How to write insanely great emails, even if you’re not a copy writing pro


Insanely Great Emails


Do you get emails from people that you LOVE to open and read?

You can always count on their emails being funny, surprising, escapist, or just super-helpful?

They hit you like a whiff of cookies baking in the oven and BOOM, you’re instantly in a better mood.

Do you secretly wish your emails grabbed your readers the same way?

Of course you do…


All things being equal, people want to buy from, or donate to, someone they find fascinating and likeable.

But you’re not a highly paid copy writer.

And who’s got time to learn the ins and outs of copy writing anyway?

In fact, really good emails are a real mystery to you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, blogger, or nonprofit fundraiser, already juggling too many balls in the air.

You’ve got zero-extra-time to become an email copy writing virtuoso.

Yet you still want passionate, loyal, raving fans that will buy from you, join you, or donate to you from your email marketing.

I’ve got you covered.

Instantly Boost Your Email Marketing Pizazz

There are three personality, pizzazz, and persuasion strategies you can start using right now to get your readers obsessing over your emails.

Email marketing is far more about relationships… turning your readers into raving loyal fans, than it is about tactics, like what time of day you send out an email.

The strategies I’m giving you today cut right to the heart of your relationship with your readers to get BIG results fast.

And make you look good.

Oh, and these strategies work on all your marketing email from newsletters, blogs, podcasts, to event reminders, but for today’s post, I want to help you get the most out of your sales or donor appeal emails because… well… that’s where the moola is.

1. What do you get when you cross Pavlov’s dogs with Cracker Jacks Toy Surprise?

An audience that craves your emails because they know there’s always something in your emails for them.

Train your email readers to salivate when they see your name as the sender, by only sending emails that have something of value for your reader.

That something of value might be: a discount coupon, breaking news, humor, an inspiring story, a revealing tidbit, a big reveal or secret, early bird discount, a last chance to join, or a chance to be a better person.

Even sales or donor appeal emails have something that can be high-value emails to your readers when positioned the right way.

My favorite way of positioning sales emails as high-value to your reader is to use persuasion-based messages in your sales, recruitment, or donor appeal emails.

I like love these scientifically proven persuasion strategies that do double-duty. The copy is “all about your reader” and the marketing is so good, it makes selling almost unnecessary. Your marketing leads your readers to a great big “YES.”

Your buyers and donors need to hear all of these persuasion triggers before they open up their wallet to you:

Big Promise – In a phrase or sentence, what’s in it for your reader?

Emotion – What emotion do you want your reader to feel reading your email or to take action?

Benefits to your readers – What are the true benefits of buying, donating, joining or volunteering? Not the features, but what the features “do.”

Social proof – Reasons to trust you such as testimonials, accreditations, security clearances, ratings, reviews, credibility through numbers

Freedom of choice – Help your reader know that they are making the right choice, but that the choice is theirs

Overcoming objections – Tackle the things your readers are worried about but not saying out loud.

Easy button – Make it easy to buy or donate.

A reason to act now (urgency or scarcity) – 50% or more of your readers will need a deadline or cut-off to finally take action. It’s not you. It’s human nature to wait until the last minute.

You don’t have to deliver all these messages in one email.

In fact, most of your first time buyers need to hear from you several times before buying from you or donating to you, so it’s cool to split these messages up over a series of emails and landing pages.

It might look like this…



If your email readers aren’t buying, you might be missing one of these persuasion triggers.

Whenever possible, use stories to deliver your persuasion messages to really hit home with your readers.

Why? Because stories are proven to stimulate our brains in a way that your story turns into their own idea and experience.

Your stories can be your own, from a client or customer, from a novel, from a celebrity, from a trending story… in fact, it’s a good idea to mix it up and keep your audience in anticipation.

2. Find your voice and use it every time you send an email

“All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.” – Mark McCormack, Sports Agent

Let your personality shine in your writing just like Mark Twain, or David Sedaris, Stephen King, or Aaron Sorkin.

Even though you don’t really know your favorite authors, columnists, or bloggers personally, its easy to think of them as friends because their writing is so personable, you feel like you know them. Truly know them.

