How to Write Email Copy That Resonates With Your Readers

How to Write Email Copy That Resonates With Your Readers

by | Sep 3, 2019 | Email Marketing

Your email is only as good as the words inside it.

It doesn’t matter how many fancy graphics or photos you have, whether your words are carefully branded with colors that match your logo, or how many emojis you used in the subject line.

Well-written email copy speaks for itself – it doesn’t need bells and whistles (although they ARE nice to have – they’re just not essential).

Email marketing, in general, has the potential to be 40x more effective than social media, according to a McKinsey & Company study.


That’s only if the words in your email do their job.

I’m here with your back-to-basics guide on how to write email copy that is not only engaging and relevant to your readers, but actually gets results.

Sometimes, solid words and great flow is all you need. ✍

Ready to roll up your sleeves?

how to write email copy guide

9 Steps on How How to Write Engaging Email Copy That Resonates with Your Audience: Table of Contents

1. Learn How to Write a Compelling Email Subject Line

2. Keep the Voice, Tone, and Style in Your Emails Consistent with Your Content (Be Uniquely You)

3. Don’t Worry Too Much About Length…

4. …But Don’t Blather – Get to the Point

5. Be Direct and Encourage Action Whenever Possible

6. Imagine Writing to One Person

7. Step into Their Shoes – Learn How to Write Relatable Email Copy

8. Always Write with a Goal in Mind for Your Email Copy

9. Include at Least ONE Call-to-Action

How do you write #email copy that doesn’t need a crutch? (Read: Slick graphics, smooth design, flashy colors, or so many emojis it looks like hieroglyphics. ‍♀️ ) Find out in @JuliaEMcCoy's guide. Click To Tweet

How to Write Email Copy That Works Without Any Gimmicks: 9 Steps

How do you write email copy that doesn’t need a crutch? (Read: Slick graphics, smooth design, flashy colors, or so many emojis it looks like hieroglyphics. ‍♀️ )


Like this! Read on.

1. Learn How to Write a Compelling Email Subject Line

Your subject line is the key that unlocks your reader’s curiosity, interest, or excitement to read what you have to say. If you can evoke one of these emotions from your reader at this crucial point (and deliver within the actual email message itself), that’s a recipe for a winner.

Granted, that’s not saying it’s easy to write this kind of email subject line. It’s really hard.

But not impossible.

Use Commands or Questions

Since the aim of the subject line is both to inform your reader what the email is about and entice them to open it, why not just tell them what to do?

Commands use the power of suggestion to make your reader want to click.

For example, the subject line “Take the night off from cooking” in an email from a restaurant is more effective than “New seasonal menu!”

The first is a command. If you say that to most people, they’ll respond with “Okay, how?” Meanwhile, the second subject line will earn a “So what?” more often than not.

A question posed to your reader as your subject line works similarly, because it ignites curiosity, like in this subject line from Digital Marketer:

“Is this the hottest career in marketing?”

A question posed to your reader as your subject line works well, because it ignites curiosity. #emailmarketingtips Click To Tweet

Plumb Your Vocabulary

A few strong, solid verbs and adjectives (and a couple of intriguing nouns) may mean the difference between your reader hitting “delete” or opening your message.

The right words encourage an emotional response and make your subject line stand out among the dozens of others crowding the average inbox.

For instance, in this to-the-point subject line, Sips by (a tea subscription box) uses two positively-associated words and the power of alliteration to make you want to click:

“Hacks for Happy Camping”

Simple, yet sweet. All it took were two strong words: “hacks” and “happy.”

Use an Email Subject Line Scoring Tool

If this all sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, good news: Tools exist to help you create effective email subject lines.

I particularly love CoSchedule’s Email Subject Line Tester. It not only scores your subject line, but also explains exactly why it works and the components that make it strong. The more you use this tool, the more you’ll improve your subject line writing skills!

2. Keep the Voice, Tone, and Style in Your Emails Consistent with Your Content (Be Uniquely You)

Brand consistency across platforms is important for building trust and a good reputation with readers. That applies to your email copy, too.

Ideally, your email copy should reflect the brand voice you have established elsewhere. Any differences will jar your readers, not to mention make you seem less authentic and real.

Real-world example: Way back in 2016, when I ventured into building my first courses, I hired a “marketing expert” team (read: ad funnel experts — oops).

One of their services was writing all my emails for the sequences to test for better conversion rates. I bit my lip reading phrases like, “I’m a leading influential expert, and I know what I’m doing.” A few of their copy segments ran in an A/B test, and my readers immediately saw a difference and pointed it out (one reader even said, “This is WAY too salesy, and not like you!”).

Yeah, chalk that up as just one of my many marketing lessons learned.

I strayed from my style, differentiation factor, and tone of voice in my content, which is usually zero B.S., zero fluff, direct, and practical. The new stuff wasn’t me, and the readers just knew.

Lesson learned. If you outsource some of your content and copy, don’t hire too many writers. Your style will get watered down. Instead, stick to one or two writers who know your voice inside-out, or ask the agency you hire to dedicate one writer to your content/copy, no matter where or how it appears online. This is a big factor for consistency.

A clear, distinct brand voice everywhere matters.

This example from email-writing master Ramit Sethi proves my point. His voice pops right away, and you feel connected to it because it’s consistent with the style of his written content everywhere else:

3. Don’t Worry Too Much About Length…

Unlike a clear and consistent brand voice across your emails, the length of your messages doesn’t matter that much when you’re learning how to write email copy.

I have seen bite-sized email copy and novel-length copy both perform well. It’s not the number of words you use – it’s the quality and content of those words that matter.

