The Ultimate Guide to Email Copywriting

Email Copywriting
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In content marketing, the goals are to attract people to click on your content, read it, subscribe to your newsletter, and end up buying your product or service. But, that wouldn’t be possible without good copywriting. 

Good copywriting is essential in every aspect of content marketing, including email marketing. Your recipients’ inbox is full of promotional emails and newsletters from other brands. If you can’t stand out from the rest, no one is going to open your email, let alone subscribing to your mailing list.

So, if you want to have a successful email campaign, you have to write a subject line that captures the audience’s interest, an email body that keeps them engaged, and a call-to-action that converts them. 

It’s easier said than done, but it’s very achievable once you know the tricks. In this article, we’ll show you how to write a subject line and email copy that get people to click. 

Tips on Writing a Subject Line

The subject line is the first thing that people see upon opening their email inbox. If your subject line can’t convince people to open your email, then the rest of your email content will be useless. Implement these subject line copywriting best practices in your next email campaign and see how it affects your open rate.

#1. Personalize your email

Email personalization is one of the best ways to capture the recipients’ attention. Studies have proven that it can boost click-through rates by up to 139%. It can only be done if you send emails manually because each recipient is unique and they need to be treated accordingly. 

One of the most commonly used methods of email personalization is mentioning the recipient’s first name in the subject line. However, the audience is getting smarter and they won’t easily fall into the same strategy that’s been used over and over again.

What you need to do is to classify your email subscribers based on their interests and purchase history. For instance, if Dave likes to read about technology, it won’t make sense if you send him a newsletter about the latest sports news. 

By keeping your emails segmented and targeted, people will be much more likely to open your email because it caters to their interests. 

#2. Use the right words

In subject line copywriting, words can make or break your campaign. Some words perform better than others. And it’s not my opinion, it’s backed up by various studies:

  • A study of email engagement and subject line data by SendGrid found that the word “today” has a lower engagement rate (11.8%) than the words “yesterday” (20.5%) and “tomorrow” (22.3%). 

Furthermore, the study also suggests avoiding the word “free” because subject lines containing that word actually has a lower engagement rate (13.1%) than the ones without (17.2%).

  • Another study was performed by Adestra. They analyzed billions of emails and came up with 10 best performing and 10 worst performing words used on subject lines. The top-performing words include words like “Thank you”, “Thanks”, and “breaking”. 

While words like “journal”, “forecast”, and “subscription” are among the worst-performing subject line words. 

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#3. Clarity first, style second

When you first start writing a subject line, don’t ever think about using cool catchphrases or flowery words. Focus on writing clear and concise words that summarize the content of your email first. After that, you can edit the words and make it a bit more catchy.

However, the clarity of your words should always be prioritized over style. If you focus on style and not clarity, some people might feel confused at your subject line. As a result, they’ll be more likely to skip your email or worse, report it as spam.

No one prohibits you from being creative, but the best subject lines are the ones that contain clear words that describe what you have to offer inside.

#4. Keep it short

In a sea full of emails, keeping your subject line short might help you stand out from the rest. Also, if your subject line is too long, some of your recipients won’t be able to receive the full message, especially those on mobile devices. Most email providers only show 33 to 43 characters of your subject line on mobile devices before it cuts off.

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And the thing is, more people use mobile devices (46%) to open emails than both webmail (35%) and desktop (18%). So, you need to be careful with your subject line character length. 

Keep it under 33 characters if you can. One of the most influential digital marketing figures, Brian Dean of Backlinko, uses 15.1 characters on average.

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#5. Use suitable emojis

As mentioned earlier, you’re not the only one sending emails to the recipients. Thus, it’s important for you to create a subject line that can capture their attention instantly. What’s a better way to catch their eyes than by using emojis? 

According to a survey, using an emoji in a subject line can boost the open rate by as much as 56%. Another survey found that using emojis can increase your click-through rate by a whopping 93%. 

However, there’s still no study that can confirm which emojis actually perform better than the others. All you can do is to conduct your own A/B testing to find the right formula for your email marketing. 

