How to Use Your Inbox to Write Better Emails

Presented live on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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Stuck on what to write in that email you gotta send?

Here’s a shortcut:

Swipe copywriting ideas from emails you love.

Only thing is…

How do you *actually* swipe without stealing?

We’ll show you how to use your swipes for good – not for thievery – in this 20-min tutorial.

Transcript

Joanna Wiebe: Do you swipe? Do you think strategically about swiping? Do you have a swipe file? How many panels do you have? How organized are your swipe files? Because Nikki, you’re going to talk to us about all that. 

Joanna Wiebe: Nikki. Swiping. Why is this so important to talk about?

Nikki Elbaz: All right. Let’s see why.

Joanna Wiebe: All right, you’re gonna dive in.

Nikki Elbaz: Yeah. Unless you want to have a whole discussion, chatter kind of thing.

Joanna Wiebe: I like it. I like just talking. Clearly, everyone’s like, zip it girl, we are trying to do a tutorial. All right, I’m gonna go on mute, and just comment off to the side.

Nikki Elbaz: Cool. Okay, I’m assuming that everyone can see my screen? Alright, cool.

Moving all my boxes around. 

What to Expect in This Tutorial [00:55]

Nikki Elbaz: Okay. So, swiping. Using your inbox to write better emails. And Jo gave a little spoiler. We’re not just going to swipe, we’re going to do things a little bit differently.

Who is Nikki Elbaz? [01:06]

So, hello! I am Nikki. And the reason I am talking to you about emails and swiping and all this cool stuff is because as my role of email copywriter at the Copyhackers Agency, I get to write very cool emails for very cool brands. Because the Cophackers Agency, if you know anything about us, or even Copyhackers in general, which I assume you do. 

You know that we live, and breathe, and sweat, and don’t sleep under this umbrella of breakthrough or bust. Break best practices and do things differently. Big Ideas, just swing for the fences. Do crazy stuff. So I wanted to kind of distill how exactly we do that.

Especially if it’s the easy, lazy way of using your inbox to help you do that. To help you generate and seed cool ideas. 

Swipes vs. Inspiration [01:58]

Before we get into that, I want to talk about the difference between swipes and like seeding inspiration from the emails in your inbox. So a few weeks ago, I was on LinkedIn and I saw this post, and I’m just going to read the email quickly.

Hello Rachel, it’s Father’s Day next month. And we know this can be a difficult time of year for many of us. So if you’d rather not receive any Father’s Day emails, just click here to opt out and we’ll take care of it for you. As always we’ll keep you updated with all the usual fun stuff. So I saw that. And I said, that’s interesting because two weeks ago, in a slack group, I saw this.

Hello there. We wanted to get in touch as we prepare for Father’s Day at Fortnum’s. We understand this can be a sensitive time of year and that some may prefer not to be sent any Father’s Day-related newsletters. If you would like to update from these particular emails you could use it below. Don’t worry, we’ll still keep you in the know about all the other wonderful things happening at Fortnum’s.

And it was like, oh, this is interesting. I won’t get into the whole conversation. But there’s this kind of like take back moment when you see something that’s swiped exactly. I think they did a good job, like they didn’t, if you notice there’s a difference between like tone. They put it to their own tone.

And they didn’t swipe it word for word, obviously. So they’re fine legally. I really even think they’re fine ethically, because that’s the nature of email marketing. You know, you see something, you think it works. You want to test it yourself, the whole field is very like, let’s test things!

So, and I especially think because this is a sensitive idea, I think Fortnum’s would actually be happy. If they were doing it with any sincerity, I think they would be happy to see this kind of thing happening across more companies, and more industries. It’s just a cool thing to have in the world. 

So, I think it’s okay, but I don’t think it’s something we want to be doing all the time. I think especially if we want to be creating these big ideas and these breakthrough ideas, we need to come up with our own things. But, it’s hard to just come up with your own thing, you kind of need to get some inspiration first. 

