Mar 21 2018

5 Copywriting Strategies for Emails That Stand Out in a Crowded Inbox

You probably feel frustrated when you spend hours writing copy for an email that your readers won’t even open. Getting good results and measurable ROI on your email marketing efforts is key to your business. Your audience wants engaging and exciting copy. They want value in every communication. But it doesn’t have to be energy-sucking.

Quality content that provides value to readers won’t fall on deaf inboxes, I promise. And you don’t even need to be an English or grammar wizard or have beautiful templates (although it helps. Here’s a few for free). With these five copywriting tips, your readers will open your emails and be more likely to engage with your call to action.

1. Your emails shouldn’t be about you

How many times have you glazed over product emails and newsletters from vendors? Emails that blabber on and on with me-heavy copy are sure to bore readers.

Here’s an example:

Snore. All that copy is focused on the copy. As a reader, I’m happy YOUR business is going well, but I want to know what’s in it for ME.

The issue is: Your readers don’t care about you or what your doing. They want to know what you can do for them

The solution: All of your email copy should focus on what your reader wants, or better, what they need.

Here’s an example of an email with copy that focuses heavily on the reader.

What do you see? Every part of the email is about the reader, from subject to sign-off, is about the reader.

It may seem like a simple fix, but this little change in perspective can make your copy much more moving.

Inbound marketing is a great way to engage with your customers or audience. So, let’s say you have an awesome ebook or guide you wrote where you share your expert knowledge.

Instead of blasting your readers with something they don’t want by saying “Look at this new PDF guide and Download it Now,” try making it something they need by focusing on their problems. Explain how the guide can help your reader beat fatigue, wake up feeling energized, and flip their life around in just a week.

Every email should look like that: being totally focused on your reader’s needs.

These are the the three things to think about when writing reader centric copy:

  • Put yourself in their shoes: Try to see things from your customers’ point of view. What do they want? What is their daily experience? What issues and pain points are they facing? Some simple user research and brainstorming can answer some of these questions.
  • Provide a solution: Once you understand your customer’s biggest pain points, subtly provide your service or product as a solution. Instead of expecting your readers to understand how to solve their issues with your tools, guide them through applying real solutions that will impact their day-to-day.
  • Use detail: You’ll need to tell your subscribers exactly how to get the most from your solution. Consider the customer’s journey. What’s the next step? This could be your call to action, or subject for your next communication.

Writing user-focused copy is the first step to better emails. With just this simple tweak, your writing will be 50x more powerful immediately.

2. Write like you’re talking to a friend

Imagine your at your friend’s house talking chatting it up. She asks you how work is going, and what exactly you do again.

Would you tell her “my mission is to dramatically reduce operational efficiency and provide positive outcomes for my clients through automation consultation”?

Heck no.

What would you really say? You’d sip your tea and note, “I help people who own small businesses empower their customers by showing them how to make their jobs simpler.”

Nothing complicated, just simple words and a simple story.

Copywriting is pretty much the same. Here are some quick tips to get to conversational.

  • Look for dense words and lines: Complicated sentences read, well, complicated. Use short words and sentences.
  • Emote while you write: If you’re excited about something, be excited! If you’re telling an industry secret … be … reserved. If you write like you talk, your readers will mirror you. Emotional readers are more likely to engage in a meaningful way.
  • Read everything out loud: My teachers have told me this my whole life, and it really has made me a better writer. If you find yourself thinking, “this sounds weird,” “I would never say this,” or getting stopped up, it’s time to trash it and revise using these tips.

The best emails sound like they’re written just for you. It really brings the magic back to email, and at least for me, makes me excited to check my email (if I know a friend will be writing me).

3. Breathe life into your copy

There’s nothing that makes me unsubscribe faster than vague copy. Let’s do a quick exercise to turn vague copy into specific copy that tells a story.

  • Snore: “Commuting if awful.”

  • Score: “Every day, I hide under the covers and scream, ‘I can’t take another 45 minute ride in a sweaty sardine can to a job I hate!’”

  • Snore: “You’ll be free and flexible.”

