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How To Write Email Copy That Doesn't Suck? 18 Actionable Tips.

Saffa Faisal

Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” We’re sure all email marketers can relate to this feeling.  

Writing email copy is no easy feat - you have to attract your subscribers and convert them without being too pushy and salesly. If done horribly wrong, you’ve lost yourself a customer (and $$$) for good. 

Consider yourself lucky as we debunk 18 killer tips for creating email copy that converts big time. Let’s dig in. 

What is Email Copy?

Defining what email copy is

Simply defined, any pre-written marketing message sent via email is termed as email copy. 

It should not be confused with on-the-spot content you write in correspondence or query-related emails. Email copy is part of a larger marketing campaign and is written specifically to entice a sale or achieve a particular marketing goal.  

Is Email Copy Important?

Those who receive emails spend 138% more than those who don't

Did you know that consumers who purchase via email spend 138% more than those who don’t receive emails? Surely design cannot be the only factor that encourages people to spend their hard-earned money. 

No matter how important design gets, email copy will always have a significant role in attracting and converting prospects. 

Here’s why good copy is and always will be necessary for achieving email marketing success; 

Creates and maintains your brand’s voice 

How would you define Nike’s brand personality? 

If you ask us, it’s inspirational, minimalistic, and action-oriented. But did Nike have to yell these traits for its users to remember them? Obviously not. 

This personification was strategically created through the company’s marketing efforts, including its email campaigns. Apart from the latter’s design, the content played a critical role in developing this brand voice and maintaining it. 

Below is an example of exactly what we’re talking about: 

Email example from Nike

Reinforces your message

Will you announce the launch of your new collection with only pictures and no text? 

Instead of adding only visuals and hoping your audience understands your message, use words to actually convey what you’re trying to say. Remember, an email’s content is the focal element, while pictures, videos, and GIFs are secondary to it. 

Convinces subscribers to buy 

Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you think email copy can’t be persuasive, then you’re wrong. There’s nothing more convincing than using the right set of words. They can play with your audience’s mind and result in an impulsive purchase. 

In fact, people greatly rely upon email copy when deciding to purchase since it takes the form of direct selling. Your readers have consented to listen to you, and you’re pitching how your products can solve their problems. 

Look at the convincing copy written by The Limited:  

Email example from The Limited

18 Killer Email Copy Tips to Follow Now

18 tips for creating amazing email copy

Email copywriting is like no other. If you think an English Literature grad is the perfect fit for an email copywriter, then you’re mistaken. Email copy is all about playing with your audience’s emotions while simultaneously achieving your marketing goals. 

Compared to other marketing channels, email marketing is different since your audience has given their permission to be connected with your brand. Hence, putting pressure on you to not bore them to the extent that they unsubscribe. 

We’ve rounded up 18 email copy tips and tricks that will have your audience converting like crazy. 

1. Keep subject lines short and snappy

47% of email recipients decide to open an email after reading its subject line. 

What does this teach us? Two things; 

a) Subject lines should be short.

It is recommended to keep subject lines no longer than 9 words or 60 characters. However, we don’t mean you miss out on the important stuff that’ll make your readers open the email in the first place. Learn to convey your message in fewer words. 

b) Subject lines should be anything but boring. 

An email’s subject line acts as the hook that grabs the reader’s attention. Do anything and everything that’ll make them stop and stare (read: open your email). Here are a few ways to make your subject lines irresistible: 

  • Ask a question 
  • Refer to a problem and solve it 
  • Use humor (but carefully) 
  • Build curiosity 
  • Refer to an ongoing event

2. Make subject lines visual 

“Um, how do I do that?” Through emojis! 

Before you give us an eye roll, hear us out. An average person receives 121 emails daily, and standing out amongst them is not an easy task. Adding an emoji in your subject line instantly stands out in a sea full of black text and white background. 

And oh, it performs well too. According to Experian, 56% of brands witnessed higher open rates when an emoji was added to their subject lines. 

3 tips for using emojis in subject lines

Whenever including emojis, remember the following best practices: 

  • Use one emoji per subject line. 
  • The emoji should be relevant to the message being conveyed. 
  • Do not replace a word with an emoji - it should only have a supplementary role. 

3. Align subject line with email body 

A clickbaity subject line is a sin. Not really - well, only if it doesn’t align with the email body’s content. 

