Well, hello again!
Welcome to part two of our How To Write a Decent Sales Email series.
Today, we're talking about Interest.
(Previously we talked about getting Attention, and if you haven't read that, you can do so right here.)
Interest can be a confusing little minx, and it's the easiest to screw up of our AIDA quadrangle because it's the hardest to define.
Attention? You just have to get noticed.
Desire? Well, that's fairly self-explanatory.
Action? Perhaps tricky to convince, but simple to comprehend.
But interest is the yin to the other components' yang.
It's ephemeral and wispy and subjective.
The other three are loud and intense and sometimes aggressive.
But interest? Interest is different.
And because it's different, people really screw it up. They tend to do so in a few common ways.
They'll merge it with attention and turn their email into an outright spectacle. All flashing lights and not an interesting word uttered.
(All mouth and no trousers! All hat and no cattle! All wax and no wick! Somebody, please, stop me.)
Alternatively, they skip interest altogether and move straight into desire. Skipping interest and trying for desire off the hop does not work in dating and it doesn't work in sales emails.
Or they put all their focus on action! action! action! which is about as effective as proposing marriage before your beloved is 100% sure of how to spell your first name.
Now obviously the whole sales email thing falls apart if the prospect isn't interested, so let's get that party started now.
The first thing you need to know about interest is this:
Remember earlier when we said that Attention was relative? Well…
What is interesting is SUBJECTIVE.
Not only is it subjective, it's subject to environmental factors.
If Dave has offered to whisk you away for a romantic weekend on the Cote d'Azur and you just got your book contract signed, nothing I can say will interest you in the slightest.
I MIGHT get your attention, but your interest is off the table.
On the other hand, if you're putting off filling out your tax forms, my video detailing my first year of adventures in amateur pig husbandry will rivet you for as long as your laptop battery will sustain you.
So know that going in. You can't interest all people, and you can't interest any one person on any given day. It's never totally within your control. Beware of anyone who implies that it is.
The second thing you should know about interest is this:
By the time you're writing a sales email, the easiest time to do it has already passed.
Generating interest is tricky for a lot of reasons, and as an ittybiz owner, it's probably easier achieved by branding than it is by copywriting.
Copywriting can feel kind of hard, and some people find it intimidating.
Being a reasonably likeable, consistent human being seems perhaps less so.
So in my opinion, it's a lot easier, simpler and more sustainable to gain interest through name recognition and consistency than it is through relying on a fascinating email campaign.
Because the easiest way to generate interest is to already have interest.
You know how it takes money to make money? Yeah, it takes interest to make interest.
(IttyBiz, your one-stop-shop for Zen koans.)
One of the things we mentioned yesterday in getting Attention is this little line right here:
“It only really gets my attention if I'm looking for it.”
So, theoretically, if one were to consciously encourage people to look for the emails one sent, then maybe they might be more inclined to look for them.
And if they were actively engaged in the process of looking for something, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to assume they might be interested in it?
See? You're getting it already.
So the first and easiest way to get people interested in what you're doing is to generate interest ahead of time.
Some ways you can do this:
- Write a series. Like this one!
- Make a promise. “Tomorrow, we're going to talk about XYZ. Watch for it.”
- Create rituals, routines and traditions. Every Monday is naked podcast day! Every Black Friday, IttyBiz has a huge sale! (See what I did there?)
- Anchor back to old stuff. By mentioning old stuff, (like “remember three weeks ago when we talked about ABC?”) you encourage people to look for NEW stuff because you're indicating they're going to need to remember it later. “Previously on Farscape…”
Calmly generating interest ahead of time is by far the easiest way to ensure you have their interest when you need it. You can never totally ensure it, but that's probably your best shot.
It's not the best way – there is no best way – but it really is the easiest, and it requires no copywriting knowledge whatsoever.
That said, there are plenty o' things you can do in and around the email itself.
