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Crafting Content

Lesson 6 from: Effective E-mail and Newsletter Marketing

Jeff Goins

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Lesson Info

6. Crafting Content

Lesson Info

Crafting Content

So in the session, we're going to talk about content about howto actually, right, and send that email. And so at this point, you should have an idea of how to set up your newsletter, and in fact, some of you following along may have already done that. You've set up your list, you've got that form on your website, maybe you even sent a une email to joe bob, hopefully not, but you're ready to go. And so now it's a question of what do we say? What do we have to say to our audience? And how do we say it? And four years is? As I said, I never really thought of myself as a writer. I waited to feel inspired before I would write. I mean, I would write once in a while, like on a saturday afternoon where I was, you know, where the wind was blowing in just the right direction. I had drunk enough coffee and I thought, I like it is good. It is time for me to write, and I would just write for hours then I'd close my laptop and I put it away for a few weeks, sometimes a month, and then when I felt li...

ke it again, I would open it back up and I get to work. And every writer feels like he has a book on his laptop somewhere hiding and publisher just needs to discover it, but when I actually went back and looked through all of those writings first, they weren't very good. Second, I don't have much. There wasn't much content there I was emotionally writing instead of doing what really writers do the secret to writing in case you were wondering, stephen king says, is butt glue it's sitting down and not getting up until you've written something? And so this is what I've learned from writing ah, blawg post almost every day for I did that for the first year of my block, and I've consistently written newsletters to my email list every week, four years now what I've learned is most days he will sit down and not know what to say, and my encouragement to you is to not wait to know what to say, not wait to feel ready to just start my experience with the muse with feeling inspired is that inspiration comes when we sit down to do the work, as stephen king wrote in his book on writing, which is a great book, whether you think of yourself as a writer or not, it's an amazing book, he said that he likes to think of the muse as this like. Fat blue collar guy who's you know, lying on the couch, waiting to get to work until the boss that is you gets there first, and so I found that the muse meets me in the midst of my work and not a moment before then. And yes, there are some days when the wind is blowing just right where I feel inspired and I write then too, but there are most days when I just sit down to do the work and something happens in the midst of that something magical, mystical, something amazing and sometimes it feels really great. Sometimes it just feels like hard work, but it doesn't become amazing doesn't become mystical or incredible until somebody receives that message until there is that connection made and there's lots of days where I just write crap and then somebody goes thank you so much this was just what I needed to hear can you imagine, you know, cleaning up your your dog's mess and putting it into a little piece of paper, you know, the little paper bag, which is sometimes how I feel when I'm writing and delivering it on the set next door step this is a really terrible analogy, but you get my point and thank you, this is just what I was waiting for I was a piece of crap on my doorstep um that's how I feel sometimes, but, you know, one man's piece of crap was enough your treasure, I guess that's a good tweet, herbal. The point is that what we need to dio as writers is content creators as marketers is, you have to commit to the process whether we feel like it or not and understand that our commitment is to doing the work, not to the results. I can't control how people respond to my words, what I can do is I can continue to show up day after day, I can listen and hear what you have to say and do my best to respond, but what I can't do, what you must not do is wait to feel ready wait until the work is perfect wait until you have enough fans or enough approval or appreciation, you have to get to work that's what we're gonna do, we're gonna get to work, we're going to create some content and this applies from everything from writing a sales page to crafting content for an email to even writing blogged posts. And I apply this multi step process to any kind of content that I create, whether it's for a book or for some place online, so we've applied this to email obviously because of the course, but the first thing that air reader sees when the gator email is what the subject line right? The subject line is that little line that appears in the subject box in their email inbox and this is the first thing that they see this is the thing that pops up on their phone even when they opened the email it's right at the top and so the subject line is the same thing as a headline it's a promise that you're making to the reader that the rest of the email of the article of the block post whatever you're sending the message its job is to deliver on that promise so a good subject has to make a bold promise it has to be believable and it has to be something that people want as weird avatar jeff says, uh, you know, the best way to get your email read and this is what we really want people to read the message is to get people tow open the email I have to get it open and the way that you get it open is you're right a great subject line you're a captivating headlines where people go, I got to read that so there are lots of different ideas and studies on how to write the best subject like go ahead and google great email subject lines and you'll hear everything from people saying use urgent words like now here get go to use everyday language and don't capitalize all the words to whatever, I think it depends on people, it depends on your audience, but the bottom line is you have to understand that the job of the subject line is not to be clever it's not to be particularly interesting in and of itself. The job is to get that email open to get that email read and most emails live and die on the subject line think about, uh, the e mails that you get that you that look personal, right? That looks like somebody wrote you something and, you know, I want to read this