There is nothing more frustrating for a subscriber to open an email expecting something and receiving something else. This annoyance will only result in a surge in the unsubscribe rate. 

If your subject line discusses a 50% discount coupon, the email copy shouldn’t say it’s only applicable on the second purchase. Remember, your audience isn’t dumb, so avoid any cheeky business. 

4. Don’t forget the preheader 

An email’s preheader is like the second cup of coffee on a slow Monday. 

It acts as the extension to your subject line, which further convinces the reader to open your email. According to Litmus, 24% of recipients decide whether to open an email or not after reading the preview text. Yet, so many choose to ignore this important email element. 

2 best practices for writing preheader text

The preheader must be linked to the subject line but shouldn’t be a rephrased version of it. It should be between 35-140 characters - if it’s too long, your subscribers will be unable to read it. Another email design best practice is to personalize the preheader if the subject line hasn’t been so - more of this in the below section. 

5. Personalize your email copy

If you don’t personalize your email copy, you should let go of the idea of high opens and conversions. You can personalize through the following ways; 

  • Greet your subscribers with their first name through merge tags  
  • Add dynamic content blocks and write copy targeted for each 
  • Create segmented campaigns and draft emails to attract each segment 

You can personalize subject lines, preheaders, and email body content, but we recommend not to go overboard with this. For instance, if you address your subscribers with their first name in all three content sections, they’ll just get intimidated. 

6. Convey more with fewer words

No one has the time to read lengthy emails. 

As an email copywriter, you must learn the art of writing concise copy. You should be able to explain your message in as few words as possible. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ wouldn’t be as popular if it was phrased ‘For the sake of your self-worth, just do it.’ Speaking of Nike, the below email is an apt example of what we’re talking about: 

Email example from Nike

Ensure your email copy is no more than 200 words, and remove any fluff words, like just, literally, and any unnecessary adjectives. 

7. Quantify wherever possible 

Numbers make a strong impact - they stand out and give substance to abstract statements, 

Whenever possible, use numbers in your email copy. When promoting a sale, write the X% discount offered. Similarly, when sending an email after someone registers for your free trial, mention the number of days to its expiry. Additionally, when claiming a product is hot-selling, write how many people have bought it.  

8. Write for one goal 

A great percentage of people hate eating at buffets. There’s so much going on - you don’t know where to start, and to make matters worse, you’re bounded by a time limit. 

Your subscribers get the same feeling when you send emails with too many messages in them. Identify one goal and tailor your writing style towards it. For instance, when sending a promotional email, use a persuasive tone to entice sales. 

Similarly, when launching a new product, talk specifically about it - don’t ask for their feedback through a survey. 

Decide on one goal, and don’t get distracted. 

9. Clarity > Creativity 

The best writers are those that are understood, not those who bring in out-of-the-box ideas. It might so happen that something works in your mind, but the same is not perceived by your audience. Creativity should never come at the expense of clarity. 

Whenever drafting email copy, write in simple and conversational words. Avoid using any jargon or complex words that all might not understand. Your audience is full of all sorts of people; use words that everyone can relate to. 

We entirely don’t mean you let go of creative ideas - you can surely be out-of-the-box, but only if it makes sense. The following email from Loft is both creative and easy to understand. 

Email example from Loft

10. Proofread, proofread, and proofread

Imagine sending an email with a typo - not only is it embarrassing, but it reflects poorly on your credibility. No one expects well-established companies to make such rookie mistakes. Grammatical mistakes or typos take the attention away from your message and bring all eyes to them. 

Below are a few ways you can create error-free email copy; 

  • Never send your initial draft. Read and edit it at least three times before submitting it. 
  • Have someone else read your work and identify mistakes. 
  • Use a proofreading tool, like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor

11. Write in your audience’s language

Remember, who you write for matters much more than what you write. You might have crafted the finest email content there is, but it will be of no use to you if not written in your audience’s language. Your audience is why you’re doing business. It’s their money and time you want - better write in their language. 

By language, we don’t mean their dialect but how they phrase sentences, how formal/informal their speech is, and how they identify the things around them. Sending a 50-year-old the subject line ‘Our skincare products are GOAT’ will have them plain confused. 

