Tips for writing emails that engage readers

6 min read
Jasmin Orfanidis

There’s a big difference in how you would write an email to a friend versus an email aimed at prospects or clients. While we’ve all written emails to friends, fewer of us have written emails designed to promote our businesses. And the fact is, email writing for business is something of a science. Let me explain.

We receive countless marketing emails everyday. Not many of us open every single one, and the ones we do open — well, unless they grab our attention in the first few seconds of reading, we’ll simply move on and keep scrolling.

So, what’s going to make your email stand out from the rest?

Related: Email newsletter ideas for 5 industries

5 elements of an email that works

Email writing for business differs from personal email writing. You have to work harder to get (and keep) the reader’s attention. Here’s what you’ll need to succeed.

  1. A firm idea of your target audience.

  2. A focused message.

  3. A call to action (CTA).

  4. A branded look.

  5. A killer Subject line.

Ready to write your first message? Follow these best practices to win at email.

1. A firm idea of your target audience

Email Writing Crowd in Crosswalk
Knowing who is most likely to buy from you makes it easier to “talk” to them via email.
Photo: Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Knowing your ideal customer is key to communicating with them. In order to sell to them, you need to:

  • Understand who your customers are.
  • Know what they want.
  • Identify their buying motivators.
  • Offer them solutions.

If you haven’t already done so, write a list of your ideal customer’s characteristics and do some market research — who wants your product or service and why? Whenever your email writing seems to veer or wander, go back to this list. Would this person still be reading?

2. A focused message

Often, businesses get this wrong. Instead of having one or two key messages per email, they have about 20, and they all blur into one, leaving the reader confused and somewhat drained. Three key messages in one communication is all that’s needed.

For example, if you’ve just launched a new face cream, your top three messages might go along the lines of:

  • “Our new luxurious night cream targets wrinkles.“
  • “The active ingredients derive from native plants.’“
  • “90 percent of users saw a dramatic difference within one week.“

The point is, although your product or service is undoubtedly fabulous, your email needs to focus on your prospect or customer — not on your business. Every email should include:

  • What’s in it for the reader.
  • Emotive language — feel, look, achieve, etc.
  • A description of a common problem and your solution.
  • An attempt to overcome any obvious objections (price, complexity, etc).
  • A sweet deal to tie them in.

Your email should leave them feeling rewarded and in the buying state of mind.

Note: Be sure to proofread, then proofread again and make sure all your links work before you send. Broken links that don’t take the reader to the intended page = lost business.

3. A call to action (CTA)

This is where you guide readers into doing something — and it’s extremely important. Don’t let your potential customer get to the end of your email (or even halfway) and wonder what to do next.

This is your opportunity to generate a nice warm lead.

Most email tools include a CTA button on all their templates. What you put in that button should tempt the reader to click. For example:

  • “Claim your free sample now.”
  • “Take this quick skin quiz.”

Think about offering them an incentive to sweeten the deal — “Click here to receive 10% off your first purchase” or “Spend $20 or more for your chance to win our pamper pack.” Whatever your CTA is, make it crystal clear and tantalising.

4. A branded look

Email Writing Coffee Cup Logo
Your business logo should appear on all materials related to the business — including emails.
Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Aesthetically speaking, it’s imperative your email looks the part and is consistent with your brand. You want people to know who you are right? Well, they need to recognise you, otherwise, they won’t remember you.

Your emails should include the business logo, colours, text font and images you use on your website.

This is key to creating positive emotions and feelings of association between the recipient and your brand.

When people feel connected to your brand, when they believe it forms part of their self-identity and they simply can’t go without it … well, then you’ve hit the mark and you’re probably sitting on a gold mine (kudos to you!).

The moral of the story: be consistent with the appearance of your brand across every means of communication, whether it be your website, marketing collateral, business cards, social media, email campaigns or packaging.

Editor’s note: GoDaddy Email Marketing is included with the company’s Website Builder; it automatically creates an email template that matches your website for branding consistency.

5. A killer Subject line

Look at your email Subject line. What does it say? Is it enough to hook the reader in? If not, scrap it and try again. Nearly everyone decides whether to open emails based on Subject lines.

Subject lines are your opportunity to appeal to potential customers in just a few words.

Make Subject lines short, sharp and to the point. When brainstorming subject lines, focus on what the reader will gain from reading your email (e.g. younger-looking skin, more even tone). If you can, include the recipient’s first name in your email Subject lines.

Related: Why email subject lines are the ultimate micro content

Effective email writing takes some thought

Email Writing Desk
With a little thought, you can craft emails that people will look forward to reading.
Photo: Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Don’t forget the key fundamentals: know your customers, limit key messages, define your call to action, embed your branding and make it about the reader. You can find more great tips and tricks here. From here on, you’re on the path to success!