You’ve finally finished your latest blog post.
It’s practical, actionable, and insightful.
You’ve nailed your headline and picked the perfect featured image.
You’ve pored over every detail, and now it’s ready to publish. In fact, you’re damned proud to click “Publish.”
It’s time to announce your masterpiece to the world — starting with the subscribers on your email list.
But there’s a problem.
According to the data, over three-quarters of your list won’t open your email.
More worrying still, only about 2% will read the content you’ve worked so hard to create.
And these are the people who are supposed to be your most loyal fans…
So how do you get more people to open your emails and click through to your content?
The answer: you have to use the right words.
Because certain words in the English language are dramatically more powerful than others if you want to persuade people to take action — like clicking a link to your latest post.
Let’s reveal exactly what they are.
If you want readers to feel like they’re being talked “to” instead of talked “at” the best way to talk to someone is to … well, talk to them like you would face to face.
“You” is conversational, relaxed and direct; far more direct and engaging than either the third-person — he, she, them — or the first person — I, me, us.
It’s no accident that “you” is at the top of every scientifically based list of truly powerful words. In fact, Copyblogger’s Brian Clark calls “you” the most important word in blogging:
“You” appeals to our natural self-interest. However much you want your readers to relate to you as a person, the harsh truth is that they won’t begin caring about you at all until you’ve shown you care about them.
2. Their Name
According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, hearing your name triggers unique brain activity compared to hearing other names. Less scientifically, we all love the sound of our names.
You can take advantage of this fact when trying to tempt readers to open and click your emails.
As GetResponse reports, “emails with personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.”
If you collect subscribers’ first names on sign-up you have the option to include them in the subject line or the greeting, but also within the body of the email itself and even in the call-to-action (CTA) — the link you want them to click.
Reasons matter. Even the most unexpected behavior usually has a logical reason behind it.
If you can give people a strong enough reason to take action, they’ll take that action.
And “because” is a powerful marker — it tells your reader “here comes a reason.”
Robert Cialdini demonstrates the psychological effect of “because” in his book Influence. When someone in line to make copies asked the person in front of them, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” only 60 percent agreed. However, when the same person asked, “I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I am in a rush?” 94 percent of people gave in to his request.
Even more startling, those numbers remained virtually the same when the reason was nothing more than a restatement of the request itself: “I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I need to use the Xerox machine?”
The conclusion, the word “because” has a power of its own. Even if the reason given is trivial, “because” is still powerfully persuasive.
Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist at heart, we all love the positivity of “yes.”
“Yes” opens up possibility — “no” closes it down.
Using the word “yes” and other affirmations in your emails makes your readers feel empowered. It puts them in a positive state of mind.
If you can say yes to your readers’ ideas, they’re far more likely to say yes to yours.
“Yes, you want to be a popular blogger. Yes, you want your ideas to spread. Yes, you can be respected as a writer.”
What makes “new” so damned persuasive? Why do our ears prick up at the slightest mention of something new?
It turns our brains are actually programmed to want to try new things. That means anything that appears new or fresh automatically piques our interest.
In fact, the desire to stay tuned into the latest news, gadgets, and gossip is such an important aspect of human behavior that it has earned an acronym, FOMO: fear of missing out.
Use this to your advantages. In your email teaser find a way to position your post as brand new information. Or a new solution to an old problem.
“Discover” taps into the same basic human desire for freshness and novelty as “new” but adds a sense of wonder and excitement.
The idea of discovery brings with it a sense of awe and even epic scale. There’s also the sense of being among the first few people to experience a new finding or idea.
Marketing genius Joe Polish uses this tactic in both his emails and landing pages: “Discover These Simple And Inexpensive Breakthrough Marketing Strategies And Start Enjoying The E.L.F.™ (Easy, Lucrative, and Fun) Business You’ve Dreamed Of!”
“Stop” makes us sit up and pay attention. It foreshadows danger and triggers basic instincts of self-preservation.
In fact “Stop” is what copywriting expert John Benson calls a “snap suggestion”: something that breaks your audience’s train of thought and stops them in their tracks.
Coming to a halt (either physically or mentally) when the word “stop” is uttered or written on the page is a natural, hardwired response. And you can use that to stop skimmers in their tracks and make them pay attention to your post.
Hypotheticals are intriguing.
What if I went this direction? What if I took this piece of advice? What if I bought this product — would it improve my life?
When incorporating “if” into your teaser email, you can use it to create desire for different possibilities:
“What if you could gain thousands more views for your content without any extra effort?”
Or you can lead readers down a certain path:
A person can be intrigued by different possibilities, or they can mull over what were to happen if they chose to purchase a certain product or service.
“If you’re serious about improving your writing, you need to read this post.”
How to cook meatloaf. How to change your oil. How to play backgammon.