How Do We Do That? [04:01]

So that’s what we’re going to do. How do we do that? So, anytime you open your inbox. You need to get to your “armchair psychologist” on. And you need to pay attention to how you’re feeling when you read emails. When you read the subject lines. When you open emails When you read the emails. When you click them emails. What’s going on inside?

And then you dive even deeper. I told you you’re getting to be psychologists. And to figure out what’s driving that feeling. What is making you feel that way? So, if you’re feeling amused, right? Is it because of humor? Is it because you know they’re being defiant? What actually this driving that feeling?

I know this sounds like, what you’re talking about? Can you make this a little bit more clear? So we’re going to do that. We’re going to use that example that we just gave, and I want you to think about what is driving. Okay, so you probably felt some sort of, like, let’s say you were one of the people that Father’s Day as a sensitive time of year. 

So you’re feeling understood, you’re feeling, you know, touched even possibly. Or let’s say you’re not one of those people, then you’re kind of like, wow, that’s like, you’re still kind of feeling touched and you’re feeling like that was a really cool thing. 

What is Driving that Feeling? [05:15]

What is driving that feeling?

Hint. It’s in this list. What are they doing to give you that feeling? Send it to me in chat.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, so which of these is like at the core of what’s going on in that email successfully. Okay, let’s see what people are saying. Most are chatting to all panelists, which is bold, well done. And cool if you don’t want to. If you want to chat to everyone. And if you just want to chat to panelists, that’s cool. We have, sensitivity is coming in high. Awareness. Really some people have gotten sensitivity and vulnerability. Sensitivity and awares. A lot of sensitivity, some warm and awareness, but yeah.

Nikki Elbaz: So yeah, it’s a couple pieces at play. But if you go back to that LinkedIn post too. You know, she’s saying like, it’s super sensitive and we’re recognizing the real person at the other end. So yeah, there’s like this awareness and there’s this sensitivity that’s layered into this email, that’s giving this feeling of like, wow, I’m understood. Wow, I’m being accepted for how my life is, and all that kind of thing.

Joanna Wiebe: Just as a side note, Tom wins for coming up with. What’s the word? My brain doesn’t work. Sensawarmness. Sensawarmness, thanks Tom! You win! Very nice. All right, stop talking.

What Can This Inspire? [06:41]

Nikki Elbaz: So what can this inspire? If you take this driver of this feeling, what does that actually translate into as a new email? So, there are these pregnancy emails that tell you, like, Oh, your baby’s the size of an eggplant. Your baby’s the size of a sweet potato.

And you know, what’s happening in your body? What’s happening with your baby? All that kind of thing. So, given the fact that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, and given the fact that 80% – 85% of miscarriages happen before week 12. What happens if we give an opt out at the top of all these emails? And say, suffered a pregnancy loss? And then that drives to some articles that can help you feel that support. So number one, you’re helping people not feel this pain of getting more emails that are talking about what’s going on with their baby, when the baby is no longer there.

And then you’re also keeping them within this ecosystem of the company because you know they have plenty of resources that can support people that suffer pregnancy loss. You know, there’s all this support. There’s fertility things if they want to try again, there’s just what to offer them. So it’s this two-pronged thing of being sensitive to the audience and also helping them stay within the company. 

Mechanism Are They Using? [08:00]

So this is sensitivity, but there’s actually another layer, which is a mechanism. So on top of this driver is also a mechanism. So this mechanism, the Father’s Day mechanism and the pregnancy emails are both using the mechanism of an opt out to be sensitive.

Now what happens if you use something else to be sensitive. So mechanisms can be you know stories, opt outs, opt ins, challenge, demonstration, downloadable, offer, tip, coupon. There’s all different ways to layer in and to drive this driver of feeling. Am I making any sense?

Joanna Wiebe: Sorry, I just came off mute. Yes, I just screenshotted this. Dig it. Cool. No screenshot or shotted? It doesn’t matter. Keep going. It’s awesome.

