Best Practices for Email Writing That

Email marketing can be a challenge because the average person gets more than 100 emails per day. Even worse, nearly half of those emails qualify as spam.

The best way to break through the clutter is with great emails that resonate with your audience. Read on for essential best practices for email writing that can help you achieve better results.

Every email is a blank slate, full of potential and possibility. It’s your opportunity to either grasp or squander.

If you want to create better email content, you need a focused strategy, an understanding of human behavior, and the willingness to try new things until you find the formula that works.

However, you don’t have to start from scratch. Learning email marketing best practices can put you ahead of the competition before you ever send your first email.

Keep in mind that even the smallest misstep can cause your prospects to unsubscribe from your mailing list. Worse, if you’re seen as too spammy, users might blacklist your email address, which could result in all your emails winding up in spam folders.

That’s the exact opposite of what you want. So let’s look at ways to make your email marketing campaign work for you instead of against you.

1. Know And Write For Your Target Market

You don’t speak to your parents the same way you speak to your kids. Similarly, you probably wouldn’t speak to someone you just met the same way you speak with somebody you’ve known for years. You should treat your emails the same way: tailor the content for your audience.

You probably already know a thing or two about your target customer based on what you do and how you do it. You can conduct research to learn more about your target audience.

To find your target audience, spend time where they like to congregate. Participate in forums, interact with them on social media, and ask them to complete surveys. You have many other options:

  • Answer questions on Quora and Yahoo! Answers.
  • Attend events and hand out your business card. More importantly, talk with people to find out what they’re interested in.
  • Poll your existing audience when you want to know what you should write about in your emails.
  • Check out your competitors. Who is paying attention to them? How can you reach those same people?

Apply what you’ve learned to every email. Pretend your target customer is sitting across the desk from you, waiting to read what you’ve written.

2. Use Clear, Actionable Language

Don’t mess around with your audience’s time. Use clear, actionable language to get your point across. You can also mix in some trigger words to better get their attention.

Subject + verb + clause

Let’s look at an example. Choose the sentence below that’s clear, actionable, and follows the formula:

  • You can transform your life with this easy-to-follow online course.
  • You might want to try this easy-to-follow online course if you want to transform your life today.

The first one is correct. Not only does it follow the subject-verb-clause formula, but it’s also shorter and easier to digest.

You can still include your brand voice and have fun. But you should respect your audience’s time by leaning on an economy of words.

3. Align Your Subject Line And Body Copy

Your email subject line is your email’s promise. It tells the recipient what they can expect to find inside the email.

If your audience reads the email and feels betrayed by the subject line, they probably won’t open an email from you ever again. That’s why your subject line and body copy must stay in alignment.

It’s tempting to use a melodramatic subject line that you copied from a Buzzfeed headline, but resist the urge. Or at least use that technique very sparingly. You’ll build trust and loyalty if you’re honest and transparent with your readers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t punch up your subject lines to attract attention.

The best way to increase open rates is to tell your readers, in plain language, what they’ll get from the email. Also, tell them how they’ll benefit from giving you their time:

  • Get a free template for improving your time management skills.
  • Do you want 50% off my next course?
  • Take a free copy of my new book … No strings attached!
  • Learn three ways to get organized in 15 minutes or less.

Make sure every word of your body copy remains responsive to the subject line. Try not to veer off on irrelevant tangents or confuse your reader.

Well-aligned subjects and email bodies keep your audience engaged and interested. Your readers will sense if there’s a disconnect.

4. Personalize Each Email

Email clients that use personalization tokens can become your greatest tool in email marketing. A personalization token exchanges a generic word or phrase into one that’s designed specifically for the recipient.

Name tokens represent the most popular choices. Which would you rather see at the top of an email you’ve just opened:

  • Dear Reader,
  • Dear Sheryl,

Most people would prefer the latter, as long as the name is correct. You can use other personalization tokens to further create intimacy and trust between you and your readers.

For example, you could include the recipient’s location or the name of their business. Just don’t go too overboard. You don’t want to transform from a savvy email marketer into a potential stalker.

5. Write In The Second Person

A conversational voice proves useful for any form of marketing, but especially for email. Remember that you’re sending an email directly to a person, even though your emails might reach dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people.

Talk to the target consumer directly with each email. Instead of using “he or she,” say “you.” That gives the recipient the sense that you’re having a one-on-one conversation. This helps to make the email not sound too sales-y or contrived.

You can also include first-person references to make the content more intimate. Instead of just talking “at” the reader, talk “to” the reader by sharing your own experiences.

Shifting between first and second person won’t jar the reader. But, if you suddenly switch to third person, you might lose your prospects.

6. Establish Relevancy Right Away

You’re passionate about your products. You might feel tempted to go on and on in your emails about your subject area and your knowledge.

