The amazing email copy writing secrets of a successful marketer

Email marketing has evolved to become one of the most cost-effective types of direct marketing. It is fast and cheap, but the most important thing is it has opened a secret door for marketers to keep track on their customer’s buying behavior in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Today, many new organizations are using fancy new email functionalities to get the attention of their audience, however, the funny thing is that you could do the same with a well-written plain text email, too.

No matter how sophisticated your email may look, if they lack a well-written copy, your audience will stop reading it – and start hitting the “delete” button in their inbox.

So, how do you begin to write a killer marketing email? The answer is simple. You need to use few copywriting secrets for both email subject line as well as the body content of your email itself.

For more useful tricks on creating engaging and efficient emails, please download this email guide for free.

So, the next time you sit down to craft your email, first ask yourself if your copy meets all of these guidelines.

10 Email Copy Writing Secrets of a Successful Marketer

First, we’ll cover copywriting tactics to craft email subject lines, and then move towards copywriting tips on crafting the most effective and engaging email body.

How to Craft Engaging Subject Lines?

Part of crafting an effective email copy is nailing down the subject line first. The subject line of your email acts just like a gatekeeper. If people aren’t excited by your subject line, they’ll most likely not open and read your email message, no matter how good your email copy might be.

There are a handful of blog posts that explains to you how to craft killer subject lines. But, here’s the summary of what you need to consider while crafting an excellent subject line.

  1. Use actionable language

When it comes to crafting subject lines, many people assume that using “actionable language” is actually using verbs in the sentence, although that might also help, in a way.

Last week, OpenTable shoot me an email with a subject line “Take Mom to Brunch.”

That’s one of the good examples of using actionable verbs in the subject line, by injecting verbs like “ask,” “order,” “purchase,” “download,” “take,” etc. You see, subject lines with verbs are really effective because it helps the reader know what they can expect to DO when they open your emails.

However, you can also use the actionable language without actually using any verbs, too. And, if there’s anything you need to understand, it’s this: always try to make your subject line very clear to your readers so that they’ll immediately know what to do once they open your email.

For example, last week I received an email from TicketMaster. Their subject line read “Dine with Bruins legend Bobby Orr,” which made me quickly open the email as it was action-oriented and more specific. The clever use of a specific word “Dine” made me imagine myself sitting with the participants at the dinner table.

  1. Personalize it

Personalized emails have better open rates and click rates than those emails which aren’t. Why? Well, according to a research done by Direct Marketing Association research, personalized and targeted emails make up for the 58% of overall revenues for online marketers, and 36% of profits are generated by emails targeted to a specific group.

Which isn’t surpriSing, however. You see, the more targeted your email list, the more personalized your email subject line will be, and the more relevant your message would be to that audience.

So, before crafting your subject line, always ask yourself: how can I make my subject line more personal? No, we aren’t just talking about inserting the dynamic [First Name] field in your email copy – email readers have grown out of this personalization tactic.

Consider you’re in this situation: you’re a seasoned real estate broker with tons of contacts in your enormous email database.

Your email list has names and emails of people who:

  • Wants to buy real estate
  • Wants to rent real estate properties
  • prefer apartment spread across a range of zip codes and cities near where they live.
  • have different budget
  • wants to purchase a big house/apartment
  • wants to build a studio
  • and those who’ll buy only if a home is renovated within the past 5 years.

You don’t want to send the same email message to these segmented lists, do you? Instead, you’ll send emails with different subject lines. For example, one email may have a subject line that says, “Newly Renovated House for Purchase in Manchester: Schedule a Visit,” to one segmented list, while another subject line may read, “Open House Sunday for Colonial House in Liverpool” targeted for another group.

  1. Make your subject line clear first, and catchy second

When you sit down to craft your subject line, first always make it clear, and then second, make it catchy. You see, in the marketing world, you must always strive to reach clarity with your copy. After that, if you can make your subject line catchy, go ahead and do it. But, remember – never ever lose clarity for entertainment sake.

Take UrbanDaddy for example. When it comes to crafting subject lines, they’re always the best, because their subject lines are clear and catchy.