Nikki Elbaz: So what happens if you wanted to write a sensitive email that had a different mechanism, right? So, this was a Father’s Day email that I wrote, and then scrapped because it just didn’t end up working with the sequence. I didn’t feel like it was actually driving sensitivity.

But it was basically this idea of thinking like, Okay, what about all the people that Father’s Day is different for and getting a Father’s Day gift for a father doesn’t work? So, okay, what about the other people in their lives that are fathers in a sense of just caring?

So I wrote this and scrapped it, but this is using that sensitivity without the mechanism. Now we’re going to do another example that is just the mechanism. So this is from Litmus. Forms and emails don’t work. You’ve probably heard this a lot, but simply not true. Interactive forums, blah, blah, blah, blah. Help us prove our point by filling out the form in this email below.

That’s really cool, right? So, they’re obviously like, you know, I would say that the driver of the feeling is disbelief, or picking a fight, that kind of thing. What is the mechanism? Tell me in chat.

I meant to put this slide after this slide and forgot.

Joanna Wiebe: Sorry under guest opt in, with a question mark. Nashi says, challenge. Alice says demo, challenge. Demo and challenge are coming up a lot, as is opt in.

Nikki Elbaz: That’s so funny. I didn’t think about all these like weave-in kind of things. Like, there are more than one. But yeah, I was thinking demonstration. And what would this look like as a new email. So this is from Notion and because they’re not an email provider, or email anything, and they can just show email stuff in an email.

They say, Okay, I recommend opening a blank Notion page to try things as we go. First, just start typing, create a new page and just type. So even though they can’t actually demonstrate for you, which by the way they do a little bit because this is a GIF.

They have you demonstrate alongside like, oh do this together with me. This is demonstration. Cool. So, basically every time you open your inbox, you get this little icon loading. Whenever you’re reading your emails you just want to pay attention to the device that is driving this feeling and the mechanism that they’re using to drive that feeling.

And then you can mix and match for new email. So you can use the driver, you can use the mechanism. You can use both, mix and match whoo hoo! Now, if you’re like, Okay, I thought swiping was supposed to be easy. This is not easy.

Elements to the Rescue! [11:21]

Swiping elements to the rescue. Because elements are smaller, so you can swipe them without it feeling like you’re copying another email. And it also can become something totally new because elements are powerful, even though they’re small. 

Brackets [11:32]

So let’s talk about brackets random newsletter like, how interesting is that? To put the explainer in a weird sort of way in the subject line. That’s interesting. What about one minute? So, usually brackets are talking about like you have 25 hours left. Or, you know, in two hours this is happening. Instead he’s using it to say that referring someone is going to take you one minute. That’s an interesting kind of thing that maybe we can play around.

Buttons [12:02]

Buttons. So there’s a movie called Rev, and Rev, the transcription company was like, hey whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t take a movie and not make it about us, and call it Rev. So we’re going to do Rev number two. And we’re going to ask people to help us vote for who should play us.

So please, click the button below go to Twitter, use #revmovie and tell us what actor or actress you’d like to see play us in Rev 2: The Transcription Strikes Back. Because we can’t decide between the guy who plays Superman or the guy who plays Thor. Who better encapsulates all that we are? We’ll pick our favorite answer and send you the above Rev movie DVD as your trophy. So what do you think? We’d love to hear it. Tom Selleck, perhaps?

Do you see that use of button copy? It is so interesting. But instead of explaining and summarizing what happened and telling you what’s going to happen next. He just continues the narrative. So you’re like, Whoa, smooth, click. It’s really cool. Totally want to play with this element and idea.

Preheaders [13:09]

Pre headers. So, Elizabeth Goddard’s preheaders are exactly the same with every single email that she writes.This email is really good. And it’s the craziest thing because it totally works on me. I open every single one of her emails, because it says this email is really good.

