Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to get better results from your marketing. It’s simple to set up and run. It’s affordable. It allows you to stay in front of and build a close relationship with past, present and future customers.
What’s not to love?
The only problem is, many marketers feel like email must be old news. It’s the oldest form of online marketing, so surely we’ve moved on to bigger and better things, right?
Well, most consumers would beg to differ. In fact, according to Hubspot:
- 99% of people check their email every day—over 50% check up on their personal email account 10+ times a day.
- 73% of Millenials want businesses to communicate with them via email.
- Most importantly, 59% of marketers report that email provides their best return-on-investment (ROI).
So why do many marketers believe that email marketing is dead? Is it just because it isn’t shiny and new anymore? Or are they not getting good results because they don’t know how to use it effectively?
No matter what marketing channel you’re using, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re probably not going to get very good results. Email marketing is great, but if all you’re doing is sending out basic, boring, repetitive email content, you’re not going to see a very good ROI.
Fortunately, there are a few simple, effective copywriting tips that you can use to create email content that your subscribers want to read. Let’s take a look at 9 of them.
1. Start Off Strong
Every good email starts with a strong headline. After all, if people never open your email, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of your copy is.
If you do it right, your headline will not only get people to open your email—it will also make them more likely to read your content, click through to your site and convert.
As a general rule, your subject line should be a simple, easy-to-read sentence. People are scanning through a lot of emails in their inbox, so your headline should stand out (in a positive way) and convey your message at a glance.
Since most of your emails will be read on mobile, shoot to keep your headlines to 50 characters or less.
Of course, those are just the rules of writing a headline. The real question is, how do you create a compelling headline—one that will make people eager to open and read your actual email?
Here are some tactics to try:
- Use their name. We’re all hardwired to pay attention to our own names, so if you can, try including your subscribers’ names in your headline.
- Create urgency. Often, marketing emails don’t feel very important. But, if you use phrases like “last chance!” or “space is filling up!”, opening your email will feel like more of a time-critical priority.
- Try emojis. Emojis can grab people’s attention, but be careful with this one. Overdo it and you can come off as unprofessional.
- Explain yourself. Simple headlines are often best. If you make the content (and significance) of your email obvious from the get-go, people will be more likely to click.
- Keep them curious. While it’s good to explain what your email is about, you don’t have to tell them everything. Give people just enough to grab their attention, but leave them curious enough that they want to open your email for the details.
Test out a variety of different email headlines until you discover what types of headlines your audience responds best to. As with everything in marketing, what works for your business may not be the same as what works for another business, so test, test, test!
2. Segment Your Copywriting
Many companies struggle with email marketing because they don’t appropriately segment their audience. They write one email, send it all of their subscribers and then wonder why they don’t get good open or click-through rates.
The problem? People sign up for your email lists at different times and for different reasons. If you ignore that and send them all the same email, only a small percentage of your subscribers will be interested in your content.
Instead, it’s best to segment your audience. There are a lot of ways to do this: purchase history, stage in your marketing funnel, how you got their email, etc.
For example, if I buy specialty dog food from an online pet store, would it make sense to send me emails about a new scratching post for cats? Not really. No matter how exciting that scratching post is, if I don’t have a cat, I won’t care.
The good news is, most email marketing tools make it easy to segment your audience. If you haven’t done any segmentation so far, it might take some time to get things set up, but the results will be worth it.
3. Keep Things Interesting
This seems obvious, but check your inbox and you’ll quickly see how many marketers forget this one. Email marketing is full of boring, bland email content that subscribers hate—which is probably why many marketers believe that email marketing is dead.
However, people don’t hate email marketing. They hate boring, irrelevant email marketing.
So, instead of writing the same old tired content as everyone else, find ways to keep things interesting. For example, check out this order confirmation email from “Who Gives A Crap”:
We’ve all received countless confirmation emails, but how many of them tell a compelling story and make you feel like you’re part of something bigger? From the headline to the copy, this email does a great job of grabbing people’s interest and holding onto it. This is an email that gets clicks and gets people excited about the brand.
