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The role of long-form copy in email marketing

June 29 - 2020

Email Marketing Content 5 min read

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I'd returned from a Eurocamp family holiday in France where I'd met the girl who stole my young, innocent heart. It would be at least another two years before I had my own email address (and another four before I had a mobile phone) so we did what kids did back then and swapped addresses with promises to write to each other.

The day I got back I sat at the desk in my bedroom, pen in hand, blank sheet of paper in front of me, and penned my first letter of love. I took my time over it and probably went through four or five versions before I'd finished my masterpiece. It wasn't a quick job and it was (arguably!) better for the care and diligence I took over it.

Off in the post it went and then the waiting game began - would she write back? Yes, she would and I still remember the giddy rush of exhilaration when the letter came through the door addressed to me.

And this brings me to my point. Because communication is now instant, across multiple different channels (and we can even see if people have read our messages), we forget the wonderful sense of worth and elation we used to get when someone we cared about took the time to write to us. Not just a two line message littered with emojis and an ever-increasing arsenal of abbreviations and acronyms ("OMG you actually wrote to me! IDK but obvs think ILU. Totes emosh!) but an actual letter where the sender had taken the time to think about what they were writing.

1996 was a lifetime ago and since then we've lived through a communications revolution where the way we send, receive and consume information has changed beyond recognition. On the whole (fake news and election interference aside) this has been a good thing. But it doesn't mean we should forget the power writing has - whether that's in a love-struck teenagers letter or in an email we can send to thousands of people with a click.

Increasingly, I've found the emails I enjoy reading the most in my inbox aren't the ones with flashy sales messages or disguised sales pitches, but the ones I receive which the sender has taken their time to write and forces me to take my time to read it.

This type of long-form copy in email marketing campaigns might not necessarily work for every business but where it does, it absolutely has a crucial role to play - especially when it comes to building lasting relationships with subscribers.

In the past week alone I've received an email a day from James Smith, an online personal trainer who runs the hugely successful James Smith Academy. James wants me to sign up to his academy (it's how he makes his money after all) yet the emails have covered everything from puppies, influencers, functional fitness, tennis and one instant laugh out loud email with the subject line "How do YOU draw your penis?"

Here's the magical thing, I actually read them. Out of the hundreds of emails I receive every day, I take the time to read these. They don't get bulk deleted and sent straight to the bin. They are read, enjoyed and then shared.

It's the same story with my chiropractor who, each Friday, will send out a list of five things he's been doing that week, or Paul Jarvis, the author of Company of One and brain behind a number of highly successful online courses, who every week sends out his Sunday Dispatches email which is simply a blog article delivered in the email rather than being linked to.

This works incredibly well in a series of welcome emails, when it's consistent (i.e. it goes out on the same day at the same time) or when building strong relationships with your subscribers is one of the key aims of your email marketing strategy.

It should go without saying, if you're thinking about adopting this approach, the quality of the copy in the email has to be top notch. If you want people to take the time to read it, then you have to make sure you're giving them value, or educating them, or entertaining them...essentially giving them a reason to commit to always opening your emails and reading them. If you've got something worth saying, then this can be a great way of saying it.

If you can capture the same feeling of delight of receiving a love-letter in the post when your subscribers receive and email from you then, not only will you have an audience that loves you, you'll have the strongest of foundations for both growing and making your business a success.

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