The Complete Guide and Tips on Email Copywriting

The Complete Guide and Tips on Email Copywriting
19 December, 2023 • ... • 68 views
Varvara Potekhina
by Varvara Potekhina

Times when you could simply describe your product to make your client buy it have passed. Brands must use certain email copywriting tactics to keep it up. Readers receive dozens of emails every week – your newsletter should stand out just to be opened.

Before you start writing, answer two fundamental questions:

  • Who is your reader?
  • Why do they want to spend their time reading this email? How will it help them?

If you take time to specify the answers, your newsletter can become an efficient tool to boost sales and grow retention by making the reader eager to read the next email. Emails are great for driving your client closer to conversion. Let’s explore the rules of email copywriting to see what is really possible.

What is email copywriting?

Email copywriting refers to composing all the texts in newsletters for your brand’s audience, from the subject line to the footer text. It helps businesses build communication with their customers and reach marketing goals like growing engagement and retention, making sales, attracting new clients and driving the existing ones closer to conversion.

Why is it so important for businesses?

Email copywriting is the main tool of email marketing. The way you describe your offers, place accents, and the tone of your voice result in what your customer experiences. And that affects their decision on whether they want to spend their time reading the next email. 

What kinds of benefits can the reader get from your newsletter? There are three fundamental types of those:

  • Pragmatic benefit. It is the practical use of the information you provide. For example, if a person has a headache they might be glad to check a new efficient medicine. If another person has kids they might need waterproof kids footwear in October. 
  • Social benefit. People love being respected, recognized and loved. If you have a business newsletter, you may craft an email with practices from top businessmen. It will let your reader grow professionally, but it also will make them associate themselves with those successful people. Topics like “What’s in a celebrity’s purse” use the same technique. People associate with these celebrities and unconsciously decide that if they have the same stuff in their purse, it means they have something in common.
  • Emotional benefit. This is everything that causes the feelings of warmness, curiosity, delight or other emotions. For example, an email with a subject line “Three bugs we found in the previous version of <Program’s name>” makes the reader feel curious. It also makes the brand appear more open and sincere.  

Focusing on these benefits, you can keep your reader’s attention and as a result grow engagement and drive them closer to conversion. It’s best if you promise these benefits in the subject line, where the email copywriting starts, and thus increase open rates.

Email copywriting tips that work

When you know who your reader is and what benefit he can get from your email, it’s time to get started with the newsletter itself. Let’s go through some tips on writing emails that really work.

Set clear goals

Keep in mind why you write the email. Do you want to grow engagement offering your audience some extra activities or promoting new communication channels? Do you wish to strengthen the emotional connection or thank your existing clients? Do you want to welcome the new ones? Is it about promoting your new products? Great copywriters set clear goals and keep their eyes on the ball.

Build interest in the subject line

A boring or vague subject line means your email will never be read. That makes a catchy subject line vital for the whole campaign. But that’s not it: if your reader keeps leaving your emails unnoticed, the email client may start marking your emails as spam. And vice versa, a good subject line can help you increase your open rates. 

Here are some good examples of subject lines that might catch reader’s attention:

  • “Get a free bucket bag with XPLR Pass” (sets a clear pragmatic benefit)
  • “TAKEOFF ✈️ the one-day event starts now!” (causes curiosity and fear of missing out – emotional benefit)
  • “Want to collect data faster?” (sets a clear pragmatic benefit and promises professional growth – social benefit)
  • “Did you run today?” (arises a sense of competition and motivation – social benefit) 

Be brief

Your text should contain a minimum of words you need to express all the ideas you want to put in one email. It should show your respect for the reader’s time and attention.

Imagine you are the editor of the Spotify Newsletter and you get a new subscriber. What ideas would you like to express in the first email the reader receives? Let’s make a list:

  1. I am a real person who cares about each reader. I am very glad that you personally subscribed and thank you for that.
  2. I am a professional and the newsletter rocks.
  3. Everything is clear and simple: here’s the schedule and the archive.
  4. I am always there for questions and feedback: here’s how to reach me anytime.

Here’s what this text looks like – it is a great example of a good brief welcome email. All the ideas are covered. And the paragraphs make it really easy to read.

A welcome email from Spotify Newsletter

Being brief is important for writing the subject line too. Also for practical matters: most users read the emails on mobile devices. The mobile versions usually show only several words of the subject line, so the general recommendation is a maximum of 9 words and 60 characters.

