How to use conditional messaging in your emails

Presented live on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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What your subscriber sees (or doesn’t see) in an email is more within your control than you might believe when you sit down to write an email that “works for everyone.”

Allow me to introduce you to the beauty of conditional messaging.

In today’s Tutorial Tuesday, we’ll walk you through the essentials of using conditional messaging to increase relevance in your emails.


Joanna Wiebe: So this is the first advanced tutorial that we’re doing. And I’m excited about it. Because we’re talking about conditional messaging, which not a lot of copywriters are using or recommending so I’m stoked to talk about that today.

All right, conditional messaging and email. What is that, what are we talking about today’s email told you a bit about a gave you an example of how it can be used, actually two examples. You may or may not have seen both of them.

But what we’re really talking about. It’s kind of backing up to an idea that a lot of copywriters have heard of especially advanced copywriters and especially if you focus on email as the copywriting that you do and that’s segmentation so segmentation is like the goal. It’s kind of the gold standard for today in email. And sure, the world is going to get better and smarter and we won’t have to manually segment people and things like that. But currently, that’s what we have to do you have to create different segments in different depending, no matter what email marketing platform or CRM you’re using, you typically have to find ways to identify what a subscriber cares about and make good guesses about what they don’t care about and then use that information to send them more relevant messages because relevance is everything in all marketing.

And it’s something that we can actually do a lot with in email. So it’s why it’s like a really big opportunity for email because subscribers. They’ve opted in. They’ve already told you something about themselves, the things that they click on, the things that they buy, the things that they visit, the things that they download. That’s all useful data to help understand them, but it’s also in the realm of guessing, too. But nonetheless, it’s like getting us closer to send me more relevant messages. Images, videos, offers testimonials all the sorts of things that you want to customize to a person so that they’re more likely to see themselves in an email and in doing so come closer to the point of converting or just full on convert.

But the challenge with segmentation of course is oftentimes we’re talking about segmenting a list and sending emails to different segments. You have to come up with a bunch of different emails. So I’m going to send an email for copy school which is relaunching in March and we wanted to send a message on launch day with messaging specific to freelancers. And another email with an offer specific to past customers have who bought maybe one course that’s included in copy school and they should get the rest of them.

So now we have two separate emails there. Plus, there’s this like waitlist for copy school 2020 to send them messages. Plus, there’s the whole list. Plus, there are people who have engaged really well and those who may be disengaging There’s all of this stuff. So we’re looking at like five or six segments just off the top of our heads there and there’s so much more we could do. Now what are we going to do right five or six different emails and then send those out. That’s kind of an old idea. So what conditional messaging does is it lets you…. sorry this one dropped out all of my claps. There’s lots of collapse in there, right, because segmentation requires all these emails, but conditional messaging lets you turn one email into effectively what feels like an endless number of targeted emails so you add in messages, images, offers, videos, all those sorts of things that are conditional they only show up if the subscriber meets certain qualities characteristics. Basically, if they’ve been tagged in a certain way or they’ve had certain activity that they’ve done.

Now if you’re newer to copywriting. This is going to be possibly a little too much to take in, although it’s a really good thing. But that’s why we’re talking about it as today’s advanced training today. So knowing that we are trying to identify what subscribers are doing so that we can send them a relevant messages, but we don’t want to send a whole bunch of different – write six different versions of one email when we really could just send just add in conditional messages so that, that person in 10 X freelance copywriter who should be buying copy school gets a special message about why it’s good for freelancers. While other people who are not freelancers do not get that message that’s really what we’re talking about here. The core of your email stays the same. And parts of the email the message like individual messages that are specific to a certain segment of your audience. Offers that are right, only for some people and not for others. Those are the sorts of things you want to start proposing to our clients and by clients, I mean, your external clients if you’re a freelancer or consultant or you work with an agency. And your internal clients if you work at a tech company e commerce friend, whatever that is, that you might work at. Okay. So when I say clients. I mean both but

These are the kinds of things, recommending conditional messaging is the kind of thing that can really help you stand out as a conversion copywriter as somebody who takes like ownership of ways to increase conversion rates. And of course, increasing relevance increases conversion rates.

So here’s how we do it really quick breakdown. Again, this is a 20 minute tutorial, we’re not going to go too broad on this. Just gonna really focus on how to get started with conditional messaging. So you first one identify if you can even use conditional messaging in your CRM.

