Strong Email Leads
Wait! Don’t Delete Me!

You’ve got your reader to open your email with a strong subject line. Now you need to get him to actually read the email. Will your lead do its job?

The lead of an email is the first 200 words, and is just as important as the lead of a promo. It must effectively persuade the reader emotionally to read the rest of the email. But next to the headline, writing a good lead can be difficult for many copywriters to master.

Before you write your next email, take a look at an exchange I recently had with legendary copywriter Michael Masterson on how to improve a lead I wrote earlier this month for Wealthy Web Writer …

-----Original Message-----
From: AWAI [mailto:thegoldenthread@awaionline.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 4:03 PM
To: Michael Masterson
Subject: AWAI -- 10 Ways to Build an Email List

Dear Michael,

"Not only can I write emails that convert your subscribers to buyers, but I can build your list, too."

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

All things being equal, that's the web copywriter I want writing my e-letter. And I'm willing to pay a lot more for him, too.

Being able to offer consulting services to your web clients is extremely valuable to your bottom line. Today, you'll learn how to build a high-quality, opt-in email list for your client (and for yourself!).


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Masterson
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 4:14 PM
To: 'Rebecca Matter, AWAI'
Subject: FW: AWAI -- 10 Ways to Build an Email List

Rebecca,

John’s lead in today’s article is a promise lead and it is pretty good.

Your lead in this email is also a promise lead, but it is not as effective because you make the number one mistake when writing a promise lead, which is to make the promise big and unbelievable.

To do that, you have to be specific ... if you think along those lines, you could write a better, stronger introduction.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rebecca Matter, AWAI [mailto:askrebecca@awaionline.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 4:43 PM
To: Michael Masterson
Subject: RE: AWAI -- 10 Ways to Build an Email List

Thank you Michael -

Can you clarify this a little further? I want to make sure I'm fully grasping the concept.

My intention is to tie the article to someone writing copy, since it's written more toward marketers/biz owners.

Would including the amount I pay make it stronger? "I'd pay $750 a month for the emails, but $2,500 more for the list building."


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Masterson
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 5:14 PM
To: 'Rebecca Matter, AWAI'
Subject: RE: AWAI -- 10 Ways to Build an Email List

The promise -- “extremely valuable to the bottom line” –- is unspecific, almost abstract ... and therefore lacks power. It is not a phrase I can imagine ... it is not a phrase that triggers something in my heart.

If you are going to make a promise, it needs to be a promise that can shake the reader loose from his stasis.

Specificity is the solution to almost every writing mistake ...

To write a better mini lead, you would have to think: "What can I promise -- very specifically -- that would be big enough and yet believable?" And to answer that, usually you have to use actual examples, which always strengthen the copy.

There is also a second problem here, and it's almost more flagrant. I didn't mention it earlier because I wanted to focus on one thing at a time. It's a “Power of One” issue ...

The first line is a quote ... an unattributed quote ... so the reader thinks:
"Who is saying this? What does it mean? What does ‘build your list’ mean?”

Then we have someone else -- presumably you -- announcing a winner. Huh?

Then we have the promise ...


-----Original Message-----
From: Rebecca Matter, AWAI [mailto:askrebecca@awaionline.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 5:29 PM
To: 'Michael Masterson'
Subject: RE: AWAI -- 10 Ways to Build an Email List

OK – I think I’ve got it. How’s this?

I typically pay copywriters $750-$1500 a month to write weekly e-letters. But if they can build the subscriber base at the same time, I'm willing to go as high as triple that, as well as give a share of the revenue.

Today, you'll learn how to build a high-quality, opt-in email list for your client (and for yourself!).


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Masterson
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 2008 11:14 AM
To: 'Rebecca Matter, AWAI'
Subject: RE: AWAI -- 10 Ways to Build an Email List

It's a lot better. To improve it still further, you might orient it a bit more toward the second person so they get the benefit to them immediately ...

You can make $750 to $1500 a month writing e-letters for clients. (That's the range I pay, so I know it's true.)

But you can make two or three times that amount by piggy backing an extra service to your copywriting: helping to build your client's subscriber base.

Today you'll learn exactly how to do that. You might be thinking, "I don't know anything about building subscriber bases," but don't worry. The essay that follows spells everything out clearly and simply ....

Remember, the lead of your next email is the most important element next to the subject line. And when that lead is a promise lead, you must be specific. Only then will your reader remain compelled to read the rest of your email, and take the action you request.

[Ed Note: There are fundamental differences between writing for the web and print – but one thing remains constant: you must know how to write strong persuasive copy to be successful in either medium. Learn copywriting firsthand from the most successful copywriters in the industry with AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.]

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Average: 4.4
Published: October 15, 2008

1 Response to “Advice From Michael Masterson on Writing Stronger Email Leads”

  1. Wow. Just, wow. This email exchange puts a lot into perspective around the specificity required to craft great copy. These words almost feel immortal to me. Actually, they couldn't be anything less. Thank you both for sharing.

    Noah LandsbergOctober 27, 2013 at 10:59 pm


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