When you learn the best practices for how to write an email for your business, you gain a lot of power. You can create a connection with your audience, build trust and authority, and even generate sales.
Knowing how to craft compelling, convincing and conversion-focused emails allows you to engage your audience, warm leads, and drive customers toward buying for the first, second or even 20th time.
If done right, email can be one of your most effective marketing channels.
Almost everyone uses email
In fact, Australians open emails more often then people in other countries. A 2020 Campaign Monitor survey found that Australians opened email at a rate of 20%, compared to a global open rate of 18%.
That same survey found that Aussies were most likely to open emails related to education (34.3%), food/beverage (33.6%) and government/politics (31%).
Email marketing has a strong ROI
Email offers the highest and most measurable ROI (return on investment) of all types of marketing. Constant Contact reports that email has an average ROI of $36 for each $1 spent.
Email marketing is affordable
Compared to other marketing and advertising methods, email is relatively cheap. Depending on your email list size and how many emails you plan to send, pricing ranges from free to a few hundred dollars per month. (If you have a very large list, it may get more expensive.)
If you aren’t using email marketing, it’s time to start.
And, if you’re just beginning, we have the guide for you!
How to write a marketing email
The rest of this post will teach you how to write an email that people will read — one that will motivate them to act. The guide will share:
- How to approach your email writing strategy.
- How to write an email that stands out.
- Email writing tips: What to avoid in your copy.
- Start writing email copy that gets results.
Let’s get started!
How to approach your email writing strategy
Good email marketing isn’t just about writing email copy. It’s also about knowing how to put strategy behind each email.
Before you start writing, outline a strategy that will help you get the most out of your efforts.
Here are five things to consider:
1. Define your goal for the email
Like all good marketing strategies, your plan for email content should start with defining a goal. Every single email, whether it’s an automatic response or a newsletter, should be written to meet a specific, measurable goal that brings you closer to your primary business goals.
So, let’s say that your business or organization wants to do one of the following:
- Double its sales of gluten-free cookies this year
- Book 20 new portrait clients
- Surpass last year’s attendance at your annual conference
- Raise $75,000 at your charity auction
- [insert your primary objective here]
What email marketing goals might support those specific big-picture goals? For example, you might set email marketing goals around how many readers:
- Click through to your gluten-free cookie product pages
- View the portrait section of your online photography gallery
- Share your save-the-date email on social media
- Click through to a blog post about a child who will benefit from your fundraiser
- [insert your own brilliant marketing email goal here]
All of these things get your readers thinking about what you have to offer.
Be intentional about setting goals for every single email you send.
Continue to experiment with — and measure — what works best for your specific audience.
2. Get to know your target audience
For your email content to be effective, it needs to grab readers. To resonate with readers, the email needs to speak directly to their perspectives, needs and wants. And, the only way you can write an email like this is if you truly know who you're talking to.
The second step in learning how to write a marketing email is getting to know your audience.
Different people will need different kinds of emails (think customers vs. leads), so it is important to outline exactly who you are writing to by asking these questions:
- What stage of the marketing funnel are they in?
- What problems and needs do they have?
- How do they talk about those problems and needs?
- What are their demographic and psychographic details?
Before you write an email, answer these questions (and more) to create a persona to whom you can write your emails.
Pro tip: As you grow your list, also consider how you can divide your audience into smaller segments. Start creating email segments based on unique characteristics about your audience — such as where they live, what they buy, what pages they viewed on your site. This will allow you to tailor your emails to each sub-group.
3. Decide on an email format
Emails come in a variety of formats and styles. Once you know your goals and audience, decide what type of email will work best for your campaign.
- Newsletter: An email series that is delivered on a regular basis (usually monthly, weekly, etc.) and usually styled with columns and rich-media.
- Personal email: An email that feels like it was sent from one person to another. It is usually text-only and includes a signature line from one person.
- Sales email: An email designed to promote a product or service with the end goal of getting the reader to buy.
- Drip campaign: A series of emails that slowly nurture leads and drives them toward taking a defined action, such as buying a product or visiting a business.
- Promotional email: An email that includes a time-sensitive coupon or discount.
- Up-sell or cross-sell email: An email that references a recent purchase in an attempt to sell a complementary product.
Email marketing is flexible, so your email might be a combination of one or more of these formats.
Remember to go back to your goals and match the format to what will be most likely to help you reach your end goal.
Also, no matter what email format you choose, remember to keep your email design and layout simple.
Even if you go with a newsletter that includes rich-media, don’t over-design it. And, always remember that viewers will see your email on varying screen sizes, so keep the design clean and clear.
4. Use personalization
Personalizing your emails can create a great connection between your brand and your customers. This means using the recipient's name in the email Subject line and tailoring the message to that person's needs and interests.
Personalization and segmentation are the two most effective email strategies, according to HubSpot’s latest State of Marketing report.
Making an effort to tailor an email for an individual (even in a small way) builds an immediate connection with the reader.
