How to Write Emails that People Actually Read
I looooove email marketing, and I could talk about it forever. Most of all, I love making sure my emails stand out and actually get read! I’ve had multiple people over the years tell me that my emails stand out as an example of how to make sure emails are fun. So we’re talking about how to write emails that people actually read to make sure yours get read, too!
How to Write Emails that People Actually Read
Want to listen to the podcast version of this post? I’ve got you covered!
Before we dive in, I want to clarify that when I say “how to write emails that people actually read,” I mean emails that you’re sending to your email list. Those tend to have a connotation of sales 24/7, and you do NOT want that! The goal should be building relationships with people on your email list so they want to open and read your emails.
It’s a MASSIVE compliment to hear that someone actually subscribes to and reads your emails regularly. I never want people who have subscribed to my list for a freebie to feel like I’m exploiting them and will only ever sell to them.
Brief history about the importance of an email list
Building an email list is important, period. Your email list is the only place where you can house people that you ACTUALLY have control over and own.
I talked a few episodes ago about the importance of diversifying your income streams because we don’t own the social media platforms where we build our audience. Someone could easily decide your account violates their terms of service and kick you off the platform.
Your email list is the ONLY place where you can send people that someone else doesn’t have control over. If you wanted to print a copy of your email list every single day and carry it around in your pocket, you can honey.
Email is intimate! Someone giving you their email address and permission to show up in their inbox is a big deal.
Whenever we post on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or wherever, probably only 5% of the audience we’ve built there actually sees the post. Emails definitely don’t show up in the inbox of every single person on your list either, but it’s WELL above social media platforms.
For me, I’d say about 3% of my followers on Instagram see my posts and like 8-9% see my stories.
But you know the percentage of people on my list who open my emails? 30-40%.
That’s a MASSIVE difference. Ownership is huge, and you know I’m a big proponent of not building your house on someone else’s land.
You have to NURTURE your list!
I have been on email lists where I see people total fail at nurturing you, and it makes me cringe down into my soul.
Some people think: “I gave them something for free, they hopped onto my email list, and now it’s my entire job to sell to that person.” That’s literally like asking someone on a date, buying their dinner, and then calling them 72 times before noon to tell them you want to get married. That’s NEVER gonna work, folks!
If you get someone on your email list, you HAVE to spend time in the dating phase. They need to trust you to not constantly be in their inbox selling to them. And when they get to that trust phase, they feel like they should open your emails when you send them. And making sure someone opens your emails is the first step to getting them read!
Side note about delivery:
Delivery is also a big concern, and it’s one of the reasons I use ConvertKit. I have way higher open rates with them than I have had with any other platform. And if you wanna try it for yourself you can do it using my affiliate link right here! You want to make sure your emails are landing in people’s inboxes.
After your email gets delivered, you have to make sure the recipient WANTS to open it!
If you’re constantly emailing people sales pitches, they’ll eventually stop opening your emails. So, when you ARE doing that big launch, your open rate is going to be way less than it would have been if you just spent time in the dating phase.
Make your email list feel wanted! The people on it should feel like you get them, and like they’re part of your community. Last week’s episode was ALL about building community, so check it out right here if you’re wondering about that.
Quick Tips on how to nurture your list
1. Create community and expectation around your list
Make your subscribers understand what day and time they’ll spot your name in their inbox, AND make sure they know that your emails are WORTH opening! I want my subscribers to say, “I’m going to see Jessica in my inbox every Friday with an email packed full of value and I can’t wait to open it.”
I launched HARD at Black Friday and sent a lot of emails selling into Insta Sales School. And because of that, I took a little break from emailing my list because I didn’t want to come off as super aggressive. But now, hopefully I’m back on the weekly email train!
You want to create expectations around your list because you want people to expect and look forward to your emails.
2. Follow the 80/20 rule
I have a whole podcast episode coming out about the 80/20 rule in two weeks, so stay tuned. In email marketing, the 80/20 rule is the percentage which you should NURTURE vs the percentage you should sell.
I do NOT mean that you should sell 80% of the time and nurture 20% of the time, but I actually mean the exact opposite. You should NURTURE your list 80% of the time and sell only 20% of the time.