Take, for instance, one of my most successful emails that did amazingly well with my list. I wrote this after getting inspired listening to someone in my industry share how “DIY” content marketing didn’t work for them:

If you think that looks like a lot of text for one email, you’re not entirely wrong. This email is almost 800 words, and there are no bells or whistles.

BUT. There is a TON of value packed in there:

  • I tell a personal story relevant to my audience’s interests.
  • I include facts, stats, and data.
  • I use bullet points, bold text, and short paragraphs so it’s easy to read.
  • I provide both “how” and “why” this topic matters to the reader.

That leads us to my next point. Length doesn’t necessarily matter…

4. …But Don’t Blather – Get to the Point

Again, there is no fluff in that successful email. No useless details, no beating around the bush, no B.S.-ing.

If this email went off-topic or into irrelevant details (like unrelated stats or repetitive wording), it wouldn’t have worked.

Need a clear example of fluffy writing? Look at this introduction. The two paragraphs below say the exact same thing, just worded in different ways.

Notice how your eyes start to glaze over when you hit that second sentence?

We get it: Americans eat a lot of junk. You could easily combine these two paragraphs and keep that main idea intact. This is the epitome of fluffy, useless writing.

Bottom line: Get to the point, and don’t repeat yourself uselessly in your email copy. Make every word count. (If you need a little help with that, check out our guide to writing clear sentences.)

5. Be Direct and Encourage Action Whenever Possible

Getting to the point isn’t just about zero fluff. It’s also about being direct with your readers and encouraging them to act on what you’re saying at every chance.

For a great example, let’s return to that Sips by email. I’ve underlined all the places where they used actionable, direct language to inspire you to check out their blog:

Have you noticed a trend? Most of these sentences begin with a command: “Remind yourself,” “try out this recipe,” “you’ll be wanting s’more” – the language is both punny and direct for maximum impact.

Here’s the end of the email, where we see more of the same:

They’re directly talking to you, the reader. They address you, use commands, and include plenty of opportunities for you to complete the desired action (clicking the links to check out their blog).

6. Imagine Writing to One Person

Here’s a trick for how to write email copy that’s more direct:

Imagine writing your message to a single person. Imagine them sitting in the room with you and what you would say – then write it.

This works particularly well if you already have an audience persona nailed down. Pull it out, examine the traits that define your ideal target reader, and write directly to that person, empathizing with their pain points, fears, goals, and triumphs.

7. Step into Their Shoes – Learn How to Write Relatable Email Copy

Writing relatable, relevant emails isn’t that hard if you know how to step into your persona’s shoes.

Take it one step further – don’t just imagine writing to that person, pretend you ARE that person.

As that consumer, what do you need to hear from a brand to pique your interest, pull you in, and make you care?

Let’s look at an example. Take this rather “blah” email subject line from The Container Store:

“25% OFF All Elfa, Shelving & More!”

The discount is front and center, but other than that, there’s nothing here to entice me as the consumer. I don’t know what “Elfa” is, and as far as shelving – what kind of shelving? Closets? Kitchen? Bathroom?

Why should I care?

This email fails because it doesn’t relate the subject of the message to me and my interests or problems. I don’t care about a discount unless it helps me save on something I need or want.

What if the subject, instead, read:

25% off closet shelving to organize your life

Nixing just a few words and substituting others completely changes this subject. It relates the point of the email (alerting me to a discount in-store) to a real problem I want to solve.

That’s a HUGE difference.

8. Always Write with a Goal in Mind for Your Email Copy

What do you hope to gain with the email marketing you’re about to send?

What is the goal, the purpose?

Are you:

  • Trying to get more eyes on your latest blog?
  • Building brand awareness?
  • Sharing brand updates or important info?
  • Encouraging a lead to buy?

Whatever your goal, have it firmly in mind before you compose your email copy. This gives your writing purpose and can even help you avoid fluff and filler.

Plus, outlining a goal helps you track and measure the success of your email copy. For instance, did that email promoting your new blog lead to lots of clicks and traffic? Have lots of leads converted on that sales email?

Once you see how you’re doing, you can change tactics, improve, and test new email techniques to find your sweet spot.

9. Include at Least ONE Call-to-Action

Once you’ve nailed tricks and techniques for how to write email copy that performs, you need to capitalize on it all.

Your readers are ready to act on the information you provided in your email. Do they have the means to do that?

The call-to-action (CTA) gives them the chance. If you don’t include at least one in your email copy, you’re wasting your time.

The CTA is the command that tells the reader what to do next after they have ingested the information in your email. E.g., If you want them to check out your blog, use that as your CTA and include a blog link. If you want them to buy something, link the product and tell them to “buy now!”

Let’s return to Ramit Sethi for a fantastic example of this in action. In this email selling his Zero to Launch course, he includes not one, not two, not three, but FOUR CTAs sprinkled throughout the text.

Each is a clickable link that takes you straight to what you need to act on the information in the email.

The CTA is essential to seeing results from your email marketing. Don’t leave home without at least one somewhere noticeable in the copy.

Don’t leave home without at least one solid CTA noticeable in your email copy. #emailcopywriting Click To Tweet

You’ve Got This “How to Write Email Copy” Thing

Email marketing is a powerful tool just about anyone can use to build their brand. Don’t be fooled, though – the most compelling aspect of your emails needs to be the copy, not the flashy images or design.

The words you use WILL make or break your success. Learn how to write email copy, wield those words wisely, and the ROI will flow in. Promise.

CTA email copy