We use active campaign, you can use conditional messaging in it. We used to use convert kit. I don’t believe you can use conditional messaging in it. But if you are a convert user. And you’ve seen this please chat out to other people. Point is, look at your CRM, talk to the person who’s in charge of it. And if that’s you, it’s your job to go find out what’s possible.

If you’re using active campaign. This is absolutely possible. So some of the more advanced email marketing platforms that are built to do more robust marketing initiatives. They’re going to be really good for this. If you’re using a simpler tool, they will probably not have focused their roadmap on adding something like conditional messaging in and that’s why if you’re choosing a new marketing platform, an email marketing platform, you want to make sure you know things like this, so you know what you’re looking for. Okay, so first check that out either google it, or look inside the CRM itself or talk to the person who runs it.

When you’re an active campaign, it looks something like this. So today’s email. This is a screenshot from, like, actually the writing side of today’s email inside active, active campaign. You can right click on a section and this is if you’re using active campaign or client is this is how you go in and implement and add that extra layer of value. And even if you don’t implement, knowing that they can do this means that when you’re writing your copy doc. Before you submit it to them, you’re including conditional sections in there so that and then making sure that you under that you give good direction on the condition. Those conditional messages so that they increase that relevance and get better results.

So all you do is you click on this little gear icon in active campaign, you’ll see these things and make conditional is one of them. You click Make conditional, and then I’ll show you what it opens up that’s really where you start setting the conditions, then you want it. Once you know that it’s doable, then you want to write the email that’s for everyone. This is basically like the control version of the email that you’ll then modify based on what different segments should, and should not see. But you’ll have like a basic email that goes to everybody. And then there are other conditions that must be met for certain subscribers to see other things. So, start by writing that normal email like you already would. The email, you’re going to send where the client says, Oh, we can’t segment. So we’ll just write somebody or it’s too complicated. Just write one. It’ll. It’ll be good for everybody. And those kinds of things, when, when you’re writing it, you’ll be like, oh, but this language should be specific to the reader, something’s or general across everybody As you write it, you already know this because this is an advanced copywriting training session. So you already know you know that moment when you’re writing an email.

And you’re like, I want to say this specifically to this audience, but I don’t know if this audience is going through it and I don’t want to distract a separate audience by including a message for an audience that’s different from them. So as you’re writing this, just kind of highlight messages that you’ll want to rephrase or do different work with when you’re actually going through the process of adding the conditional messaging.

So yeah, this is the this is the core email, right, it just like you did. Like you, like you would even if you didn’t have conditional messaging, and then we want to optimize with the conditional messaging for those key segments.

So, you still have to get the first draft out, that’s the best way to start. And then you have to identify, and basically you get to identify other things that you can say to really drive home the relevance. And this takes Actually familiarizing yourself with the tags or however your email marketing platform works. In active campaign, it’s effectively tags that you’re using, but it can be other things. So, to drum up those, to drum up ideas for how you can optimize that if this is new to you and you’re like, what I can do so many things you really can.

So this shows just a quick screenshot like a snapshot off to the side here. When you go into active campaign in particular. And you say make conditional, it opens up the screen that lets you choose and set your basically segmenting inside an email and it lets you go through and look at, it might be 100, it might be 200, all of your tags other day that you’ve collected like metadata about the person, such as work, their geo location, is what country they’re in, postal code there in. If you know you’re targeting people that are like in California, you can dig deeper and say, like, instead of saying like California, you can say San Diego and have it only go to people who are in San Diego. Have that conditional message just be showing people in San Diego. You know with images, etc, etc. So go through and allow yourself some time to just look at what the options are.

Grab your pen, go old school. Write down ideas like we could say this to that person. We’re going to do this one gif. We can do a gif that’s more specific to x. And that can be conditional based on what we know about somebody, and that’s where you’ll start to like come up with really cool ideas for relevance, where you are not held back by this fear of: Well, we’ll have to send 15 different emails and one of the segmentation is wrong conditional mastering is just so much nicer for this stuff. It’s a really good, just like identify the tag at a minimum. Other times, you’ll have more information, but start with tags look through the tags that you’ve got, and then make that a moment of like where you’re actually going to make it conditional on that. So you’ll see that when you go in. This is an example tag exists tag does not exist.

You can then go forward and see what those tags are and go from. So there’s just like a limitless amount of things you can do with conditional messaging.

