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10 ways to improve your email copywriting (with examples)

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Kristina Lauren

November 4, 2021

So far, we’ve touched on email design, coding, automation, and metrics in our blog—but have you wondered about how to actually write emails that sell? The idea of having to do any form of writing, especially copywriting, strikes fear into the hearts of many, but it doesn’t have to be hard. If you follow the email copywriting tips below, you’ll be writing engaging emails to your audience like a pro in no time!

Know what the goal is

Before you even start typing, you need to understand the purpose of the email you want to create. Do you want to get subscribers to sign up for an event? Do you want to encourage them to buy your newest product? Do you want your customers to give feedback on their latest purchase? Figure out this goal first and then work backwards. When you do this, you’ll find the writing process flows much better, as you’re not just filling your email with buzzwords in hopes that something sticks but you’re instead guiding your reader in a cohesive, direct manner.

Have a killer subject line

Subject lines are the most important aspect of email copywriting, since they create the opportunity for your audience to interact with your emails in the first place. With an estimated 306 billion emails sent and received every single day, there are a lot of emails competing for your subscribers’ attention, so you need a good hook to break through all the noise. For starters, keep your subject line short—10 words at the most, but 6-7 words is ideal with the most important word being at the beginning of the subject line. 

Be sure to use eye-catching wording as well, such as “you”, “your”, “Let’s”, “sale”, or “now”. Emojis can also aid your subject line, so long as they’re appropriate. A brand with a lighthearted tone and a young audience could find success with emojis, but a brand that wants to come across as a little more mature or serious could send the wrong message. 

You should also be cautious of sounding too click-baity—making promises in your subject line that won’t be delivered upon just for the sake of increasing open rates may work at first, but your subscribers are smart. Once they catch on, this approach can backfire. You can still exaggerate to an extent, but you do what to stay honest in order to keep your audience’s trust. 

Last, but definitely not least is implementing personalization to include your subscribers’ names in your subject lines. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened compared to those that forgo personalization–and it makes sense. What better way to catch someone’s attention than calling them by their first name? With the loads of non-personalized emails people get everyday, including a subscriber’s name is a good way to stand out and can signal that the email is especially relevant. 

Here are a few good examples:

  • Guess: “Mary, check out these hand-picked looks”
  • Casper: Tips to reset your schedule for better zzz’s.
  • Calm: Transform your Pain and Improve your Sleep.
  • JetBlue: You’re missing out on points.
  • Guess: 25% off your favorites
  • Sephora: Your beauty issues, solved
  • Duolingo: Learn a language with only 5 minutes per day
  • Ugmonk: Offering you my personal email
  • Bonobos: Hey, forget something? Here’s 20% off.

Don’t be too sales-y

With the amount of ads the average person is exposed to, consumers have developed a sixth sense for sniffing out offers that seem too good to be true. Even though you’re being honest with your reader, if your copy sounds like a script from a shady car salesman commercial, you could be turning off your audience. 

Instead, go for relatability and creativity. You don’t need to try to have a heart-to-heart in every email you send, but you never want to come across as spammy or too eager to make a sale. Keep your focus on your audience by appealing to their emotions and sounding down-to-earth. 

lets-help-our-fellow-humans

Take a look at how Everlane accomplishes this in the example below (via ReallyGoodEmails):

Keep things short and sweet

Sometimes even looking at a large chunk of text can be daunting and ultimately turn off readers, despite all the golden nuggets of information you may have. To combat this, make your emails even easier to read by breaking up paragraphs into small sections or even bullet points. Better yet, figure out the meat and bones of what you’re truly trying to say so that you can cut out all the fluff. 

The average office employee sends and receives more than 121 emails throughout the day, so if you’re going to catch their attention and keep it, you have no time to waste. The goal is to find a balance between being as brief and to-the-point as you can while sounding appealing. 

This email from Trim is a great example (via ReallyGoodEmails):

Pick a tone that fits your brand

We all love snappy, comedic copy when we see it—but you also need to make sure you’re sending the right message to your audience by keeping your tone and language consistent. For example, the type of verbiage a company uses to communicate with an audience of antique watch collectors who are mostly in their 50 and 60s probably won’t be too similar to a beauty company marketing to teens and young adults. This doesn’t mean that your copy has to be dry or take itself too seriously, but it does need to be relatable and decipherable to the market you want to target. 