sometimes the subject is hey, how's it going something I want to talk to you about there's something in it that makes you want to open it. This is we're trying to accomplish with our email subject line, so a few characteristics of great headlines and a subject line is just a headline in an email is they need to be attractive, they need to be interesting and they need to be descriptive and a clever way to remember that I didn't design it this way is a id a this will aid you and writing great subject lines of promise you that's probably the only acronym will use I don't really care for acronyms attractive, interesting and descriptive, so attractive means I wanted there's something in it for me, interesting means I would share that I would tell my friends about it, there's there's a startling statistic, and it there's that an easy to grasp number it feels applicable and then descriptive is I know what to expect, and this is why sometimes marketers kind of take this too far in the left field where they say just needs to feel urge agent, you know, remember, maybe in high school or you had, like, your public speaking course, and they gave you this formula about how to deliver a speech, and the first thing you have to do is, like have a startling statistic, you know? And so in my ninth grader, adolescents, mostly guys in classroom wouldn't let go sex, and now that I got your attention, we're going to talk about old yeller. Uh, there was no connection, right had nothing to do with the rest of the content. It was irrelevant worked for class of ninth graders, but there was there was no connection between here's how I got your attention and here's, what we're going to go, and so that's why it has to be descriptive. I have to have an idea of what you're going to teach me or tell me on in fact, I've gotten feedback from my audience whenever I do something that's, time sensitive where, you know we're doing a webinar tomorrow we're doing an event like this and I want people to tune in sometimes I've sent vague messages because I'm trying to get the email opened but it doesn't say webinar tomorrow and I've had people say if it's going to be a webinar and it's going to be tomorrow right webinar tomorrow in the subject line and I'm trying to be creative or think about you know something you know super interesting sounding but it doesn't have to do with the subject the rial content, so an email subject line doesn't have to be, you know, uber creative it doesn't have to be particularly interesting in the sense that it's unique it's just something that's going to get the email open and I think the sweet spot is attractive, interesting descriptive when you bring all of those together it's an irresistible headline so here's some examples these are things that have worked for me they can work for you, they don't have to it's just a few ideas to get started that kind of encompass all three of these so here's an easy way to wash a dog or whatever uh that's going to catch her attention there's there's ease of it you know that's attractive there's an easy way I know that you're going to show me something that there's interest there and it's obviously descriptive I love this this headline the most overlooked secret to blank tio successful kayaking to starting a worship ministry at your church because people go ok, what is it? What is it that is very attractive now you can kind of burn your audience out if these kinds of headlines are super hype and you don't deliver in this up and that subject you know, in the body of the article but they will grab people's attention and so it's okay to make bold, audacious promises so long as you deliver on that ten reasons why such and such uh isn't it time you blank? I love that one too, because that that sort of a dare isn't it time you started your pursuing your dream that's going to hit somebody emotionally arrive they're gonna go yes, I need to do this and you're speaking right to my heart so these are just some examples I often get pushback, especially from more artistic creative types lots of writers they go, oh, I don't want to do that ten reasons for this and seven steps to that you don't have to do that the secret isn't to put a bunch of numbers in your subject line the secret is to make something easy make something that is applicable that somebody can wrap their head around and numbers do that it's a promise, but the bigger picture isn't put a number on your subject line the bigger picture is attractive, interesting and descriptive and you could see in some of these examples that's ah, you know, I only used a number and one of them, but a number a numeral will allow somebody go, I could probably follow ten steps I'm you know, I'm not that smart, but I'm I could do that s so it makes it easy and easy is attractive, so when it comes tio writing a great subject, it really is about just getting people to open it so it's not about don't use a number it's not about do I use a figure so about any of that stuff it's about what is what's my audience gonna respond to in the good news with working with a system like male champ or whatever you end up using is almost every email marketing system is going to allow you to track those open rates. It's going to allow you to measured that and we'll talk more about what to measure and how to do that tomorrow. But you can see what your audience responds, teo and maybe you think it's going to be, you know, some sort of big high p headline and it's just something simple this is what barack obama's campaign people found out was that the simplest subject lines got the biggest opens on the most open email in his presidential marketing campaign was hey, it said hey that's a lot said but it was an email from barack obama that said, hey and people couldn't believe it but other ones said would you like to join me and michelle for dinner? I mean there were the there was attraction there was interest there there was something descriptive and they weren't lying or deceiving people but that was sort of an opportunity to talk about here's this banquet that we're doing or hears this cause that we need supported and it was simple they were simple headlines but they got the message is open and they did all kinds of split testing to find those subject lines that worked. So the bottom line is it's not about what other people say it's not about what all those marketers air saying or industry standard necessarily it's about what are people going to open what's going to get your readers to respond and that's going to take some trial and error but I would recommend that you start with these three components of attractive interesting and descriptive so that's the first part is the subject the second part is the greeting right so when you send an email to a friend how do you start that email? Hey, so I said yeah name okay julie if her name is julie otherwise awkward? What? What? What? How else would you start? Anybody have any other ways? Starting any mine. So even with, uh I say hi, friend, you know, with a friend of mine, I don't use their names a friend because sometimes it feels a little bit more intimate. Any other ways to start a new email? Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Okay, yeah. Goods to some girlfriends. I'll say hi, gals or girl? Yeah. Said there may be people, everyone pretty simple, right? Uh, but important, you know, I mean, when I get an email that has my name and it versus an email that doesn't or there's no greeting or there's just this big chunk attacks like a business even I mean, think about non personal emails think about, you know, maybe colleague their co workers are, you know, people working for other organizations or companies we'll get kind of those e mails where we go, I got bc seed on something with one hundred other people, and I don't even know if this is for me that's not what you want to write, you don't want to write something that looks like it's for everybody. You want to write something that looks like it's for you, for the reader, so a greeting is really important and a few tips for that as you want to keep it personal want to keep it appropriate you want to keep it relevant what I mean by personal is if you can use the person's name if you've asked for that in your sign up form where you've asked for their name then you can use it in the subject you can use a dynamic with male chimp you could use a little dynamic piece of code that we'll pull their name from that database so that I just put that in there and then it uses that person's name that's typical in most email marketing software but you wanted to feel personal if you don't have their name like I said maybe say hi friend hey buddy, uh maybe just say hi, there are ways to still make it feel personal and direct that person appropriate is if I'm writing a business email, I might not say, hey, you know, unless that's the kind you know, kind of language that we use that organization I might say, dear, um at same time, if I'm writing a letter to a friend, I'm not going to say to whom it may concern, you know, like that's not going to connect, we're trying to connect with people lastly needs to be relevant, you know? So I don't I don't want to say I don't want to lead with something that has nothing to do with the reason that I'm sending them a message you know there needs to be cohesion in that it's an examples hey friend dear name hi there yo yo yo whatever suits your fancy but a greeting is important because they're going to see whether or not it's for them and sometimes when I get e mails and it doesn't say hi jeff I don't read them and I really don't read them first but when I see something says hi jeff ok, well what's up you know, because somebody knows my name and has my attention the lead is the next part and the lead is that first sentence or paragraph that people read next to the headline this is the most important part of the article the email, the message whatever it is that you're writing because this is where you really tell them what this is going to be about and you hook them and this is where most people waste their time they talk about well, you know, I was thinking about writing about this but then I read about this and I'm at the grocery store right now and I'm not sure if I should get another cat anyway what I really wanted to town talk to you about but at that point they've lost us I mean think about it when you see somebody speak you know, on stage they spend fifteen minutes telling you about how they came up with the subject about what they're going to talk about when someone's I'll ask me to come and talk to you about this I don't really know what to say so I went for a jog and as I was john, you know, thinking about a lot of things and including you know that last episode of friends I mean can you believe what jodi did by the way friends for you kids watching the nineties reference great show um you know and it takes a long time to get to the point it's best to just get to the point I assure you we want you to cut to the chase and tell us what is in it for me so the lead does that and if you ways to do that is you can ask an important question shin you could make an audacious promise you can share a startling statistic as long as it's relevant to the rest of what you're going to talk about it's kind of like the headline part two, right? You know, so if the headline is the most overlooked secret to kayaking uh then the first the lead is going to say something like, you know, a lot of people think that kayaking is about, um you know, upper body strength but it's actually about working your core and I'd love to talk to you about, you know, whether to give you three reasons why you should be, you know, how to build your court or something. I don't know a lot about kayaking, but okay, but that's an example where you go well, here's, what everybody else says and here's what I tell you and there's some disparity there and it's automatically engaging it's interesting and so you could do that you can create interest, you can captivate the with them with the headline and then build on that intrigue continue to make it attractive, interesting descriptive by giving them a little a bit more, but not too much you still need to hook them. And so this is the lead paragraph it's going to lead into the rest of the message, and it could be really short I mean, even if you're writing a three paragraph email where you're saying, hey, I'm going to run a marathon and I wanted to give you an opportunity to be a part of it that's a lead, and then, you know, here's here's what? Here's what? I need you to go here and you can join me here or you can support this cause that I'm running for hope hope you could be a part of it see you later, and you're done but you still need to have a good lead it still needs to say here's what I'm about to tell you and here's why it matters to you and there's more the next part is the body this is what people think of when they write the email but this is you know, the middle part it's not the first thing that people see and think about those e mails where we skipped that