TopRank Marketing Editor

5 Tips for Effective Email Copywriting

TopRank Marketing Editor     Email Marketing, Online Marketing

Writing Effective Email CopyThe quality of email content is one of the core factors in determining whether an email marketing campaign succeeds or fails. But successful email copywriting is an art — rather than a science — making it different from most other forms of business writing. To start out on the right path, consider these 5 tips for effective email copywriting:

1. Focus on the subject line. The subject line may be the shortest piece of content to write, but it’s one your campaign’s most critical elements. The challenge is to create excitement for a special offer, provide enough information to be clear about purpose and convey a brand’s essence – all in 50 characters or less.

When writing your subject lines:

  • Create a sense of urgency. Include timely information to encourage subscribers to open the email.
  • Include the most important information first. It’s essential that subject lines don’t exceed the character limits of email servers. But prioritizing the vital information first will ensure that, in case the subject line does run over, the primary message will be conveyed.
  • Look to others for inspiration. Read newspaper and magazine headlines for ideas. Consider the email campaigns that you receive. Which ones were you intrigued enough to open and what can you deduce from those subject lines?
  • Go with what works. Look to your own past successful email campaigns and replicate the subject lines that produced the highest open rates. Also, test out different subject lines within the same campaign to discover what generates the best response.

2. Include a mix of promotional copy with informational copy. Even if the goal of a campaign is to promote a new product, announce company news or introduce a special offer, complement that information with non-corporate information. For example:

  • Supplement a new product announcement with a thought leader interview from a supporting industry.
  • If a seasonal offer is being promoted, include tips or a checklist pertaining to that particular season.

3. Involve your readers. Consider the success of blogs, forums and social networks. Those interactive channels are effective because users feel involved and engaged. Build off that premise with email copywriting by keeping subscribers engaged and making them a part of the content. Consider including:

  • Reader polls
  • Reader case studies
  • Q&As with customers
  • User-generated content

4. Make the call to action crystal clear. With too many calls to action, email marketers run the risk of confusing or overwhelming subscribers. When customers are presented too many options, they may be less likely to purchase. Instead, focus your calls to action and limit the effort it takes to act. Consider these quick tips:

  • Rely on size and placement position to emphasize the call to action.
  • Write call to action copy that tells subscribers exactly what they can expect.
  • Use copy that reinforces to subscribers that taking action will be quick and easy.

5. Put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes. When it all boils down, an email campaign will only be successful if it addresses subscribers’ needs. Email marketers should look at their campaigns from subscribers’ perspectives. What’s important to them? In a ClickZ blog post on email copywriting, Pat Friesen talks about the importance of understanding an audience:

  • Visualize subscribers, whether they are mothers of young children or a corporate executive.
  • Picture where subscribers are reading the email copy, whether it’s on a computer at work, on a laptop at home or on-the-go from a mobile device.
  • Imagine the distractions subscribers face when reading email copy.

Beyond simply visualizing subscribers, study their open and click-through patterns, and consider their demographic information. If you’re still unsure of what subscribers want, use a reader survey to ask them.

What other tips do you have for effective email copywriting?

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Comments

  1. karenrayner says:

    Great post, some really good tips. Very informative

  2. I think you make a really great point emphasizing the importance of the subject line. So often marketers forget that the email inbox is often overcrowded with more than 50+ emails a day. The subject line and preview screen may be the only opportunity to catch a reader's attention. It needs to be to the point with an effective call to action, otherwise it will just be lost in the noise.

  3. Travis2020 says:

    Thanks for sharing. Simple and to the point.

  4. Hi Michelle,

    Outstanding points there to help people not only write better emails, but, get more action from their lists.

    I WILL be telling my readers about this post, and sending them here! 😉

  5. Katie, ATT Uverse Reviews says:

    thanks for sharing. very direct and easy to comprehend.

