Writing great copy – whether for an op-ed, direct mail piece, or website – is hard. Writing copy that truly convinces people is harder.
Early in my college career, I wasted a lot of time writing emails to my professors. I spent hours on each email, using a complex process to ensure the background of the email was fully explained, questions clearly stated, and grammatical errors corrected. Each finished product was individually crafted and worthy of its own grade.
My professors usually took a far simpler approach and responded with something along the lines of “that’s fine.”
The lesson I quickly learned is that people (even English professors) consume, interact with, and respond to digital content differently. Where traditional mediums reward developed ideas, varied sentence structure, and descriptive language, digital platforms favor concise presentations that match modern attention spans.
In recent articles, we’ve highlighted the importance of collecting supporter email addresses on your candidate’s landing page. A strategic approach to using those email addresses can help campaigns at every level turn supporters into donors, volunteers, and ultimately votes on Election Day at little to no cost. However, an email campaign is only as effective as its copy is convincing.
The trap too many campaigns fall into is “repurposing” (copying and pasting) direct mail pieces into an email and hitting send. The return on investment from that will be the number of people that unsubscribe from future contact.
Improve the effectiveness of your email copy and win your next campaign by following these three principles:
Keep it simple. Don’t write emails to your supporters like I wrote to my professors my freshman year of college. They won’t like it, I promise.
Most supporters will read your emails on their phones. This means their attention span is extremely short, and the window of opportunity for your call to action to be effective starts closing as soon as the email is opened.
Be clear, concise, and personable. Use short paragraphs and bold key points and phrases. Get to the point, make your ask, and get out. Be the Seal Team Six of email campaigns
2. Court Your Supporters
Courtship typically follows a predictable progression in regards to acceptable behavior. Chances are you wouldn’t share your deepest fears and highest ambitions on a first date. A level of trust and comfort has to be established first.
In the same way, asking a newly acquired subscriber to make a large commitment in the first email may not go over well.
While every email should have a call to action, large commitments should only be requested after trust is established.
Build the relationship over a series of short emails that tell your candidate’s story, highlight his/her beliefs, and invites the reader to be a part of the campaign.
3. Keep Barriers Low
Avoid alienating your supporters by asking too much. Keep the barriers of entry low when it comes to joining your campaign.
When you start by asking supporters to give $100, you exclude those supporters who don’t have the financial means to give that amount. Start with a small ask that is inclusive – $5-$7. Build segments of motivated donors on your email platform to ask for greater amounts in the future.
In the same way, asking new email subscribers to canvas their neighborhoods might be a bit presumptive. Start by asking them to share one of your posts on social media and build the relationship from there.
Email is an incredibly powerful and affordable tool for campaigns at every level. Its effectiveness is only bridled by the ability of its copy to establish trust and inspire voters to take action.
Following these three principles will help you write more convincing copy and unleash the benefits email for your next campaign.
Have questions? I’m here to help. Here’s how you can reach me.