first if we jump straight into the body I don't really know where to sink my teeth into I don't know if this is going to be worth my time uh I don't know about you but I've gotten those long long emails I don't know what I'm supposed to do here like do you need me to reply? Is this just enough why I they haven't really helped me understand what it was to get out of this in a headline a greeting of lead that helps prepare the reader for what to expect so that when you get to the body you know delivering on those promises that were made and so there are a lot of different things that you can do in the body of an email message you can teach you can persuade you can explain you can encourage you could do a lot of different things but the bottom line is you have to do something and has to be clear that there's a point to it so at a certain point in the article you're not just teaching you're not just informing you're not just giving enough why but you're moving to conversion which we talked about before and conversion can be go buy this thing or it could be go do this thing it's really about action you want to train your readers to take action not in some you know weird, manipulative way but just in a way where they feel engaged like how boring would this be if I was like here's all this stuff that you get to use never huh? How's that sound you want to invest two days into doing, you know, learning stuff that you will never use no it's even when it's hard uh even when we're being called out we go I don't I don't want to work hard we're mohr engaged when we know that action is going to be required on her part so uh those that have email teach persuade, explain encourage can anybody else think of any types of uh e mails that you might send out messages that I may have missed? What would you use an email for? Yeah announcement that's good I like ones that inspire a challenge like the dreamers and builders, the ala johnny cuff stuff and johnny could definitely puts out some good challenges yeah that's great um so a few quick tips about writing the body this is in the last part of the email, but I think it's important when you're writing email copy to keep sentences short and simple uh, I write books I love pros, I love writing stories and, um drawn out complex narratives I don't do a lot of that in reading email copy because the way people consume content affects how they digest it, you know? So if I'm reading something on my phone and a lot of distractions and I'm not accept unless I'm subscribing to daily let warren peace I'm not ready to read a novel on my phone I'm ready to get to the point and see what's in it for me or what I need to dio or I'm checked out, and so one of the ways that you can move people the action where you can encourage them inspire them, you don't have to be overly terse but try to stay away from overly complex, you know, sentence structures, you don't need a ton of semi colon ds and and dashes and I love those things, but this isn't really the place for that. Keep that to minimum break up paragraphs in a small chunks as a writer thiss like pains me because basically you're breaking rules of grammar a paragraph is about one idea, but when I see a big fat paragraph in an email, I don't read it and there's some science behind that did you know that the pics elation on a book on a printed piece of paper is denser than the pixels on a screen? Now they're increasing that, but with a backlit display, as most computers have, and not as dense picks elation, the bottom line is strange. Your eyes to read it is hard on your eyes to read on the screen. Everybody pretty much agrees on that, and so when you have a big chunk of text, it makes it even harder, because people have to find their place in it and it's and it's harder physically on your eyes. So you want to make it easy on your readers. Grammar rules aside, which pains me, our writers, but trust me, it's, it's important, and I think we all know those e mails that are one giant chunk, a text that those are to get through because I'm scanning a little bit because I got a lot of different things going on in this thing. The only window I got open on my computer screen. So you want to bank on the fact that your audience is distracted, enter into the middle of that distraction, hook them, and then lead them line by line through the body to get to your called action, so make every line count on and if you need a separate paragraph to make a separate statement do that? I think as a general rule three to four lines per paragraph is a good sum it was a good thickness and then you need toe arbitrarily break it to the next paragraph some paragraphs finally be one line but keep that moving most people when they're reading on a screen read maur up and down than they do left right so if you make them go further down they're going to read more of what you have to say that makes sense because a reading down not just across and so if you have points to make that's why bullet points could be really effective because it goes uh huh uh huh I know where we're going and so you're helping them move through your points lastly use open loops and an open loop is is used in novel writing in houston screenwriting and it's even used in copyrighting and basically what an open loop is when I'm ending a thought I'm closing a loop and if I just on that thought that there's rest there's you know there's continuity everything's great and the world is a good place and I can go to sleep soundly that's not what great storytellers do great storytellers open up a new right where that where they resolve one piece of conflict but then it introduces a new complication and I think a great example of this is like a cheesy thriller movie. Don't open the door, you know, and you know, something is going to happen. You know, something bad or scary, terrible is gonna happen, and you, you can't help but watch, and every time something happens, that makes something else happened, and it leads the complication after complication, after complication, until the story resolves, and there is ultimately a resolution. So what we want to do, one were crafting a copy, is every time until we get to the end return. We close the loop, you know, so you make a point given illustration, you teach something, you want to use that resolution, open up another loop so that there's connection. So as we're getting through the body, we're resolving certain things. But we're also opening up an opportunity to call the reader action.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