Here are few clear and catchy subject lines that are worth mentioning:

  • UrbanDaddy | It’s Ice Cream. It’s Beer. It’s Beer Ice Cream.
  • UrbanDaddy | A Grill the Size of a Foosball Table
  • UrbanDaddy | Nunchucks. Made from Beer Cans. Finally.

These email subject lines are funny, shocking, and arouse curiosity among readers. But one thing is common: they’re all super clear and the recipients will know exactly what they’ll get once they open the email, which also leads us to the next important point.

  1. Make sure your subject line and email copy align

You must have already known how super important it is your landing page and call-to-actions align. And for that same reason, it’s also super crucial that both your subject line and email body align.

In essence, whatever the subject line promises, the email body should always deliver. Why? Well, not only because it’s a responsible thing to do – but also because when your recipients don’t find what they were promised, you’ll notice a sharp drop in your click-through rate. (And, the email open rates will also suffer in the long run.)

To test this theory, in early 2010, we sent two emails with same email body copy but with different subject lines to two separate email list groups:

49 Marketing Tactics for Beginner Bloggers“: Result? We saw a whopping 27% click-through rate.

The Best Marketing Tactics for Bloggers“: Result? We only noticed a 10.4% click-through rate.

You see, the subject line in the first email performed better as it was more specific and clear than the second subject line which was vague and unclear.

Now that you know how to craft a compelling subject line, and have their undivided attention on your email body copy, here’s what you should do next: learn how to craft killer email copy that will actually compel them to click. Here are few important things you must know.

  1. Establish relevancy

Just like your subject line strives to establish relevance through personalization, your email body copy should do that, too.

Again, you’ll have to think more creatively than just using a dynamic first name tag in your email copy. You can establish the relevancy by explaining how you both know each other at the opening paragraphs of your email body.

For example, consider this email that was sent by Warby Parker to one of my fiends. (BTW, did you notice the email subject line? It is clear and catchy, too.)

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Notice the first paragraph (inside the red mark)? It quickly explains the recipients why the email was sent to them (because their prescription was ending soon), and they sent this email to help them discover a pair of new glasses before the offer ends. Then, in the second paragraph, the email goes on to explain how easily they can find an optometrist near the Newbury Street Store.

And how did they know that the recipients lived near Newbury Street? Because, in the past, my friend had given Warby Parker his prescription information, which is also mentioned in the email. When you establish relevancy like this, your recipient more likely to click on the link to retrieve the offer.

  1. Write your email copy in the 2nd person

Whenever you sit down to write your email copy, make sure that it is in the second person. That means you’ll pronouns such as “yours,” “your, and “you”. For example, consider this email copy, “Before you leave the office, don’t forget to lock your door.” In short, make your copy focus your recipients, not on your product and service.

Just take a look at an email copy I recently received from Zappos.

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In the above screenshot, if you read the email body, you’ll find more than dozens of words such as “you” and “yours” and words such as “we” “we’re” and “our” appear only a few times.

  1. Mention benefits for your readers, not features.

You already know how valuable your email is to your readers. But they don’t know till now. Your job as a copywriter is to explain it.

Sadly, many email marketers only talk about the cool features of their products and service, but completely forget to mention all the benefits those features offers to their readers.

Look at these two different emails which I recently received. Which email do you think glorifies the features, and which one explains the benefits?

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If you guess email B, then you’re on track. What does email A do? It screams 30% discounts directly to the recipient’s face, without explaining any value of that discount offer. What would GoDaddy’s 30% discount do for me? Will it help me save some money that I can use it for other expenses? Will it free me some money to invest on something else? If a benefit was attached to that feature (30% off discount), it would have been more effective.

OTOH, the email B from the Banana Republic does a great job explaining the benefits. Their goal is rather simple: sell shorts, but they did it neatly. First, they figured out what makes the shorts such a wonderful piece of a deal: it’s versatility. Then let any man rest in their house and go outside with absolutely no hassle into changing his outfit. Isn’t that a good example of being helpful, easy, and versatile?

