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“I really love the emails you write” (and a copy critique)

Feeling a bit bittersweet today. We finally figured out the Zapier problem I’ve written about (and the notorious Gen X Marketer apologized). 


But that’s not why I’m feeling bittersweet - I just wanted to close an open story loop that naturally popped up. 


The real reason I’m feeling bittersweet today? 


Well, one of my client’s good friends (mayhap his best friend?) has an outsourcing agency of sorts. He’s helping my client create more content outside of the emails I write for him, and all the other content creation my client does (like podcasts for example, which, when I write emails about ‘em, they do gangbusters).


And so, he’s producing a lot of video content to put up on his YouTube page. And these YouTube videos need promoted, which is where email comes in. 


(Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, sending email subscribers to YouTube will help get more eyeballs on the videos. On the other hand, YouTube is “up funnel” from email, which means it's further away from the final sale. But alas, ‘tis not my business, and abiding by my clients and always being on “Team Client” is part of the reason why many of my clients stick with me for years and years.) 


Well, my client’s friend had his band of outsourcers write emails for each YouTube video… 


…and it’s pretty bad. I’ll give you an example below. 


When my client’s friend emailed me today, he said that these emails just serve as a foundation, that I need to add my “magic polish” to them, and he ended the email with a high compliment:


“I really love the emails you write”

(And he’s not just saying that… he’s also a customer and frequently buys from the emails I send.) 


But again, the “foundation copy” he had his team cook up just ain’t good. 


Which means, I’m gonna need to spend a lot of time polishing these emails to meet my standards. 


Take this excerpt for example (my comments are bolded in parentheses underneath each line): 


====


Hey there,


(Okay, no harm, no foul… yet.) 


Hope you're buzzing with good vibes as you read this! 


(Ohmigod, I think I just puked in my mouth! “Buzzing with good vibes” is cringe to anyone. But it’s especially cringe to our target audience of boomers and gen X folk who have literally never once uttered the words “good vibes” before, let alone ever considered themselves to be “buzzing with good vibes.” 


But worst of all, this is a meaningless piece of copy. It doesn’t make the reader want to keep reading. It adds no “meat” to the video we’re promoting, the product the video is about, or the pain points someone feels that encourages them to watch the video or order the product.) 


We've just rolled out a brand new video on our YouTube channel that's sure to pique your interest if you're all about supercharging your health! 


(The “supercharging your health” part is another meaningless “benefit.” It’s all copyese, no substance. What does it actually mean? Also, “pique your interest” is another dumb phrase.


But this line commits another copywriting no-no: It tells, not shows. 


It would be much better to talk about how this video can “supercharge” your health, or to go into the various pain points that the video or product can solve. That’s how you show, not tell. Telling isn’t persuasive, and in fact, it’s anti-persuasive.) 


It’s a gem, and we can't wait for you to check it out.


(“Oh, you want me to take time out of my busy day to watch your stupid video?” ← That’s what our customers reading this will say. 


Nobody cares about you (or in this case, “we” — why the writer’s using the plural we instead of the singular I is something I don’t understand, especially since “we” comes off as a brand, where at least “I” comes off as a person. Plus, it’s another meaningless line of copy that doesn’t move anyone to the next line, let alone get anyone excited to watch the video.) 


🌈 In this episode, we are diving into the world of premium superfoods – specifically, a powerhouse we call [product name]. But trust us, this isn't just your average health spiel. We're talking cellular superheroes and top-tier ingredients that are on the frontline of keeping you at your best.


(And this might be the worst line yet! First of all, the rainbow emoji makes no sense. I rarely use emojis in my copy, and I sure as shit wouldn’t use this one—unless I’m promoting some kind of gay offer, then, well, it would make sense. 


This is the first line of copy that lets anyone know what this “gem” of a video is even about. But it doesn’t make anyone excited to go watch it. Instead, just repeats some copyese health jargon (“premium superfoods,” “trust us, this isn’t just your average health spiel,”)  that doesn’t really mean anything to our list. It commits copywriting crimes like using “just,” the plural “us,” and more telling, not showing. And overall, it’s just lukewarm copy that at best, gets a couple people to watch the video, and at worst, causes our entire audience to unsubscribe, report as spam, or perhaps even worse, start tuning out our emails and becoming a “dead account” in our software.) 


====


Worst part?


This is but an excerpt from the copy. It goes on, and doesn’t become much better. In fact, it actually might get worse because it also disobeys the “Rule of One” when it comes to its CTA, where the writer plugged in about four different CTAs to do random stuff after reading this nothingburger of an email. 


Whew! 


It’s gonna take a lot of work to fix this—as well as all the other “foundational emails” that were written for me to edit and polish and, to put it frankly, fix. 


Moral of the story? 


While most brands will benefit from hiring a copywriter, the sad truth is most copywriters today write hot gar-bage like the example above. Especially if their fees don’t shock you with how high they are (like mine will). 


But y’know what they say: You get what you pay for. 


If you want to work with a copywriter who won’t put your business at risk with lukewarm copy, and instead want to invest in a proven way to grow your business by 30, 40, and mayhap even 60%, hit reply and let’s talk. 


John

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