Even if I don’t care about what’s inside. It’s crazy. I’ll be opening it up and I’ll be like, Why am I opening this? I know I don’t want to join the online business playground. But I open it anyway because she says it’s good. So I have to. 

So don’t swipe her line, obviously. But what about this idea of using the same preheader for like a month? Or even the same subject line or like, what could we do with repetition? This could be really interesting. Or playing with pre headers in this kind of way of telling people what to do and why they should do it. Really interesting stuff.

One More Thing [13:57]

Okay. One more thing. So when I was in high school. I was given an assignment and my professor said, Okay, Super Bowl is this week. Everybody watch the Super Bowl and next week we are going to review the ads, in class we’re going to discuss them and dissect them. And because I don’t love football, I decided instead to go on YouTube and just find a playlist of the ads and watch the ads. 

And I came to school and all my classmates were like, we had to watch for hours of football. It was terrible. And I was like, Haha, I just watched YouTube. And my professor heard me and he got so mad. He said, you totally missed the point. You didn’t feel the ebb and flow of the game. You didn’t feel the ads as this half entertainment, half interruption. You didn’t watch two ads and then football and then two ads, you just watched ads.

You didn’t get any of the local ads, like you totally missed the point. You got a curated feed, you got no context. And it is exactly the same thing with swiping emails. So really good emails mil.com like all these different companies that give you a curated feed of emails. They are great for when you’re stuck when you need to write an abandoned cart sequence. And you’re like, I don’t even know what should go inside.

They’re great for that. They serve a purpose. But when you’re trying to go for ideas, you need to skip the curated feed. You need to get the good, you need to get the bad, and the ugly and you need to get them in your inbox. When people ask me, how do I level up with email? How do I get good?

I just say, you see a lead cap form? Fill it out. You don’t see a lead cap form, scroll down and find the lead cap form. You just need to be reading tons and tons of emails. Then people will say, like, okay, how do I handle that from a time perspective? Like, I can’t have my inbox flooded.

Can I have a dummy address? I don’t recommend that. I think it’s really important to read random emails when you’re in context, the same way that your customers do. And I think it’s really interesting to see which ones you open immediately, which ones you skip.

You usually open, but you skip when you’re busy and which ones you skip. But then, because you’re bored and checking your email four times in an hour, and nothing else is coming in. You suddenly open them. It’s really valuable information. And really, really interesting that you don’t get when you do that kind of curated feed, a DIY curated feed.

No Excuses [16:26]

So,if you’re worried about inbox management, there’s so many tools. There’s Boomerang, there’s starring things, there’s marking as important. There’s getting a VA, which you should do. So, I don’t want you to use staying on top of your inbox as an excuse. You should be seeing emails, the way your customers are seeing them.

And I make it easy for you. So if you go here, you can get the list of newsletters, not newsletters, email lists that I don’t read them for the content, I read them because, I mean, some of them are good for the content also. But most of them, they’re just testing cool, interesting things. And it is really awesome to see all these different things and help you seed new ideas. Cool?

Joanna Wiebe: Nice. Thank you for coming in here today and sharing this with us. We have a link. Ange, can you check that out one more time for anybody who joined late and didn’t get it?

People are saying. Awesome. Thank you very much. 

Your nurture sequence, Todd says it’s worth the price of admission. That’s awesome. So yeah, where else can people find you online. Nikki? This is not your first Tutorial Tuesdays, but where else can they reach out to you?

Nikki Elbaz: LinkedIn and Twitter. And yeah, if you sign up, then you’re on my email list and then you can just email me, and I check my emails.

Joanna Wiebe: But you will be swiping whatever they send to you. You’ll be like, what’s the device? What’s the mechanism? Alright, that’s cool. Nikki, thank you. Ange, thank you and everybody for attending and asking your great questions as well. Thank you so much. Stay safe and we will see you for our next Tutorial Tuesdays, next week. Have a good one, y’all.

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