The Power Of Copywriting (And Two Tips To Help You Sell With Your Writing)

Marketing Swipe File

On this episode of the Marketing Swipe File, DG shares two of his favorite copywriting tips that you can use to write more effective sales emails, marketing emails, landing pages, video scripts, and more. This 12 minute episode will help you unlock the power of copywriting – even if you think writing isn’t your thing.

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Full Transcript

Dave Gerhardt: On this episode of The Swipe File, I’m going to give you two of my favorite, my very favorite, my most favorite, copywriting tips.

All right, so I’ve been posting a bunch of videos on LinkedIn recently. I was talking to DC and he’s like, “You need to post more stuff about marketing. Don’t always just promote Drift stuff.” So, I’ve been walking to work and recording different thoughts that I’ve had and I thought, you know what? This would actually make for a great podcast episode for The Swipe File.

Specifically about copywriting, which is, I think the number one most important skill for anybody that wants to work in sales or marketing. And the reason why, there’s a couple reasons why. Number one is copywriting is literally like … if you can master copywriting, you will unlock how to sell through writing. Right? Think about that. You can sell something without even having to open your mouth in order to do it, or get somebody on the phone.

Also, copywriting is like that one channel that can go everywhere. If you can great copy, you can write emails, video description, landing pages, webinar titles, webinar decks, scripts, blog posts, ads, there’s so many ways that you can use copywriting. I think that it is the most underrated channel for marketers today. Because marketers today, we all want to focus more on the new, shiny thing, the technology, the tools, right? But the lesson that I got from DC in the early days of Drift was, look, go study copywriting because copywriting is the one thing that has never changed. Because copywriting is what you use to move people, and people haven’t changed in hundreds of years, where technology changes every single day, every single week.

So, he said, “Go back and study the great copywriters, the direct response marketers, and understand what they use, understand their tips and techniques.” And so, I’ve basically spent … This is all I think about and read about now is copywriting books, lessons, videos. And I want to share with you two of my favorite tips that you can get right now just on this … This will probably be like a 8 to 10 minute podcast episode, without ever having to read any of those books. Okay? That’s why I want to do this podcast.

The first copywriting tip, this to me is actually the most … might be the most important one. I call it first line, second line. And I’ll ask you a question, if maybe you’re at the gym right now, maybe you’re riding to work, maybe you’re walking to work, maybe you’re cleaning the house, doing whatever you’re doing, is I want you to answer this out loud, what is the goal of the first line of your copy? I’ll let you answer. I want to know.
What’s the goal of your first line of copy? The goal of any first line of copy is to get you to the second line of copy. Right? It’s to get your reader to read the second line. What’s the goal of the second line of copy? To get somebody to read the third. What’s the goal of the third? You know where I’m going with this, right?

That is how … Once I learned that lesson, that completely changed how I write copy. If you’ve seen anything that I write, if you’re on our email list, if you see my LinkedIn posts, or articles I’ve written, you’ll notice that my copy is very non-traditional. It’s very short. It’s very choppy. That is on purpose, because I want to hook somebody right away.

I think the biggest mistake that marketers make is they don’t understand the real estate of the first half of your email. The subject line, the preview text, and that first line of your email are so important. And yet, everybody, most people, not everybody, most people start every email like this, “Hello Name. Tomorrow at 2 P.M. we have a webinar coming up about blah.” Or I get this one, people reach out to me all the time, “Dave. As VP of Marketing at Drift, you know that blah.”

That is all wasted real estate. Right? What is a busy person going to see who’s just checking their email on their phone, which is what we all do. Right? What are you going to see? You pull up … go to your email client on your phone right now. I use Superhuman, use Gmail, whatever. If you go to that app and you look at your inbox, all you see is the subject line and then the preview text, which is what it shows in the email that you can add.

