Three Tips for Writing Effective Email Copy

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By Tom Wozniak – Executive Director of Marketing – OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC

Email marketing continues to be arguably the most cost-effective digital marketing channel for a huge number of companies. But, just because it is often successful doesn’t mean that marketers can rest on their laurels, send out quickly pulled together email creative and wait for the conversions to start rolling in.

Optimizing your email program includes a wide variety of strategies and tactics, including increasing deliverability, driving higher open rates, and once you have recipients opening your emails – delivering engaging content. These days, email creative can include images, videos, interactive elements, along with more traditional text content or copy.

While great design and other graphic elements can play a big role in email campaign performance, the copy still largely takes center stage. Writing engaging email copy is as much art as science and there are few universal rules about what works and what doesn’t. However, there are a number of best practices that can help ensure your email copy has the best chance to connect with your recipients.

Here are three tips for writing more effective, engaging, and response driving copy for your next email campaign.

1. Write for your Audience – Not for Yourself

This is one of the cardinal sins in marketing copy in general, not just email. As writers, we often write in a way that we personally find interesting and compelling. Whether it’s the writing style or the actual content we write about, It’s easy to create copy that we would like to read ourselves.

The same goes for the value proposition within the marketing copy. Many marketing writers get focused on what they believe are the key benefits of their product or service and make that the central point of their content.

In each case, it’s important that marketers always keep their target audience in mind. What will the audience find interesting? What problem or challenge will your product help them overcome? Why does your service matter to them?

This can be particularly challenging if your target audience is significantly different than the members of your marketing team. Different demographics, psychographics, geographic location, etc. are all things that your team needs to adapt to in order to connect with your target audience.

2. Think Mobile

There’s a better than 50% chance you are reading this article on a mobile device, based on the fact that mobile became the predominant device for accessing digital content in the past year. With mobile devices come smaller screens, the mobile phone screen being the smallest of them all (not including wearable devices like the iWatch). Numbers suggest that over 60% of emails are now read on mobile devices, rather than desktop.

With the smaller screen comes less visual real estate for your email content to display on, once a recipient clicks on it to read. From a design standpoint, this impacts the size and types of images you may want to include in the creative. But, it also impacts the copy your write.

Think about whether your recipients are likely to scroll through a long email on their phone. Maybe they are, and if you have the results to back that up, then you can write longer email copy. But, remember that what seems like longer email copy on a phone, still may be relatively short when displayed on a larger desktop computer screen.

The key here is to start by trimming down your email copy to the essentials and then testing various email lengths to verify the impact of longer or shorter copy on campaign performance. If you start out by being clear and concise in your copy, in most cases you’re getting off on the right foot.

3. Remember the Call-to-Action

It may seem like it goes without saying, but it’s absolutely vital to focus on your call-to-action. This is the single most important part of your email copy. You can write the most engaging email content that anyone has ever read, but if you have a weak call-to-action, the email won’t perform and you waste all that recipient engagement.

A good call-to-action is generally simple and makes it easy for your audience to not only understand what you want them to do (click on a link, download a piece of content, buy your product, etc.) but then make it obvious and easy to actually do it.

Make the call-to-action easy to identify, but also be sure it fits with the rest of your content. If you’ve gone with a consultative sales approach in a sales email, you may not want to throw in a big flashing BUY NOW! Button. But, like every other element of your email creative, the best way to identify what works best is to test various approaches. In the end, the results will tell you what you need to know, even if they run counter to your own instincts on what will drive the best performance.

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