The following scenario may be similar to a video featuring one of those super adorable babies from “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” But the lesson is very deep and, if you use email (in any capacity), it can be pretty profitable, too.
Anyways, here’s the scoop:
A few days ago, my son Alston and I were watching basketball, and he did this really cute thing trying to imitate one of the players. I blurted: “Alston you’re so cute!”
He frowned, crossed his arms and said: “No mommy, I’m not cute. I’m handsome.”
Two words. Similar meanings.
A completely different meaning to the person receiving the message. And just like that, I was schooled on how to talk to a four-year-old.
Well, guess what?
You can see this similar situation take place in your email inbox, too. For example, a self-proclaimed guru regurgitating 10 dollar words so he appears smarter than the next guru.
I expect this type of behavior from a four-year-old. After all he’s learning how to expand his vocabulary. Moving up from one syllable to two and three syllable words is a big step for a kid.
But when gurus say things like, “If you have a predilection for concise, scannable content, then you’ll love our cutting-edge services that businesses can utilize to demolish their competition and cut to the chase with hard and fast rules on how to leverage low-hanging fruit.”
It’s not exactly the email you were dying to read in your inbox, is it? Maybe that’s why I keep hearing about how some of these “jargon happy” gurus are often just one botched blog post away from bankruptcy?
Or maybe not.
Whatever the case, here’s the point:
If you want people to actually read and engage with your emails (i.e., send you love notes, click your links, participate in your webinars and buy your stuff), listen to Mark Twain:
“Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
Also, don’t forget to apply these four tips:
Speak plain English.
Plain English writing gets a reaction—a click, a call, a purchase. It’s simple to read. It holds your reader’s attention. It talks to them in ways they’ll understand.
Use a little slang.
Slang, in many instances, humanizes your writing. It’s like us. It’s witty, affectionate, sassy and all the other things we like to be when we “let our guard down.” Copywriters relish it, unleash it and use it to add flava to dull writing.
Cut the trivial nonsense.
Trivial nonsense is often viewed as vague and meaningless statements. It sucks the power from your sentences and leaves your reader just as confused as they were before reading your content. And we all know: a confused reader never becomes a happy buyer.
Write stuff that’s accessible.
This point is all about writing for simplicity and clarity while still keeping the meaning of your content intact. Most lawyers are terrible at this. But Clarence Thomas, for example, is known for using simple words in his opinions that are accessible to regular people. He says: “I do not like cuteness in my opinions. You save that for your own stuff. It is all meat and potatoes.”
Following this advice is truly the best (and easiest) ways ever to write emails that get opened, read and clicked.
This article has been edited and condensed.
As president of BAAB Writing and Marketing Services (BAAB), Apryl Beverly helps clients leverage their secret marketing weapon – words. BAAB’s services include developing low-cost, high-impact marketing strategies for small business owners. Connect with @baabwriting on Twitter.
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