. It’s really annoying when you are following up on actions that your subscribers took. You have to build out so many more emails for every little variation of behavior. You have to have your tagging all set up right. You have to think about all the possibilities. It’s a lot, but it’s so, so critical to getting better results. Take away number three. Just do behavioral. Put in your big kid pants and do it. It’s worth it. Alright, I’m curious what you thought about that whole fake re-reply in the subject line. It actually reminds me of an email I wrote for Doodle. The subject line was re-re-re-re-re-re-re. It might have been re-re-re-re-re-re Monday, if I don’t remember offhand. The email was about email threads and how annoying it is when people try to book meetings in email threads and the whole thing is just re-re-re-re-re-re replies for days on it. But there was a guy on the Doodle team who was not okay with the subject line because of the whole re-re-re-re-re thing, because people will often use this fake re thing to try to get people’s attention. So we changed it and, I’ll be honest, I was a little sad about it. To me, that was being creative with re, not being spammy. It was taking the re concept and using it, not abusing it. There’s a huge difference between storytelling with re, like I did with the Doodle email or like this email, which is a follow-up to their engagement, and those totally fake re-emails that you assume are continuing something that never even started. Well and, by the way, here’s a tip If you use the same subject line twice in a row, gmail will thread the emails. So let’s say, you send out an email and the subject line is join my webinar on Wednesday. So if you send an email a week later that says join my webinar on Wednesday, gmail will thread the emails. So it looks like a follow-up conversation. You know what I’m talking about. It has like your name and then it has like a two next to it so it looks like a real person, not just email marketing software. This can be a great way to get a subscriber’s attention, but it also could be something you want to avoid, depending on your strategy. Maybe you want it to be a separate email, but either way, it’s just a good thing to know so that you can use it or avoid it as needed. One thing that I loved that Jo mentioned when evaluating the email herself was that it’s not the most impressive piece of copy. I think that’s a huge, huge part of being a successful copywriter is knowing when to go hard on creativity or cleverness or fun, and when the strategy just doesn’t call for it. It’s really hard not to be impressive. We so, so want to be clever and dazzling, but sometimes, and often really, it just gets in the way. Our readers shouldn’t actually realize they’re reading good copy. The best response to an email shouldn’t be I loved this email. It should be a click and then maybe in I love this email. We definitely want to initiate a conversation. We love hearing feedback, obviously, but if that’s the only thing the email is doing, then it’s not doing its job, and so then we need to scale back on the fun. So take away number four Always evaluate your ideas through the lens of the big picture. What purpose is the email serving? Think about your medium, the context. Does the idea fit? Because sometimes the simplest, most natural thing is the best strategy. Speaking of simplicity, let’s talk about that next. The simplicity here in this email is that Jo took email back to what it is at its core. Email is about one to one communication, a conversation. I actually believe it’s more ethical to treat marketing email as marketing email and that it is okay if emails land in promotions because they actually belong there, or if subject lines feel like marketing subject lines. Marketing email is its own medium, different than personal email, so we can treat it like that. Obviously, though, sometimes it just fits better to go back to that plain stripped down email of old, to make it more personal, especially since this email came from the sales team and would be handled by a person. It just makes sense to go that route. So take away number five. Don’t forget the rule of one. When writing an email, you’re addressing just one person, you’re picturing that ideal persona and writing to them and them alone. Even if you’re doing a marketing style email, you’re making it personal so that it resonates. When the client asked Jo to ever green the emails, suddenly there was no more urgency of budgeting season, and this is something I love to both discuss and work with Intangible urgency. There is always something that should drive your customers to move. Obviously, there’s nothing like a deadline. Real, legit urgency is fabulous, but there are drivers and motivators to work with beyond the deadline. If you know your audience well enough, you can tap into those things. You can structure them as urgency plays to make them that much more powerful. Take away number six Don’t panic if you can’t use urgency and don’t just sprinkle your copy with motivators or drivers. Use them in place of urgency and obviously know that customer. That’s kind of key. I’m really curious what you thought about the whole B2B vs B2C question. Do you think it makes a difference? If a subscriber is using budget, that’s not their money, but is their money to do their job? Send me an email. Podcast at nikielbuzzcom. I’d love to hear what you think about this. It’s something that I don’t have any research or data on, just my own biased opinion, but either way, I love what Jo said about this. If something works for one group, it’s the beginning of a hypothesis that it will work for another group. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. And this ties back to takeaway number four, that we don’t have to always impress Zendazzle and work harder. Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes something we already did is the best strategy. Last takeaway Jo said that Huat or whatever that denim brand is called does a lot of teas emails and she said she hates them because she wants to buy now, not wait. Yes, yes, yes. This is a funny playbook that we have to follow thing. Obviously, it works for some exciting product launches or drops. Obviously it works for some cult brands, but usually they fall flat. They’re a waste of engagement. Your subscribers are opening an email and there’s nothing for them to do. If you love the idea of a tease or your client is insistent, don’t let that opportunity go to waste. Don’t let that engagement just die. Add in a CTA, add in some way that they can tangibly engage. Give them an action to do. Don’t just let them sit there wasting away. Fyi, it feels so hypocritical talking about how teasers don’t usually work when I just tease the launch of this podcast, but that’s exactly the point. They do work in certain contexts. This podcast was 13 months in the making. My audience is small enough to care about what I’m working on and I put in a CTA. So takeaway number seven tease cautiously Unless, of course, you’re an older brother. Then you have a free pass to tease all you want. Okay, enough with the puns, but really make sure you have an actual strategy to your tease and you’re not just doing it because you’re supposed to be doing it. And now I have a surprise sequel that fits in so beautifully to this whole story of how Jo took this nine word email and created this other email, because I happen to know which company this is that Jo wrote this email for, and I saw someone else post their abandoned card email. And what’s so cool about it is that you can see how the team took the groundwork of what Jo created, what she stole from the nine word email, and they stole that and used it for their abandoned card. It’s so cool. What’s great is that I’ll read it to you in a second, but you’ll see that it’s not a direct copy, just like Jo’s email was not a direct copy from the nine word email. It’s different. Okay, let’s take a look for a second, or take a listen. Actually, hi, lianna, looks like you started to purchase your blink but stepped away to think about it some more. That’s smart. It’s a big and exciting decision. Here’s something I learned when I joined the company. Almost all blink owners have very specific, unique to them questions. Our website can’t cover it all. That’s why I wanted to reach out to you personally and introduce myself as your point of contact. If you have any questions about projects, financing, where blink fits in your process or anything else, I’m here to help. My number is blink. Give me a call or shoot me a text. So I love this strategy using it for an abandoned car, using this one to one personal touch. It’s so, it feels so personal, it feels so helpful. I’ve done it for other brands since seeing this one and it just works so well for high touch, pricey products. It’s just genius. So you can see that again, it’s not a direct copy from what Jo did and Jo’s email was not a direct copy from the nine word email. They each took inspiration from it and that’s really what email swipes are all about. That’s what they’re here for. We dig into the strategy, we uncover that core and then we take that core out and we adapt it to whatever we’re working on, which is kind of what we’re all about to hear on this podcast Email swipes. How effortful. Thanks for listening. Hope this episode gave you some ideas to adapt to whatever you are working on now. Thanks for geeking out with me about that email story. If you enjoyed either of these episodes, you’ll probably enjoy getting my emails. Plus, you’ll never miss another episode. Sign up at nickyelbuzzcom, slash subscribe and yes, that link is in the show notes. Up next, on email swipes, that ended up kind of getting scrapped just because of legal uncertainty, I guess at the moment. So I was having a conversation with our social media manager, daniel, who said why don’t you write a love letter to our customers? That’s so cool. I’ve never heard of legal making something better.

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