3 methods to know your audience's language

To know your audience’s language, refer to the following tips;

  • Talk to your sales team to know your audience’s pain points
  • Read chats and comments on your social media accounts 
  • Use websites like Answerthepublic, and Reddit to know their language 

Bonus Tip - Once drafting your email’s copy, write in second-person viewpoint (you/your). This replicates the feel of an actual conversation and increases the likelihood of your subscribers interacting with you. 

12. Prioritize benefits over features 

If you haven’t noticed already, it’s a selfish world out there. Why expect your subscribers to listen to you bragging about your products and their features? There is nothing in it for them if you do so. 

The truth is people will only read your emails if they’re beneficial for them. When writing email copy, make sure to replace features with benefits. Instead of talking about how innovative your product is, write how only your products can solve their problems. 

Take the example of this email from Mint

Email example from Mint

13. A/B test your email copy 

You can follow all the tips in the book and still can’t guarantee success for your email campaigns. Email marketing is essentially guesswork - you never know how your audience will react to your emails. What’s the solution? A/B testing. 

Email copy is no different from the above scenario and hence, requires to be tested. What exactly can be tested? A few suggestions are as below: 

  • Whether or not to include emojis in subject lines 
  • Whether or not to use slang terms in email copy 
  • Whether or not to send longer newsletters 
  • Whether or not to use numbers in subject lines 

The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you’re testing on sizeable groups of subscribers and not on small segments. 

14. Use storytelling to attract 

I had hit rock bottom. One rejection letter after the other. I found myself sitting alone on the couch on New Year’s Eve. Everyone was accompanied by somebody they admired. Me, you ask? I had my utter disappointment by my side. 10..9..8.. the countdown began, and so did my departure from the somber party. It is who I met when the clock struck 12 that changed my life forever. 

Did we get you hooked? That’s the power of storytelling. It grabs attention, builds curiosity, and motivates your subscribers to keep on reading to the end. 

Storytelling in email copy can greatly increase opens

Storytelling in email copy is a powerful tool. Sleeknote was able to improve its open rates by more than 123% after writing story-based newsletters. Consider this as a sign to incorporate storytelling in your emails.

15. Appearances matter 

Appearances are important - they always have and always will. By appearances, we mean how you present your email copy - the punctuation, layout, and font style chosen. 

Remember the following points the next time you draft your email’s copy: 

  • Avoid writing in all capital letters and refrain from using unnecessary exclamation or question marks.
  • Make your text scannable. Write in short paragraphs, bullets, and numbered lists. 
  • Write only in email safe fonts. They ensure legibility and ensure text appears as intended. 

16. Use psychology tricks 

You don’t need to use 100% of your brain cells when writing content for emails. Work smartly by using psychology tricks to woo over your subscribers. 

Kindness is contagious. When you do good for your customers, they will reward your efforts. Extend a free trial or offer a birthday discount - you’d be pleasantly surprised by how your audience responds. 

Use Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) to your advantage. Tell your audience how popular a product is, mention the quantity of a hot-selling collection, or use social proof to get them pumped up to purchase from your brand. 

The following email from Boden perfectly uses FOMO: 

Email example from Boden

17. Convey emotions through words

One reservation email marketers have about email copy is that it does not evoke emotions. We disagree with this statement. If your copy doesn’t make your audience emotional, then your content kinda sucks. 

One of our favorite marketing headlines is from the United Food Company. Their canned pineapple campaign started with the heading ‘Tastes like you just picked it.’ With this statement, the company could transport their readers to a farm where they just harvested fresh pineapples. 

Your words shouldn’t be just words - use them to evoke emotions in your subscribers. 

18. Don’t neglect the footer 

Do you consider the footer an unnecessary step? Well, you’re kinda wrong. Footers are extremely important - not only for subscriber knowledge but also to save you from the dreaded spam folder

Ensure you write the following in your email’s footer; 

  • Physical address 
  • Contact information
  • Unsubscribe link 
  • Quick website links 
  • Call to action 

In a Nutshell

Creating email copy that doesn’t suck is no rocket science. Just follow our killer tips to draft content that grabs attention, maintains it, and then converts it. 

While you’re at it, you might want to check out our high-performing email templates. They cut down your work by 80% and leave you with stunning emails that your audience loves. Start for free now!

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