Email Copywriting Tips


Emails seem to be created in one of two extremes – the first is with an inward focus that is all about your business, product(s) and an offer to buy and the second is with an outward or audience focus that is all about the readers’ wants, needs.

Guess which one tends to be the most effective in terms of open rates, click rates and success for the business?

So before you sit down to write that next email, here are a few tips to help make the effort a successful one.

1. Know Your Audience

I belong to several writers groups and am still amazed at the number of new and experienced writers that ask for feedback without explaining who the audience is or where they are in their buying process.

And without that information, it’s close to impossible to be able to create an email that is going to generate great results.

A new inquiry that’s contacted you with interest in Product A isn’t going to be interested in your “Buy Product Z by Friday and Save 50%”.  They are still gathering information and need to understand what your Product A is, what is can and cannot do for them and if it meets their criteria.

Which means it’s important to segment.  (If you target businesses, click here.)

Then, know where they are in their buying process and focus on email content that’s relevant to them at that stage.

2. Clearly Defined Objective

What is it you want the reader to do once they have finished reading the email?

The answer to that question is how you are going to define success or failure for the effort – so make sure it’s measurable and realistic.

Again, a new inquiry in the “Information Gathering” stage for Product A is significantly less likely to open your email if the subject line is “Buy Today Save 50%” because they aren’t in the “Purchase” stage of their buying process – so if you are targeting new inquiries in the “Information Gathering” stage, and your objective is to sell $100,000 of Product Z, your objective isn’t realistic.

However, if you are targeting that same group with “Download the Product A Info Sheet” and your objective is to have 10% download the PDF…you’re on the right track.

3. Keep it Simple

When offered a large number of choices, most people become overwhelmed and leave without making a choice – so keep your email focused on one thing.

That doesn’t mean you can’t offer details and maybe even include a couple of links/buttons throughout the email.  It just means offer a single thing and not a wide variety of choices.  And if your product comes in a variety of sizes and colors, give serious consideration to recommending a single option with a strong, relevant benefit.

Offer a sample.  Or a process for “picking what’s right for you.”

Just make it easy for them to decide and act because you want them to do something.   And doing one thing is a success.

4. Clear, Concise, Motivating Subject Line

If you heard me say this before, forgive me for repeating myself but start with your subject line and then write the body of the email.


Because the subject line is what your email readers see first and the subject line will determine whether or not they open the email or ignore it.

For some ideas, check this out.

5. Preview Text That Supports the Subject Line

subject and preview lines

Where many will write the subject line after the email, many more write the preview text after the email and subject line.

And at that point, many are ready to get the job done so they rush the preview text.

What you need to remember is that many email subscribers and readers are seeing your email on their mobile device/phone which means the subject line AND preview text work together to help the subscriber decide if they will open the email.

And again, you need the subscriber to open the email if you are going to achieve your objective for the effort so use this valuable tool.

6. Personalization

Refer to them by name.  Do that in the subject line and/or preview text.  Maybe even use their name in the body of the email.

But that’s not all.

Write like you are speaking with them – not at them.

Use “you” and “your” rather than “I” or “our company.”

Remember that this email is about providing your readers with something that they see as relevant to them and valuable to them – so phrases like “You will enjoy…” are more effective at grabbing and maintaining their interest than “We know…” or “I have…”

7. Speak their Language

Having worked in a number of industries over the years you might be surprised to see so many emails being written with industry or corporate jargon that the reader has no frame of reference.

And using jargon can confuse your readers.  And confusing your readers can lead to lower click rates, then lower open rates and then higher unsubscription rates.

7A. Readability

The most recent national assessment of adult literacy showed that 43% of adults living in the U.S., some 93 million people, have Basic or Below Basic literacy skills.

Going hand in hand with speaking the language of your audience, write your emails with words that are easy to read and understand.

True story.

I consider myself to be slightly above Basic in my literacy skills but when I started working in higher education, I found myself spending a great deal more time reading Merriam-Webster than the morning paper.

Obviously, I had cause to make the effort and learn the jargon and the new words.  Your readers don’t so if you start “talking above their heads”, your readers will go elsewhere.

As my father used to say, “Don’t use a 50-cent word when a 5-cent one will do.

Final Thoughts

Remember that email is about building a relationship with your readers.  That means getting their attention, their interest, their trust.

You can be more successful at getting their attention, interest and trust when you talk to them rather than speak at them.

And when you offer them solutions and benefits.

If you can do all that on a consistent basis, you will see your subscriber list grow, your open rate increase and your click rates skyrocket.

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