1. Remember what you're REALLY trying to get them interested in.
For your purposes, the interest we're trying to generate is not interest in the PRODUCT, but interest in the COMMUNICATION.
The big kids can generate interest in the product from the get-go, but as an ittybiz owner, you'll have a much easier time getting them interested in the communication itself.
Cause it doesn't cost them any money, see? So it's easier. And we like to make things easy for you because we're nice.
Once upon a time I knew somebody in multi-level marketing.
“If I could tell you a way to [insert standard network marketing spiel here], would you be interested in sitting down for 20 minutes or so and having me explain it to you?”
The question he was asking was not, “Would you be interested in joining my multi-level marketing down-line?”
It was not, “Would you be interested in parting with $1,500 of your husband's hard-earned money and getting nothing but vitamins and a binder in return?”
The question is, “Would you be interested in having the conversation?”
Put another way, it's not “Would you be interested in having drunk, unprotected sex with me?”, but “Would you be interested in having a drink?”
THAT is the interest we're talking about here.
The interest you're trying to generate is interesting them long enough to continue reading your email.
That. Is. All.
Any more than that and you're going to look like a cross between PT Barnum and Ali Brown.
2. Word your promises carefully.
An attention getting subject line that promises something – a solution, intrigue, naked podcasts – has to deliver.
If you become known for delivering on what your subject line promises, Attention transitions into Interest fairly effortlessly.
3. Pay attention to your snippets.
The snippet is the portion of the body of your email that shows in the main inbox screen. Depending on how they read their email, up to three or four lines of your message itself will show up in their view before they even click to open.
If it's boring, they won't open it.
(On the other end of the spectrum, many mobile users won't even see your whole subject line, let alone text from the email itself. So be aware of what goes in your snippet, but don't rely on it.)
4. Remember that Interest is ALL about them.
A good practitioner can maybe make the Attention portion of their email about themselves. (Richard Branson posing in Times Square wearing nothing but a mobile phone, anyone?) But generally, interest is ALL, ALL, ALL about the reader.
This is not the place to tell them how excited you are or how grateful you are or how funny it was when…
The interest getting place – roughly the first 10%- 50% of your email, depending on total length – has to be of instant, immediate value.
It can be humor value…
or getting a great deal value…
or edge-of-the-seat intrigue value…
or Jesus Christ How Much Is THIS Going To Cost Me value.
But it has to have value. For them. Right away.
The short version is, “Get to the point.”
(Note: Masters can, do, and probably should break this rule. If you're not a master yet, you can't, don't, and probably shouldn't.)
5. Doing something uncharacteristic is great in the interest section.
If you never do videos, or never have sales, or have never done a webinar or never been naked in Times Square, this can be interesting in and of itself.
So if it's new and a bit crazy, say so in the beginning, not buried under a bunch of I'm So Exciteds.
(The inverse is also relevant here. If this is the same thing you always do – your monthly sale or webinar or whatever – it's probably not interesting, so don't lead with it.)
6. Last, for the love of God, don't TELL me it's interesting.
Or a big deal.
Or a good deal.
Fiction writers are advised to “show instead of tell”. Don't tell me he's happy – show me the markers of joy and let me come to the happy conclusion on my own.
This applies to you even more than it applies to novelists.
If you want someone to go out with you, do you TELL them you're really sexy, or do you ACT sexy?
“Yeah, but I don't know HOW to act sexy! Waaaah!”
That may be. But just using a bunch of subjective modifiers and blithely pretending they're facts is not a valid solution to that problem.
We don't just get to play the Jedi mind trick game, waving our hand around and trying to convince people we have attributes we don't.
Can our favorite sexy guy do that?
“I don't know how to act sexy so I'll just SAY I'm sexy over and over and over.”
If you don't know how, learn.
If you don't know where to start learning, buy our copywriting book, cleverly titled Copywriting for People Who Categorically Don't Want To Become Copywriters When They Grow Up.
Nom nom nom.
Now, on to part three – Desire!