Web writer gets 11.4% response to email marketing

As a direct marketing-friendly web writer I write all sorts of stuff, from blog posts to website pages, landing pages to online adverts, articles, white papers, video scripts… and of course email marketing campaigns.

My DM background means I know how to write specifically to generate a response, whether it’s encouraging readers to request information, fill in a form, make a buying decision or react in some other way. But talk is cheap. How do you know I’ll deliver the goods?

Here’s what happened when I carried out my latest  email campaign, created to inform people I was changing my maiden name and introduce the services of my SEO Consultant husband, who has just gone freelance.

Online copywriting – The email subject line

I spent an hour and ten minutes – £80 of my time – writing and perfecting my email message, focusing extra hard on the subject line. After all, if nobody opens the message in the first place the campaign isn’t going to work. In this case my subject line was All change: Bye bye Kate Naylor, hello Kate Goldstone, intended to pique people’s curiosity.

The database

I sent the message to thirty five of my current web content writing customers, all of whom I’ve worked with during the past year.

Campaign timing

Friday is a great day to carry out email campaigns. I always send mine out on Fridays because I know people are in a better mood just before the weekend than earlier in the week. And I send my offers out in the afternoon because I know people are more open to new ideas after lunch than when they’re starving. In this case I sent the message out at around 3pm.

Email campaign system

I don’t bother using an email marketing system or tools, since I only write to a maximum of fifty people at a time. I also don’t bother with pretty colours and graphics. As a web content writer and direct marketer I know how busy people are, so I keep things as short, sweet and simple as I can. In this case it was just a few short sentences, a bullet list and a couple of subheads to break things up.

Basic personalisation

I manually personalised each email message ‘Dear (name)‘ and simply copied and pasted the message body individually 35 times. This bit of the job took twenty minutes, another £20 of my time.

The response

This morning, Monday, I fired up my machine and found 20 responses.

  1. Twelve of them were simply belated congratulations on getting married last year, which was lovely
  2. Four were offers of new copywriting projects for me
  3. Four were asking about my husband’s freelance SEO and digital marketing consultancy services

The stats

  • total campaign cost – £100 of my time
  • overall response: 20/35 = 57%
  • congratulations messages: 12/35 = 34%
  • people wanting me to quote for freelance copywriting projects: 4/35 = 11.4%
  • people wanting Tony to quote for optimisation and digital marketing projects: 4/35 = 11.4%
  • cost per response for the 8 messages about new copywriting and SEO projects: £12.50
  • Cost per conversion: tbc

The message

If you’re interested in seeing what I wrote, here it is:

Hi (name)
At last, a year after our wedding, I’m finally changing my surname to Goldstone.
How will it affect you?
My bank account name will change soon, hopefully in time for my end of November invoice run. I’ll give details on my invoice as usual. Other than that, you shouldn’t notice any difference.
Freelance digital marketing from my lovely husband
My ex-Head of Search husband Tony has recently gone freelance. He’s providing a wealth of digital marketing and SEO Consultancy services including:

  • Website optimisation analysis
  • Key term research
  • Paid Search (PPC) advice and management
  • Social Media marketing strategy and tactics
  • Content Marketing advice
  • E-Commerce optimisation
  • Sales conversion optimisation
  • Local, national and international SEO
  • Site migration including WordPress
  • Backlink assessment
  • Google penalty recovery

Here’s his LinkedIn profile: uk.linkedin.com/in/tonygoldstone.
If you’d like to know more about how he can help your online presence take a quantum leap, he’d love to hear from you. If I say so myself, together we make quite a team!
Thanks and best wishes

Need a web content writer who can do response-driven email messages?

If you need a business copywriting expert to write you a hard-working email campaign, that’s me. We don’t necessarily have to do anything elaborate or complicated. Sometimes a few lines is enough to inspire a bunch of tightly-targeted people to act the way you want them to.

Here are some handy tips:

  • As a general rule, a less-well targeted or cold database means you need to work harder to get people to open your email and react to the contents
  • It’s usually easier to sell things to existing customers than to prospects who haven’t bought from you before
  • A carefully thought through follow-up message can enhance response by 50%, sometimes more
  • The shorter and simpler your email, the better
  • If your offer is rubbish, people won’t take the bait no matter how brilliant the message is!
  • One offer per message is usually best, unless you’re sending out something like an ‘offer panel’ with multiple special offers
  • Your subject line is key – without a good one, you’re sunk before you start
  • Subheads break up the message visually and make it easier for people to find the information they need to make a decision
  • It’s ok to be personal, warm and human. In fact it’s usually more effective than being corporate and cold
  • Make responding as easy and fast as you can, with as few interim steps as possible
  • If you know their name, use it – personalisation is powerful stuff
  • AB testing is a great idea unless, like me, your database is too small. I reckon you need at least 1000 people per segment to generate empirically sound results. Any fewer and you can’t rely on the numbers
  • Given enough data you can AB test different demographic segments, creative treatments, geographical areas, subject lines, messages and offers, rolling out the most successful to a larger audience
  • No list? You can buy email lists. Many purport to be opted in and tightly targeted. But I’ve never bought a list anywhere near as good as those I’ve built by hand with love, care and attention to detail
  • In my experience it’s no good waiting two weeks to send a follow-up message. The campaign might be your main focus, but it’s unlikely the people you send it to will remember the original. Three days should do the trick, any longer and you risk missing the emotional boat
  • How many follow-ups? How long is a piece of string! You need to suck it and see
  • Always use an address people can reply to. This is SO important. It is such poor practice to send a campaign from a ‘no reply’ email address. A huge ‘duh’. If someone wants to respond, they ought to be able to do it instantly by hitting the reply button. If you don’t let them, you’re missing out on a powerful opportunity to engage and interact

PS – I spoke too soon… I’ve had more responses asking me to quote for new copywriting projects. The total is now six. That’s just over 17% response.

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