Getting Back to Basics with Everybody Writes | Part I

By Emily Francis, Association Administrator, Women in Government Relations (WGR)

Everybody Writes

Emily Francis

Most in the association world have sent tens of hundreds of emails to their membership—after you get the hang of writing so many emails, especially if you send them daily, it can be hard to break out of the ordinary and the usual.

I picked up Everybody Writes, by marketing guru Ann Handley, to freshen up my writing habits and make sure I was looking at everything I send out to membership with beginner’s eyes. I found what I was looking for in Everybody Writes, as Handley delivers a very easy read and a go-to guide for anyone looking to refresh their writing, editing, organization or social media game. She makes sure to touch on the basics of each aspect of writing to provide a well-rounded blueprint for any experience level.

As I was reading, I found that most of what she discusses in Parts 1-4 of the book (Tips on how to hate writing less, grammar/usage, story rules and publishing rules) isn’t new or surprising information—but it’s exactly the kind of back-to-basics invigoration everyone should put themselves through to keep their writing new.

Part V is where things really start to get good: 13 Things Marketers Write. This section goes through every possible medium in which you might be marketing to your clients/members, and hits everything from emails and significant social media platforms to blogs and website home pages.

Here are some of my favorite and most applicable tips and rules to abide by in the Emails chapter:

  • Keep email subject lines ASAP (as short as possible). Our members and clients are sifting through sometimes hundreds of emails a day, and they make snap decisions on which to keep and which to trash. As Handley kept reiterating throughout her book, “with any content, brevity rules.” (Image source: Retention Science)

Subject Line Length Open Rates

  • Communicate with a human voice. Handley advises that using you and your repeatedly makes an email clear that it’s not about your organization, it’s about how your org can help them. Focus relentlessly on how you can benefit the people in your audience by making the content feel as if it comes from an actual person speaking to them.
  • Context. Making sure that your emails are timely is what can make or break your open rates. You worked hard on the links that are in those emails, you want people to click them! Get it done by sending your emails early in the day, before inboxes are brimming, and get creative with the timing. For example, what can you offer your members in the DMV now that there is a new administration moving in?

The tips seem simple, but we can always use fewer words, or strategize our email campaigns better by thinking through what your membership or consumer base really needs to know. It’s worth setting aside the time and going through the analytics analysis.

Stay tuned for more tips from Ann Handley and Everybody Writes!