As a copywriter, there is nothing worse than spending hours on an email marketing campaign, only to find out that it landed in the Promotions folder, or worse, triggered the spam police.
Now, writing email sequences and promotional campaigns is one of my favorite things to do as a copywriter, But lately, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to get my emails into my audience’s primary inbox. Heaven forbid, people who actually signed up to get emails from me should actually get them, am I right? Now, when we hear the word spam, it’s really easy to think about all those emails we get about that magical blue pill, or that contest you never entered, or that long-lost relative who has an inheritance of one million dollars to send you, or worse, those phishing emails with sketchy files, viruses, and links meant to grab your data. No, I am not talking about those scammers and spammers. As far as I’m concerned, those scum of the earth bottom feeders can put their crappy emails where the sun don’t shine, if you catch my drift (chuckles).
What I’m talking about is when legit emails, written by legit brands, that legit people actually opted in to receive, land in the spam folder. Or a more common phenomenon Google’s Promotions tab. With 1. 5 billion, with a B, people around the world using Gmail, the Promotion tab is a real doozy.
I often have my students, yes, the people who actually paid to get email communication from me, tell me that they’re missing my emails with important program information because they’re landing in Gmail’s good Promotions tab. Gmail has crazy tight spam restrictions with more than 10 million spam and malicious emails blocked every single minute by their automated machine learning filters. That’s crazy, right? And if I’m being honest, I do love this when I think about my Grandma checking her email and getting easily confused by sketchy emails from scammers trying to steal her information. So while I am very glad that Gmail is protecting us all, still a whopping 68% of emails that don’t land in the Spam folder, still end up in the Promotions tab.
And that’s kind of a bummer if you’re the ones sending those emails, right? When I launched my copywriter coaching program, the Copy Posse Launch Pad, I spent hours navigating email deliverability tools to ensure that my emails had the best chance of landing in my subscribers’ inboxes. Those of you who are on my newsletter know that I only write to you when I have a new video up or when I have new information or news to share with you that will take your copywriting game to the next level. But, still the digital powers that be still scrutinize my every single word like it’s 1984. George Orwell’s “1984”.
So if you were on my list, do me a favor and the next time you get a new mail from me that lands in your Promotions tab, just drag and drop that over to the Primary folder to make sure you don’t miss any more of my emails. And if you too are struggling with email deliverability in the day of stricter and stricter inbox filters, you are in the right place. Now, as a copywriter, you might be wondering, “All right, what’s this got to do with me? ” Well, let me paint you a picture. Let’s say you start working with a client who has a list of 10, 000 subscribers.
That client asks you to write an email campaign selling their new amazing program to their list. Awesome, right? You get to work spending hours writing the most amazing emails that will sell like crazy pants, you send those emails to your client, your client then loads those emails into their email software, pushes send, (wind howling and fly buzzing) and nobody buys. Who do you think they’re gonna come to for an explanation? The truth is, the average business owner does not properly track their deliverability or sender score, so as far as it looks to them, your emails just suck. 🙁 And the reality could be a totally different story.
Out of that list of 10, 000, chances are only 77% of those emails were ever delivered, that is the average deliverability rate. So that list of 10, 000 is really more like 7, 700. It’s worse than taxes. And as I mentioned earlier, you have a 68% chance of that email landing in the Promotions tab, but that number is a lot higher if that email is selling something, which it is, in this scenario, it’s selling your client’s new program.
So let’s assume it will go to the Promotions tab if you’re not optimizing your copy based on the seven tips I’m sharing in today’s video. It gets worse, the read rate of emails that land in the Promotions tab is 19. 2%. So that means that maybe, if you’re lucky, 1, 478 people will actually open and read your email.
But wait, we’re not done yet, the average click through rate on email is 2. 5%, which means the number of people who clicked that email and saw your client’s new program is 37. 37 people. So yeah, even though as a copywriter email deliverability isn’t your job, per se, paying attention to the ways you can boost the number of people who actually see your emails is going to make you look a lot better as a copywriter.
And while there is a lot of techie stuff that your client can do to boost deliverability, like email authentication, regular list maintenance and smart segmentation, let’s talk about the stuff you can control, and that is how you write your subject lines and email copy. Small tweaks in messaging and formatting can play a huge role in the success of your campaign. Here’s a quick snapshot of what happens when an email doesn’t perform as well in terms of deliverability. My open rate on one of my recent content emails, was nearly cut in half due to poor deliverability.
So for more tutorials on how to write copy that both connects and converts, and makes you look really, really good, click Subscribe below to join the global Copy Posse. I release a new video every single week to help copywriters and entrepreneurs start and scale their business. And now to answer your question, “What can I do as a copywriter to avoid the spam or Promotions folder? ” Well, a lot actually. Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, not only keep an eye on vocabulary, but context, formatting and engagement.
So in this video, I’m sharing seven email marketing tips copywriters can do to massively improve conversions and boost revenue. So let’s start with the most obvious tip of them all, tip number one, avoid spam-trigger words. You’d be surprised by how many copywriters are just simply not aware that they could be using massive amounts of spam-trigger words in their email copy, and the list of common spam words has gotten longer and longer over recent years, which can make things really, really tricky. On top of the usual suspects like cash, bonus, free, sale, make money, you now also have words like amazing, opportunity, and freedom, getting flagged by their Robocop.