It also can increase the number of readers who take the desired action. Include personalization when you can by:
- Using the recipient’s name
- Mentioning the recipient’s city or location
- Recommending products or services based on the recipient's past purchases
- Sharing content or offerings based on the recipient's past activities, such as signing up for a specific webinar or visiting a certain page
5. Set up your analytics
Analytics will help you measure the success of your emails. Start thinking about this before you send your emails.
Outline the marketing metrics you want to track, such as open rate and click-through-rates. Also, define metrics that are tied to your goal.
For example, if your goal is to get people to sign up for a webinar, track conversion rates of people who sign up once they open the email.
Once you identify your metrics, make sure your email marketing system is set up to track them before you send out your emails.
How to write an email that stands out
Now that you have a strategy to guide your process, you can start to learn how to write an email. While there is no perfect formula for writing email copy, these tips will put you on the right track.
1. Decide on a strong hook
A hook is the angle you use in email content to draw in the reader.
Think about what might be a good way to hook the reader and pique their interest in your email.
Here are a few options and email writing tips to help you with your approach.
Do you enjoy reading terms and conditions or other cold, corporate verbatim? No? Me neither. And chances are, neither do the vast majority of your contacts.
Conversational newsletters are a great way to draw your readers in and engage.
This approach allows you to become more than a sales email. It humanizes your business by allowing your contacts to connect with you, and your ‘likeability” can even increase sales.
Who doesn’t want something rare and special?
When you have a limited stock or a set number of places, it can help to remind your readers how many items (or spots) are left.
This is a powerful marketing psychology tool.
Your contacts have opted-in and are clearly interested in what you have to offer. Many people will jump on board quickly when they know that a particular service or product is about to run out. And if they do miss the boat, they may act more quickly next time.
Just don’t do this so often that you cross the spam line and fatigue your customers.
When someone helps you or gives you a gift, you may want to return the favor. After all, it’s nice to be nice.
Coupled with the fact that everyone loves a freebie, giving your contacts something for free will help garner loyalty and some great stats.
The theory of social proof suggests that we’re all influenced by the views and actions of those around us. Your peers buying or liking something can:
- Grab your interest
- Get you to take a closer look
- Cause you to follow the same actions
For email marketing, a great way to adopt this principle is to tell your readers how many customers bought a particular item or even “liked” your previous promotion via social networking sites. This serves as a social “thumbs up” regarding these actions.
Also, adding a customer quote that gives a glowing recommendation of your product or service can be a great use of social proofing.
2. Write an outline
When you write an email, content planning is critical. So, don’t dive in and start writing email copy from a blank page. Instead, create an outline or at least a list of ideas that you want to include in your email.
This process ensures that you include all important information and gives you a framework to build off — so you’re not just sitting staring at a blank screen.
To create your email outline, think about the primary hook of your marketing email and brainstorm some potential content that could have the desired effect.
To help organize your ideas, ask the following questions:
- What do you want your audience to know?
- What are the most important facts or details?
- How do you want your readers to feel?
- How might you improve their day?
- What do you want your audience to do after reading your email?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you have a basic recipe for your content.
3. Write a strong lede
A “lede” is the opening sentence of a news story. It’s the most important series of words in any article because it sets the tone and encourages people to keep reading.
Failing to mention the important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the ﬁrst few sentences is called “burying the lede.”
You can use this same “lede” method when writing email copy. Write the beginning of your email like you’re writing a lede for a news story.
To do that:
Get to the point
Your readers are busy. You must quickly engage them by giving essential, emotive information in the ﬁrst sentence.
You may write the catchiest, cleverest email in marketing history, but if your lede doesn’t hold your reader’s attention, the rest of your email won’t be read.
Show the benefit
People have a lot of content thrown at them. To get them to read yours, you need to show readers what’s in it for them.
Let them know what they will learn or gain. And, even go as far as telling them what they will miss out on if they stop reading.
Keep it simple
Great ledes are succinct.
Write the lede, read it and relentlessly cut it.
Remember that people have short attention spans. Do what you can to catch their attention in the shortest amount of time possible. Just don’t be so succinct that you lose the meaning of your message.
Write, edit, write and edit
Writing good ledes takes practice and patience. Don’t wait for the perfect line to start writing. Editing is a huge part of the writing process, so just start writing the first thing that comes to mind and then go back and improve it. Repeat the process until you;re happy with the outcome.
4. Add a clear call-to-action
Earlier in this guide on how to write a marketing email, you learned how important it is to write an email with a clear goal in mind. You saw how every email needs to have a plan for what you want readers to do once they read the email.
Calls-to-action are how you drive audiences to do just that.
A call-to-action is messaging that tells the audience what you want them to do. Every email needs a call-to-action, whether it is to purchase something, learn more about your brand or read an article.
The call-to-action will vary based on the goal of the email. Some examples are to:
- Sign up
- Click here
- Like us
- Enter the contest
- Watch our video
- Visit our website
- Read the post
- Buy now
- Schedule today
Make sure it’s very easy for readers to identify your call-to-action.
Your call-to-action should stand out so much that people notice it even if they don’t read all of the text on the page.
Consider highlighting the text and using big buttons that demand attention.
5. Pretend you’re writing to one person
Email is a digital medium, but you still need to sound human. You’re emailing your list because you want to connect with people.
