Big-Time Email Copywriting Mistakes, Part I

Before I begin teaching you how to write a money-drenching email in 10-12 minutes, there's something you need to know. And that "something" is all the mistakes made by almost everyone.

Thing is, you might not think what you see in so many emails is a mistake, because … "everyone is doing it."

Well, as your mother probably told you once or twice – perhaps when you got caught smoking – "Just because you THINK everyone is doing it doesn't make it right."

Bear with me for a moment. I realize what I've written above may come off as arrogant. It may come off as "I know everything" and everyone else is wrong. Not my point.

My point is, I have a different take on this matter of Email Copywriting, and I have a different point of view for a damn good reason: My emails kick butt – and those who follow what I teach quickly learn to do what I'm doing.

So let's suspend judgment about me being pompous, at least momentarily, and concentrate on whether or not you can learn something from me. Deal?

Okay. Then let me start by covering three major mistakes that I see being made in many, many emails – mistakes that make the reader stop reading. Not something you want to happen, right?

  1. Subject line ALWAYS begins with my first name.

    For example, I sign up for your email tips. And every time you email me, the subject line or "headline" says something like, "Matt, Top 3 Ways to Burn Fat." Or, "Matt, How Do You Make Money Online?"

    Just like someone who doesn't know you but uses your name over and over and over again – this technique is over-used. It may bump sales once or twice, but that doesn't mean you use it EVERY TIME. As I learned in kung fu years ago, "A strength over-extended becomes a weakness." Using someone's name is good salesmanship. Using it every time you send an email to them is not.

  2. Top of message lists the contents of the email.

    Why on earth do I need to see the contents of an email at the top of the email? Instead, why not suck me into your universe with powerful, riveting copy. Chances are excellent that when I see the "contents" listed I will quickly scan and say, "Ah, not for me" … and move on. Not only that, but part of being an effective email copywriter lies in your ability to convey warmth. How warm is a table of contents at the top of an email?

  3. First sentence is boring, dull, or too long to keep me jazzed.

    After someone reads your subject line and opens your email, you must not take anything for granted. Your first sentence has to be powerful. It must arrest the attention of the reader and make him so curious he has to keep reading.

    For example, here's an opening sentence I read a few minutes ago in a recent email, followed by what I wrote to make it more compelling:

    First sentence: "Do you know someone who will be going into surgery soon?

    My rewrite: "Surgery sucks. Especially open-heart surgery. I know people who almost died from it. Some who have."

    Now, you might say, "Hey, Furey, you cheated. You wrote four sentences instead of one. And some of your sentences aren't grammatically correct. They're not even sentences. Your English teacher would have flunked you for what you wrote."

    And in reply I'd say, "My English teacher never made a dime from her writing. I make plenty."

Intrigued? I hope so.

There's a whole lot more where this came from. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this discourse in the next issue of The Golden Thread.

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Published: March 5, 2007

4 Responses to “Big-Time Email Copywriting Mistakes, Part I”

  1. Thanks for sharing this input. I was turned off by your style at first because it seemed so pompous and arrogant,however, that is what being open-minded is all about. Obviously, you must know what you are talking about. You are successful and have reached the pinnacle that I hope to obtain.


  2. Love it! I want more like this!

    Thanks, Matt

    P.S. There's nothing pompous about sharing what you know to help others!

    Rachel Karl

  3. Man... that was great input. I'm headed over to devour part 2!

    48 Days Marketing Coach

  4. Definition of a compliment: Gee, what great taste you have. It's just like mine!

    Matt, ever since class with you, you've been my email writing hero.

    My thinking seems to be in synch with yours -- and hope I'm not being too pompous!

    Margot Teleki


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