“First Email” Fundamentals

Like any other first encounter, the first email that you send out to email subscribers leaves a big impression, so let’s talk about the fundamentals of sending that first email.

I’ll walk you through two “first email” examples – one in the health/fitness niche and the other in the digital marketing niche – from the perspective of a subscriber (myself) who’s opted in from a landing page. By the end of this short video tutorial, you’ll have solid ideas for how to craft your first email to maximize overall engagement and open rates, and have an eye for a few red flags to avoid at all costs.

3 Core First Email Tenants

Before we dive into examples, it’s important to review the three basic (but important) tenants when writing the first email:

1 – How to Write Subject Lines that Get Opened – No salesy phrases or extreme punctuation here (unless you want to end up in the spam box)! Subjects lines should be clear and remind people of the brand to which they subscribed, as well as what they opted in for. A solid subject line might sound something like, ‘Your complimentary Beginners’ Guide from Knitting123 inside’; succinct and inspires action to open.

2 – Convey Your Value Proposition – What are the specific reasons that someone is going to want to stay subscribed and open future emails? More importantly, what distinguishes your brand from competitors and how can you deliver benefits in a unique way? Answers to these questions convey your value proposition, which should be included as copy in your first email. Introductions also call for detailing (some) back story of company. Elaborate on how you had to overcome challenges or meet goals similar to what your prospects are looking for in your product or service; while this won’t automatically gain trust, relating right away to prospects does encourage future engagement.

3 – Provide a Clear Call-to-Action – The first email should always include the next logical step in your marketing sequence, whether this be joining a social media channel, signing up for a free webinar, or purchasing a low-ticket product. Whatever you want your subscribers to do next, make it clear in your copy.

Keeping these three tenants in mind, let’s dive into some examples.

Calorie Count

CalorieCount

 

Calorie Count’s opt-in page tells me I can “count my calories for a healthier lifestyle” and then offers an opportunity to sign up. Problem is, I don’t know right away (haven’t watched the video yet to the left) what they’re offering, though I assume it’s a free trial for some sort of calorie counter. But we don’t want customers to make assumptions. I opt in anyways to check it out, and a few seconds later I get the following in my email:

 

Calorie Count

 

I can see it’s a “free service”, though the font below the ‘Calorie Count’ headline is small. The email is asking me to confirm my email, but I’m not told if I just signed up for a membership, a free trial, or something else entirely.

They’ve also missed an opportunity to communicate their value proposition – what are the real benefits being offered, how will my life be altered for the better? Clicking on the ‘optional’ step 2 will supposedly lead to ore information on the brand, but I have no real reason or motivation to click it (since I don’t know what I’m getting in the first place).

Lastly, I’m not certain how this site is different from similar sites on the web; it seems quite bland and “cooke cutter” in appearance and language, and that’s an inference I make without even diving into other sites. Where is the concise call to action that tells me what I should do next? Yes, there are some optional steps listed, but new subscribers need to be told what to do, offers need to be explicit, and there should be tangible benefits connected to next actions.

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketer

 

Digital Marketer is a well-known player in the digital marketing space, and for good reason. On the landing page above, I’m immediately drawn to the benefit-driven headline and sub-headline, along with a visual graphic of the guide that I’ll receive when I opt in.

Notice that they’re using an explicit call to action to send me their audit, which is embedded on the opt-in button – ‘Get Your Social Media Audit’. The page gives me the information that I need in order to be motivated to click that button i.e. what I’m getting, who I’m getting it from, and why it matters.

 

Digital Marketer

 

The first thing I notice in the email is the subject line – ‘Download the 10 minute Social Media Audit’. There’s little room for me to confuse this email with what I opted in for on the landing page. Ryan Deiss from Digital Marketer addresses me by first name, which is a welcoming strategy.

Notice that the opening sentences acknowledge the step I just took, delivers on the immediate promise of my free report (note that whenever you open with a free offer, you want it to appear above the fold of the email i.e. the first half), and they’re doing a good job of giving key details about how they’ll deliver benefits by citing specific examples.

 

Digital Marketer

 

In the bottom half of the email, they include another link to download the audit; a common best practice in any type of email sequence is to include one link above and one below the fold of the email.  A P.S. section reframes the short-term benefits that I’ll receive by staying prescribed, a useful reminder that will help increase open rates in future emails. There’s a direct call to action i.e. “you need to check this out right now.” Last but not least, they’re presenting an initial offer that’s connected to future benefits, and I’d almost guarantee that there will be similar targeted upsells in future emails.

Wrap Up

After reading/watching the above tutorial, you should walk away with the following fundamental guidelines for writing your first email(s) to your newest subscribers:

  • Clear and benefit-driven subject lines
  • Specific benefits that are spelled out in the email’s opening lines
  • A clear call to action i.e. directions or guidance in what to do next in body copy

Creating solid emails is one of the first and arguably the most important step in optimizing your conversion rates. Have other ideas or use any other go-to strategies in your initial emails? Leave a comment on the CLVboost Youtube channel and start up a conversation. Happy Marketing!

-Kiley

 

 

About The Author

Daniel Faggella

I grow businesses with marketing automation, email marketing, and conversion-rate optimization. I've spoken on business and emerging technologies internationally and at some of America's finest schools (Yale, Stanford, Cornell, etc...). My marketing strategies have been featured in the Boston Business Journal, MarketingProfs, Direct Marketing News, and much more. CLVboost is where I share marketing strategies, TechEmergence.com is my major pursuit.