Your Nutshell Guide to Email Copywriting I Express Writers

The Marketer’s Nutshell Guide to Effective Email Copywriting

by | Apr 30, 2016 | Email Marketing | 0 comments

It’s time. You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect email.

You’ve agonized over the words you’ve included, written and re-written every sentence, and considered your reader at every fork of the road.

You give the work of art you’ve just crafted one last read-through, then you take a deep breath and click “send.”

You close your laptop. Your work there is done.

A few days later, though, you check out the stats for that work of art you were so proud of and they’re, well, disappointing.

How could this possibly be?

If you’ve ever found yourself in these shoes, don’t fret. This is a very common problem, and many marketers struggle to figure out why the content they work so hard on isn’t as effective as they thought it would be.

Luckily, you’re not doomed to live in this place of email marketing limbo forever. By learning the keys to stellar direct email copywriting, you can craft outstanding marketing emails that rake in the clicks, opens, and conversions.

Read on to learn more.

email copywriting guide

Great Direct Email Copywriting: The Basics

While many people brush off direct email copywriting as a skill that died along with the early 2000s, the fact is that it’s still very, very relevant in today’s marketing environment.

While email marketing might not have the universal appeal of social media or podcasting, it’s still far too important to overlook, and marketers that do find themselves missing out on a large segment of traffic and engagement.

If you’re one of the many people who wonder what’s so great about email marketing, here are a few of its most winning qualities:

#1. Direct email marketing is effective and cost-efficient

While every company wants a cheap, efficient marketing strategy they can count on, this is especially important for, small business owners, who are always looking for efficient marketing solutions that will provide results on time and under budget. Luckily, email marketing fits the bill.

According to one 2013 report conducted by Direct Marketing Association, marketers who use direct email marketing earn a 4,3000% ROI.

How’s that for incentive?

#2. Email marketing provides real value

Every day, customers around the world take time out of their busy schedules to read through the emails that land in their inbox. Unfortunately, many of these emails are junk. Luckily, marketers who master direct email copywriting can set themselves apart from the crowd by providing real value to readers.

According to CopyBlogger, brands that are truly successful at direct email marketing are those who position themselves as companies truly concerned about the happiness and well-being of their readers.

This, in turn, helps readers feel as if they can trust your brand, which makes them more willing to share personal information and convert on your offers.

#3. Email marketing opens up a reliable line of communication with customers

Where else do you get unparalleled access to your customer’s pocket or inbox? Nowhere but email marketing, that’s the answer. When you provide valuable, unique, and interesting direct email copywriting, you succeed in opening up a valuable dialogue with clients, the likes of which isn’t seen anywhere else in marketing.

#4. Email marketing is a powerful tool for word-of-mouth and shares

According to DuctTape Marketing, quality content is one of the only things that will produce reliable sales results every time. With this in mind, it’s clear that people who master the art of direct email copywriting are uniquely qualified to make more sales and produce more positive word-of-mouth advertising within their customer base.

Despite all of these benefits, many people are afraid of writing marketing emails, assuming it will be challenging or unproductive. Luckily, crafting good email copy doesn’t have to be a challenge. With that in mind, check out our top tips for writing effective marketing emails your customers will love.

10 Steps to Craft Stellar Email Copy That Can’t Be Ignored

If you’re ready to incorporate great email marketing into your content strategy, follow these ten steps:

1. Remain relatable in all of your marketing copy

Let’s get one thing straight: nobody wants to read a stuffy marketing email. Would you?

Of course the answer is no.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your voice relatable and approachable in your direct email copywriting. Here are three good examples of brands I love that do just that:

Tim Ferriss’s Five Bullet Friday email always feels like grabbing a quick coffee with a friend. It’s approachable, casual, and informative. Which may be why it has a few million subscribers:

tim ferriss email

Another blogger who has always done a great job of maintaining a relatable approach is Mark Manson. Here’s one of his most recent marketing emails that decidedly does not feel like a marketing email:

Mark Manson Email

Finally, for reference, here’s a marketing email from GroupHigh, an influencer marketing startup that always kills it with the copywriting:

GroupHigh Screenshot

With those examples in mind, strive to keep your email copywriting in the same tone that you’d use to talk with a friend. It will benefit you in terms of conversions, clicks, and engagement down the road.

2. Personalize your emails as much as possible

A personalized email is a successful email, so take steps to make them as individualized as possible. This often means using your reader’s name in the subject line, using your name as the “From” address, and inputting a personal email as the “Reply to” address rather than allowing it to fill in with an auto-generated email from MailChimp or whatever service you use.

While personalization may not seem like a big deal, Aberdeen reports that personalizing an email can improve click-through rates by 10%.