The second email copy highlights the benefits of buying shorts, while the first email from Godaddy doesn’t explain any benefits of receiving a 30% off discounts.

  1. Keep it short… and to the point

Many “rookie” marketers make the mistake of including an entire story in their email message. But, would you read every word in an email copy that comes in your email inbox?
You probably won’t. You’ll most likely only scan for major points to understand what the message is all about and come to a decision whether you’ll open it or not.

So, when you cram the entire story in your email message, you make it very difficult for your email recipients to skim the message and take action (i.e. click the link).

Instead of cramming the whole story in your email message, make it brief while also compelling so that your recipients can quickly scan the message, know what the whole message is about, and take the intended action.

Look at the screenshot below. Postmates sent this short email urging their recipients to click their call-to-action for redeeming their limited-time offer:

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Postmates summarized their whole message quickly. After a quick and warm welcome message, they jumped right into the business: telling their email recipients about their new offer (“free lattes on-demand”). Then, they offered few more essential details and then went straight to the CTA.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Keep your message brief is the key to writing compelling email copy. If you know what your email is actually supposed to do – get people to work out, ask them to order free lattes on-demand, or buy AC DC concert tickets – writing a succinct email that is focused towards that goal would be an easy task.

If your email copy doesn’t help you to zoom in down your goals, always keep in mind that having a primary call-to-action delivers much better results (CTR rates) than email copy that has more than one competing CTA.

  1. Be lovable.

Simply because your emails are value-driven or informative doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t delight your readers. In most instances, email can help shine your personality, make your brand stand out from others, which helps you build meaningful relationships with your people.

For example, here’s what marketing guys at Death to Stock Photos did recently. The main goal was to ask apology for an email they sent the day before. They promoted a product which was sold out too soon, didn’t ship internationally and made their customers dazed and confused.

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Notice the red mark on the email. In that red mark, they used a very pleasant, concise language to explain what had happened, apologized for their mistake, and also mentioned important lesson they learned from the experience.
They even explained they’ll do everything to prevent these type of situations in the future, while also giving their users many alternative ways for following up.

You’ll see that the email is optimized in a way that makes it super easy for their recipients to scan the content, rather read it. The one-sentence paragraphs and bold letters make it extremely easy to follow. Lastly, they aren’t shy using phrases such as “Give us a wavveee” to make the message sound more “humane” and add that personal touch to their brand.

What happened next was amazing. Many subscribers forgave them for making an “honest” mistake.

  1. Make use of actionable language in your CTA

It’s true. Good emails have call-to-action too. The first thing you need to remember is to make your CTA super easy to find in your email body. Web readers like to skim content rather than read. So, if there’s only one thing you would like your recipients to notice in your email copy, make sure it is your CTA.

If you’re using HTML formatted emails, then include a call to action button, just like AmazonLocal did below:

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This CTA button is very effective for two reasons:

  • It has a great design with a big, bright orange color that is more different than the blue background design, which also makes it easy to spot, and,
  • It has a good copy on the button, which is clear, succinct, and action-focused.

But you’ll also have to spend a good amount of time optimizing your plain text email copy for CTA. Not every email clients will display your images exactly the same. Simpler emails, particularly plain-text emails perform the best.
HubSpot does a great job of utilizing their anchor text links to draw their reader’s attention toward their CTA:

But you’ll also have to spend a good amount of time optimizing your plain text email copy for CTA. Not every email clients will display your images exactly the same. Simpler emails, particularly plain-text emails perform the best.

HubSpot does a great job of utilizing their anchor text links to draw their reader’s attention toward their CTA:

The email copy, for example, doesn’t use a lot of colors and graphic designs, as most HTML formatted emails do. Therefore, the anchor text links call-to-action gets a lot of attention. The readers will skim through your email copy and focus on things such as bolded words, hyperlinked text, and images, repeating the same offer, again and again. What this does is make sure your recipients remember to take the intended action – click through the call-to-action and receive your offer.

Over to you…

Do you have any tips to make your email copy more effective? Please share your ideas below.