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How to write the perfect email marketing copy

In the immortal words of David Ogilvy: “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.” Never forget that the person you’re trying to engage is just like you.
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Email marketing requires you to wear many hats – you have to be a designer, a data analyst, a workflow expert, and more. And, after all of that, you’re left with one of the hardest jobs of all: to write engaging email marketing copy. Sounds impossible, even on a good day, right? Well, maybe not. While there is no set formula that helps you write perfect copy every time, there are several best practices you should follow. By making sure every email follows these guidelines, you’ll be able to create engaging content time and again.

Best practices for email marketing copywriting

A copywriting rule of thumb is simply to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Whatever you write, always remember to step back and think about the reader’s experience when you’re done. Before then, these best practices can help you get it right the first time, every time.

1. Establish your purpose

Before you write anything, you need to know why you’re sending the email in the first place. What’s your goal? What action do you want the reader to take after they’ve opened your email? Whether you’re saying hello, it’s a promotional email, or you’re thanking them for their business, you need to start the writing process with a clear intention. This will help guide you and keep you on track.

2. Know who you’re talking to

Segmentation is a core tactic for email marketers. It helps you talk directly to your key marketing personas. As a result, you should have a clear idea about your target audience. You should know their interests, wants, and needs. Understanding this will drive the relevancy of your emails and help you engage on a personal, one-to-one level.

3. Write to the reader

Writing in the second person and addressing them directly as “you”, “your” and “yours” is essential to connect with the reader. By keeping the focus on the reader, you’re helping them see the value in your offering. You’re effectively pulling them into the action, so they can see themselves using your products or services. By taking the emphasis off your brand and placing it on the reader, your email marketing will automatically become more appealing.

4. Talk about the benefits

Once again, the king of copywriting David Ogilvy sums it up perfectly: “Consumers do not buy products. They buy product benefits.” As well as talking directly to the reader, you should be demonstrating what value your brand offers. Rather than simply saying “20% off all jeans today”, outline what makes your product different: “Comfortable and versatile, our jeans are perfect for every occasion. And for today only, there’s 20% off!”

5. Keep it short

It all sounds a little contradictory, doesn’t it? Talk about the benefits and outline your value, but keep it short at the same time. This is probably the hardest part of copywriting. Too often we try to shove an entire brand story into one message. With readers scrolling through emails on their phones and checking messages on the go, there’s no way they’re investing time in reading every work. By keeping the message brief the reader will be able to skim your message without it losing its impact. The easier you make it for the reader, the more likely they will be to convert.

6. Be human about it

At the end of the day, you’re just one person trying to create an email that appeals to hundreds, if not thousands of people. Mistakes are bound to happen. By talking to the reader like the human you are, not the brand you represent, customers will be able to develop a much stronger relationship with your brand. Don’t be afraid to let your personality show. Be quirky, be lovable, and be helpful. When you make a mistake (like sending out the wrong code or hitting send too soon) be open and honest about it. More often than not, your readers will understand and be able to relate to you.

7. Use actionable language

You established your purpose at the very beginning of the writing process. Now all you need to do is ensure you’re driving people to complete this goal. Your calls-to-action should be easily identifiable, with a stand-out design and actionable copy. To inspire customers to take action, your language needs to be succinct, clear and focused on the action you want them to take. Download, call, buy, and register. The purpose of the button is clear, and by making it stand out visually, you’ll be helping the reader take action faster as they skim your email.

Start writing perfect email copy today

At Dotdigital, we’re here to help you with every marketing challenge you might face. Making the time to write perfect email marketing copy can be a struggle for us all. That’s why we’ve got a library full of free resources designed to help you smash your copywriting.

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