How to get your emails opened and clicked.
“How” is a powerful word, because it makes a promise: “You don’t know how to perform this task, but I do. And don’t worry, I’m going to show you.”
Jon Morrow leans hard on this formula in his Headline Hacks, using not just one as an entire category, but in no less than five other categories:
- How Safe Is Your [Valuable Person/Object] from [Threat]?
- How [Blank] Gamble with Your [Blank]: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself
- How to Take Charge of Your [Unruly Problem]
- How to End [Problem]
- How to [Blank] in 5 Minutes
The post you’re promoting may already have a “how to” headline, but if not give it a “how to” twist in your teaser email?
“Worse” is all about fear, perhaps the most primal human emotion.
Moreover, as soon as “even worse” is inserted into the mix, this fear can tighten its grip like Ronda Rousey applying her signature arm bar maneuver.
So use “worse” to build tension, anxiety, and agitation. Use it to amplify the risks of not reading your post.
Of course, your post must offer a remedy. It must offer to reverse the downward spiral. Because “worse” only works if you can convince readers you can make things better.
In today’s world of 140-character messaging, one-hour dry cleaning and six-second advertisements, we want everything instantly.
Scientific studies have looked at our brain and determined that we tend to prioritize actions when there is an opportunity for instant rewards.
This means that marketers relish the terms “instantly,” “fast,” and “immediately” because they make your audiences’ brains light up like a Christmas tree. Whether it’s “immediate access,” “instant savings” or “fast delivery,” consumers are delighted by swift promises.
Use the same promise of immediate results in your teaser emails and your readers will be itching to click.
“Today” appeals to the same need for immediate gratification as “instantly.”
But “today” has more built-in credibility — it feels somehow more realistic.
After all, people know that nothing truly happens instantly. But achieving something new today, well that might just happen.
Personalization is powerful, as we’ve already seen. So, how can it also be effective to insert “everyone” into the message?
It all comes down to how you use it.
Don’t use “everyone” to imply your message is for everyone — that’s a turn-off. We all consider ourselves unique.
Use it instead to bring the weight of social proof to your communications. If “everyone knows” something, then you can act like it’s true, right? If “everyone wants” something then it’s fine for your reader to want it too. If “everyone who’s successful” has something in common, people will want to know what it is.
“Everyone” is reassuring because it tells people that they’re normal — what they want is reasonable. And it’s persuasive — if everyone else thinks this is a good idea maybe you should too.
It’s no secret that people read what they want to read, not what they need to.
Why? Because it’s just more fun to read all about stuff we really want (shoes or a PlayStation) rather than the things we need (food or retirement investments).
Moreover, “want” works brilliantly when trying to persuade people to click your emails.
“You want…” shows you understand your reader. It meets them where there are, rather than where you think they should be.
Who wants to do something hard? Hardly anybody.
We all want the easiest route to our goals.
Given that, would you click on a post that sounds laborious to follow?
The reality is, you wouldn’t. And neither will your subscribers.
You harness the power of “easy” in two ways: one, by highlighting how “easy” (or fast) reading your blog post will be or, two, by focusing on how much easier your content will make their lives.
No, we’re not talking about Charlie Sheen.
“Win” is a powerfully persuasive word to include in your emails.
Everyone wants to be a winner. Winning a race, winning the lottery, winning a special prize — all strongly positive ideas.
If you can show your readers what your post will help them to “win,” they’ll experience a powerful urge to be a winner.
17. P.S. (Postscript)
One facet of the teaser email often forgotten is the postscript (P.S.).
But not including it is a big mistake — and a missed opportunity. Most readers find a P.S. almost irresistible and for many it’s the first part of your email they’ll read.
Think of the P.S. as a bonus chance to persuade your readers to read your post — use it to give them an extra reason to click.
Try switching tactics in your P.S. If the body of your email appealed to the heart, use your P.S. to appeal to the head. Some readers will be persuaded by one more than the other.
Your P.S. can also be used to prompt other behavior, like sharing the post on social media. Or to bond with readers with a more personal message.
However you decide to use it, a P.S. is an essential part of any promotional email.
Use Trigger Words to Turn Subscribers into Traffic
You work hard on your content, and you’ve sweated to build your list.
But if only a tiny percentage of your subscribers return to read your words, that time and effort has gone to waste.
Worse, your blog is standing still because subscribers are drifting away as quickly as you can gain them.
Yes, you deserve better. So it’s time to discover a new way to tempt subscribers to read your posts.
Stop sending out emails without thinking carefully about the words you use. Because every word matters — and picking the right ones can instantly improve the effectiveness of your emails.
Everyone wants attention, but only a few will earn it. You want to be one of those winners.
How? By injecting power and persuasion with these 17 words into your emails.
It’s easy, and you can start today.