How to Write a Marketing Email: 10 Tips for Writing Compelling Email Copy

Email marketing has advanced significantly in the last few years. However, with all of the fancy new functionality that brands are incorporating, you know what’s kind of amusing? A well-written, plain-text email can perform as well as (if not better than) a highly designed email with tons of bells and whistles.

Indeed, regardless of how elegant your marketing emails appear, if they lack well-written content, your subscribers will stop opening – and eventually delete – your messages.

Thus, how do you craft an effective marketing email? It all comes down to a few copywriting best practices that you should incorporate into both the subject line and body of your message.

10 Email Copywriting Tips for Writing Better Marketing Emails

We’ll begin with copywriting tips for creating stronger subject lines, and then move on to copywriting tips for email bodies.

How to Create an Effective Subject Line

1) Use actionable language

Using actionable language in email subject lines does not always require the use of verbs, although it certainly helps. For instance, OpenTable sent me an email with the subject line “Take Mom to Brunch.” This is one strategy for effectively incorporating actionable language into email subject lines: by including a verb (such as “take,” “download,” “reserve,” “ask,” or “buy”), the reader understands exactly what they can do in the email.

However, there are ways to use actionable language without resorting to verbs, which allows for more creative wording. What it boils down to is using language that communicates to the recipient what they can do with the information contained in the email if they choose to open it. In other words, prioritize the user’s value.

2) Personalize when possible

Highly segmented emails perform better in terms of open and clickthrough rates than non-personalized emails. According to a study conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, segmented and targeted emails generated 58 percent of total revenue for the marketers surveyed, while emails sent to specific target selections generated 36% of revenue.

This is unsurprising. After all, the more segmented your email list is, the more effectively you can personalize the subject line and deliver relevant content to each recipient.

Therefore, ask yourself: Is there a way to personalize your email subject line? And I’m not referring to the dynamic field where you can insert someone’s [FIRSTNAME] — email recipients have long since lost interest in that fancy functionality.

3) Prioritize clarity, and only then think about “catchiness.”

Create a subject line that is both clear and catchy. Clarity should always, always, always be your first priority when writing marketing copy. If you can make it catchy, funny, cute, whimsical, or whatever after you’ve written a clear subject line, go for it. However, never sacrifice clarity for the sake of entertainment.

4) Align your subject line copy and email copy

You’re probably already aware of how critical it is for your call-to-action copy and landing page offer to be consistent. That is also true when it comes to crafting your email subject line and email message.

What the subject line of your email promises, the email message should fulfill. Why? This is not only because it is ethical; it is also because when readers do not receive what was promised in the subject line, click-through rates plummet. (And, in the long run, your email open rates will improve as well.)

5) Establish relevancy

Just as the subject line of the email should strive for relevancy through personalization, so should the copy in the email’s message.

Again, it takes more than a dynamic name tag to persuade readers that the content inside is relevant to them. Therefore, begin the email by explaining how you met.

6) Write in the second person

Writing in the second person requires the use of the pronouns “you,” “your,” and “yours.” For example, “Remember to bring your jacket before you leave in the morning.” This indicates that you are orienting the copy toward the reader, not yourself.

7) Talk about benefits, not features

You understand the value of your email, but your recipient does not, and it is your responsibility to explain it. The issue is that many emails emphasize the feature, not the benefit.

8) Be succinct

One of the most common mistakes email copywriters make is attempting to cram the entire story into the email message. Consider what you do when you open a marketing email in your inbox. Do you read every single word? Probably not. Instead, you scan for key points to get the overall message and decide whether to take any action.

Therefore, if you send emails with hundreds of words of copy, you make it significantly more difficult for recipients to decide whether to click through – simply because they can’t quickly sift through all of the information contained in your email.

Rather than that, find a compelling way to summarize what the reader will receive and direct them to a page on your website for additional information.

9) Be lovable

Simply because emails are intended to inform does not mean they cannot also delight. In some cases, email can be an excellent vehicle for showcasing your brand’s personality and fostering meaningful relationships with your email list subscribers. After all, providing a lovable experience for people begins and ends with how you communicate with them.

Consider the email below from the folks at Death to Stock Photos. Its purpose is to apologize for an email they sent the previous day, which promoted a product that sold out far too quickly, did not ship internationally, and generally provided a poor experience for a large number of their customers.

10) In your call-to-action, use actionable language

That’s right: Emails, too, have calls-to-action. At the very least, the good ones do. To begin, your email call-to-action should be extremely obvious. Remember: People scan their emails. If there’s one thing you want your recipient to notice, it’s your call-to-action.

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