3 lessons you can learn from the worst email I’ve ever sent

This article is adapted from my newsletter, Thusfar Untitled. If you want to join us for chat about content marketing, web copy, and freelancing every two weeks, you can sign up here.

It’s ok to fuck up once in a while. And chances are, no one is going to remember.

It’s good to talk about these things so we can learn

Honestly, I fuck up a lot. Because I’m human. But last week I fucked up because of my poor impulse control with my own marketing. But all is not lost.

You may have seen an email I sent announcing my new consultancy service last week. Let’s talk about it. And some other stuff.

Here’s the round-up for this week:

  • 3 lessons from sending one of the shittest emails of my life
  • Everyone is winging it all of the time
  • The case for multi-channel marketing (this is relevant I promise)

p.s. I humbly stand before you today so we can all learn from my mistakes. But please know I handle my client work with much more care than this.

3 lessons to learn from the shittiest email I’ve ever written in my marketing career

So last week, I launched a new consultancy program called “Write Your Own Fucking Website Copy“. And thank you, yes, I love the name too.

I launched it on Instagram first (it feels safer there), then Twitter, then LinkedIn, and then to my entire email list.

And friends, I have never had so many people unsubscribe. This, in fact, is the first newsletter that is going out to fewer people than the previous edition. Was it because the product I launched was shit? No. Not at all. In fact, it’s had a lot of attention and a good bit of traction.

Here are the three main reasons I think that email tanked.

1. Not a logo or branding in sight

I’ve since looked at the template I chose to use. On reflection, it looks spammy as fuck. No name or logo. My colour palette, yes. But I am not exactly a household name. There’s no reason for people to recognise all that in isolation.

Not everyone can pull a McDonald’s and kill it with an add that doesn’t show their product or branding. So a bunch of people probably opened it, thought what the fuck is this, and jumped ship. And a wave of people unsubscribed. (and honestly I can’t blame them)

2. A lack of context in the copy

I’ve written enough marketing emails in my time to know the right balance between creating intrigue and providing enough information.

I did not provide enough information and then instead of putting the button text as “find out more”, it was “Sign me up”. As if I’d given enough information for anyone to have bought into it…

This is where microcopy like your button text can make or break the engagement of your email.

So first we have a logo and nameless email that then jumps in with two sentences that don’t explain enough and a button that implies you must be ready to convert now.

What was I thinking?

I wasn’t. I wrote and scheduled that email in the middle of doing 20 other things because I was so nervous about launching the fucking thing that I just wanted it done. Would not recommend.

3. A new design template

One that I pulled directly from Campaign Monitor (the platform I write these in) for commerce brands. The template focuses on shoe sales.

And in my excitement and lack of impulse control, I thought this looks great. So eye-catching, I’m going to use it. What could go wrong? Turns out, a lot.

Do I love the way my emails are designed? No. Do I have properly coded branded templates. Also no. But do people read my newsletters? Yes.

And you lovely lot regularly reply and tell me how much you enjoyed it, provide feedback, and let me know that it has taught you something. So a brand new (spammy as fuck looking) email template, without branding, and thoughtless content added up to a total shitshow.

The lowest click-through rate and the highest unsubscribe rate I’ve ever had. But we live and learn.

TLDR; Especially for my ADHD friends: Sleep on it before you impulsively publish/send something because you’ve got a whirlwind of motivation.

Everyone is winging it all of the time

Almost everyone who is telling you there is a definitive way to do something is trying to sell you something. Just like there is no one way to train at the gym, there is no one way to write copy.

So why do I bother running a business as a consultant and website copywriter? Because I want to help people. My focus is really on helping other people to develop the skills they need to elevate their business and reduce their reliance on folks like me.

Or, if they’re too busy and they don’t want to learn to write content (totally fair, not everyone does), they can hire me to write it. Problem solved.

The people you think are successful are also probably winging it

There is no one specific strategy. There is no template for success. The hustle dudebros can fuck off with their bullshit “6 figure freelancer” courses.

Everyone is winging it. People regularly tell me that my social media is impressive. That I seem to be everywhere. I get complimented on my marketing all the time. And I’m winging it.

I’ve been working in marketing for nearly a decade (which is fucking insane by the way. What even is time?) And now I know how to wing it relatively successfully. Tweak and change things. Fuck up and let it go. I work around my brain.

This means intense bursts of inspiration every few weeks and finding a way to schedule it, repurpose the content, etc.

So let your perfectionism go. And just crack the fuck on.

If you feel completely lost, ask for some guidance. There is never any shame in asking for a helping hand.

The case for multi-channel marketing

If the only way I had launched that consultancy program would have been through email, I’d be absolutely fucked right now.

As it is, I launched it on Instagram, then Twitter, then LinkedIn. And then finally to my email list. nThe beauty of multi-channel marketing, especially for small businesses, is that you cannot afford to put all of your eggs in one basket.

What if you fuck up an email?

What if Elon Musk collapses Twitter from the inside out? (this aged well)

It pays to be in multiple different places and there are ways to manage that without burning out. I covered that in my BrightonSEO talk. In case you missed it, here’s access to the slides and some SEO checklists.

BrightonSEO slide deck and checklists

Introducing my brand new web copy consultancy program

Let’s try this again (but with a bit more context this time).

Write Your Own Fucking Content is a brand new program to help you develop new skills, grow your confidence, and get some kick-ass web copy along the way.

You know your business better than anyone. And you can really nail down the perfect tone. But you struggle to make the time, you don’t know the ins and outs of SEO, and don’t feel 100% confident in your skills. Website copy can be really intimidating.

Each month for just £450, this program includes:

  • 3 one-hour video call calls (with recording)
  • Project planning and goal setting
  • Weekly check-ins and accountability
  • Structured homework tasks to keep you on plan
  • 2 hours of direct editing and feedback on your content
  • Discounted rates for additional editing and consultations beyond the program

You keep creative control, you don’t spend a fortune, and you get the expertise and support of someone who had done a shit ton of content marketing over the last 10 years.

This article was adapted from my newsletter. If you want to get amusing anecdotes, SEO tips, and web copy advice straight into your inbox, you can sign up here.

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