Ever feel like the emails you send just take up space in your subscriber’s inbox and probably get deleted the moment they open them, or worse, not opened at all? 😫
You’re not alone.
But what if I told you there’s a way to make your emails the equivalent of a glittering, neon-lit Vegas sign?
Aka, emails that get opened and read every. single. time. you send them.
You can, and in this blog post I’m revealing how!
First things first: stories. Our brains are wired to love stories—they’re like catnip for our attention spans.
A compelling story does more than just relay events; it transports your readers, making them feel as if they’re part of the narrative.
Think about the last time a story made you feel like you were right there, in the moment. Chances are, the storyteller used descriptive language that appealed to your senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
Whether you’re sharing a personal anecdote, the journey behind a new product, or a customer success story, sensory details can turn a good story into an unforgettable one. Here’s how to do it:
Actionable Tip: Next time you draft a newsletter, choose one story you want to share and list out sensory details you could include for each of the five senses. Even if not all make it into your final draft, this exercise will help you think more vividly about your storytelling.
Example for a Newsletter Story: Imagine you’re sharing the story of a morning spent at your favourite coffee shop, where you came up with your latest offer. Describe the golden sunlight filtering through the windows (sight), the comforting hum of quiet conversations and the espresso machine working its magic (sound), the feel of the warm mug in your hands (touch), the bold, invigorating taste of your coffee as you take the first sip (taste), and the blend of freshly ground coffee beans and baked pastries filling the air (smell).
By weaving these sensory details into your narrative, you transform a simple story into a rich, immersive experience that captivates your readers, making your newsletter not just informative, but truly memorable.
You know that friend who always makes you laugh over coffee? Be that friend in your newsletters.
Write like you speak: casually, directly, maybe with a dash of sass.
Trust me, it beats the pants off sounding like a press release or corporate email (yawn). Nobody wants to read a newsletter that feels like it was spat out by a corporate machine. The newsletters that stand out are the ones that sound like they’re written by a human, for humans.
I get it — it may feel a little strange to hit “send” on an email that feels more casual than professional, but believe me, it’s well worth it. And, it’s just so much more fun to show up as yourself in email!
Actionable Tip: Try literally speaking your draft. Record a voice memo (this is what I do!) or talk to a friend, then transcribe the highlights of your conversation. This method helps capture a natural, conversational tone that’s much more engaging than formal writing.
Resource: Otter.ai is a fantastic tool for converting speech to text. It can capture your conversational nuances and help transfer that vibe directly into your newsletter.
Sharing is caring, right? Well, in email land, a little TMI (the good kind) can go a long way. I’m talking about your secret sauce for morning productivity or the disaster-turned-divine holiday recipe. It’s these nuggets of you-ness that turn subscribers from faceless email addresses into your virtual brunch buddies who hit reply and share right back with you!
Actionable Tip: In your next newsletter, share something personal that’s also relevant to your audience. It could be the book that’s currently on your nightstand, a recent failure that taught you a valuable lesson, or a quirky habit that helps you in your work. The goal is to share something that makes you human and relatable while still being on brand.
Resource: “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon is a gem for anyone looking to share their personal side without oversharing. It offers practical advice on how to weave your experiences into your creative output in a way that’s both engaging and authentic.
The first few lines of your newsletter can make or break reader engagement. You want to start with something that immediately grabs attention—something that makes your reader think, “I need to read this.”
Ditch the “Dear [First Name]” and get right into the juicy stuff. Your first line should be so gripping that your reader almost spills their coffee in excitement. 😉
If you’re drafting your email and you’re bored by the second line, chances are your audience won’t read past it. It’s time for a rewrite. Cut to the chase and make it snappy.
Actionable Tip: Write several different openings and test them out on colleagues or friends. Which one grabs their attention the most? Use intriguing questions, bold statements, or start in the middle of a story to hook your readers from the get-go.
Checklist for Engaging Openers:
This isn’t just about you. It’s about what Sally (or whoever’s on the other end of that email) gets out of it. Will they learn something new? Snag a sweet deal? Laugh out loud? Make sure the answer is a resounding “Yes!” before you hit send. Give them the goods upfront, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
I like to ask myself this question before I send an email: “If I received this email, what would I take away from it?”
Ensure every newsletter offers something valuable—be it education, entertainment, inspiration, or an exclusive offer.
Let’s get down to brass tacks with some examples of unmissable email newsletters:
Actionable Step: Keep a “Swipe File” of newsletters that catch your eye. What makes them stand out? Use these insights to experiment with your format and content.
Resource: Dive into Really Good Emails (reallygoodemails.com) for inspiration on everything from design to content strategy.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to treat your newsletters like the goldmine they are. Infuse them with stories, write like you’re texting (but, you know, with grammar), share a piece of yourself, and always, always start with a bang.
Pick one thing from this list and try it in your next newsletter. Just one.
See how it feels. Play around. I promise, your inbox will thank you.
And who knows? You might just find yourself with a bunch of new email pals, eagerly awaiting your next dispatch from the front lines of your brand.
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