When you’re writing emails all day, every day for work and for life, it’s easy to take shortcuts. Skip a signature, forego the proofread—we’ve all done that. But when it comes to your email copywriting in your marketing, you can’t afford to.
The average return on investment for email marketing is $42 for every $1 spent. That’s huge for any business.
Email marketing, still incredibly effective.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start improving your email copywriting now, including:
Let’s get started.
Email copywriting is the process of writing an email for a current or prospective customer with the intention of encouraging a conversion. That conversion could be a reply, a sign up, a trial, or even reading your blog posts—whatever it is, all of the copy in the email should be working towards this goal.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean every email you send with a purpose requires great email copywriting. Replying to your boss’s email about changing your weekly meeting time? Not email copywriting. Sending out a weekly newsletter with business updates and content suggestions? Email copywriting.
Now that we’re clear on what email copywriting is, let’s move on to our go-to tips for improving your email performance with stronger copy.
If you’re sending out communication to your prospects or customers, then email copywriting is important for your business. It’s not only a representation of your brand; it’s a chance to engage your audience and achieve your marketing goals.
Here’s how to improve your email copywriting and make the most of this marketing channel for your business.
How can you tell if your email does well if you don’t set a goal?
That might seem like a trick question, but it’s not. There’s no way to tell if your email worked—or if a copy change worked better—if you haven’t decided on what success means.
Every email should have a specific target, whether it’s free trial sign ups, blog post views, content downloads, or demos booked. Having this goal set is the best way to measure whether or not your email was successful.
That’s also the best way to ensure your email copywriting is all working towards the same goal. Take this automated email that I got from Semrush after signing up for a free trial.
All of the copy here is working towards a demo focusing on a specific component of their product. The email subject link is engaging, the copy is casually asking about progress, and there’s some supporting information. Now, I wouldn’t recommend hiding a link in the signature, but we’ll talk more about how to improve your CTAs soon.
You know that content editing is important. Editing your copywriting—including your email copywriting—is just as important.
Your emails should be written clearly without stray punctuation, grammatical errors, or stilted sentences. But this round of editing should also ensure that all of your emails, well, make sense.
Take this email subject line that stood out in my inbox recently.
As opposed to … those dog walks by yourself? An edit would have caught this needless and, worse, confusing repetition. You don’t want your emails to stand out for mistakes, so make sure to look over all your email copywriting.
Over 300 billion emails are sent each day. That number is mind-boggling. Until you actually think about it, that is. I get about maybe a dozen emails to my personal inbox each day, at least a few dozen to my work email, and then that’s not even taking into account my promotions tabs that Gmail filters out of view for me anyway.
So if that’s just me, then it completely makes sense that there are literally hundreds of billions of emails sent every day.
The point here? With that many notifications all day long, we know that the shorter, the better. Keep it brief, and get to your point quickly. That’s the best chance at making sure your email copywriting actually gets read.
For help, check out these copy and paste email templates for small businesses.
When you’re writing an email, you need to keep in mind that the person opening it on the other end will be interacting with your brand. That interaction should be meaningful, and your brand should be recognizable. That means it should be written in your brand voice, feature your brand colors, and follow your brand guidelines.
For email copywriting, it’s the brand voice that you need to keep in mind.
If your brand voice is formal and authoritative, your emails should include crisp, professional language. If your brand voice is playful, then fit in a joke or pun. Here’s a great example from Madewell.
This “seams” wordplay is a perfectly executed little wink. It feels effortlessly cool and playful, and just a little aloof. Just like Madewell’s brand.
You’re working with a lot of constraints for email copywriting—subject lines can’t get too long, the body of the email should be short. That’s why it’s so important to use all of the space available to you, including the email preview text.
This is a snippet of text that appears next to or underneath your email subject line in your inbox view. Most email marketing tools, including HubSpot and Marketo, let you input this text to take advantage of this space.
One of the best ways to take full advantage of the extra space is to treat it as an extension of your subject line that gets more explicit about the body of the email, answers a question in your subject line, or simply follows up on a thought.
Here’s a great example from Drybar.
The email text preview line finishes the thought expressed in the subject line—and connects it even more explicitly to the offer in the email, which is to go ahead and schedule an appointment to get a blow out.
Your call to action might be the most important copy you write. If your email copywriting is all working toward the same goal, then your CTA is the final push. So it needs to be creative and compelling to encourage your readers to convert.
Here are a few tips for getting your CTA right:
This “Explore More” is a great example of AirBnB staying on brand in their CTA.
When you’ve got your email workflow or your weekly newsletter template set, it’s tempting to say that you’re good on email copywriting. But the thing is, you need to keep testing in order to keep improving.
Copy testing and A/B testing are great ways to make sure that your emails are getting better and your copywriting is getting stronger. So start by putting two subject lines to the test, then two CTAs, then email headlines—and then start over from the beginning and keep testing so that you can get more opens, more reads, and more conversions.
Now you know what email copywriting is and how to improve, but what does awesome email copywriting look like as a whole? We’re sharing some great email examples to help out.
The subject line of this email sets the tone for the rest of the email copywriting: It’s punchy, empowering, and to the point.
With phrases like “next big deadline” and “adjust as needed,” it’s clear that Asana knows the reality of working on a team these days. Things change, and you need a calendar that’ll change with you.
Asana also takes advantage of the extra space for copy in the first image and puts an active, engaging title on the calendar: “Mission to the Moon.” That’s how much Asana believes in your projects—it’s comparing launching your next campaign or product with going to the moon.
And above all? The copy is short and focused. Awesome job.
The emoji in the subject line of this email example s great, but it’s even better here because it’s followed through with the confetti in the background heading of the email.
One of the best things about the email copywriting here is the formatting—there’s bold, italics, and headings that make sure you’re getting all the most important information clearly even if you aren’t reading from start to finish.
But if you are, then you’ll notice the concise, casual language, on-brand data references, and multiple opportunities to interact with Postscript.
Plus, that sign off? Chef’s kiss.
I love a direct address in the subject line of this email, and it works even better for personalized emails like this one from David’s Tea. (Believe it or not, we’ve written about David’s Tea in the WordStream blog before.)
The language is inviting, and the complete lower-case copy and lack of punctuation emphasizes this, too. The tone overall evokes warm, fuzzy feelings. This doesn’t work for all brands and circumstances, but here, celebrating a long-term customer relationship, it not only works but also feels genuine.
The playful examples help with this, as well. Buying a chipmunk’s weight in tea is adorable, and telling me what kind of tea I’d be based on my purchases is fun.
When you’re using email marketing to reach your audience and build your community, you need to be focusing on your email copywriting. You want to be as engaging as possible, and you want to make the most out of the brand interaction. That’s why it’s important to follow these tips to keep improving.
To recap, here are the email copywriting tips we swear by:
Now, go use these tips, get inspired by the examples, and write stronger email copywriting now!
Céillie is Head of Marketing for Building Ventures, a VC firm focused on funding and mentoring early-stage startups in the built environment space. Previously, Ceillie led content strategy for Unstack and managed the award-winning blog at WordStream.
See other posts by Céillie Clark-Keane
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