  6. the problem with email marketing is most of the time, they are considered as spamming even if it's not your intention to do so. for me, spamming is when you send emails to people totally unrelated to your campaign but if you had spent sleepless nights doing your research, I don't think it should be considered as such.

    what I've learned is the ones in the receiving end would like their names mentioned when they receive a mail thus the use of mailmerge. furthermore, it would be a great idea if the letter includes an option to unsubscribe. it, too, makes them feel they're not spammed in any way.

    thank you for such a great post! 🙂

  7. Michelle,

    Nice article, very well done. Your points about subject line and involving your readers are spot on. No one wants to be told to buy something. They want to be in a conversation about the service/brand. Marketers sometimes forget to engage their audience and fall back on a build and blast approach. Great tips!

    -Sean

  8. Michelle,

    Very useful and simple pointers. Some people make e-mail campaigns sound like rocket science. Writing effective e-mails just takes a little bit of marketing know-how, some writing ability and common sense.

    Thanks for the great article!

  9. Hi Michelle,

    In agreement with all your points, but would like to add our approach . . .

    1. We always lead with a 'selfish' information article – “what's in it for me” approach. This gets them reading.
    2. Then we tend to follow with a new product / service / market introduction to introduce them to something new we are doing within our business.
    3. We finish with something soft and friendly – this will often be something CSR driven regarding our business so that they know we are not just about the 'profit.'

    Overall, we have found that this approach lends well to readership etc.

    Kevin

  10. I think experimenting with different subject lines is very important. People over time will get used to the same subject lines and eventually just delete newsletters or emails you send out.

  11. Hi Michelle,
    I think your ideas on email-copy writing-tips are very help full to every one. Really I learn a lot by read your blog and hope this will be continue. Typically your 5 point gives the details information about how to right a good and informative content.

    Have A Good Day!

  12. Great information! There is more strategy to email than most people think.
    Here are some complimentary posts for effective emails:
    Email in camouflage: http://su.pr/5qZAeS
    Long drawn-out emails: http://su.pr/4g5BBk
    Email without purpose: http://su.pr/1nnNnK
    Emails – Who are you talking to anyway?: http://su.pr/4G7CXv

  13. Very nice post and very effective tips, been doing this in our email campaign too.I do agree that email copy writing is an art.

  14. Email marketing can be a powerful tool, we do use it. We have found there are really three components to generating a client via email. First is a strong subject line. A subject line should be relevant to the needs of your target, and also contain some kind of sense of urgency. Second, your email must talk about the BENEFITS. Benefits, benefits, benefits. Third, you need a tracking mechanism. For example, keep an accurate total of the number of emails you send out, subtract the boucnebacks. This is the total # of successful emails. Then, inside each email, have a link that takes your customer to a special “deal” that will store a counter in a database….or give a coupon code that is tracked. That way you will know *exactly* the % of conversions you obtained with your email. Do different emails, and then over time you will know the successful email templates from the bad ones.

  15. Great text…

  16. dave stewart says:

    Your right nick,
    I get 100's of emails everyday and the subject line is the difference between whether I read it or delete it.. when I look at those subject lines, it gives me a pretty good idea as to what people are willing to read. I've tried various subject lines (depending on my audience) and I find the curiosty angle works best for me.

  17. Peteronhead says:

    That's really a useful article, thanks for sharing.

    I used to do email marketing, so I can share my experience.

    To make my open rate of my email high, the receivers must know me. The first step is to make people leave their email automatically. So, I get code fromSpread – email marketing software & service . It's a web-based Email marketing platform.

    After that, I can see report of opens, clicks, conversion, etc.

    Now, I maintain good relationship with clients closely.

    -p

  18. I think you make a really great point emphasizing the importance of the subject line. So often marketers forget that the email inbox is often overcrowded with more than 50+ emails a day. The subject line and preview screen may be the only opportunity to catch a reader's attention. It needs to be to the point with an effective call to action, otherwise it will just be lost in the noise.

  19. I think you make a really great point emphasizing the importance of the subject line. So often marketers forget that the email inbox is often overcrowded with more than 50+ emails a day. The subject line and preview screen may be the only opportunity to catch a reader's attention. It needs to be to the point with an effective call to action, otherwise it will just be lost in the noise.