4. Get to the Point
When people actually do open your email, you want to reward them. Rather than trying to draw them in with a story, analogy or some other distraction, get right to the point—the reason that they opened your email in the first place.
If you’ve got a big sale that you’re announcing, don’t tease at it and try to get people to scroll to the bottom of your email. Announce that sale!
In effect, your subject line and the beginning of your email should be a one-two punch. The headline sets up the content of the email and the top content in your email delivers. That way, people feel a sense of fulfillment when they open your email. You promised a sale, they clicked and saw more details about the sale.
And, to be honest, most people won’t scroll down very far in your email. So, if you want people to read your most important content, put it in the most important place: at the top of your email.
5. Make It Easy to Scan
On the off chance that people do actually scroll through your email, you’ll want to make sure that people can easily scan through your content. People want to get in, decide if what you’re saying is interesting and either click or get out. If they have to think hard to figure out your content, they’ll just leave.
For example, it only takes a few seconds to scan through the following email and see if it’s something you’re interested in.
Shop online to earn bonus miles? Cool, got it. Either you’re interested or you’re not, but either way, you know what the email is about and can make a decision about what you want to do next.
As an added bonus, making your content easy to scan also makes it easy for people to find the content that they’re looking for. If someone read the headline for the email above and wanted to take action right away, it’s easy to scan down through the content, find the link to the “SkyMiles Shopping Button” and take action!
6. Personalize Your Content
Personalization isn’t just a good way to get people to open your emails. Once they’re reading your emails, personalization is also a good way to make it feel like your emails were written specifically for them.
For example, if that hypothetical pet store we mentioned above asked me what my dog’s name is during the checkout process, they could personalize my emails to say something like, “Jacob, we know you love Jez and want the best for her. That’s why we’ve created this new dog food formula specifically for black labs.”
With personalization like that, it’s hard not to pay attention.
Whether it’s their name, the city they’re in or details about their car, if you know personal details about your subscribers, using them is a great way to win them over. Most email marketing platforms offer simple ways to personalize your emails, so give it a try!
7. Write Like You Talk
In the effort to get people’s attention, it can be tempting to write content that—to your customers—FEELS LIKE SHOUTING!
And I’m not just talking about writing in all caps.
People don’t want to feel like you’re desperate for their attention (even if you are). Instead, try to appear enthusiastic and friendly, while still coming off as reasonably professional.
Before you send it, read through your email out loud and pay attention to the implied tone you’re using. If you wouldn’t want an employee to talk to you that way at a department store, you probably need to tone things down.
8. Use Simple CTA Buttons
Want to get more clicks from your emails? Use call to action (CTA) buttons instead of hyperlinks. They’ve been shown to produce more clicks and are a great way to draw attention to what you want readers to do.
For example, check out the “Shop Now” button in the following email. It stands out from the content around it and makes it clear what you’re supposed to do next.
Since the whole point of most email marketing is to get people to actually do something (click, make a purchase, contact you, etc), the content of your email should be leading people to your CTA. As a result, you don’t need a complicated or overly wordy CTA. Just be direct, to the point and clear.
9. Use Your Analytics Data
While email analytics data is often used to evaluate the effectiveness of an offer or campaign, it’s also a great way to figure out which headlines and email copy your audience is responding to. It’s easy to write content and hit “send”, but before you write out your next email, consider checking up on the performance of your old campaigns.
As you look through your data, watch for trends. Are there certain types of subject lines that get better open rates? Certain offers, email designs or copy that seems to improve click-through rates? If so, you may have just uncovered part of your secret sauce.
Fortunately, most email marketing tools will track and report on this data for you, so it’s fairly easy to analyze your campaigns. Better yet, there are tools out there like Owletter that will allow you to take a peek at your competition’s email marketing performance. That way, you can learn from both your own experience—and the competition’s, too.
While many businesses struggle to make email marketing work, it’s usually due to a lack of effort or skill, not an inherent flaw in email marketing. Fortunately, with a little creativity, the right copywriting tactics and some testing, it should be easy to improve the performance of your campaigns.
So why wait? Take the tactics we’ve discussed in this article, apply them to your own campaigns and see what email marketing can do for you!