10 ideas on how to write emails customers actually want to read

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10 ideas on how to write emails customers actually want to read

10 ideas on how to write emails customers actually want to read
In the world of marketing, the humble email is a bit like a classic Porsche. It may be old but it remains full of power and intrigue. It’s affordable, highly trackable and proven to be effective – provided that you use striking design and clever copywriting to pack an impactful punch. If you don’t grab a reader’s attention and keep them engaged, your best efforts will end up in the trash bin. Or, even worst, someone will hit the ‘unsubscribe’ link. Here are our 10 copywriting tips for creating must-read emails.


1. Who’s doing the talking?

As important as a catchy subject line is (we’re getting to that in a second), so is who the email is coming from. Using a real person’s name as the sender, or something like “Tim at Mango Café” will earn you higher open rates.


2. You had me at ‘hello’ (hint: sassy subject line)

A great email with a so-so subject line is a bit like having a beautifully designed shop with an A4 piece of paper stuck on the door as your signage. If people don’t know what’s waiting for them inside, they won’t walk in the door. Catchy subject lines are short (6-10 words max), personalised and enticing. They use action words with a sense of urgency (or FOMO), such as “don’t miss out” or “be the first to buy this unicorn onesie” to create a sense of urgency.


3. Reveal a little sneak peek

Don’t forget about the preview text of your email – the short summary that is displayed before you actually open the mail. This is particularly important for emails viewed on mobile phones. Your subject line and preview text work together like a well-rehearsed comedy duo – the one sets it up and the other delivers the punchline. For example:

Subject line: The one lipstick fashion bloggers can’t live without

We go behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week to see what the pros carry in their make-up bags.


4. Give them a firm handshake (we’re talking headlines)

Copywriters are great at head-turning headlines, it’s what they get paid for. And while you might not be the king of puns or the queen of alliteration, there are still some tricks to use to create a standout headline. Decide exactly what the one thing is that you want to talk about and say that in as few words as possible. Use these techniques to create eye-catching headlines:

  • How to: this says that your email will be helpful, e.g. How to write the perfect email in one hour.
  • List: a popular one with blog articles (ahem…like this one), our brains like to look at numbers. E.g. 5 mistakes your email should never make.
  • Solving a problem: Hungry all the time? Perhaps it’s your thyroid

The this/that method: Saying these words will trick people into thinking that a solution or idea is waiting for them. E.g. These 5 copywriting tricks will solve all your problems.


 5. Keep it short

You know that famous Mark Twain quote “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”? That could’ve been said about emails too. It’s much easier to waffle on for 1000 words than to gather your thoughts for 50 succinct words. That’s why it might be a good idea to enlist the help of a copywriter to take an independent bird’s eye view of your messaging, cut through the noise and say exactly what needs to be said to spur a customer into action.

If you were doing the email in a 20-second WhatsApp voice note, what would it say?


6. Dangle that carrot: a clear call-to-action

What marketers call a call-to-action is that big shiny button or link in an email where you want your reader to click and spring into action, whether it’s to buy something, share their thoughts or enter a competition. After your headline (in a nutshell, what we are telling you today), this is the “what we want you to do”.


7. Make it skimmable

Be prepared that someone might only take in about a fifth of what you’re trying to say – that’s according to usability guru, Jakob Nielsen. Use bolded sub-headings, bullets and uncluttered white space to make it easy for a reader to pick out the most important messages in your email.


8. Avoid jargon like the plague

Yes, you know what you’re talking about but do they know what you’re talking about? When in doubt, cut it out. Keep your language simple, human and straightforward. Again, a copywriter can help you finesse just the right tone of voice to appeal to your target market, without resorting to jargon or overused expressions.


9. Constantly finesse and evolve your emails

Most email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp will offer you data on how well your email performed, in other words, how many people opened it, whether they clicked on your call-to-action button, what else they clicked on etc. This is the kind of data that can help you constantly improve your newsletters. Another popular method is A/B or split testing, where two different versions of the same email is sent to two different groups of recipients. You can test things like subject lines, best times of the day, longer vs shorter emails etc.


10. Don’t be boring

Like any relationship, it’s important to mix it up to keep things interesting. Try different formats of emails, such as ‘how-to’ guides, lists, best-ofs, product demos or even a video message. Be unpredictable and exciting. Don’t be boring. And remember, every single type of email can potentially be entertaining. Just ask actor Ryan Reynolds who cleverly used amusing out-of-office emails to create buzz around his investment in gin brand, Aviation. Okay, fair enough, it is Ryan Reynolds we’re talking about here, and perhaps you won’t get 20 000 emails a day like he did. But still, it was a pretty clever trick.


If you want to find out what other pretty clever services Pretty Social can offer you, read more about them here or get in touch with us today.

Call us: +27 79 896 1593 or email info@prettysocial.co.za



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