Email marketing is not dead. Despite assertions to the contrary for many years, marketers know that email is still one of the most effective ways to reach audiences. However, while email isn’t dead, it has evolved. The batch-and-blast approach of email marketing’s past have made way for more segmented and personalized email experiences.
But just as techniques have changed, so too must your messaging. Below are six tips for improving your email marketing copy to boost your email success.
1. Be instantly recognizable. Sender name might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of email copy, but what you type on that line when sending your email can have a huge impact on the success of your email. Your organization’s name is a good default choice, as is the name of someone at your company that is immediately recognizable to recipients. You could also try combining a person’s name with your company name, like “Liz from ClickDimensions,” for example. Also consider options that indicate exclusivity. For example, my family has a membership to Zoo Atlanta. For member emails, they choose the sender name Zoo Atlanta Member Services rather than simply Zoo Atlanta, which lets me know that the email is exclusively for members.
2. Make a good first impression. In today’s overcrowded inboxes, first impressions matter more than ever. And how do you make a good one? Picking the right sender name is a solid start, but it extends to your subject line and preheader text too. We could write entire posts on email subject lines alone – and we have; check them out here and here. For preheader text, which is the descriptive text that appears just below or beside the subject line, perhaps the best advice is to be sure to use that valuable real estate. Effective preheader text complements the subject line and adds more detail that compels opens. In the examples below, you can see two different approaches to preheader text. Carter’s looks to erase any doubts about the timing of ordering Christmas pajamas since this email was sent in early November, while Target tells recipients about how they can get additional savings on top of what is promoted in the subject line. Both are a good use of that space.
3. Create scannable emails. Have you ever opened an email and been confronted by long paragraph upon long paragraph of text with not an image in sight? If you closed or deleted it immediately, you wouldn’t be alone. As marketers, we’ve heard a lot in recent years about diminishing attention spans, and that can be particularly true in email marketing. With so many emails in all our inboxes, there’s only so much time we are willing to devote to each one – particularly if it isn’t easy to consume the information. Images, headers, subheaders and bulleted lists are all effective techniques for making an email more scannable. Also, pare down your copy to the essentials. Once you have written copy for an email campaign, re-read it to ensure that you have eliminated unnecessary words. One great example of an easily scannable email that many of us are familiar with is the Amazon Deal of the Day emails. I read these emails every morning without fail because I know that I can quickly scan the email to determine whether the deals are appealing to me or not.
4. Establish relevance quickly. Why are you sending me this email? What’s the point? Why now? These are questions we all have about the emails we receive, either subconsciously or consciously. That’s why it’s your job as a marketer is to establish relevancy in an email immediately. Are you sending the email now because you think they would be interested in a limited-time promotion, because their contract is up for renewal, because there is only a small quantity available of what you are promoting or because your business just launched something brand new that you thought they would like based on past purchases? Make sure the relevance of your email is clear and front and center in your messaging.
5. Remember it’s not about you. When you’re talking about your company’s products and services, it can be hard not to use words like “we” and “our” frequently. But to improve your email marketing copy and make it more engaging, focus on your recipients. What’s in it for them? Why should they care about the message you’re sending? For example, let’s say your company just launched a new line of noise-cancelling headphones that are high quality and low priced. Instead of messaging along the lines of, “We have the best and most affordable headphones,” you should try, “You won’t hear a thing or break the bank.” It’s a classic case of benefits versus features and remembering that your marketing should be less about your company and more about your customers.
6. Be human. No matter what you’re selling, promoting, featuring or teaching, it’s important to remember that there is a person on the receiving end of your email marketing. So, write your email copy accordingly. This goes for B2B and B2C marketers alike. One of my favorite examples of humanized email copy comes from Ann Handley, bestselling author and Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs. Her newsletter, Total Annarchy, is not only cleverly named but also refreshing to read. As you can see in the example excerpt below, Handley’s newsletter is in the style of a letter – and it feels like it could have been written directly to you. The copy sounds like a conversation and stirs the imagination, which is what all emails should strive to do.