Wondering how to write emails that don’t get ignored?
Did you know – a massive 124.5bn business emails are sent and received every day and yet 4 out of 5 marketing emails aren’t opened?! Maybe it’s because 60% of marketeers believe their email skills to be below ‘advanced’ and even, woefully, ‘good’?
It’s a shame because, when done well, email is a fantastic medium for marketing. It’s convenient, quick, direct, non-confrontational, multi-platform (especially good for mobile), and can take advantage of many evolving tools (videos, GIFFs, emojis).
So, how can you use emails successfully to inform and persuade. And encourage a response?
- What’s the purpose of the email (what do you want someone to know)?
- Who is the message relevant to?
- What do you want someone to do as a result of reading it?
Sorted that? OK, here’s how to write emails the right way, step by step …
1. How to write a good email subject line
Keep it short
66% of emails are read on mobile phones – this screenshot is from mine. Look how the first example is so much cleaner and engaging than the other two. That’s because it uses a preheader. But more on that later.
A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line yet a mobile phone only shows 25 to 30 characters.
Get right to the point in about 6 to 8 words. What will grab the reader’s attention? What’s important and relevant to them? The subject line doesn’t need to explain everything; it just needs to gain enough interest for a click.
Use action words
Action words like ‘make’, ‘discover’ work brilliantly in email subject lines and calls to action. Starting with a verb gives the reader a whopping big idea as to exactly what they need to do.
Ask a question
‘What would you do if you were burgled tonight?’ ‘What’s the best way to make your money work harder?’ ‘What’s next for AI?’
We’re all nosey at heart. Questions draw us in and capture attention. It’s why Facebook asks ‘What’s on your mind?’
Offer an answer
‘How to look 10 years younger’, ‘How to win more customers’, ‘How to beat the tax man’. ‘How to write emails that get noticed, opened, read and clicked.’ Etc etc.
‘How-to’ subject lines offer insight into the specific benefit readers will find when they open your email. And if your ‘how-to’ is valuable to the audience, open rates can soar.
Use a teaser
Give readers a sneak peek to draw them in to find out more. What opportunities are there for you to create excitement?
Add an incentive or deadline
Who doesn’t like to take advantage of a great offer, especially if you know the clock is ticking?Sometimes it’s more important to give rather than take.
2. How to write pre-headers (and do you need them?)
A pre-header (also known as a ‘Johnson Box’) is the short wording after the subject line in your inbox. Pre-headers tip you off on what the message contains before you open it. They deliver a 7% higher open rate, on average.
Remember the TodayTix example? This is how it followed through.
But do you need a preheader at all? Not if your email already cuts to the chase and the first text that appears does a good job of summarising what follows.
3. How to write good email body copy
Always think about who you’re talking to (some copywriters find it useful to pretend they’re writing to someone they actually know) and make your copy talk on a human, one-to-one basis, like this Starbucks example.
You may find it worthwhile checking out my blog on ‘What Is Tone Of Voice In Copy And Why Does It Matter?‘
Write with a knife
Edit and edit again. Try to cut your copy by 50% – just hack away at the extra bits until the key details are clear. (You can see how to do this in my next blog: ‘5 Tips For Writing Shorter Copy‘.)
And why sing your own praises when someone else can do it for you? Reviews and testimonials go a long way, so add them. They also break up what’s otherwise a load of words.
4. How to write your CTA
The call to action (CTA) is one of the most crucial pieces of email copywriting because this is the moment that you reader decides whether or not they’re going to click for more info (or whatever the desired action is).
People don’t buy things, they buy experiences.
So keep your CTA simple, use an action word and try to avoid the same old, same old phrases such as ‘Shop now’ or ‘Read more’. Here’s a good piece of fresh thinking:
And finally …
The biggest reason for someone to open an email is because of the subject line … it’s because of the emails you’ve sent before. The way you’ve written emails in the past impacts on what happens in the future, which is why you need to write emails the right way right from the start.
Written by Caroline Gibson, freelance copywriter, who can also help you discover how to write emails with a difference by running an email workshop for your business. Get in touch for details.
E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: +44 (0) 7957 567766
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