It also needs to be consistent—you don’t want to come across as energetic and funny in your website copy or welcome email and then suddenly become matter-of-fact in your subsequent communication. Of course, your business will inevitably rebrand itself over time, but remember to meet the expectations you set for your customers. 

The best way to do this is to create a branding guide. You may already have one for design, but it’s also important for setting the standard for your copywriting. Have a set of rules and copywriting examples that you can always refer to as your company brings on different writers. You can always make adjustments to the guidelines as you see fit.

what-makes-the-perfect-tee email

Check out this great example from MeUndies (via ReallyGoodEmails):

Use a call-to-action

You’ve written the perfect copy to pique the interest of your subscribers, but now that you’ve managed to tee them up, don’t let that momentum fade. A call-to-action is just that—you calling upon your readers to take the next step, whether that’s going to your website, reading a blog, or filling out a form. You want to make this next step as obvious and clear to your subscribers as possible. 

Try to use only one CTA per email to prevent any confusion. You should also use power words that will persuade people to act and act with urgency, such as “Buy now”, “Shop now”, “Call us today”, “Get started today”. Additionally, make your CTA stand out by bolding it, separating it from the rest of your text, or, if you can, make it a colorful button. 

how-to-support-your-employees-during-covid-19-and-beyond email

This CTA in Peakon’s email is a classic example (via ReallyGoodEmails):

Make things easy to understand

You may be used to throwing around highly technical verbiage with your employees and co-workers, but your average customer may not. A B2B company whose primary audience is IT professionals may have a little more leeway with using more technical language and may even be expected to, but an email marketing company targeting people who want to implement basic automation would probably do better to keep the verbiage simple. 

This definitely doesn’t mean that you should completely dumb down the language you use when communicating with your subscribers or over-explain, but you should know your audience and meet them where they’re at.

3-ways-teams-like-yours-use-freehand email

Here’s a neat example from Invision (via ReallyGoodEmails):

Focus on the benefits

The best kind of copywriting puts the focus on the consumer and solving their problems, so make it evident in your emails that your brand is the solution. It may be tempting to simply list out the features that your product or service has to offer, but you’ll elicit a stronger response from readers when you spell out exactly how you’re going to help them and why your business is the best for the job. One way to do this is to put yourself in the position of the reader. Try asking yourself a few questions: “what would I like to see in an email?”, “would this all make sense to someone not as familiar with the brand as me?”, and “if this email showed up in my inbox, would it sound interesting or would I click away?”.

The goal here is to make your brand easy to understand. Remember that the focus is your audience—as you tell the story of your brand and try to entice your audience to come along for the ride, you want to show them that they have an important role to play and you’re there to help them along the way. 

47-of-employees-dont-think-meetings-are-productive email

Check out this example from Asana (via ReallyGoodEmails):

Don’t forget about headings

You’ve got your subscribers to open up your email and now the next step is for them to actually read it. But chances are, they will simply skim it over in search of the most interesting bits. However, kicking your email off with a heading not only gives them a better idea of what the email is about overall, but it can even draw them in further to keep reading. You still want to keep these short–probably about the same length as the subject line, but make your headings refreshing and thought-provoking. 

One of the easiest ways to create a good heading is by asking a question because people will inherently want to answer or will want to look for an answer in the rest of your email. You can also make the first few words of your first sentence a heading if it sounds captivating enough. 

tips-to-reset-your-schedule-for-better-zzzs email

This email from Casper has the right idea (via ReallyGoodEmails):

Put your emails to the test

Your emails aren’t going to be perfect every single time and the ways in which your subscribers engage with your emails are bound to change as your brand grows, which is why you need to constantly test to see what’s working. Use A/B testing to compare your subject lines, email body copy, and call-to-actions to understand what’s resonating with your subscribers. When testing, only change one thing at a time so that you can sufficiently comprehend the results and know what changes to make. You can learn all about A/B testing in our blog post on the subject.

Conclusion

We all know how much goes into developing the perfect email campaign, from nailing the designs to configuring the automations, but the actual messaging is just as important as anything else. Although copywriting for emails can be intimidating, it can be learned and perfected, just like any other skill, and the tips above will surely help. 

If you’re looking to improve other areas of your email marketing strategy, Scalero can assist you! Our team of email developers, strategists, and designers can guide you through any stage of your email marketing journey and help you develop a custom email program just for your brand. Reach out to us here!

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