Use a call-to-action (CTA)

A CTA is a button or link in your email that encourages the reader to take a specific action. It helps the reader make the next step. And makes it easy to understand what’s next.

Even if the readers are interested in interacting with the brand, it might happen that they simply don’t know what to do next. They also might have forgotten about you, although they were already engaged and enjoyed it.

Check how Google Local Guides reminds about the service to a user who haven’t posted in a while:

A reminder email for a person who didn’t post any reviews for some time. There’s a picture of a sad puppy in it.

The email reminds the social benefit one gets from engagement: he shows himself as an experienced traveler or visitor and shares his experience with those who don’t know what he knows yet. It ends with a great CTA: “Contribute now”.

Abandoned cart emails are great examples of how copywriters can use CTA. Your client wants the products, but they simply forgot to finish their purchase. Help them a bit: encourage them to act. 

Here are some examples of CTAs for abandoned cart:

  • Seal the deal
  • Get my 25% off
  • Reclaim my cart!
  • Finish checking out
  • Complete your order

Don’t make the text look like spam

The main reason your email may look like spam and may be marked as one is that it is addressed to the wrong audience. Spammers buy email lists and send irrelevant newsletters to anyone they can reach, so if your email is not relevant for the receiver – it looks like spam. But if you keep the subscriber persona and their benefits in mind, that will not happen.

Misleading subject lines also make the emails look like spam. The importance of writing a catchy subject line may make copywriters want to make it look a bit over-the-top, showing some uncertain prospects and not 100% relevant to the email itself. Make sure that your subject line matches the content of the email. 

Good news: spam trigger words are no longer relevant. There used to be a long list of stop-words one needed to avoid in the newsletter not to be detected as spam, such as “Free”, “Problem”, or “Success”.

But that does not mean that the inbox service providers (ISPs) don’t detect spam anymore – they simply became more sophisticated and use other methods now. They check IP addresses, domains, email authentication, and subscriber engagement. Anyways, the best way to avoid spam filters still is writing useful emails and sending them to the right segment of the audience. 

Make sure it is relevant

Why does email marketing convert? Because it lets you segment your audience and send relevant content. For example, if you operate worldwide, you can send your readers from different countries emails in their native language. If you have an event in one exact city, you can invite readers who live there. You can congratulate women with Women’s day and men with Men’s day. 

You can make your segmentation even more specific and linked to your product line. If you get to know your audience better, you will know their occupation, whether they have hobbies or are interested in exact products. You can ask your readers about their preferences directly in your newsletter.

Relevance is also important in terms of timeline. Your reader should be already familiar with the terms and events you write about. If by some chance he is not, you should provide  extra information they may browse if they need to. For example, if you have a complicated weather app with lots of parameters, you should not send the first email with a comparison of GFS and ICON weather models. It would be more relevant to start with a series of meteorology lessons with the basics. 

Picture the email chain your client receives as a road with milestones. They should be put successively one after another to make their journey safe and predictable. Avoid any inadequate signs on this road. Show clear prospects of your further collaboration.

Test different variations

A/B testing rules. It lets you find out what really works for your customers. No guessing – you can test different subject lines, text size and formatting, calls-to-action and “From” names and see what works better for your audience. Tests help you make decisions based on facts.

It only takes a few minutes to start testing: you simply make a copy of your email, change the element you wish to test and choose the audience for testing. 

You can test using emojis to see whether your audience likes it or any segment of your audience does. You can test different text sizes and formatting. Anytime you’re not sure whether something works or not – go test it.


People love reading about themselves.The beauty of email marketing is the fact that you can get to know your audience and segment it. You can divide readers by location, gender, age, interests. And you can call your readers by their names. Personalization improves readers’ experience and makes them feel happier.

a personalized newsletter from Salomon encourages the reader to tell about his preferences to receive more relevant content

Describe emotional experience when relevant

You can appeal to your reader’s experience to make an emotional link to your product. People don’t buy just a bath foam – they buy the feeling of deep relaxation, peace of mind and chance to stop thinking while feeling gorgeous. Describing emotional experience from time to time can create and strengthen emotional link between the reader and your brand.

Newsletter describing enjoying your time at the salon when you get your hair washed
Source: Really Good Emails

Entertain your reader

Humor and games can help with growing engagement via entertaining your audience.

Entertaining content will work if it is related to your reader’s interests and experience. Check this game a publishing house offers to its audience. Since the subscribers are people who like reading, they may enjoy it.