There are some ideas that you can start to work through as that advanced conversion copywriter who is making smarter recommendations to their clients. Is there a more relevant offer you can make for warm leads? So if you look and you see like the date that someone signed up. Are they newer? Or if they’ve otherwise shown themselves to be a warmer lead of some kind. Is a relevant offer DID THEY JUST DOWNLOAD AN E book about x. And now is a good chance for you to be like, Hey, well they downloaded that three days ago. This offer is different from that, but I want to help them understand what they’re like how they’re connected so they’re more likely to buy. That’s great. Start thinking through those sorts of things.

Cold leads that you can warm up again – someone signed up on a list six months ago. You can see that. What can you say to them, that’s more specific to re engaging somebody who’s been reading for a while. Simply, as simple as saying, like, you’ve been listening to the stuff I’d say for the past six months, or for more than six months. And now that’s a more relevant message for me. If I open that email, when I read it, I can actually see myself in the copy. Instead of feeling like one of a million people who are getting the same generic message.

Is there a coupon, you can offer the past customers? Can you swap testimonials in or out, based on how closely they are like, how relevant they are to the person who’s receiving. So you’ve got the subscriber. What do you know? What subscriber do you know, in our case, do you know that they’re a freelance copywriter? Okay. Then we’re going to want to put in testimonials from a freelance copywriter. Not from the CMO of some big tech company. But if we know that the subscriber works at a tech company or is a CMO then we can sub in testimonials that are from a CMO at a tech company. And that’s going to be more relevant, that it’s going to help increase conversion rates.

Can you remove pop culture references? This is the big one. A lot of us when we’re writing higher converting emails, we’re forced to write certain things that are like, well, we have to completely disregard people in Poland, even though they’re a good opportunity for us to actually message to and become customers.

They’re not going to get this pop culture reference, but that’s just the way life goes. So there’s a lot of throwing your hands up and feeling disappointed but saying like, well, I have to focus on my one reader. I’m not going to distract myself with Poland, we’re going to focus on the people in us, even though Poland is like this nice segment for you. So instead, you could swap out pop culture references US based people get The Mean Girls reference people based in Poland, get them. Sorry, from an ignorance of Polish references but whatever cool thing is in Poland there.

But you can swap that out. Um, can you add a team image if you know your subscribers are part of a team? Can you add YOU’RE GOING TO PUT PHOTOS in your video in your emails of, that are gendered photos? Can you put in a photo that is the same as the person who’s receiving it, if you know something about their gender or how they identify?

Can you swap in different more relevant hooks for subscribers? This is a huge one. Finding that hook is such a big part of getting people to keep reading. But trying to find a hook that works for everybody is so difficult.

Can you then come up with. And this is just like this is sometimes just a single sentence that you make conditional at the top of your email. If you know that somebody, it depends. Once you know. So again, look through your list say how, what is the different hook, we can use for that. And when you’re writing an email if you’re like, this could be a good hook or that could be a good hook, ask yourself, what are the differences? Which hook is better for which audience and then make it conditional. So you get to use both cool hooks, but they’re going to different audiences and this is not what split testing. This isn’t anything like that. This is just you creating a more relevant message.

Can you dramatically shorten copy for those who commonly read on mobile? So if you know they are, you can identify that they’re reading on mobile. They got their little tiny phone. There’s a lot that they can see on it, but a thousand word email might be a lot for them to take in. What if you could just shorten that up and get them more quickly to click through to the thing that you want.

This is all the kind of stuff that conversion copywriters should be thinking about

Okay. So your goal here, is to pitch your client or coworkers, not on the big work of segmentation, which is terrifying. But come in swoop in with the solution, say like, we are using a platform that allows us to do conditional messaging, we can get way more relevant. Here’s how I’m going to tackle this one. What do you guys think? Be the person who owns that and you’re more likely to get them to actually say yes.

Now, if, if you can’t do conditional messaging in the email marketing platform that is a good case for being involved in conversations when it’s time to choose an email marketing platform. As businesses grow, their needs change. And people often change their marketing platforms. So, make yourself the person who knows, email, who really gets it. Who’s not just word smithing or writing something that sounds nice. That’s not the job of a conversion copywriter. And particularly, not if you are an advanced conversion copywriter. You need to be in there, talking to the client about the best tools for them to use and making good recommendations so think through that if you can get your clients to use conditional messaging can increase relevance without making a bigger project of it. And while coming up with some pretty cool stuff.

That my friends is all I have to share with you about conditional messaging.

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