Email copywriting is part art and part science.
It’s a science because you have to follow a format when writing your subject line and copy.
It’s also a form of art because you need to carefully choose the words you’ll use within your copy.
For example, the words “buy,” “purchase,” and “avail” have the same meaning. But the way how they impact and influence your leads differ.
There are cases when a word can have different things to two different people. That’s the hard (and embarrassing) lesson that Mitsubishi learned when it named one of its 4-wheel SUV Pajero.
Then there are the visual elements and the order how they appear so that your entire email compels your readers to take action.
Add the dizzying amount of email marketing hacks, and it’s easy to understand why many marketers
That’s why I’ve created this email copywriting best practices guide to help you boost your lead and customer conversion rates.
Ready? Let’s begin.
1. Invest a lot of time on your subject line.
People subscribed to your email list decide whether or not they’ll open your email based on your email’s subject line.
The average person gets as many as 120 new emails each day. That’s a lot of emails to go through.
Your leads are busy and don’t have the time and patience to go through every single email they receive. Instead, they’ll scan the subject lines of the emails. After all, it’s the first (and sometimes, only) part of your email that they’ll read.
If the subject line catches your subscribers’ attention, they’ll click and open the email. Otherwise, they’ll delete it.
Worse, if your subscribers keep on deleting your emails, their email service provider would take notice. The next time you send an email, it’ll go to their Spam or Junk folder. This further decreases your chances of getting your leads to open your emails, much less convert into a paying customer.
One way is to craft your subject line so that it addresses a specific pain point your buyer persona is currently facing.
The reason is that two scenarios would compel your subscribers to take action: avoid pain or gain pleasure. Of the two, the desire to avoid a painful situation is stronger. This is what psychologists refer to as “loss aversion.”
Targeting your subscribers’ pain points in your subject line also gives a subtle sense of urgency. People, by nature, don’t want to keep on experiencing painful scenarios. So, if your email can provide them with a solution to quickly remedy it, they’ll be more encouraged to open it.
2. Always make sure that you’re providing your subscribers with something valuable.
While it’s understandable that you’d want to promote your products and services to your subscribers every single chance you get, don’t let this be the only kind of email you send.
Remember: Not everyone on your email list is ready to buy.
In fact, the majority of your email subscribers signed up because they found your blog post or guide valuable and helpful. When they subscribed to your email list, they’re expecting that they’ll get more of that.
NY Times bestselling author and life coach Marie Forleo’s emails are an excellent example.
In addition to sending emails promoting the latest episode of MarieTV on Youtube, she would also send a motivational email like this:
Not only do these emails give her subscribers information that’s valuable and helpful, but it also shows her subscriber that she’s genuinely concerned about how they view themselves, especially in times of failure.
3. Sound like a human being talking to a friend.
Imagine that you’re scrolling through your email list and then come across an email sent by a close friend.
Chances are, you’d immediately click on the email and carefully read through the entire email. Then, you’d hit the reply button and send a reply to that friend of yours, right?
What most marketers do when it comes to email copywriting is that they try their best to sound professional and business-like. The problem with this is that the email copy comes across either too “salesy” or too cold and distant.
Either way, it’s going to cause your subscribers to bring their guard up and hit the Delete button.
If you want your email’s copy to convert your subscribers into customers, you need to write it in such a way that you build a trusting relationship with them. And the only way you can achieve this is by sounding like a real live human being.
I’ve recently written an article where I go into more detail on how to make your copy sound more human. Be sure to check that out.
4. Be relatable to your readers.
This is tied to number 3 since it’s part of making sure that your email’s copy like it’s coming from a human being.
Being relatable means that those reading your email could feel as if you’re describing exactly what they’re going through. This allows you to connect with them at an emotional level, and that’s crucial if you want to get your leads to convert.
That’s because when you connect with them at this level, and you offer them a solution in the form of a product or service, you’ll not come across as “salesy” or pitching them something.
Instead, your subscribers and leads will view your recommendation as a genuine effort on your part to help them overcome the challenges that they’re going through.
An effective email copywriting technique I use to achieve this is by speaking their “language.” By that I mean, using the same words they use to describe the challenges and pain points they’re dealing with.
Quora is an excellent place to visit for this. You can search on the platform for questions left by those matching your target audience about the specific pain points your product or service aims to solve.
