Principle: Context first

Just to recap, this week we’re talking about context.

On Monday I introduced the idea that email isn’t just for marketing, but can help you achieve objectives in all 5 Parts of Every Business.

Yesterday, we ventured down the “buyer awareness” rabbit hole. Conclusion: where your prospect’s awareness lies should affect how you decide to communicate with them about your service.

Today, it’s time for another email marketing principle.

And this one is a bit of an anti-climax given what we’ve just covered… but here goes.

Principle: Context first.

In the copywriting world, people like to talk about this thing called “wordsmithing.”

context first wordsmith image
Yup… Exactly how I think of myself as I sit “wordsmithing” away in front of my iMac. I’ve got the mild fingertip calluses and periodic Carpal tunnel to prove it.

It’s the idea that someone who’s mastered writing in a way that compels the reader to take action, can take almost any value proposition and turn it into mouth-watering copy that puts your prospects into a zombie-like, wallet-opening, contract-signing, invoice-paying frenzy…

That the only thing standing between your business now, and exponential revenue growth in the future, is incorporating subtle psychological triggers like urgency, scarcity, and social proof into the copy on your website… or something.

However, when you talk to “real” copywriters (i.e. ones who have long-standing relationships with their clients and a proven track record of results) they’ll all tell you the same thing:

The strategy is far more important than the words on the page.

The same thing holds true for sending emails.

The context in which your email hits your receiver’s inbox matters far more than your subject line, intro paragraph, or call to action.

And by “context” I mean:

1. The objective of the email. What are you attempting to do? Is it lead generation? Or sales? Or market research? Or customer retention? The “rules of thumb” you adhere to are dependent on what the goal is.

2. Where your prospect’s overall awareness lies. What drew them to your firm in the first place? Where are they in your sales pipeline? Are they problem aware, solution aware, or somewhere in-between? What you talk about should depend on where they are on the Buyer Awareness Chart.

3. Where your prospect’s immediate attention is. Did they just get back from lunch (which may, in fact, work in your favor)? Are they in the middle of re-structuring their team, and super overwhelmed? Did they just come back from a conference and are rip-roaring and ready to make a move on something new? This is hard to pin down, but even just a bit of accuracy in this regard will improve how your message lands.

4. What “levers” you can pull to get them to take action. What do you know about where their incentives lie? How do they make decisions? Who do they need to influence to get you into their budget? Get this right and you have the tools to bridge The Gap between lead and client.

So before talking about best practices for subject lines, email length, deliverability, or whatever else people like me like are supposed to recommend…

Focus on the context first, and everything else follows from there.

Tomorrow we’ll tear down a spot-on, emotionally-gripping email from a business coach that illustrates how powerful getting the context right can really be.

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