Writing regular emails is easy. Writing marketing emails requires a carefully crafted process because you’re not simply sharing information, you are trying to give the recipients highly-targeted, personalised and relevant content which is beneficial to them and your business in the form of higher open, click-through, engagement and conversion rates.    

“Personalisation is not about first or last name. It’s about relevant content.” – Dan Jak

From the subject line, email copy through to the call-to-action, email marketers must ensure their marketing emails not only look great but are also relevant to the recipients. Otherwise, you risk both a decrease in open and engagement rates as well as losing subscribers – forever. With that in mind, we’d like to draw your focus to a few techniques that will make writing marketing emails not just easy but fun too.

In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:

  1. The secret to writing marketing emails
  2. The ultimate preflight email checklist

Let’s dive in.

The average human’s attention span is… oh look, a butterfly!

Since the age of smartphones, people are left with such a small attention span that even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer. Furthermore, email marketing stats point out that 42% of all email opens happen on mobile devices. With both these facts in mind, the importance of writing impactful marketing emails has increased considerably.

There is no easy way or a shortcut to ensure the success of your email marketing campaign. However, there is a list of variables that email marketers can take advantage of to design an email campaign that can surpass their expectations.

Writing Marketing Emails 101

There are tons of different sources regarding the type of marketing emails that work and those that don’t. Thus, email marketing has become an art form infused with science. 

From marketers to copywriters, such mountains of information present a useful rulebook for writing marketing emails. But, aren’t you tired of skimming through hundreds if not thousands of different articles on the topic of writing a marketing email? 

Instead of wasting time gathering information around the web, we decided to put all our knowledge and best practice into one concise beneficial piece. Not to brag, but you should consider the information we are about to divulge as your ‘Email Bible’. Especially when it comes down to writing marketing emails that would get opened and convert.

1) The ‘From’ Name 

This is one of the most notably displayed elements of your marketing email campaign. It is also known as sender name.

Depending on the type of device (desktop or mobile) your subscribers are viewing your marketing email, the ‘from’ name might be displayed in larger bold font. This helps recipients identify who the email is from faster.

Let’s say you’ve signed up to receive marketing emails from Tesla. Would you expect an email from Tesla or Elon Musk? Considering you’ve subscribed to receive Tesla’s emails, we reckon it’s the former. Thus, as email marketers, we need to ensure we’ve optimised this critical element of our marketing emails by making sure we match the ‘from’ name with the subscribers’ expectations. Otherwise, why would they open or click-through an email they ‘think’ they didn’t sign up to?

2) The Subject Line

The second most essential element of writing marketing emails is nailing the subject line. As such, we advise you to treat it like a movie trailer – give your subscribers a preview of what awaits them once they open your email. After all, not a lot of people will get to read your outstanding email copy if nothing is interesting enough to grab their attention and make them open your message.

The web is full of plenty of tips on writing the perfect email subject line. At EmailOut, we’ve divided subject lines into three categories – 

a) deceptive
b) top B2B
c) irresistible 

If you have a highly segmented email campaign ready to be unleashed on the world, you can ensure higher performance stats (open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, etc.) by using personalisation. The more personal the connection you build with your audience, the easier you’ll find it to develop your customer relationships.

However, keep in mind that as fancy and personal as using a subscribers’ first name might be, recipients don’t seem so impressed by it as they were in the past. Now, they want the personalisation to come in the email copy – where you give them personalised content based on their interests and motivations. But, to personalise the content, you need to know the subscriber first. Cue, buyer personas.

The most important tip when it comes to subject lines is this – be clear, concise and accurate. Your subscribers should get the idea of what’s to come simply by reading your email’s subject line. Also, make sure that your subject line always aligns with your email copy. Otherwise, you’ll look like a fish out of water.

3) The Preheader

Let’s say that for some reason your subject line failed to entice the recipient to open your marketing email. What should you do then? Well, the preheader (a.k.a as preview text or snippet) is your backup plan. It’s a brief summary just below the subject line which can further solidify the subscribers’ decision to interact with your email. 

If you’ve designated a particular line of text as a preheader, it will appear here. Otherwise, the recipient will see the first line of text from the email body itself (or sometimes the ALT text if an image is at the top of your content). It’s very easy to do if you’re using a professional email marketing platform, and it can also do wonders for your open rates… if you get it right. However, occasionally, email marketers can make mistakes with preheaders. They are still only human after all. But, there are ways to avoid preheader mistakes for the sake of having another shot at hooking the recipients’ attention.

4) The Copy

After you’ve crafted the perfect attention-grabbing subject line, as well as preheader, and hooked your subscribers which led to them opening your email, it’s time to craft the ideal email copy that will get the recipients clicking. But, how do you do it?

a) Clear focus

First and foremost, you must ensure your marketing email is clear-focused and the design promotes a single action to be taken by the subscribers. Do not overwhelm the recipients with ‘shouty’ CTAs or tons of irrelevant content. That will only irritate them.  Keep your email copy clear, concise and relevant. 

b) Standing out

Secondly, make sure your marketing emails stand out from all the rest your recipients are getting. You can do that by utilising tried-and-tested email marketing keywords (a.k.a power words). This particular practice for writing marketing emails is very useful as it allows email marketers to strategically use words which will get subscribers to not only open their emails but also engage with them. To solidify your uniqueness in the subscribers’ inbox, we also recommend adding subtle, relevant imagery (or perhaps GIFs) to your email copy. It will give it that extra flavour and help boost engagement.

