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Email Breakdown: “The Robots are Here” from Copyblogger
Valuable content emails are the bread and butter of email marketing.
They're what builds credibility and trust. And they keep you top of mind for when your potential clients are ready to buy.
But too often they're done very, very badly.
No matter how great your content is, if you just brain-dump it into an email it won't land properly.
And that means none of that credibility building, relationship building or getting top of mind is actually going to work.
Luckily, there's a simple way to structure your content emails that increases readership and maximises the chances of those readers taking action. Let's take a look using an example of an email that Brian Clark of Copyblogger sent out recently called "The Robots are Here".
As you may know, Copyblogger is a hugely popular site, and one of the first to sit at the intersection of copywriting and blogging. Founder Brian Clark is a very experienced and successful writer we can learn a lot from.
In this email he talk about the impact of AI on writing, and uses it to lead in to a call to action to promote his new free email course.
The Master Structure for Content Emails
There are, of course many creative ways to structure an email that work well in different situations. But if you want a surefire, go-to structure you know will work every time, I recommend this:
If you're familiar with copywriting you'll see that it's a tailored version of the AIDA structure specifically for emails.
Your subject line (and preheader) gets your email opened...
There's a lot been written on subject lines. A great subject line has enough curiosity and potential benefit to get your readers to open the email.
But on its own, it's not enough.
When most of us open an email we're not yet fully committed to reading it.
We take a quick scan to see if it looks interesting and useful (and readable) and if not, we scamper back to our inbox.
That's why you need a powerful Hook in the first few sentences of your email.
Your Hook gets your email read
The first few sentences of any email are what get people to read it fully. And this is the most often overlooked element of writing great emails.
A hook can be an intriguing story, a bold or controversial statement, a question, an interesting quote.
Anything that signals "this email is going to be interesting and valuable to you".
In the Copyblogger email, Brian uses a quote from Ernest Hemingway as the hook. It works on two levels:
- 1The quote "gradually then suddenly" is intriguing. It leads you to think that potentially the thing they're talking about is going to happen gradually then suddenly. So you read on to find out if it does.
- 2Hemingway quotes always go down well with writers who tend to hero-worship him a bit - so it's perfect for Copyblogger's audience.
But you can't just use any old interesting quote or story or statistic. Your reader has to "get" how it relates to the main content you talk about in your email. Otherwise it jars, and feels like you tricked them into reading the email.
That's why you often need a Transition.
Your Transition smooths the path to your Valuable Content
Transitions don't have to be clever or complicated. The just need to signpost that there's a link between the way you got their attention to read more and what you're about to share.
Usually it's a simple phrase like:
Brian's transition is to ask "so what will it ultimately mean?" - which means he can then start sharing his ideas about how the "gradually then suddenly" concept applies to AI writing.
You can use a similar "so what does this mean for you?" or "so what does it mean for [type of person/business]?" question to transition into your content any time you've opened with an intriguing idea and your content then explains it.
Keep your Valuable Content fresh
If you're taking up someone's precious time reading your email then the valuable content you share needs to be something they haven't seen a thousand times before.
That doesn't mean everything you write has to be new to the world - that's not realistic. But it needs to be different in some way. An unusual example or analogy. An idea from another field transferred into yours. Exploring the real reasons why something happens, etc.
The impact of AI on writing is obviously a hot topic right now thanks to ChatGPT. Most of what's written about it is repetitive and cliched, but Brian takes a new angle (new for me at least) by comparing it to what happened with chess computers.
We're probably all aware that back in the day the reigning world champion Garry Kasparov was beaten by IBM's Deep Blue.
What we're probably less aware of is that Kasparov was so intrigued by this that he went on to organise a tournament where humans and computers worked together.
From that he discovered that while the use of a computer nullified any tactical advantage one Grandmaster had over another, it elevated the importance of creativity and strategy.
So that's the angle Brian takes with AI writing - that the technology will level the playing field for tactics, but elevate the importance of creativity and strategy.
That then leads him nicely to his Call to Action.
Make your Call to Action a logical next step
Your call to action should feel like a natural next step to take after reading the content.
For example, an offer of a course on boosting your results from Linkedin after an email with tips on improving your Linkedin profile. Or a more in-depth webinar or video on crisis management after 5 tips on what to do when it all goes wrong.
Sometimes that connection between the content and the next step is obvious. In others a simple phrase like "And if you'd like to get more details on..." or "I explain this is much more depth and give step by step guides in..." will help.
In Brian's case, the link between the content and the call to action is done with the phrase "And that's the thinking behind my new..."
In other words, if you buy in to the concept that AI switches the emphasis from tactics to creativity and strategy then his new course is exactly what you need.
I hope you can see how the simple structure of Hook, Transition, Valuable Content and Call to Action naturally leads to an email that gets more people to read, more people to keep reading, and more people to take the action you want.
You don't have to use it every time in your emails, but it's a "safe pair of hands" to rely on.