Another concern about emoji use is the simple fact that not all operating systems support it, such as Windows XP. If some of your recipients still use Windows XP, they won’t be able to see your emojis. Instead, all they can see is this symbol ☐. 

ultimate email copywriting
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How to Write Copy for Email Body

After drawing people in with your subject line, the next step is to make sure that they read your whole email from start to finish. To do that, you need to write killer copy that keeps them interested, here’s how:

#1. One email = one goal

Each and every one of your emails should only focus on one goal or purpose you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to get people to sign up to your newsletter, play a video, or visit your landing page, as long as you don’t stack them all in one email. 

Telling too many stuff in one email can confuse the readers and make them abandon your email without learning a thing. By focusing on one goal, you’ll be able to write proper copy that’s built around that specific goal.

#2. Catch the audience’s attention from the start

Getting people to open your email is already hard enough, so it’ll be a wasted chance if you can’t make them stay. In order to do that, you need to capture the audience’s attention right from the start.   

In order to do that, cut all the unnecessary and boring intro and go straight to the point. Apply the rule of “clarity first, style second” here. Use simple words to effectively tell the readers the purpose of your email. Take notes from this email by Uber.

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In this email, Uber goes straight to the point in the first paragraph. Without long intro or fancy words, Uber simply reminds its subscribers with clear words to sign up for their newest promo. They also make the paragraph bigger than the rest of the email to attract readers’ attention. 

#3. Offer solutions to their problems, not features

Nobody cares how good your you are, they only care what you can do to help their problems. It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. So, to get people to care about your email, it has to offer solutions and not features of your product.

To be able to do that, you need to really know your audience. What problems or challenges do they face? How can your product solve those problems? I’m going to give you an example of features vs solutions to help you understand better.

Most of you must’ve known, or at some point in your life even had an iPod before, right? Remember how Steve Jobs first marketed it? Instead of saying iPod was a music player with 5 GB storage and minimalist design, Jobs said that iPod was 1,000 songs in your pocket.

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iPod didn’t promote its technical features. iPod gave a solution to people who grew tired of carrying around big-sized Sony Walkman and having to change the cassette every time they wanted to listen to different artists. 

The result? Apple’s iPod went on to become the most successful mp3 player for years to come and was called “the Walkman of the 21st Century”. It’s crazy to think about how a minor change in copywriting can have such a huge impact on conversions and sales.

#4. Write like you’re talking to someone

Like previously mentioned, your recipients read a lot of promotional emails from brands every day. They don’t need another generic email that sounds like an automated AI. What they need is an email from real humans with real emotions. 

Write like you’re talking directly to someone across the table from you and build an emotional connection with your audience. If you manage to spark an emotional reaction from them, then they’ll be more likely to buy from you.

But how do you write a copy that sparks the audience’s emotion? According to a Nielsen study, one of the best ways is to use humor to make them crack a smile. The study found that around 50% of European and North American prefer humor over any other theme when it comes to brand interaction.

The following email from Mark Weldon is the perfect example of how to use humor in email marketing.

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#5. Create a clear call-to-action in the end

Drawing people in, check. Making them read your whole email, check. Now, it’s time to convert them. Whether you want the readers to go to your website, play your video on YouTube, or subscribe to your newsletter, you have to tell them to do so via the CTA (call-to-action) button.

Without a CTA button, the readers won’t be sure of what to do next and might end up just leaving your email. Then, all of your hard work will be all for nothing. A good CTA is a combination of clear commanding words and engaging visuals, like this one from Casper:

email copywriting
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Take a look at the CTA at the end of the email. The blue box around the CTA makes it stand out from the white background and grey-colored words above it. Secondly, notice the simple yet commanding words of the CTA, “Stay Clean”. Instead of using the usual “Shop Now”, Casper chose a different phrase that’s consistent with the content of the email.

Wrap Up

Like any other skill in life, you need a lot of practice and trials to master the email copywriting skills. What’s important is to keep testing and finding out the best ways that work for you based on your specific industry and audience. It’s also essential to learn from other brands’ mistakes and successes.

Author’s Bio

Andre Oentoro is one of the co-founders of Milkwhale, an internationally acknowledged infographic production agency. He helps businesses increase visibility on the internet with visual data and well-placed outreach campaigns.

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