3. Make clarity your main priority

Too many marketers try to be too gimmicky in their email copy, which only drives users away. Instead of focusing only on hooking your readers, think first about how you can provide clarity and value.

Once you’ve got those two things down, you can move onto being catchy.

4. Write a compelling email subject line

When it comes to email marketing, subject lines are critical. By using action words, posing a question, or personalizing the subject line (which results in a 26% spike in open rates), you can ensure that your email copy won’t be left sitting at the bottom of a trash bin.

5. Make sure you’re delivering on your promises

If you promise free tips, useful information, or shocking data in your email subject line, you need to deliver in your body content. While most people assume that being catchy in the subject line is all that matters, even users who open your emails will head for the hills if the body content doesn’t support the claims the subject line makes.

6. Write in the second person voice

Whenever you write email copy, everything you pen should be in the second person. Notice how all three of the examples listed above use “you” liberally. In addition to helping you connect with your readers, this is also a great way to drive the reader to action.

7. Stress the benefits, not the features

In email, as in all great marketing, you need to focus on stressing the benefits rather than the features of your product. In addition to the fact that features are more compelling than benefits, telling a story about how a service, good, or product will change a consumer’s life is much more emotive than simply including a bulleted list of features.

8. Keep your email brief

Few people have the attention span for a long marketing email, so it’s in your best interests to keep it short, succinct, and to the point. Offer relevant information toward the beginning of the email and resist the temptation to stuff the body full of filler language.

9. Make your call-to-action prominent

To enhance the effectiveness of your call to action, highlight it at the end of the email. Be sure to set it apart from the text, consider tinting it a different color, and install a button for added effect. While these are simple fixes, they can go a long way toward improving the effectiveness of your email across the board.

10. Automate your marketing emails with better management tools

While not technically a writing tip, automating your emails with the right management tool will save you a huge amount of time and money.

Services like MailChimp have long been the standard, but today more powerful tools like ConvertKit are beginning to rule the roost.

ConvertKit is a tool we use in our email campaigns here at Express Writers, and it has rapidly become one of the most indispensable in our belt. In fact, as soon as we switched to ConvertKit we saw a whopping 200% increase in the clicks on our emails!

While ConvertKit is a super-efficient tool for sending better emails, it’s much more than that.

What sets ConvertKit apart is its highly responsive opt-in forms, multiple incentive options, subscriber gifts, custom opt-in features, and custom landing page options.

Plus, they’re known for the awesome reporting tools you get. Check out the homescreen dashboard, with a report detailing everywhere our subscribers came from, what days they came in, etc:


ConvertKit is based on simplicity. They believe that less HTML, links, imagery and “stuff” makes sure your email gets read and out of the spam folder – and they’re onto something, based on our email results! However, that does mean you don’t have a lot of options in designing an email. But, the simple template we’ve been using works well.

Here’s a quick peek at some of our broadcasts.

convertkit broadcast

We upgraded our style to omit nearly every footer link in early 2018, and have been using a super-simple, plain-text style very light on images and design. One campaign I write every week is the Content Shop Spotlight. We’ve had a great return on this, with prospects emailing us weekly after reading these newsletters. Read a full Content Shop Spotlight example.

convertkit email example julia mccoy

convertkit email example

You can customize text colors with a handy visual editor, add custom CSS codes for social media icons and more, or create and host a landing page and forms. You can even grab their WordPress plugin for more accessibility with subscribers to and from your website.

Ideal for brands of all sizes who want to boost the conversion rate of their email marketing, ConvertKit is by far one of the best tools on the market right now. Get ConvertKit here: starting at $29/1000 subscribers per month.

Better Direct Email Copywriting Starts Now

By the end of this year, experts are projecting there to be 4.3 billion active email accounts around the globe.

This is a huge number, and it’s just one of the many things that demonstrates the importance and timeliness of email marketing.

On average, 57% of email subscribers interact with marketing emails for 10-60 minutes each week, and if you can master direct email copywriting well enough, you’ll soon find that your brand is one of the few they choose to spend their time with.

While direct email copywriting is a difficult thing to learn, the tips in our post can help you develop, target, produce, and dispense marketing emails that truly drive results–rather than just sitting in someone’s inbox.

And while connecting with customers in a meaningful and lasting way has always been a difficult pursuit, email marketing is one of the most efficient ways to make it happen in today’s world. Today, 83% of B2B marketers use emails for marketing, and that number will only grow in the coming years.

By developing a copywriting style that brands you as personable, polite, and engaging, you can easily connect on a deeper level with your customers and improve your brand across the board.

Stumped on how to create powerful email headlines and copy? Our email copywriting services might be just what you need! We’ve written successful email content for brands of all types.

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