I know that this particular stat sounds heavy… but if we don’t create community, who’s gonna buy it? If we don’t make people want to open our emails, then nobody will open our emails.
How to write emails that people actually read and WANT to open!
First and foremost, BE YOU. Write like you speak.
SOOOO often, I will write an email or an Instagram caption and I’ll get a comment that says, “oh my gosh, I heard your voice in my head reading every word of that.” And it’s because I write the same way that I speak.
I want to make my writing authentic to me, so I write like I speak! I’ll infuse sarcasm and my southern accent in my writing, because you need to hear me when you read my stuff! You’ll feel WAY more connected to me when it happens!
I have a friend who has always tried to out-write the way that she speaks. When I have a standard conversation with her, she’ll speak to you just like a normal human. But when she writes, she tries to be a lot more proper than she would in real life. For me, as someone who KNOWS her, it comes across that way to me. So you can imagine if someone only reads her emails and then hears her speak, they might not even think it’s the same person.
Go back to that 10th grade reading teacher and tell her to screw off, and write like you talk. (My 10th grade reading teacher used to tell us NOT to write like we talk… which makes sense in some scenarios, but in this one, it does not apply.)
Make your emails to your subscribers ABOUT THEM.
Your emails shouldn’t just be about you, what you’re doing, or what you have to give. They should be about the person reading the email!
This is a GREAT opportunity to build a community in your newsletter! Make people feel like you get them and make them feel seen. Your newsletters should be about them!
Yes, of COURSE you can include if you’re doing something exciting or launching something or releasing regular content. But even then, the MAJORITY of the email needs to be about them.
I can already hear a lot of people coming back at me and asking: BUT HOW DOES THAT WORK FOR MY [insert business here: Brick and mortar, Etsy store, something else]
And I promise, it ALL works the same.
The email to your list should be in some way helpful or inspirational for them.
Let’s say that you have an Etsy shop where you sell heirloom teddy bears made from clothing that a customer sends you. A lot of your customers want teddy bears made from clothing of a loved one who has passed away to commemorate them.
When you’re writing a newsletter ot hte people on your email list, it should NOT BE…
- Look at this cool bear I did!
- Don’t forget to buy your bear
- I have a sale going on
Instead, it’s “10 tips on how to deal with losing a loved one,” and the 9th tip is having something that makes the person feel present with you. And your teddy bears are a great way to do that.
THAT’s what your newsletter should be. Everyone on your email list, no matter what your business is, has a problem. And they all need to feel seen. Make it about them! They should feel like they’ve got a friend in you.
Keep it fun!
If you want people to WANT to read your emails, you’ve gotta keep it fun! It can’t be a bunch of stiff, corporate emails.
I’m on a bunch of different newsletters for companies whose services I use. Let’s use a security company as an email. If I get emails from this security company that are just constantly informational and boring and impersonal, I’m going to stop opening them altogether. If they want to upsell me from their basic package to their mid-level package with a sale, then it won’t work because I wasn’t reading their emails to begin with! If I’m not reading the emails before, then I won’t open the email about the sale.
Imagine instead that this security company sends me an email every week about funny breaking and entering stories, or funny crime stories from across the world. I’m going to read those every single time, and probably even wait in anticipation of reading them! So, when it comes time for that company to send me an email upselling me, then I’m going to open it because I open them every week. See what I’m saying?
This is for ANY kind of business out there. Keep it fun!
On that same note, integrate personal stories to help keep it fun!
For instance, if I want to send my email list an email about staying motivated, I can send them an email all about motivation that incorporates a fun or interesting personal story that’s relevant! It leaves breadcrumbs to help build my community, lets people get to know me better, AND helps prove my point.
My husband is REALLY, really good at this. And he doesn’t know he’s good at it. If you don’t know, my husband is a preacher. So every Sunday, he’s up there preaching and talking Jesus. He’ll get up there and tell a story about working with cattle last week and then tie that example into the message he’s preaching.
Our brain NEEDS those real life connection points to make things click!
When you send regular emails where you write like you talk, you’re fun, you give people information tailored for them, and you include fun stories, who WOULDN’T want to open your emails?