Take note of the words that they use to describe their struggles and also how they describe what an ideal solution looks like.
For example, if I’m going to create an email copy for the question above, it would look something like this:
You know you should be working on that paper. But then you’ve just remembered you needed to make a phone call.
Compared to your paper, it’s a non-priority. But it’s too late!
You’ve found yourself once again wasting time by chatting away.
Soon, you find yourself procrastinating yet again.
It’s that same vicious cycle day in and day out that you find yourself stuck in and can’t get out.
If that sounds familiar, don’t worry. I know exactly what it feels like because I’ve been there.
Notice how I injected the words from the question into the copy. The last three statements I included helps transition the rest of your email copy and make this even more relatable to your readers.
5. Focus on benefits, not features.
Let’s face it: talking about your product’s features not only makes your email marketing copy dull, but it also doesn’t help it stand out from the others like it out in the market.
That’s because your product’s features only tell your customers what they’re buying.
On the other hand, email copywriting that highlights the benefits of buying your product tells them why they should buy.
This, according to Simon Sinek, is more compelling.
The best example I can think of when it comes to this is whenever my wife goes shopping for clothes. Each time she buys clothes, she doesn’t care what material it’s made of or where it was made. She buys them because they make her look good and feel great.
And the same thing’s true with your leads.
So before you start writing the copy for your email, ask yourself: What is the one thing that you’d want your customers to feel the moment they buy your product?
Is it a sense of relief that they can do their tasks more easily?
Or is it going to help them free up their time so that they can spend it with their families?
Perhaps it can be something as simple as being cool.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t share the features of your product. However, whenever you do, make sure that you put more emphasis on the benefits they’ll get from your product’s features.
6. Keep it short and straightforward.
Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message” back in 1964. This phrase still rings true to this day.
In fact, this is the main reason why email copywriting is different from writing copy for print or even a sales page online.
When writing copy for emails, or any online content for that matter, short sentences are paragraphs work best.
One reason is that people don’t read online content. They scan them.
Second, the number of people checking their emails on their smartphones is significantly higher than those checking them on their computers, as you can see in the chart below.
Of these, 35% are business professionals.
And because the screens of mobile devices are considerably smaller than your laptop or desktop, a short paragraph made of one or two lines can quickly turn into a long block of text that can eventually be overwhelming to your readers.
7. Make sure that your email copy delivers what you promise.
Nothing can be more frustrating (or annoying) for your subscribers to receive open an email from you only to find that the subject line’s nowhere near what’s written in your email.
What I’d like to do to make sure that this doesn’t happen is that I’d start writing the body of my email first.
After I finish this, I ask myself: If there’s one thing that I’d want my email subscribers to get out of my email, what would it be?
This will then become my email’s subject line.
8. Be clear in what you’re saying in your emails.
What most marketers—and even some copywriters—do when writing up copy for emails is that they tend to use a lot of complicated sounding words and industry jargon.
They believe that by doing this, they’ll sound smart and impressive to their subscribers.
Far from it.
In fact, too often, you end up wondering:
Or, in this case, your emails.
The good news is that the solution is very simple. And that is to use short and simple words that you’d often use when striking up a conversation with a friend who’s not in the same industry as you are.
This not only makes the message you’re attempting to relate to your readers easier to understand but also makes sure your sentences and paragraphs stay short and sweet.
9. Give your email subscribers what they expect.
Your audience subscribed to your email list for a reason.
Perhaps they subscribed to your email list after downloading one of your content offers.
Or maybe they made a recent purchase and want to be the first to receive discount offers and special promotions.
If they don’t get what they’re expecting, they’ll not hesitate to unsubscribe.
Segmenting your email list will make sure that your emails do just that.
By segmenting your email list based on their interests and where they are in your buyer’s journey would ensure the emails and offers you send are those that match their expectations.
Not only would you keep them on your email list, but you also will increase their open and click-through rates.
At the same time, make sure that the words you choose to use in your email copy match your readers.
A middle-aged business owner may appreciate you using some industry jargon and a severe tone. But if you send this email to a millennial that’s starting on their career may not.
10. Be willing to be vulnerable.
A common misconception business owners have with email copywriting is that it must always show like they got everything together.