A newsletter with a game where one should guess a novel by a line of emojis describing the storyline
Source: Really Good Emails

Stay up to date and inspired

Subscribe to various brands’ newsletters, browse social media, read the best email marketing books and the best email marketing blogs. Stay inspired to keep your audience interested and make them eager to get your next email. Browsing great email campaigns will help you draw great prospects for your own ones.

Use pictures

Yes, sometimes it’s best to show.

If your text can be presented as a picture or infographics, it’s always better to put it in a visual form. One picture can tell your reader more than a paragraph of text. Graphics are much easier to understand and remember. Plus they make your email look great.

Newsletter containing infographics on physical progress – steps and kilometers walked, calories burnt, total active minutes and weight change
Source: Fitbit

How to use email copywriting in marketing?

Identify your target audience

It is not easy to write a good email when you don’t know who to write to. In fact that’s impossible, and what’s more important – it’s no use.

The best way to understand your target audience is to develop the marketing personas. It is also called customer profiling and it means defining general and more specific characteristics of your client. Customer profile is an image of a person that includes psychographic, behavioral, demographic, social, ethnic, economic features.

Marketing personas can help you understand your audience better and find the right tone of voice for each audience segment.

Use the subject line to interest the recipient

Subject line must catch attention, or all the hard work you put into crafting the email is lost in vain. Check these tips for writing a catchy subject line that will interest your reader.

Write the subject line after you’ve written the email body copy. That’ll be much easier when you already know what the email is about and can convey the meaning of it in the subject line.

Try adding emojis, but don’t limit your creativity to them. It really is a matter of your audience’s age, background and taste. Which leads us to the next tip.

A/B test your subject lines. Make variations of your subject line and check what goes best for your readers. A good subject line is extremely important, so take your time to do some research. Try using emojis and subject lines without them, different jokes, calls to action and questions to see what fits your audience best.

Ask questions. Asking your audience questions engages them immediately. It makes the subject line even stronger if your question includes an offer or draws the reader emotionally.

Check these subject lines:

  • Looking for inspiration? We can help
  • Rough day?
  • [Someone your audience knows] is on board, are you?

Start with a call to action. Action verbs make your reader eager to open the email. Additional arguments on why they should do that will make the subject line even better:

  • Complete your order now and save 60%
  • Reminder: Choose the Best Books of the Year
  • Stop wasting money on ink

Personalize it. Always a good idea. Thanks to email automation, personalizing your subject line is so easy now. Does it feel more likely to be opened, if it starts with the reader’s name? We bet it does. Check these out:

  • Smiles Davies, we got you a birthday gift!
  • Barbara, you haven’t finished your shopping. Can we help?
  • Daniel, some new items which would fit your style

Hint that the next emails will be even more interesting

Remember the image of the road with milestones? Let your reader know what the next stop is! Name several hot topics and make them curious about what they’ll find out about them. Draw the prospects for further interaction.

Don’t forget to stay relevant and segment the audience: give them a hint on what their segment receives next. If you are a sports equipment brand and segment the audience by sports, surfers should look forward to receiving emails about surfboards, and runners – about sneakers.

The unique selling proposition in your newsletter

The USP (unique selling proposition) is a short explanation of what differs you from your competitors and why you are better than them. It tells your reader why you are the best choice. USP is a kind of sales pitch for your product.

A good USP includes the strongest benefits your client will get. For example, Typeform provides people-friendly forms and surveys. They have great designs that catch your eye and make it pleasant and easy to fill the form in. They compose smooth follow up questions and select the right time to send the form. They also got forms for different platforms, from web to email. So the client gets the forms that let them collect more data and are ready to use.

Here’s how the USP in their email looks like:

The email from Typeforms includes the UTP, types of forms and the CTA “Browse templates”
Source: Really Good Emails

Apart from the USP the email gives examples of the form types – feedback form, registration and lead generation form. It also has a CTA – “Browse templates”. The email content perfectly aligns with the USP. And the subject line “Want to collect data faster?” includes the USP too.

Key takeaways

Quick reminder of how to get the best from your email copywriting:

  • Know who your reader is
  • Know what benefits he can get from reading
  • Set clear goals
  • Personalize
  • Use a call-to-action
  • Be brief
  • Pay attention to the subject line
  • Make A/B tests
  • Don’t forget to include your USP
19 December, 2023
Article by
Varvara Potekhina
A marketer keen on writing. Experienced in PR, marketing and editing. Writing for Selzy I practice both my editing and marketing skills. I managed email marketing in almost all the projects I worked with for the last 10 years. My interests lie in IT, education and traveling.
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