Email Copywriting Tactics
Email marketing returns $40 for every $1 spent.
With that kind of return on investment, it's one of the most cost-effective ways for companies to reach customers.
If you're looking to boost your copywriting skills, email marketing is a great place to start.
Successful email copywriting is possible, so let's get to how it's done. If you want the email copywriting tips that will keep your advertising campaign from becoming a statistic, keep reading.
Write Useful Content
Good email copywriting starts with a good email marketing strategy. Why? Because you can't write well about nothing.
Don't clutter your subscriber's inbox with useless content. It decreases your credibility. Worse, it tempts readers to hunt for the unsubscribe button.
Just what qualifies as "useful content" depends on your target audience, but no matter what your branding is, everyone has problems that need to be solved.
Offer blog posts, sales, and products that resonate with your readers.
Smash Your Subject Line
One of the most important email marketing tips is to focus your energy on writing a subject line that works.
Bad subject lines are the reason that almost 80% of marketing emails get deleted before they're even opened.
That means nailing your subject line has to be the cornerstone of your email marketing strategy.
What's a Bad Subject Line?
What kind of subject lines make your readers hit the trash icon before reading your email?
It's simple: a bad subject line is a predictable subject line.
If your subject line lacks originality, your reader takes the hint: they're about to open the same old marketing email they've read a thousand times.
There's nothing new, challenging, or exciting to be gained from reading what you've written.
Salesy language makes for bad subject lines too. Research shows that the word "save" gets dramatically fewer clicks than other wording.
As a copywriter, this means that you can't just transpose the language of an advertising poster into your email.
A customer might glance at a poster that says "Save 20% on Summer Essentials!" as they walk by a store, but they are not likely to open an email that uses the same wording.
What can you do instead?
Use Their Name
It might sound cheesy, but it works. Hearing (or reading) our own name causes a unique neurological reaction. It gets our attention like nothing else.
Seeing their own name also feels flattering to the reader. With two major benefits — getting attention and flooding your reader with positive emotions — personalizing subject lines is a winning strategy.
Using the reader's name pairs well with call-to-action subject lines, such as:
Crack a Joke
The online world takes itself seriously. If your branding goes well with a dash of quirkiness, stand out with a joke.
Your readers will be more likely to open the email if only to pursue the promised entertainment value.
Know your audience. Self-deprecating humor is the stuff of millennial memes, but won't play well with older readers.
Groaners are always fair game. Puns based on your product? Those are comedy gold.
Take copywriting inspiration from Volkswagon's "Think Small" campaign. Instead of promoting themselves according to reader's expectations, they surprised them by boasting about their weaknesses.
Readers are expecting email campaigns that promote your company's benefits and offers.
Why not intrigue them by shaking up expectations?
Try playing on the idea of not offering a sale, not being #1, or not having all the answers. Readers will be interested enough to click, and you can drop the other shoe in the body of the email.
There's a fine line between subverting expectations and shooting yourself in the foot. A great ad school can teach you how to shoot right down the middle with your branding.
Be Bold and Direct
A straightforward subject line can also work. You'll probably use direct subject lines for the majority of your marketing emails, so they'll need to be effective.
Keep it short, direct, and specific. For example:
Did your reader love your subject line enough to click?
Congratulations, you're in the 21% of marketing emails that don't get ignored!
Now, keep them reading. You'll need a "sticky" intro — one that grabs their attention and doesn't let go.
Build your intro paragraph on:
Build Your Argument
Some marketing emails are straightforward. If you're letting customers know about a new sale on leather belts, you'll keep your text minimal and let product pictures do the talking.
Other emails require you to build an argument.
You might be writing for a political campaign to communicate a politician's platform.
Or, you might be explaining a social problem to solicit donations for a charity. You'll need to explain concepts and cause-effect relationships.
In the oversaturated online conversation, it's hard to get a simple point across. But that's the key: keep it simple.
This isn't the place to let your inner blogger out. Build your argument with clear sentences. Use short paragraphs.
Brevity gives you the best chance of communicating with your distracted audience.
Cut the Fluff
Let's be honest: your email is one of a swarm of impersonal messages attacking your reader's inbox. In today's online world, readers aren't reading, they're skimming.
That's why every copywriting strategy should include cutting as much fluff as possible.
Stuffing your email full of nonessential text doesn't just make it harder to read on a tiny screen. It also means that your reader will let their eyes bounce away before they even try to engage.
If you can't say what you mean in a few short sentences, you probably don't know what you want to say.
Your beleaguered reader doesn't have time for fluffy content. Get to the point.
Bold What's Important
It was a faux-pas in the past, but no longer. Bolding a few keywords directs your reader's eyes to what matters.
To make your bolding tasteful, make it consistent throughout your email. You might want to bold one phrase per paragraph or one phrase every three paragraphs.
Evenly distributing your bolded phrases makes it seem intentional, not haphazard.
Clear Call to Action
If you want to rank among the less-than-3% of marketing emails that readers actually click through, you'll need a strong call to action.
Let your readers know exactly what you want them to do:
A word for nonprofits: It's not tacky to have several calls to action interspersed throughout your email.
It's understood that donor-dependent charities need to present a strong case while they ask for donations.
You'll likely have a minimum of three or four "Donate Now" buttons arranged within your email body.
Keep it Conversational
Even a very formal brand has room for conversational communication. Writing conversational copy helps your reader feel connected on a personal level, and why shouldn't they? You're contacting them through their personal email, after all.
Conversational doesn't mean sloppy. Grammar mistakes and unstructured content have no place in copywriting, ever.
Instead, conversational writing means emphasizing the personal relationship between you and the reader.
First-person voice (as in, "I had to share these great ideas with you") matches the conversational aspect. A personal sign-off helps as well.
Ultimately, a personal tone builds rapport between you and your reader. They will come away trusting you more.
Email Copywriting, Demystified
When done right, email copywriting is one of the most successful marketing tactics available. The best part: it's not as hard as it looks.
With these tips, you'll be on your way to creating engaging email copy for any topic.
Whether you've dreamed of attending ad school for years or have just begun to think about getting a copywriting certificate, our free Copywriting to Go Course is the perfect place to start.
Check it out today.