From send times to split testing, there are many factors that can impact the success of email marketing campaigns. 

Copywriting remains one of the biggest, often being the difference between a mediocre email (sent straight to the trash) and one that prompts the recipient to take action.

Here are eight tips for writing awesome email copy...

(N.B. You’ll find more in Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Best Practice Guide, which is filled to the brim with tips and advice on email marketing.)

1. Create a hook

Very few people read emails thoroughly, with the majority scanning or skim-reading to find important details as quickly as possible. Although there is recent research to suggest attention spans are improving – the percentage of emails read for more than 18 seconds is said to have risen from 38.4% in 2011 to 44.4% in 2016 – it’s still sensible to ensure that emails are scannable.

Alongside this, marketers should ensure that each section has a hook that grabs the attention of the reader and improves engagement. This could be an emphasis on key offers, persuasive headings, or elements of personalisation.

2. Create relevance

Personalisation is one of the most effective ways of improving an email’s impact. But this doesn’t just mean addressing the reader by name. 

With readers likely to react to something that is contextual as well as personal, relevancy might be more of an appropriate term to describe what marketers should strive for. This could mean talking about past purchases or user behaviour, or even referencing real-time context such as weather or location (like the below example for ASOS by Kickdynamic).

3. Be informal

While email copy should always reflect the brand’s wider tone of voice, informal language tends to be effective in most cases. Implementing this is trickier than you might think, because any attempt to explain something tends to result in language becoming stiffer and more salesy.  

In order to ensure copy remains conversational and friendly, it’s helpful to imagine that you are writing an email to a single person (rather than a large and homogenous group). That way, it’ll be easier to ensure you sound like a human rather than a brand trying to sell something.

4. Draw on emotions

Most marketing emails are trying to sell something, of course. However, to ensure the message hits home, marketers should always convey the value of what they are promoting – not just the product itself. 

This example from Airbnb effectively draws on emotions, stirring up the desire to experience all that Melbourne has to offer. The ‘Melbourne Has Soul’ headline is a great way to hook in the reader, and is a far more effective way of selling Airbnb's Tours & Activities vertical than merely listing things to do.

(Source: Really Good Emails)

5. Have a persona in mind

While it’s helpful to remember your audience is human, it’s worthwhile going one step further and creating a customer persona. Instead of surface demographics (like age and gender), a customer persona allows brands to recognise and understand an audience’s key traits, such as their motivations, desires, and potential reactions.

By referring to personas, marketers will be able to write copy that motivates readers and conveys real value. This email from MailChimp is a good example, with the copy being tailored to prospects who want no fuss, and a quick and easy journey to sign up.

(Source: Really Good Emails)

6. Consider formatting

Though words are key, formatting can be a useful way of emphasising what you are saying. Things like bolding text, using italics or bullet points, and inserting text into images can be beneficial.

While this example from WeWork is a touch too wordy, its bold headings helps to promote key messages (and as I previously mentioned, makes the email easier to scan).

(Source: Really Good Emails)

7. Show personality

Email tends to be a little more serious than other forms of marketing, such as social or digital advertising. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let personality shine through.

Some of the most memorable emails are those that aren’t geared around selling a brand or its product. Rather, those that simply raise a smile can be much more effective, and help to create a more meaningful connection with an audience. 

8. Cut the crap

A final tip is to always keep copy fairly concise, and to consider whether each and every word is necessary. 

If it doesn’t add anything to the overall message, or does nothing to persuade the reader to take action – it’s probably not worth keeping. 

Don’t forget to download Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Best Practice Guide for lots more analysis and advice.

Or see our related training courses:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 1 March, 2018 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and GDPR Geek at Fresh Relevance

Here are a two great examples, showing more ways to win the users' attention with real-time personalization,
https://www.freshrelevance.com/resources/triggered-email-personalization-and-customization-for-travel-companies

4 months ago

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Peter Altschuler, Creative Director at Wordsworth & Company LLC

This could apply to any copy. For email, though, it's missing a trick.

The subject line has to inspire curiosity. It should compel a reader to want to get more information, read what appears in the preview (which should continue the setup), and then provide enough clear value in the opening paragraph to get them to keep reading.

All of the examples (and the suggestions), however, seem geared to B2C, and that ain't gonna work for B2B people in quite the same way. It's not that lawyers and doctors and engineers and channel partners have no sense of humor or can't be casual. But there's a finer line that has to be drawn. You might be able to joke about leaks that might result if a component's tolerances aren't precise, but there is not a lot of funny in cancer. There is not a lot of room for cute in document management for lawyers or cyber attack prevention tools for Homeland Security. If there's personality at all, it has to be attuned to the topic, and informality may be perceived as lacking credibility.

Relevance? Absolutely. Emotional? Maybe. Insightful? Essential..

4 months ago

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