Sometimes it’s the first line of the email. Marketing systems usually let you add like a preview text. So they see the subject line and the first line of your email. So why are you wasting real estate? That is the most valuable real estate in the email. So if you waste your first line, if you waste your subject line, and you waste your first line, nobody is ever going to open your email.

So, the way that I use the first line, second line trick is for me, my subject line and the first line of my email always play off one another. Because I treat the subject line like the first line, and then the first line of the email as the second line.

So, let’s just say I’m promoting a webinar tomorrow. Instead of a subject line that says, “Tomorrow 2 P.M. webinar. Hey there Gonzalo, tomorrow we’re going to do a webinar about blah, blah, blah,” I would say, “Two things I’m going to show you tomorrow.” That’s the subject line. “Two things I’m going to show you tomorrow.” I wouldn’t even address your name or say, “Hey there,” I’d say, “Two things I’m going to show you tomorrow.” You open the email.

“Okay, so here’s the deal. I realize that we haven’t talked a lot about blank, and so on tomorrow’s webinar at 2 P.M., 100% free for you to be there, we’re going to do this.” And so, then I continue to write the whole email, very short, very choppy. See how much of a different hook that can be? Or, I start a lot of emails like, “So the other day I was thinking about … ” or, “This morning I was eating breakfast,” or, “At the gym this morning … ” or, “In the shower this morning I had this idea,” or, “Okay, so … ” So, I was trying to always kind of start like either mid sentence, or come up with some thought that jumps you right into a conversation, just to keep that whole pattern in first line, second line. And I do that in long emails, landing pages.

The goal is basically you have this rope and you’re just trying to reel this person in to get them all the way to the bottom of your copy. And one of the greatest things … I forget who said this, so I can’t really give them credit, but shout out to you classic copywriter who gave me this. You know, one thing that I get a lot of feedback on when I write copy, this is usually from our designers, or other people on the marketing team, they say, “DG, this is cool, but this is too long. This is too long, nobody is going to read this.” And I think that’s bullshit. I think that there’s one type of person who is going to read that and that is the right person, right? That is the buyer.

Who’s going to read a long ass landing page about your product? Somebody who actually is interested in buying that product. I understand that we have shorter attention spans today, and it doesn’t mean that every email that I’m going to send is a thousand words, or every blog post is two thousand words. But I think long copy definitely has its place, especially if you’re trying to sell, or you’re trying to convince somebody to do something. So, to break it up I use the first line, second line technique to do that. All right? So, that is copywriting tip number one.

Copywriting tip number two for you is something I never really thought about until I got asked on an interview the other day, somebody said, “Hey Dave. How do you do personalization at scale if you’re a marketer?” And I think the answer they were looking for is like, “Well, we use this type of tool. We use this technology to personalize our website, so therefore everybody who comes to our website sees a message that’s specific to them, blah, blah, blah.”

But I actually answered it in a different way because to me, I think personalization now is table stakes, right? It is 2019. Marketing technology has gotten so good that, yes, I know that you can personalize an offer to me, who works VP of marketing at a SaaS company in Boston with a 107 million raise, we’re using these technologies. You can target me by any of those things. And I know that. So that is all table stakes. I think the real secret to doing personalization at scale is to be personal. Right? I’m going to say that again. The key to doing personalization at scale is to be personal.

What I mean by that, is bring personality into your writing. I’ll never forget, very first week at Drift, I wrote an email, sent out like our very first marketing newsletter, and DC sent it back to me and he said, he’s our CEO, my boss, he sent it back to me and said, “This doesn’t sound like your other emails.” And what he meant was I had this podcast that I called Tech in Boston on the side, where I basically had my own blog, podcast and newsletter, and because it was my thing, I felt no pressure.

I could say whatever the hell I want. I could write however I wanted to. And so, every Sunday night I’d send out this newsletter. And the copy was super informal, super casual, like how I would email my mom, “Hey mom. We’re thinking about coming in with Annie this weekend, and we’d love to see you. Blah, blah, blah, see ya.” Right?

