Joanna Wiebe, Founder of CopyHackers, is a writer who knows how to produce results. She's helped an eCommerce site increase average order value by 20%, produced a 100% open rate for a client's email marketing, and boosted trial starts for another client by 13%. As a business owner, she's launched multiple six-figure courses, created a writing app, and leads the teams she's assembled for both. Needless to say, Wiebe knows what she's doing when it comes to writing to achieve business outcomes.

I wanted to ask her some questions on at the topic of writing effective emails, and she was gracious enough to share some of her insight.

If there's one thing you NEVER want to see in an email, what is it?

JW: "Hi there, Firstname". Instant credibility crusher. It's better not to try to personalize an email than to make it feel so very impersonal.

When it comes to email copywriting, what's the single biggest mistake you see being made over and over?

JW: Writing for everyone. I mean this in two ways:

1) It's a mistake to write email blasts (that is, emails that go to everyone), and,

2) It's a mistake to send emails that sound like they're meant for everyone.

How can it be remedied?

JW: Create and use smart, informed tags (or groups) for your subscribers. Tag new subscribers based on where they signed up; tag existing subscribers based on what they clicked; tag any subscribers based on what they tell you about themselves.

Once you do that, you can

1) Tailor your emails, which increases relevance and, thus, opens and clicks, and,

2) Write confidently in a one-to-one manner because you'll feel you know your targeted / segmented reader better.

Doing this means you'll need to write more emails, but that extra work writing pays off in more revenue generated - and it's the kind of work you can hire someone (a copywriter) to do.

Is there a writing style you've seen be highly effective--and if so--what makes it so effective?

JW: Storytelling in a one-to-one manner works so well because people are hard-wired to listen to stories. Open with a great hook. Write about how you expected things to go one way but they ended up taking a turn for the worse. Get the click by promising the resolution of the story on the landing page. And don't think about the "design" of your emails - the layout of a design-free email lends itself well to long-form sales copywriting, so don't try to make your email look like a home page.

Is there a specific copywriting formula that works best in an email context?

JW: This is my favorite: PASOP-PASOP-PAS Storytelling. It's a spin on the problem-agitation-solution framework, and here's how it works:

Email one sets up the hero's problem, agitates it, solves it with free information (i.e., not with the thing you're selling), gives a measurable outcome of that solution, and sets up the problem for the next email. 

Email two repeats that flow. 

And email three is where you get to sell: establish problem, agitate it, and finally solve it with your paid solution. 

This framework taps into the curiosity gap/open loop, which is great for increasing opens of your second and third emails. It also sets up the sender (i.e., you), as a giver, not a taker, because it doesn't sell until the third email - everything up to that point is 100% free and valuable.

What's the single biggest tip you have for people writing email copy?

JW: Before you write, empty your mind of every subscriber that the email isn't meant for. The naysayers, grumblers, unsubscribers, etc. will mess with your head. You don't need them in your mind when you're writing. Shove them out of your mind, focus on your one reader, and write entirely for that one reader. 

Want more writing advice from Joanna Wiebe? Check out her blog, Copyhackers.

Published on: May 9, 2016