Copy  August 2, 2022

A Fintech’s guide to email copywriting

A Fintech’s guide to email copywriting

Frameworks make it easy to be consistent. This one will help you write effective emails even when you don’t consider it a strength of yours.

There are two schools of thought about email copywriting:

  1. Hard sell email copy, whose intention is to make the prospect decide if they want a meeting or not.
  2. Soft sale emails focused on educating and engaging prospects in conversation, hoping they’ll develop an interest in the problem… then the solution.

The effectiveness of either depends on how the prospecting list was built (is there a problem-prospect fit?), timing (what is going on around the prospect aside from what you’re selling?), and other factors such as budget.

Once you have decided on approach 1 or 2, use the structure below:

Subject line plus first-line combo

The combination of the subject line and the first line—especially the part that’s visible on mobile and desktop before being opened—should capture your prospects’ attention enough to get them to click. As you’re writing and adjusting your copy, that’s how you measure the success of these two.

Also, when someone opens your email, reading the first line in its entirety should show them that whatever follows is relevant, “why should I care about this?”

The agitating sentence

Without a sentence to shift your reader from whatever else is on their mind to the conversation you’re trying to start. e.g. how great your product solves problem X and how you’ve helped past clients, introducing a product/service conversation will be harder.

The agitating sentence sets you up to transition to talk about your product or case studies without it feeling like you’re slapping your prospect with a pitch. It’s your John the Baptist to your Jesus, the story preceding your favourite comedian’s punchline.

How to use it

After the intro, I like introducing a problem (and its impact) that I think the prospect should know about.

For instance, let’s say we’re selling a data API that uses Open Banking tech to import bank transaction data into a tax app. We’re reaching out to an app that’s still forcing their customers to upload CSV files of their bank transaction data—when there are faster alternatives.

Our agitating line could be, “… mind me asking if you’ve tracked how many of your customers compare you to competitors who have automated the bank transaction data upload step–so they don’t have to do CSV exports?”

It’s meant to get them thinking about a gap (even if they don’t see it this way) between their current way of doing things and a different outcome that might be better.

The harder your agitating line hits the softer the surrounding words need to be (use words like “might”, “someday”, “sometime” instead of “can”, “now”, “next week”. That’s why I included “mind me asking” in the example above.

A prospect once gave me a tongue lashing for using the word ‘dabble’ in my intro and pairing it with a hard agitating question. Ironically, nobody else in the campaign even noticed the word. To him, it sounded like I was calling him inexperienced. A reply layered with a slew of his life achievements and I knew the conversation was dead.

As you test new email copy, you may have to adjust and soften your agitating sentence based on the feedback you’re getting.

Your pitch

This paragraph will introduce your product or service into the conversation and make it explicit that you are selling something. Some of us try hiding this; pretending our emails are friendly chats. Then we try sneaking in a product conversation later on.

Anyone used to being sold to can smell a sneaky sales pitch hidden in an underground cave; just say what you’re after even if you don’t structure it as a pitch.

Don’t pitch your product, pitch the impact.

Continuing with the Open Banking example above, we’re hoping our agitating sentence has made the reader imagine their tax app customers comparing them to other tax apps, wondering why the bank transaction data upload process is manual in this app while automated in that.

If we were to pitch the impact of this Open Banking powered automatic bank data upload solution, it could look like this:

“FeelGoodTax and NoTaxHeadacheForUs Ltd have decreased the number of customers dropping off when filing tax returns by 7.77% through automating their data upload process.”

Increasing the number of customers filing tax returns without dropping off is the impact, while automated bank transaction data uploads powered by Open Banking is the product. Pitch the impact, not the product.

Call to action

At the end of it all, what do you want your prospect to do?

Some agency owners have designed processes that enable them to close deals via email videos without the need to schedule discovery calls. For them, their call to action would be aimed at getting prospects to ask for more info rather than book a meeting.

Depending on whether your cold email approach is soft or hard, your call to action will either be interest-based, “interesting enough to find out more?” or action-based, ” If this sounds like something you might consider, let’s talk.”

If you’re following up multiple times, you can vary the call to action in each email depending on the copy’s intent. According to an analysis of 20 million emails by email software company Woodpecker, cold emailers received 3 times more responses when they increased the number of emails in their sequence from between 1 and 3, to 4-7 per sequence.

A visual representation of Woodpecker’s follow-up statistics

Key takeaways

Your subject line and the first line should work together to get your emails opened. Include an agitating line connected to the pain point you solve to create curiosity. When you’re pitching, zero in on the impact of solving a problem rather than focusing on your solution. Vary your call to action throughout your follow-up emails, from soft, interest-based ones like “want to learn more” to more direct call to actions, “let’s talk”.

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Gabriel Onyango
Gabriel Onyango
[email protected]

About Me

A writer, in a marketer's skin, wearing a cold emailer's floppy socks. The unorthodox combination of these is what you've probably experienced in this blog. Freelance cold email manager; open to working with teams on cold email campaigns, copy, ICP research (snooping()and custom list building. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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