By voice I mean, a unique way of putting words together, your unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world… upbeat, angry, cynical, realistic, dreamer, counter-intuitive, scientific… along with your pacing, timing, and vocabulary.

People are eager to read emails from someone who is like no other. An original. A standout. A voice.

If you’re familiar with Thug Kitchen, you know what I mean.

There are a lot of vegan cooking sites out there, but Thug Kitchen grew a passionate, loyal audience very quickly using salty (pun intended) language and humor that I’ve edited for your delicate eyes.

Thug Kitchen FAQ

Heads up: the language on their site and Facebook page is NOT suitable for work or children if you’re going to hop over there to look.

I’m deeply grateful for the years I spent as a nonprofit executive and then in a corporate setting except for one thing…

Corporate and nonprofit environments condition us to worry about how the world sees us, so we conform to “play it safe.”

We learn how to be boring.

Shake boring off and get your personality on.

What blends in gets forgotten. What stands out gets remembered.

Companies, entrepreneurs and bloggers that have a unique voice build passionate loyal fans that love buying from them.

A few other examples of companies showing personality are…

Tilley Hat Company writes personality-driven product descriptions

Tilley Hat Company

Crowdrise took a chance with a bold fun statement…



Not sure how to find your voice?

Here are three quick steps to get you on your way:

• Describe yourself in adjectives: witty, snarky, passionate, scientific, nerdy, what people love about you

• Ask yourself is this how I talk? (truly?) If so, start injecting those characteristics into your writing.

• Who do you like to read? Why? What is their style/voice that appeals to you? Is that how you want to sound? What characteristics can you borrow or lift from them to mold into your own? Take those characteristics and start actively using them into your writing.

If writing with your voice feels like work, it might not be your voice.

Try using Dragon Assistant or any voice recognition software to write your emails.

Dragon allows you dictate your emails instead of typing them. This makes your emails more conversational, more personable, and more in your voice because you’re not tempted to edit while you talk. You just talk and get your good self down on paper.

3. Write killer subject lines

When you start sending more personality-driven high-value emails, your open rates will skyrocket based on your name as the sender alone.


You’ve trained your list to look for the “toy surprise” in every email, you are fascinating with your authentic voice, so your emails are brimming with personality and high value, so your open rates are already up.

But subject lines are still important to your email success and I hear from a lot of my readers you struggle with this.

Good subject lines are easier to write than you think.

Especially when you practice writing subject lines that create anticipation, tease your reader, and make it all-but-impossible to not open your emails using a simple, proven formula:

Benefit (of opening the email) + Curiosity = Opens


There are 16 subject line formulas that have been tested and work great.

But don’t over complicate when you’re starting out.

Here are great examples of “benefit + curiosity” subject lines that you can swipe right now and modify for your use.

Note the benefit and curiosity of each of the following subject lines.

Happy Birthday Lindsay – Surprise Inside!
Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)
The broke girl’s guide to a luxury vacation
Where to Drink Beer Right Now
7 Reasons You’ll Be Sorry You Missed this Event
Are You Coming to the Biggest Party?
From Lackluster to Gangbusters Job Prospects
Buy one, get one free, today only
Here’s a backstage pass to how I write emails
Pat’s super-secret way to find content to write about
How to make it onto your buyer’s short list
You are not alone
Email subscriber exclusive: one-day [product] deal
10 things you didn’t know about black holes
Quit Your Job and Travel: How to Make Your Dream a Reality
How to Survive Your Next Overnight Flight
The Secrets Behind My Black Friday Ad Copy

Just like finding your voice in writing your emails, it’s a great idea to become an observer of companies or individuals that consistently send emails with subject lines that tantalize you.

Observe how their subject lines are written with benefits, curiosity, and are true to what’s inside the email.

Thrillist is my current favorite subject line and headline writers.

It’s fair game to use subject lines that grab you—as long as you modify them for your company or nonprofit AND the subject line is representative of the content of your email.

The good news is that writing great subject lines gets easier with practice and you come to learn what kind of subject lines really grab your audience.

There you go…

Your emails have more personality, pizzazz, and persuasion and your conversions will show it.