c) Emphasis on benefits, not features

Thirdly, talk about the benefits your subscribers will get from what you’re offering. You are well aware of the value of your marketing email – you’ve crafted it. But, do your subscribers? It’s your duty to explain it. After all, the benefits they’ll get from buying your product or using your services are what will drive them to take action, not the chunks of adequately listed features. By presenting a genuine and authentic picture of your products/services, you’re giving your recipients valuable content which will respectively go a long way towards what they should expect. Be clear and make it easy for them to take the desired actions. Cue, CTA – call-to-action. 

d) Be brief and to-the-point

Fourthly, be brief. We’ve seen a lot of email copywriters make the mistake of writing marketing emails longer than Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. Think about it. Do you actually read every single word in every single email you receive? Doubtful. Most recipients will just scan the email looking for the important points to decide to take any action or not. Thus, make it short and to the point. Do not write hundreds of words but actually say nothing. Summarise the information you are giving the subscribers and then let them decide if they want to read more by adding links which will lead them to a page on your website. 

e) Use second-person pronouns

Why is it important to use second-person pronouns in your marketing emails? Because it shows your email is oriented towards the subscriber, not your brand. Pronouns such as “you”, “your” and “yours” will keep the focus on the recipient and make them feel like you are talking directly to them which then consequently makes it easier for them to connect with your content. On the other hand, pronouns like “ours” and “we” are brand-focused. As much as you want recipients to familiarise themselves with your brand – don’t overdo it. 

f) The CTA

You might think this step is a minor consideration compared to all the rest, however, according to… well, science, designing the perfect email CTA buttons can have a huge impact on your conversion rates and it’s the second most important part of your email, after the subject line.

Optimising CTA buttons is the final element in the process of writing marketing emails. It’s the last step towards getting recipients to click-through and take action. But, what text should you use to make sure the CTA button gets clicked on?

The key technique is to ensure your call-to-action emphasises on the benefits you’ve outlined to the subscriber throughout the rest of your email copy. So, don’t use generic, boring CTAs. Highlight the exclusivity of what you’re offering and stay away from words such as “download”, “order”, “apply” or “submit”. After all, the subscribers want the end benefit you told them about, not downloading or ordering things.

5) The Spam Filters

We’ve described all the important steps of writing marketing emails, however, all your efforts could be for nothing if your email gets flagged as spam. Your recipients’ email client will simply take all your hard creative work and file it away, never to be seen by the recipient.

Don’t get discouraged though. As frustrating as spam filters can be, there are ways to avoid them. One practical approach is to refrain from using spammy language. Another is to politely ask your email subscribers to add you to their contact list – known as whitelisting. 

If you use a professional email marketing platform – like EmailOut – ensuring your marketing email does not end up in the spam folder is as easy as riding a bike. It’s even easier. All you’ll need to do is click on a single button – e.g. “Request Spam Test” – and you’ll get a full report within seconds.

6) Test, Test, Test

Testing is probably the most crucially important step in the whole process of writing marketing emails. However, before you split test your email campaign, you have to establish what you’ll be testing – 

a) how the subject line resonates with recipients?
b) are there any typos you might’ve missed?
c) is the positioning and colour of your CTAs working? 

You can pretty much A/B test any element of your marketing email – from the length of the subject line through the preheader text to the overall layout. The important thing to remember though is to select one variable at a time for any given test. Do not test in bulk, otherwise, you won’t know which changes made a difference and the final stats will be pointless.

The Ultimate Preflight Email Checklist

Perhaps you’ve spotted a glaring spelling error. Or you forgot to attach the attachment. Maybe, you’ve accidentally hit ‘reply all’ when your snarky remarks were 100% intended for the eyes of one colleague only.

But embarrassing as a dodgy email is when sent to one person, it’s nothing compared to the all-consuming despair you get when you unleash your mistake-ridden missive on your entire email list.

To help you avert this disastrous fate, we’ve put together this super-handy preflight email checklist. It’s a rundown on EVERYTHING you need to check/mull over/watch out for before shooting your emails off to those recipients.

That’s only if you want to maximise open rates, engagement, click-through rates, sales, profits and family holidays. Which you do … don’t you?

Final Thoughts

One of the most important things to remember when writing marketing emails is to ensure all elements align. From your subject line through your preheader to your email copy, everything must tell the reader who you are, why are you emailing them and persuade them to open your email and then click-through and make a purchase.

However, don’t forget to ensure your email is optimised for plain text as well. Why? Because no matter how elegant and awesome your HTML email is, some email clients won’t render the imagery, for example. On the other hand, not all recipients will pick to display said images either. You should have both – a plain text email and an HTML one. Better safe than sorry, right?

With our comprehensive step-by-step guide on writing marketing emails, there will be no obstacles for crafting awesome, high-performing email campaigns that will get opened, clicked and increase sales for your business. 

Now that you know the path to a smashingly successful email campaign, are you ready to get creative?

Highly recommended further reading – 

1) Subject lines –
   a) deceptive
   b) top B2B
   c) irresistible
2) A/B testing
3) Avoiding spam filters
4) Plain text vs HTML
5) Email preheader mistakes
6) Email personalisation tips
7) Email CTA buttons
8) Email marketing keywords

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