Resist that urge.

Instead, establish the email’s relevancy right away. It should be obvious what you’re trying to convey from the subject line, as well as from the first line of the email body.

This doesn’t mean that you have to send emails that contain just a few sentences. You can write longer-form content, but only if you get your reader’s attention from the first line.

For example, let’s say you’re sending a free copy of a white paper you’ve written. Mention the white paper download in the subject line and in the first sentence. Then write any other copy you feel might prove relevant to the reader.

Add the download link for the white paper early in the copy and at the bottom of the email.

7. Prioritize Clarity

Everyone wants to write catchy prose. Clarity must come first.

If your readers don’t understand why you’re sending your email, they’ll hit the “delete” button and move on to something else. Don’t squander your time on pithy puns and wry witticisms.

Each email you send should have a specific purpose:

  • Announce a new online course
  • Educate your audience about a tip or fact
  • Encourage people to share your content
  • Get your readers involved with you on social media

Once you pick a goal for the email, make sure every sentence, image, and link furthers that goal. Don’t allow yourself to stray off-topic even if you think of something funny or entertaining to share.

You can make your copy as catchy as you want as long as it sticks to the email’s purpose.

8. Don’t Sell Before The Prospect Is Ready

Have you ever bought a new car at a dealership?

The salesperson typically greets you the second you get out of your car. Then you exchange pleasantries, talk about the weather, and discuss what you’re looking for in a new vehicle.

You’re invited to look at some of the cars on the lot. The salesperson asks you about your job, your favorite hobbies, or the local sports team.

It’s all about priming the customer. Good salespeople know that consumers need a little wooing before they’re ready for a sales pitch. You can apply this wisdom to email marketing.

If you start an email with, “Dear Reader, Please buy my product,” you’ll probably wind up without a customer. Don’t ask for the sale until the prospect is ready.

What does this mean?

In email marketing, you need to give to get. In other words, if you share something of value with your readers, they might share the contents of their wallets in exchange.

That’s why your link to your sales page or to your social media handles should come after you offer something of value. This could be a free e-book, a discount code, useful content, or more.

9. Give Prospects A Reward For Reading

Your customers expect—and respect—rewards.

We mentioned above that you don’t want to give your sales pitch until you’ve primed your audience, and that you must give if you want to get. The reward is the giving part.

Each email should offer something of value, whether it’s information, education, entertainment, a freebie, or a special coupon or promotion. Choose your rewards based on the email’s content and your current marketing campaign.

10. Talk About Benefits, Not Features

Lots of entrepreneurs confuse benefits with features, and vice versa. It’s an easy mistake to make, and many business owners find themselves more focused on the features of their products and services.

In reality, though, your customers don’t care about the features. They want to know how your products or services will benefit them.

You might have created a digital course about email marketing. One of the features is that you’ve included six modules, all of which contain one hour of video content.

That’s a feature. But it doesn’t mean anything unless you provide the benefit, too.

So how about this?

“We’ve created six modules full of tips and tricks to help you double your open rates.”

That’s a benefit. The “six modules” and “one hour of video content” are just features that support the benefit.

Every email you send should include a benefit—one that’s obvious to your readers. Take a look at your target market research to find the benefits that your customers would most enjoy.

11. Don’t Forget The Call To Action

One of the most essential best practices for email writing is the call to action. Your CTA tells the reader what to do next. If you leave out your call to action, your readers will likely close the email and forget about it.

Your CTA should reflect the purpose of the email. Here are a few examples:

  • Download your free white paper.
  • Save 20% on your first order.
  • Get your free trial today.
  • Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

And don’t just include your CTA at the end of the email. Include it within your content as well as at the bottom to make sure the reader gets your message.

12. Test, Optimize, And Improve

Email marketing best practices evolve over time as customers’ behaviors and expectations change. You can’t assume that your email will remain relevant forever.

That’s why it’s important to test your emails. Send variations of the same email to your audience to see which one generates the most clicks and conversions.

Use A/B testing to track the data and find out which emails resonate with your audience.

Then optimize your emails based on the feedback you receive. If you’re getting a poor conversion rate from a particular email, rework the subject line, the body content, and the CTA until you find a winning combination.

Finally, continue to improve your email marketing strategy. Experiment with different techniques, introduce new content, and change up your email format to avoid sounding monotonous.

Final Thoughts On Best Practices For Email Writing

Writing effective email marketing content requires more than just a great subject line and engaging body copy. It also involves research, personalization, clarity, and a willingness to experiment and optimize.

By following these best practices for email writing, you can create emails that resonate with your audience and drive better results. If you want to learn more about how to improve your email marketing strategy, check out our other resources or contact us for a consultation.

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