The trick to writing a great email is to focus on telling good stories. If you tell good stories in your emails consistently, people open them and engage with you.
If you’re obsessing over subject lines when writing an email, and you’re trying to use some ninja tactics to get people to open your email, you’re making the same mistake that a lot of online entrepreneurs are.
How about just focusing on writing freakin’ good emails so that people actually want to read them? I know, it’s a crazy idea.
I’m not saying that subject lines never matter, and I’m not gonna tell you that you shouldn’t worry about it either. But one thing I’ve learned from watching many entrepreneurs struggle with email is that they get fixated on things like trying to find the perfect subject line and other little tricks when they should be working on building the muscle to write a great email.
So how do you write a great email? I’m glad you asked!
The trick to writing a great email is to focus on telling good stories. If you tell good stories in your emails consistently, people open them and engage with you. Everything will take care of itself because people will want to read your emails for the sake of reading them.
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The Elements Of A Good Story
How do you find a good story to tell? Your stories must do the following:
Make a point
Your story has to present an analogy or metaphor, or some idea that you can take from that story to tease out a point that relates to something in your call to action.
You need to figure out what the big point or concept is that you want to get across. Then find a story that you can use to tease it out. The story oftentimes isn’t related but you can create a bridge to your main point.
Evoke an emotional response
Your story has to evoke some kind of emotional response from your audience. For example, if I make you chuckle, I evoke an emotion from you. That’s often my intention because that’s my personality.
You may want to evoke inspiration or have people saying “Holy crap, that’s amazing!” Sometimes you might want to make them feel sad, although you shouldn’t overuse that. It’s an emotion that they can connect with.
The reason that you want an emotion is you want them to feel connected to you, to feel the same thing that you’re feeling. That’s how humans tend to connect.
Short and sweet
For the most part, your email should be short and sweet. You want your stories to be about things that aren’t big events. If you tell an epic story every time, it’s too much. People don’t want to read an epic story.
The story should be short and sweet so it makes a point quickly. This is part of the value you’re providing. Every once in a while, you can tell an epic story, but most of your stories should be short, like little 10-second vignettes from your life.
You want to make sure that whoever your audience is, the stories you’re telling are things that they can relate to at least to some extent but it doesn’t have to be 100%.
The idea is you want your people, as much as possible, to say, “Me too.” This is an important step in building a connection. The more they can relate to you, the more that all of a sudden, they start to associate you with that experience in their life.
How To Write A Good Story For Your Emails
When you start writing story-based emails, your stories are probably going to be too long and detailed. With that in mind, I want you to get into the practice of editing ruthlessly.
1. Take out all the details you don’t need
Oftentimes, we include lots of details that don’t matter. For example, it rarely matters that your story happened on a Tuesday.
You’re not telling a story that is meant to give all the details. You’re only giving them enough color, enough of the idea so that they can put themselves in the story.
2. Make it punchy
When you’re writing, make your story punchy. Aim for short and punchy language as much as possible, but don’t be monotonous.
You can throw in some longer sentences here and there to break up the flow and make it a more readable experience for people.
3. Add suspense at the beginning
Think about how you can add suspense at the beginning, like foreshadowing. You want to evoke a sense of curiosity so people want to keep reading to find out what happened. Sometimes you do that with the hook in your subject line, but the idea is that you want people to be drawn in so they reach the climactic moment in the story.
Sometimes in my stories I write in a way that suggests I can’t see what’s coming, but my readers would be thinking they know where it’s going.
Another approach is to tell the story without giving many details. This way your readers want to know where the story is going but don’t see it yet, and they’ll keep reading to find out how it connects.
4. Talk about other human characters
Make sure that as much as possible there are human characters and not just yourself. You should add in other recurring characters who are people you interact with in real life.
For example, if you read my emails, you’ll know about my wife, my daughter, and my team. Adding those characters that people can relate to provides more opportunities to connect.
Tell Better Stories
When you choose a story, remember that it has to make a point that bridges to the call to action. Your stories should also evoke an emotional response of some sort and be short and sweet and relatable.
After you write your story, be sure to edit ruthlessly. Leave out details that don’t matter. Keep your stories short and punchy as much as possible but include some longer sentences to add variety. Make them interesting by highlighting suspense so that they want to keep reading. Include real human characters so that people can relate to you.
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