Americans are bombarded with anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 advertising messages and well over 100 emails every day. That means email marketers have their work cut out for them when it comes to capturing readers’ attention and inspiring them to take action. In other words? Strategic, well-written email marketing copy is more important than ever before. Here are six rules that will help your emails stand out from the pack.
Segment, segment, segment.
Segmentation involves dividing up your email lists so you can send tailored messages to different groups with a specific something in common, whether that’s when they subscribed, the links they’ve clicked, demographic information, purchasing history, and so on.
The more you narrow in on a specific audience, the more personal your emails can seem, and the more compelling they will be. Readers know when they’re receiving a generic, blanket email versus one that demonstrates an understanding of their unique interests and needs. Falling into the latter camp will greatly increase the chances of further engagement with your brand.
Spend a lot of time on the subject line.
You’ve heard it before, but it’s still true: Subject lines matter. That’s because it’s one of the first things readers will see in their inbox. If it’s not engaging or enticing, they’ll have very little incentive to click into and read the email’s content. (If you’re writing copy for emails that will be opened on a mobile device, emphasize the subject line and the preheader text.)
The best subject lines are short, specific, actionable (if possible), and as personally relevant as possible. (This last point is facilitated by the use of segmentation – see above.) It’s also critical that your subject line and the body of your email accurately relate to one another. Don’t promise anything in the subject that you don’t deliver in the body; that’s a surefire way to lose readers’ trust.
Keep it brief.
Email marketing isn’t just about the emails. It’s about inspiring your readers to take action by further engaging with your brand in some way. That means you don’t want your readers to spend 15 minutes reading your email, close their browser, and call it a day. (Not that the average reader is inclined to spend 15 minutes reading an email in the first place!) Instead, emails should be pithy, focused, easily scannable, and directed toward a specific call to action.
It can be helpful to utilize the metric of blog post content versus email content. For example, this blog post from Mattress Clarity about choosing a memory foam mattress contains detailed product descriptions, reviews, images, and tips for selecting the right mattress for you. This makes for a great blog post, but if all that information was crammed into an email it would overwhelm the reader and make them confused about next steps. A better approach would be to tease the content of the blog post in the email and then direct readers to the full post via a clear-cut call to action. If the answer to the question “Could this email be a blog post?” is yes, then you’re packing too much into one email.
Maintain a conversational tone.
The best email marketing copy is written as if it’s between two friends. The content should be simple and easy to understand, the tone should be conversational, and the language should be familiar and devoid of technical jargon or words that would send most people to the dictionary.
A good test of your tone is to ask “Would I be comfortable sending this email to my friends (and letting them know that I wrote it)?” If the answer is “no,” try rewriting the email as if you were literally going to send it to a friend.
Email marketing is inherently self-serving – after all, you’re producing content in the hopes of guiding readers through your sales funnel and ultimately making a sale. But it’s still critical to provide real value to your readers in the process.
Whenever you’re crafting an email, make sure it clearly answers the question, “What’s in it for them?” If we continue with the Mattress Clarity example above, the answer to that question could be “information about the best memory foam mattresses on the market” or “a mattress buying guide.” No matter what action you’re asking readers to take, it should result in something that is relevant to their interests and needs and enhances their lives in some way.
Don’t forget about your call to action (CTA).
Once you get clear on what you’re asking from and offering to readers, make sure to include a clear-cut call to action (CTA). The copy on your CTA is very important because it needs to inspire readers to click with very few words. Focus on making the CTA copy actionable, benefits-oriented, and directed toward one specific goal – for example, “Get your free ebook” instead of “Click here”.
While these rules are likely to improve the effectiveness of your marketing copy, they’re not fixed in stone. Because every industry and audience is different, it’s critical to utilize A/B testing to ensure you’re using a subject header, language, tone, and call to action that truly appeals to your unique readership.
Dan Scalco is the founder and marketing director at Digitalux, a digital-marketing agency located in Hoboken, N.J. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds of businesses save time, increase leads and maximize sales.