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my 8 favorite emails + lessons you can steal from them

I love email. Well, I love reading useful, inspiring, true emails from people I love + admire.

I know that Katherine North’s weekly missives come on Saturday mornings and that Susan Hyatt’s weekly roundup comes on Fun Fridays. I check my inbox specifically on those days to read their messages.

So without further ado, here are 8 of my favorite emails ever and lessons you can steal from them. {Note: okay, I wrote two of them, and they are two of the emails I’m proudest of in a career of having written literally hundreds of emails for clients. So consider them culled from a wide field!}

Because I deeply admire all of these writers, I’m including links to join their email communities if you want more. When you read and study amazing emails, you become a better writer.

1. I’ve made it – Melissa Cassera.

Melissa teaches publicity strategies for small businesses and is also a screenwriter. Her writing is fun + addicting. (Go jump on her list and get her I Heart Batching guide.)

I loooove this email. First, I love the concept – this is a life coaching concept called “living from the end.” Basically, you imagine your dream in detail. In Melissa’s case, her Big Dream is that her paranormal YA romance trilogy becomes a cultural juggernaut a la Twilight and is made into smash blockbuster movies. She’s decided to live as if this is already true. Because she’s already having so much fun.

I love that she is being so open about her dream – in spite of the fact that her Big Dream may not ever come true. It’s okay to dream big and it’s okay to talk about it. Because we’re not failures if our Big Dreams don’t come true. We’re actually inspirations.

Lesson: Share a Big Dream with your community. Acknowledge that it may never happen. Share how you’re embracing the process. Give updates periodically on how the Big Dream is going and what part of the process you’re working on now.

2. You need to hear these 6 words today – Caroline McGraw

Caroline is my best friend. We’ve been friends for 16 years, since we were freshmen at Vassar. She sent me this email for feedback and I literally got chills when I was reading it. Caroline writes and speaks with so much truth and light. Join her community here.

Lesson #1: How can you use something mundane that happened (in Caroline’s case, a physical therapy appointment) to relate to a larger theme?

Lesson #2: Use a metaphor or simile to explain what something was like. I love these lines: “The ears of my soul perked up, like a cat at the sound of kibble. That’s what my body feels like when it hears something true; my inner animal snaps to attention.”

3. Your banana milkshakes business model – Marisa Corcoran

Marisa is a copywriter friend and colleague. She writes with so much sass and personality. Her emails are just plain FUN. Jump on her list here (scroll down and you’ll get a pop-up).

Lesson: Use a story to bring your email to life.

Marisa draws us in to the story with her grandpa with so many sensory details. We’ve got a hot summer’s day, a white floor fan, mayonnaise sandwiches and icy banana milkshakes.

Marisa links this memory to her drive to create time and location freedom in her business – so she can spend more time with her grandpa making banana milkshakes. Then she links this to her call to action so brilliantly you should just go to the email and study it.

4. Let’s talk about the rest of this year – Katherine North

Katherine is a self-described ‘heathen mystic’ and I had the honor of interviewing her on my video series last year, Skyrocket Your Online Business. I’ve been following her for about 3+ years and she is a DELIGHT. {If you click to read the blog post above, you’ll get a popup inviting you to join her for weekly missives. DO IT.}

Lesson: Take a common theme (prepping for the holidays) and offer your own beautiful twist.

What I love about this message is a) how sane and practical it is and b) the fact that the timing (mid-October) was unique.

She invites you to brainstorm all the things you’re going to handle over the holidays – the gift-buying, cooking, decorating, wrapping, extra events – on top of your normal day-to-day life. She writes, “…when you look at EVERYTHING you’re going to be handling over the rest of this year, it really seems absurd to expect you to carry on without some extra support in place, doesn’t it???? … Absurd and kind of mean, honestly.”

I quick went to my calendar and scheduled myself some solo time and also a spa day in December. I noticed that my husband was traveling for 4 days in November and I proceeded to round up some resources for myself – a babysitter, my mother-in-law, a massage. In other words – I took action on her email in that exact moment, which is always what we want our readers to do.

5. How to think about an offer – Simone Grace Seol

You may have heard me obsess over Simone’s work. She’s a coach and her marketing advice is like a breath of fresh air and makes me sigh with relief. She is super approachable and I consider her a friend, just from reading her stuff and messaging her on Facebook. This is what I love about social media and being in online business – you can make actual friends just by engaging with someone’s content. (Get Simone’s 20 Unsolicited Copy Tips here – and let me just say, I’m a professional copywriter; Simone isn’t; and her teachings on copy are some of the best I’ve ever seen.)

Lesson: BE USEFUL.

This post is JAM-PACKED with super-useful content – and it’s different than the same old stuff you hear about offers elsewhere on the internet. It shifted the entire way I think about offers – and I’ve been studying online business for three years.
Some ideas about how you can create useful content that’s different from what other people are saying and doing:

  • What bothers you most in your industry?
  • How are you different than your competitors? How can you describe this essence – what is different – and explain it?
  • What are the 3 foundational things you know to be true? (This is one of Simone’s questions.) How can you reiterate those today?

6. Everything that’s wrong with you is what makes you amazing – Susan Hyatt

Susan is a client, has been my coach through her Summer of Yes program, and is an all-around feminist entrepreneur badass. Get on her list here and get a free guide on 3 things you can do right now to get more clients.

Lesson #1: Reuse content. Retell stories. I’ve seen Susan use variations of this topic as a blog, a podcast, and an email, over time (not just repurposing it in different mediums once). I actually love seeing her reuse stuff because it makes me feel like she’s a friend – I know some of her core stories! Plus, there’s a ton of people out there hearing it for the first time.

Lesson #2: Take popular advice and turn it on its head. The popular advice is, Listen to what people praise you for and use your strengths to find your way.

Susan’s advice is, Notice what you’ve been scolded for and find your superpower in that. Fricking brilliant.

7. From bud to blossom {a story of personal transformation} – Tammy Templeman

I wrote this email for Tammy, who’s one of my amazing clients. (I tell the story of how the email came about in the email I’m linking below!) Tammy owns a beautiful design/build firm with her partner Niall. Her content is part personal transformation and part gorgeous home design (we talk a LOT about the connections between life transformation and changing your physical space).

-Be honest with your email community. Tell them what’s really going on! If things are bumpy, name it. Vulnerability is incredibly attractive. (I’ve been working with Tammy for 18 months, and we’ve never gotten as big of a response as we did to this email.)
-Don’t be afraid to tell stories that are “unrelated” to what you do. You are one whole person, and what matters to you ripples outward into every area of your life. You get to talk about WHATEVER YOU WANT.

8. a pocket of silence – yours truly

This email represents for me a turning point in my business. Everything is “before” this email or after it.

Lesson #1: Share what you’re really thinking. Be vulnerable. And share EVERYWHERE. I sent this as an email, posted it to my blog, copied it onto Facebook and Instagram. And I 100% wanted to hide – I had a vulnerability hangover. But I’m so glad I shared it. For me, this email is everything I am becoming.

Lesson #2: This email actually did not get a super-high open rate, so I resent it the next day with a different subject line to those who hadn’t opened it the first time. This is a handy tool you can use for emails you REALLY want to get people to read – you’ll typically get a bonus 5-10% open rate by doing this.

What was your favorite email? What lesson was most helpful for you?

November 22, 2019

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