That’s how I wrote my newsletter. And he was like, “Make the Drift email sound like that. Because that feels like you, that feels real.” So from then on, every email that we sent, I’d always try to bring an element of personality to it. So, to bring this back to this example of the best way to do personalization is to be personal, I write most emails like this: here’s an example, “So right now I’m 30,000 above on JetBlue flight number 121 from Miami. We’re going 627 miles an hour and we’re at 31,000 feet right now. And I’m writing you this email because tomorrow blah.” Right?

That instantly let’s you know that I’m a real person, and even though this is automated email that I’m going to send out, I wrote this on my flight. Or, “Hey, this morning while I was at the gym, I had this idea. And the idea was why don’t we every blank?” Right? And that all leads to some offer that we have, but that let’s you know that it’s me. It’s real. I really wrote this. And so to me, that is the way to do personalization at scale.
I think the best way that this has played out for us is when you subscribe to our blog, you get a email after that says, “Hey, thanks for subscribing. Even though this is an automated email, my name is Dave, and I’m the marketing team at Drift. I just want to let you know that I’m here and we got your back. We’re going to be respectful of your inbox. We’re only going to send emails blah, blah, blah.”

The key part of that email is me acknowledging that this is an automated email because then, that completely disarms somebody. If I said, “Hey, this is an automated email that I had to write last week.” Then you’re like, “Oh yeah. I’m a marketer. I’ve done that. I’ve to schedule an email.” So, the only secret to doing personalization at scale outside of the tech, is to actually be you and be real. And we try to weave that into everything that we’re doing in our marketing.

So, if you’re trying to promote a webinar tomorrow, just add some of yourself into that like, “Man, I’m really under the weather right now. My daughter is sick. I got sick. But I’m super excited because tomorrow we’re doing this webinar and it’s all about blank.” Right? Always try to weave personal stories into your copy and that’s going to change the game for you. And yes, even if you sell to the enterprise, or big companies, or old school B2B companies.

When I give this advice, a lot of people say, “Dave, you know that’s cool advice. I understand how that might work for a consumer brand, or a personal brand, but you know, I sell to really big companies.” And I’m like, “Okay, but at really big companies, the people that work there, they’re still people, right?” And they’re like, “Yes.”

So, these are all things that speak to who we are as people across … I don’t go home at night, and I transform from marketer Dave to Dave. Right? We’re the same people inside of work and out of work. And writing copy this way is basically a cheat code to get somebody’s attention and get them to pay attention and trust you.
It’s all about trust, right? Marketing today is all about trust. Whoever makes it easier to buy is going to win. And the way to make it easier to buy up front, is by letting people trust you. There’s so much noise in the market, there’s so much information out there, if you can build trust, you can do anything, and the easiest way to build trust is copywriting and being personal.

So, those are two of my favorite copywriting techniques. I hope they’re helpful for you, and I hope you’re getting a lot of value out of this podcast. I’m super excited to a lot more. We have some amazing stuff coming up. But that’s it. 12 minutes, two copywriting tips. If it’s helpful, tweet at me @DaveGerhardt. Send me an email DG@drift.com. I’d love to get your feedback. Or, send me examples of how you take something from this podcast and put it into your life. I’m out of here.

Thanks for listening to this episode of The Swipe File. If you liked the podcast, make sure to subscribe, leave a review, text your friends, tell your mother, do whatever you want to do. It’d be awesome if you helped spread the word about the show. But, I have a little special for you because you’re listening to my podcast.

If you go to Drift.ly/Steve, you will see a six minute video that I made that is about Steve Jobs’ storytelling secrets. And you can get it all for free. Plus, if you signup there, you will unlock this crazy new thing that we’re building behind the scenes called, Drift Insider where we’re going to give you some of our best content exclusively. So go and check it out. The secret way to get on this list right now is to go to Drift.ly/Steve. You have to watch the first video and you’ll be able to get the rest when they all come out. Check it out. If not, check it out soon, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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