13 Subject Lines
Keynote Part 1
Keynote Part 2
Workbook Part 1
Workbook Part 2
You Are a Writer
MailChimp Tutorial Bonus Video
Bonus Video Table of Contents

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

I really enjoyed this course. Jeff did and does a great job. Very nice flow and interaction with participants and questions, great content, relaxed yet authoritative. Jeff has a nice presence and his humility makes him easy to receive from. I was equally impressed with the general flow through the program. You could tell Jeff was well prepared, comfortable and believed in what he shared. I also want to give kudos to the CL team for being top shelf hosts and creating an environment conducive to this type of learning program. A great big thank you to the hosts, the team, Jeff, and the chat room facilitators! WELL DONE!! Kurt Poole

William Emmons

This is a wonderful course and enjoyed it very much. Covers so much material in an interesting and easy to understand way. Great for both the person just starting out and a great review for those more experienced. Definitely cover the A-Z of getting started and maintaining your mailings. Love the resources they talk about and recommend for getting started. Loved the interaction with the live inhouse group and also on the chat room. Great response. To sum it up in a few words.... RICH AND FULFILLING! Thanks to Jeff and CreativeLIVE for a job well done. William Emmons @

Jemma Pollari

I love Jeff's teaching style and applicable information and this course was no exception. For me, the set-up information was longer and more detailed than necessary, as I already have a list set up. The "effective" part of the course was much more useful at my level. I was able to get some good strategies to implement for my email marketing. This is definitely a great course to go with if you have no idea where to start with on email marketing because of the focus on getting set up from absolutely nothing. If you are looking for a more extensive pathway to success reaching beyond simply starting the email list and getting it going, I would recommend Jeff's course on here "Starving to successful: how to become a full-time writer." Even though the name talks about being a writer it's excellent info for anyone in the content creation space. Ryan Deiss' "Launch a profitable digital marketing plan" (also on CreativeLive) is another one I'd recommend as an excellent follow-on to more advanced concepts from this course.

Student Work