  • Score: “Want to meet up with your best friend for lunch without asking your boss? You can do that. Want to take a break from work and go to the beach at 1pm on a Tuesday? You can do that, too.”

  • Snore: “You’ll feel great.”

  • Score: “You’ll feel closer to your partner and be able to listen to exactly what your body needs.”

When you make edits like these, it’ll make your readers feel like they know you. And when you feel like a friend, they’ll open up for deeper connection. Isn’t that what we’re all here for?

Energetic copy is the key to getting your emails opened and read.

4. Create a Strong Call to Action

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Whether you’ve been writing for decades or you’re new to email, if you don’t have a strong call to action, your readers are going to be left out to dry.

Even a simple engage, click or buy is enough to direct readers after reading through your energized personal copy. So think about what you want from your readers. Do you have specific content you want them to download? Respond to an offer or sign up for a webinar?

I got this amazing email that even asked me to respond, and I DID. I never do that with boring marketing emails.

It doesn't matter what you want your readers to do. But you do have to make it clear (and having a bold button can help with that. Here’s how to create them in your templates).

  • Know what you want: If you don’t know what you want from your readers, how can they know? Brainstorm in a problem-solution model before writing your email.
  • Be specific: This isn’t the time to beat around the bush. You can still be polite while being direct. Have a concrete, tangible way for readers to engage.
  • Be honest: Tell readers exactly what will happen when they take action. Will an e-ticket get delivered to their inbox? Will they get an email link to a PDF? Be clear and specific.

(If you’re still not sure what to offer your clients, content genius Andy Crestondina has some good tips. )

Don’t waste your time developing a story to move your audiences just to leave them hanging at the climax. With a little planning and clear direction, your readers are way more likely to take action.

5. Craft personal subject lines


It was the subject line for the highest opened and highest earning email in history.

Simple. Casual. Straight forward.


Well, it did come from Barack Obama. So that’s … that.

But seriously, if you got an email from the President saying ‘hey’, I’d open it way faster than the 40% off coupons from Nordstrom.

The best subject lines will stop your readers cold and force them to keep reading. Their reactions should be, “tell me more!”. A great subject line could change your business. That’s why copywriters and marketers like me spend so much time testing which words will hit readers hardest. An easy way to run this test is to write different subject lines for the same emails see which get opened. Yay science!

(Running a A/B test is easy, and you don’t need to be a email genius to do it. We make automated A/B testing easy. Click to see the simple solution).

But how do you find the perfect words? I’ll show you:

It’s personal

A lot of blogs are going to tell you to create fear or anxiety in your readers by writing subject lines with ticking time bombs and manipulative messages. Those only work sometimes. And do you really want to be associated with negative emotions when customers think about your marketing outreach?

The emails I like to write are extremely personal. I want to make meaningful connections with people because it feels good. The fact that it sells is an added bonus.

What do you talk about with your friends? I’ve seen emails that talk about eating an amazing takeout meal in pajamas, or jamming out to Diana Ross while grocery shopping.

These emails are casual and fun. When you write like you’re talking to one person, using personal subject lines, it’ll be a hit.

Why does this work?

The answer is the exact same reason your cold emails aren’t pulling in money.

No one likes being sold to.

When is the last time you were pumped about watching a commercial? And when was the last time you excitedly opened a text from a friend? I’m guessing never and all the time, respectively.

(Here are 10 awful email subject lines to learn from, and 10 more to inspire you.)

So how can you cut through the noise? Be personal. It’s the opposite of years of marketing training. But what if marketing were more human? Treat and trust your readers. Be their friend.

  • Thanks for joining us, Jim
  • Great to meet you at Martech
  • Mike, try these new helpful apps

It’s easy to write personal excited copy right now, even if you suck at writing or aren’t sure where to start. Think about being personal. Talk to your readers like you talk to your friends. Energize your copy. Entice with a strong call to action and be simple in your subjects.

Great copy isn’t about being a great writer. It’s about connecting with your audience.

If you’re still having trouble, do some more research on why no one is reading your emails, and how we can help you up your engagement.

Posted By Aiden Kent