You want to provide value, keep your followers informed, and give them a moment in their hectic day to enjoy the email you sent.
The best way to accomplish this — to sound human and approachable — is to write your email as though you are writing to one person. Instead of thinking about writing to your entire list, picture one person in your mind and pretend you’re writing a personal email to them.
You want to connect with your customers and fans. You also want them to read your next one, share it with friends and to stay loyal customers.
So also ask yourself questions that will help you add a personal touch to your emails, such as:
- What do my friends, customers and I like and want to read?
- What do I look forward to receiving in my inbox?
- What can I share that my customers might not know?
- If I were my customer, what would I ﬁnd interesting?
If you take the time to answer these questions and keep asking them, you’re on your way to creating high-quality email content.
6. Craft your subject line
The subject line is one of the most important parts of your email.
If your subject line can’t drive people to open your email, they are never going to read it.
They aren’t going to get closer to your brand or take action toward working with you.
Put as much, if not more, effort into writing a strong subject line as you do the rest of the email.
Use the following email writing tips to craft a subject line that encourages readers to open and read your email.
FOMO stands for the fear of missing out. It makes people feel like they might lose an opportunity or experience by failing to act. Play into this by creating subject lines that show readers what they will miss by ignoring the email.
Urgency is another trigger that gets readers to click and open. Include time-sensitive offers and use language that puts a time limit on the reader to encourage them to read your email right away.
Use eye-catching formatting
Make your subject lines stand out from all of the other copy around it by using eye-catching formatting. Considering using:
- [Brackets] or (parenthesis) around important phrases when relevant
- Capital casing (“This Is the Subject Line” instead of “This is the subject line”)
- Half sentences that cut off mid-sentence (“It’s About Time For …”)
Back at the beginning of this guide, we talked about the power of personalization in emails. This is especially true when using names in subject lines. Make your email stand out by adding the recipient's name or other personalized details that will catch their attention.
Consider writing your subject line before writing your email
Another approach — and this may be a radical idea — is trying to write the subject line before you write the email. It can be a good way to get crystal-clear on the purpose of the email before you sit down to write it, as you’ll already have your primary goal for the email in mind.
Test. Test. Test.
You can never really know what subject lines will work. So leverage your analytics and run A/B tests to learn what types of subject lines resonate with your audience and use what you learn to improve over time.
7. Don’t rush it
Sometimes writing doesn’t come easily. Remember to take your time and have a plan when writer’s block strikes. This can include scheduling time to write, no matter what comes out, or taking breaks when you need it.
Establish a regular schedule
Decide how often you will blog or send an email newsletter.
At the beginning of each content cycle, whether it’s a week or a month, choose some topics that will be useful to your audience and write them down.
Deliver the content as planned, even if you don’t feel inspired.
Don’t wait for inspiration
If you wait for inspiration — you (and your audience) are going to be waiting for a long time. Sure, inspiration sometimes strikes, but most of the time, it’s just you and a blank screen. And that can feel pretty lonely.
Email writing tips: What to avoid in your copy
Once you know what to write, you need to learn what not to do. Be aware of the following communication problems that can cause you to lose your audience by failing to consider their point of view.
Know your audience, and use jargon only when you’re certain they’ll understand it.
For example, if you send out an email newsletter about advancements in laboratory safety that is primarily read by chemists, science teachers and lab techs, by all means, talk about coags, T-max and dips.
If you send out a newsletter about safe lab practices that will be read by first-year medical students, you might want to dial it back.
It’s true that jargon can illustrate how in-the-know you are, but it can also alienate and confuse your readers.
You may be thinking, “Won’t the same guidelines that apply to jargon apply to acronyms?” And the answer is generally, yes. But with acronyms, you have the ability to introduce and explain.
In the email newsletter you use to promote your social media consulting business, you can write, “I can help you maximize your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) …” and then use the acronym in any text that follows.
Only do this if you’re going to be talking extensively about the topic or when using an acronym that readers may have seen many times and wondered about.
It’s true that you have a little more leeway with slang: Making a joke about selfies or being “on fleek” can help you seem socially aware and clued-in.
Just make sure you’re using slang terms that you’re truly and personally familiar with and focus on the ones that are in current and widespread use.
You don’t want to make yourself look foolish by using a term incorrectly, nor do you want to make your audience feel out-of-touch.
Start writing email copy (and getting results) today
Email is a powerful marketing tactic that gives you a chance to stay connected with customers, warm leads and drive sales for your products and services — all while building brand affinity and loyalty.
Those are a lot of benefits. So if you aren’t using email marketing for your business, it’s time to start.
After reading this guide, you’re already halfway there. You learned a variety of email writing tips related to:
- How to approach your email writing strategy
- How to write an email that stands out
- Email writing tips: What to avoid in your copy
Now, you just need an email marketing tool to help you launch your strategy.
Learn more about how GoDaddy Digital Marketing Suite can help you create sign-up forms, design emails with drag-and-drop templates, and track analytics with custom reporting.
This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Emma Wilhelm, Macdara Bracken, Plume & Post and Sally McGraw.