The last thing that they’d want to be sharing with their leads and customers are the struggles they experienced and the mistakes they made.
However, if you want you to engage with your leads and customers on a personal level and gain enough trust from them that they’re willing to do business with you, these are the very things that you should include in your copy.
By letting your guard down once in a while, you’re showing your subscribers you genuinely understand because you’ve been there. You’ve gone through what they’re currently going through.
Your leads and customers will reciprocate this bold move on your part by bringing down their defenses. They’ll begin to see that you’re genuinely trying to help them overcome the situation that they’re facing through your content and recommendations.
11. Tell stories in your email copywriting.
Long before the internet or handwriting was invented, people shared information by telling stories while sitting around a campfire.
Even now, we still use stories not just for entertainment but also to share information and learn.
The reason why storytelling is so compelling because it can put us in that particular situation and feel all the emotions the characters in the story are experiencing. It’s this combination of circumstance and emotion that makes it so memorable for us.
One way to inject storytelling into your email copy is by sharing a personal anecdote of a situation related to the overall message of your email.
This email from Amy Porterfield is a perfect example.
Another even more compelling way to share stories in your emails is by sharing testimonials coming from your satisfied customers, just like how Jasmine Star did in this email.
12. Make testing a habit.
Yes, this is one of those email copywriting best practices that you’ve heard time and time again. But you’ll be surprised by how many marketers still don’t practice this.
On the one hand, I can understand why. Running A/B tests on your email copy isn’t the most exciting thing to do. Far from it!
Since you’ll need to test one variable in your email at a time, the entire process can be very tedious, time-consuming, and downright annoying!
But if you want to boost your email conversion rates, you can’t afford to skip this one.
13. Don’t forget your CTA.
Believe it or not, one of the reasons why some email marketing campaigns don’t deliver results is because there’s no visible call-to-action on the email copy.
Next to your subject line, your call-to-action is the most vital part of your email. Without a call-to-action, none of the tips I’ve shared here would matter. That’s because your call-to-action tells your subscribers to what to do next. That could be checking out your latest blog post or signing up for a free trial.
13. Use emojis in moderation.
There’s now a growing trend among marketers and small business owners of using emojis on their email’s subject lines and content.
One reason is that adding emojis help their email’s subject lines stand out in their email subscribers’ overcrowded inboxes like this one.
It’s for this very reason why as many as 56% of brands report experiencing higher email open rates when they started adding emojis into their subject lines.
Emojis also help make your emails more mobile-friendly since you can say more with less because one emoji can easily replace a single word or even an entire phrase.
Plus, it allows you to add more personality and trigger the emotions you want your subscribers to feel when they read your copy.
But before you go ahead and start using emojis in your email copywriting, make sure that it fits your target audience and the overall voice and tone of your brand. Otherwise, it would look forced and may even annoy your subscribers like what happened when Chevy went emoji-crazy by sending this email to their subscribers.
When incorporating emojis to your emails, make sure that you use them sparingly and make sure that they’re relevant to the rest of your copy.
14. Use the email preview text wisely.
The preview text is a one-line text that appears immediately after your email’s subject headline that looks something like this.
If you’re checking your emails using your smartphone, it’s the snippet of text that you’ll see right underneath the subject line.
By default, the email preview text shows the first 35-90 characters of the contents of your email. Some email inboxes, like Apple, shows up to 140 characters.
Expert copywriters understand that this section that this is prime real estate for your email marketing campaigns. That’s because you can use the preview text to give your email subscribers more compelling reasons to open and read the email that you send.
15. Proofread and edit your copy before hitting send.
Surprising, but true!
Coming up with a compelling email copy is no easy task. By the time that most marketers finish up writing the email copy, they immediately schedule or send this out.
Having spelling and grammar errors in your emails speaks volumes to your email subscribers, not just the quality of your products, but also how you value them.
Investing in a proofreading tool like Grammarly can save you from these embarrassing situations.
In this guide, you’ve learned 15 email copywriting best practices to boost your conversion rates.
Choose one of the best practices listed here and apply it to your next email marketing campaign. Then, evaluate the results before going on to the next.
Results won’t happen immediately. But for as long as you keep practicing the tips I shared here, you’re eventually going to start to see more subscribers convert into leads and, ultimately, into customers.