Marketing sources like HubSpot are always updating their list of words and phrases to avoid so it’s good to keep those handy as you’re composing emails for yourself or for your client, and I will share links to those resources in the description below. And trust me guys, I know as a copywriter in creative flow, it can be really, really hard to come up with alternative words and phrases on the fly. So when I write emails, I tend to write what I wanna say first, and then I go back and cross-reference that with the spam words, and then update my copy accordingly. It is time-consuming, but trust me, it is well worth it, And the more you write, the more you’ll naturally learn which words to avoid.
Now, if only the rules ended there. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple and straightforward as just omitting or replacing a word here and there. Which brings us to tip number two, avoid spammy formatting. Because half of the time it’s not so much about what you say, but how you say it.
ISPs have become so sophisticated that they can now assess the context of your email copy. Some types of formatting are automatic red flags, like exclamation marks, and non-emoji symbols and multicolored fonts, and varying font size or types, which will likely land you straight in the Junk folder. Also, make sure to proofread your email so that you don’t have an overload of punctuation in general. Using too many commas, or breaking up longer sentences with a colon, or a dot-dot-dot, can often get you into trouble.
Once you start writing emails on a more regular basis, I highly recommend you invest in an email tool like Glock, or SendForensics, to see which words and phrases could be triggering the spam filters. Now, trust me, I wish there was a straightforward guide of the dos and don’ts when it comes to formatting but unfortunately, the best way to know is to use your best judgment, and then test. Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of one of my sales emails for my launch, which I ran through SendForensics several times before sending it out to my list. The one on the left was my first test, the one on the right was the exact same email after a few rounds of tweaks and optimization.
Crazy, right? The first one had a 51% deliverability, and after a few fixes, it went up to over 82%. So depending on the size of your list, this can be a huge needle-mover, and it was for me. All right, moving on to tip number three, keep your subject lines simple. The previous two rules also apply to your subject lines.
Be very mindful about using spam-trigger words and any funky characters that will look shifty to a robot. While a great subject line should include a good hook and evoke enough curiosity to compel your subscribers to click Open, it’s important that you also keep it concise and set the right expectations for your email content. 47% of emails are discarded based on the subject line alone, that’s nearly half. This could absolutely be killing your engagement rate and telling ISPs that what you’re sending is just not read-worthy.
Higher open rates can bump up your deliverability due to high engagement, and therefore reduce the chances of your email ending up in the Spam folder, or the Promotions tab due to inactivity. But. . .
whatever you do, do not to trick people into opening your emails because high opens and low clicks also won’t do you any favors. So that’s a hard no, guys, for clickbait-y and misleading subject lines. More than half of consumers reported that they have felt tricked into opening a promotional email. So strike a balance between curiosity and relevancy, and you are good to go.
And if you want some tips on how to write killer subject lines, you can check out that video next, I’ll be sure to share it at the end of this video. All right, now, tip number four, write friendly. This is the most important tip of all, guys, on top of all that formatting stuff that I just mentioned, the best way to write an email is to avoid sounding like a marketer. A sure way to do that is to write as if you’re talking to a friend or telling a real-life story to someone you actually care about.
In other words, write like a human. This will make your email so much more approachable and relevant. Personalities like Marie Forleo, Jay Clouse and Noah Kagan are great examples of people who write their emails as if they’re having a conversation with a friend, and the same rule applies even if you’re representing a brand or a business. On that note, that doesn’t mean you should go all Jane Austen on your email length, but if the story of does call for a longer email, do break it up into multiple paragraphs to make it easier to read.
The more engaged your readers are with your emails, the more likely you’ll end up in their inbox. And past behavior impacts future deliverability, it’s as simple as that. Remember, emails to friends have 100% open rate so write as if you’re writing to a friend. All right, tip number five, stay relevant.
Surveys have shown that 60% of email users will mark a sender as spam if they receive too many or too many irrelevant emails from them. Not to mention, if your subscriber considers your email content is irrelevant, they’ll likely be less likely to respond to your future campaigns. So the next time you’re writing or conceptualizing your email content, consider why you’re sending the email, how it’s relevant to the brand and how your message can add value to your subscriber’s life. The number one rule I tell my students when writing campaigns is to always have a reason why to email, whether it be to share a new piece of content, release a new product, or add a new bonus or discount during a sales campaign.
Don’t send an email just for the sake of cadence, your subscriber is not gonna be impressed by unnecessary reminders, check-ins, or repeated content, without purpose or something new to share. So be strategic with your email marketing and plan angles of your campaigns in advance. All right, tip number six, manage expectations. When you’re writing to a new lead who just opted in, one of your first indoctrination emails should set expectations around the kind of content they will be receiving from you and the frequency that you’ll be emailing them.
For example, if your lead will be included in your weekly newsletters, then let them know. I send an email to my global Posse every single Wednesday to let them know that a new video is up, and, of course, I let them know when new programs and courses are available in the Copy Posse Academy. Another important practice is to be consistent in your language, your personality and even the layout or framework of your emails. Familiarity and consistency go a long way in fostering trust with your audience.
And that brings me to tip number seven, aim to engage first. The most important thing to remember with your email marketing is that your primary goal is to get your reader to engage with your email. Nine out of 10 times, that means clicking a link in the email, but sometimes it’s to get them to reply or take some other form of action. Don’t worry so much about closing the sale right there in the email because one, that’s a spam word minefield, and two, your on-site sales copy can do the converting for you.
So when writing emails, think first about how to make them engaging, interesting, and click-worthy. Use graphics and buttons, or even a gif or an emoji, if that is how you like to communicate, I’m a huge fan of emojis, but be careful not to use too many images or hyperlinks in your emails because yes, you guessed it, spam alert. So that wraps up my list of seven things you can do as a copywriter to make sure your emails actually arrive in the inbox therefore boosting conversions and revenue.