“Do you read boring emails? Neither does your customer.” It’s the first line you see on Chanteuse Marie’s website, and if you get to know the Philadelphia-based copywriter, you’ll see she is not one to write boring copy. Actually, her writing is bold, witty and entertaining, and stands out in a sea of bland content.
We wanted to learn more about Chanteuse, so we invited her to do an interview with us. She told us about her beginnings as a copywriter and how she has mastered the craft of writing emails that inform, entertain and increase open rates and conversions.
When did you first get interested in writing? And how did you become a copywriter?
In one of my previous office jobs, I got assigned to conceptualize employee events, maybe two or three times, and I loved working on the theme, slogan, and flyers. Probably the only time I felt truly happy in the corporate world. It was just an extra task, but it made me think that maybe I should be in advertising instead. I had one of my nonfiction pieces published in a newspaper at that point, but never considered a career in copywriting. Back then, I didn't even know what a copywriter was. I wanted to be a novelist. (I still do.)
Eventually, I became a blogger for the official website of a former LA Lakers player, I attended creative writing classes, I took a giant leap of faith, and the rest is my copywriter's life history.
How did you get to specialize in email copywriting?
I’ve written all sorts of content from web copy to blog posts until I learned about the importance of niching down. Email copy was an easy choice because of its storytelling aspect.
Are you a freelancer now?
I prefer the term business owner. Freelancer connotes being an order taker, and I do more than just taking client orders.
On your website, you mention "your mentors, some of the best copywriters in the industry. Wwho are they and what are the essential things you learned from them?
Rob Marsh and Kira Hug --> I joined their Accelerator mastermind group and the investment was worth all the $$$. They both helped me develop my brand which is entertainment-centric and gave me the confidence to own it. Not everyone will want a copywriter with my brand voice to write their emails, but the right clients will come along.
Joanna Wiebe and Amy Posner --> I’m in the pioneer batch of their 10x Freelance Copywriter group and it's another great investment that helped me streamline my processes and write better copy. The golden nuggets: Joanna said shut up and don't email when you have nothing relevant to say to your subscribers. She didn't say it that way, but that's pretty much the gist. Amy helped me in the initial stages of revamping my website (they both did, actually). And she instilled in me the value of focusing on the benefits to the readers — even when I'm talking about myself.
Ry Schwartz --> I secretly want to be the female Ry Schwartz someday. Every single training he put out there, I bought. The email sequences I've written were mostly based on his empathy-driven, coaching the conversion framework.
So, Chanteuse, how do you write emails that convert?
I'm big on leveraging empathy + entertainment to move prospects from point A to point B-uyer. Simply put, be empathetic to gain their trust and convey your message in an engaging way so they'll keep reading.
How does one master the art of writing emails that convert without sounding like their purpose is to convert?
Be the Dumbledore to your prospect's Harry Potter. Guide them through the email funnel. The operative word being "guide." Don't be pushy. You are to help them decide on their own accord if your product or service is the holy grail that will make their lives better. Do so without boring them, of course.
Have you subscribed to many newsletters? Which ones are your favorite?
Yup, I have a separate Gmail account for my subscriptions. I swipe both launch and non-launch emails and organize them based on the sender (my favorites), type of email (for non-launch emails), and product/service name (for launch emails). Yeah, I've gone a bit OC with my inbox.
The emails I geek out over are from Copy Hackers, The Copywriter Club, Laura Belgray, John Carlton, Seth Godin, Margo Aaron, Kim Krause Schwalm, Val Geisler, Prerna Malik, Hillary Weiss, Ash Ambirge, and Ramit Sethi.
Also, Really Good Emails, HubSpot, Campaign Monitor, and AppSumo.
I probably missed a few. I've lost count of the number of newsletters I'm subscribed to.
What are the main reasons for which you unsubscribe from an email?
I'm quick to delete but slow to unsubscribe because of FOMO. Maaaybe their next email is gonna be good, you know what I mean? But there comes a point when I feel like “Oh, god, here comes another email with multiple emojis in the subject line” or "Oh, god, here comes another email with hateful words about proven copywriting techniques." When I no longer believe in what they espouse and they become an annoyance, I know it’s time to hit unsubscribe.
How do you feel about email marketing today?
Optimistic, no matter how many times I've read that "email is dead." Email must have the lives of multiple cats because it’s still alive and growing.
Do you or any of your clients use an email verifier to clean your email lists?
Honestly, no. But hey, now that I know of your service, I can recommend it next time. It sounds heavenly compared with cleaning up a list manually.
What is your favorite atmosphere to write? Do you have any habits that spark your inspiration?
I sometimes work in coffee shops but accomplish little. I work best in solitude. Like a cabin-in-the-woods type of peace and quiet. Mother nature works wonders.
What do you most like to do when you don't have to do anything?
Movies, movies, and more movies. Hobby sponsored by MoviePass.
And travel whenever I can.
What has copywriting taught you about yourself?
I'm weird and there's nothing wrong with that, haha. Everyone has their unique brand of weird. It’s all about owning it and attracting the audience that's cool with it.
A word (or two, or three) one should never use in their marketing emails?
Hmmm... tricky question. See, even profanities will work if that’s part of your brand and that’s what endears you to your tribe. It really depends on the audience. Of course, there are words that will automatically flag you as a spammer, so avoid those. But my biggest pet peeve is the abuse of emojis, exclamation point, and caps lock.
“Who is Louis?”
A great subject line is:
One that piques curiosity without resorting to cheap tricks.
The best call-to-action I ever wrote was:
The one I wrote just for fun --> "Who is Louis?"
But I didn't use it in my emails. It's on my website which is peppered with a lot of pop culture easter eggs. To the curious visitor who wants to know who Louis is, they will be redirected to a fun 404 page that gives them the option to subscribe to my email list.
The campaign I'm most proud of is:
I wrote a webinar sequence for a wedding planner who almost doubled her conversions. Ry Schwartz said, "There's not too many peeps I know who can reference Dom Perignon, unicorns, and revenue cake... all while making a logical sales argument." That made me do the happy dance.
The biggest mistake I've ever made in a marketing email was:
Not insisting on doing a split test when it can be helpful.
The mistake I hope I will never make is:
Emailing the first draft. You do not want to see the result of my prewriting session.
The best advice I received about copywriting was:
Always Be Helping. Yes, ultimately you want sales, but you don't have to morph into a sleazy salesperson to achieve it.