It’s been a while since I picked on someone’s copy.
So let’s dig into my Santa sack of terrible emails and find something …
(I peer into a large sack and fish for an envelope.)
Here’s our lucky victim for today:
A terrible email from … Zapier, the automation software!
Now, Zapier is a good product. I pay for it myself to help back up my email list. So, I have nothing against their offering.
(don’t sue me don’t sue me don’t sue me)
But their copy (at least, in this email) is a different beast.
An ugly, non-converting beast.
Because the other day they sent me an email promoting a new blog post, with the subject line:
“Why you should respond to emails—and how to make yourself do it”
This subject line is a fantastic example of the old copywriting trick of “entering the conversation in the reader’s head”.
… wait, I said that wrong.
It’s a great example of how NOT to do that.
I mean … “why you should respond to emails”?
That’s like, the world’s most UNINSPIRING premise.
(And anyway … what else do you do with emails?)
Look — nobody is thinking “gee, I should reply to emails … oh, looky me! An email from my pals at Zapier telling me exactly how to do that! What luck!”
Still, if I HAD to promote a blog post on this topic, I’d at least try something with a little more zip, like:
– Quick hack for replying to emails 3x faster
– 4 things people secretly say about you when you don’t reply to emails
– What to do about that email you haven’t answered for like 3 weeks and now it’s totes awkward
– The case AGAINST “the case against Inbox Zero”
– Got un-replied email in your inbox? Here’s why it could cost your job …
Or something that looks a little more fun.
Okay, now let’s check out the email itself.
It opens by shaming you in BIG TEXT:
Just email the person back.
It’s really not that hard.
Did you know you’re a slob?
At least, Zapier thinks you are.
A big, fat slob who neglects their basic duties of replying to people.
But don’t worry … your pal Zapier’s here, to condescendingly shame you into fixing this problem.
I’m reading this and I’m like … righto cheers mate 👍
Look … talking down to your reader is a HUGE copy no-no. Especially in the very first line!!!
Okay, moving on:
There are plenty of emails you don’t need to answer—and even more that you really shouldn’t answer. But we’re all guilty of also ignoring emails that deserve a response.
There’s an old trick copywriters used to teach for sales letters:
Take the start of your copy and delete the first paragraph.
It purges what we call “warm-up copy”.
And here is a great example:
That first paragraph is a big, fat nothingburger.
Just get to the point.
The second paragraph is a little better:
Here’s my take on why there’s no good reason to ignore an email, plus a trick for how to make sure you always respond.
I mean, it’s still about something nobody cares about. But at least it’s clear.
And then comes the call-to-action:
Stop ignoring emails
Now, they get some points for this. It’s not a bad CTA, given the subject matter.
But on the whole, not a great email.
So … how could they fix it?
They could make this email way better by including …
… come on, you tell me.
What could they include to do this better?
That’s right …
They could include …
Something like this:
So you know when there’s an email you’re supposed to respond to … but you don’t … and then it sits there for like 3 weeks … and then it’s totally awkward to reply now … so you just kind of pretend it never happened?
Yeah … don’t lie, you do.
Well, I can officially tell you:
I know because … it once got me FIRED!
Really. I was working as a receptionist at XYZ Enterprises when I got this email from my boss that I thought must have been a joke … “
And then tell the story. Make it something fun, short, and that actually wrenches on an ACTUAL insecurity people might have about not replying to emails (i.e. ‘you could lose your job’).
THAT would actually make people care enough to click the blog post.
And over time, it’d also have the benefit of building a brand people could relate to.
See? It’s not that hard.
Okay, I should stop sharing such wonderful teaching in this email, and go and do some actual paid client work now … like that sales page I’m finishing this week.
Speaking of which:
And if someone wants to forward this to Zapier … feel free.
(Just kidding, don’t do that, I’m not really interested.)