June 14, 2021

How to write marketing emails, Part 1

How to write marketing emails, Part 1

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Have you ever received a marketing email that you just had to click on? Where you just had to know what was inside? 

Alternatively, have you ever received a marketing email that you just knew was meant for the trash? 

We bet you’ve received both.

So, what makes the difference between a good, captivating marketing email and one your audience will skip over instantly? How do you write effective copy for email marketing campaigns? We’ll tell you how.

This article will walk you through the following key aspects of writing effective copy for marketing emails: 

  1. Keep your writing focused, personal, and direct. 
  2. Know your audience. 
  3. Leverage storytelling and narrative.
  4. Include a clear call to action.

So, let’s dive into discussing how to write email marketing copy that converts.

Illustration of email marketing icons with thumbs up icon at the fore.

1. Keep your writing focused, personal, and direct.

There are three primary pillars of writing strong, effective copy for email marketing: keeping your writing focused, personal, and direct.

Writing with these three pillars in mind will help ensure your audience is able to connect with your brand and your content. This will improve your chances of holding their interest.

Be focused.

First things first: your audience is busy — they have full, rich lives with many competing obligations and interests. 

For you to get their attention and hold their interest, you will need to be respectful of their time and keep your writing on-point. In other words, your writing shouldn’t meander and at no point should your audience be wondering why you’re sharing this information with them. 

This means that you will need to communicate your messaging, unique value proposition (UVP), and call-to-action as deliberately and concisely as possible. 

So, if you’re a small accounting firm sending out weekly newsletters to your clients, you will want to ensure that each email makes it very clear who you are and what you do, what sets you apart from your competitors, and what you’re offering your audience. 

Keep the goal of your writing in mind and ensure that your content is clear, focused, and easy to navigate. 

In order to keep your writing as focused as possible, you will want to keep things nice and short. In other words, you’ll need to be concise

Even if the nature of the email you’re writing is such that it needs to be on the longer side (for example, if you’re writing a newsletter),  ensure that you keep it well-organized and as succinct as possible.

Again, people typically scan emails first. Rarely does someone just dive into an email as if they’re relaxing in the tub, leisurely reading a book. Rather, their goal is to finish with your content so they can move on to the next thing on their to-do list. 

People like to move from one thing to the next — like to feel like they’re making progress.

So, continuously provide the ‘next thing’ to your audience by breaking up your info. Use headings and subheadings.  Then, under those headings, keep your paragraphs short. Keep your sentences short. Use  bullet points where you can. 

Keep your audience moving. Share small bits of info at a time. Make it easy to digest.

When you’re writing your marketing emails, you’ll want to keep in mind that you’re not writing a book. Rather, you’re trying to communicate with your audience and share information. 

Be personal.

Always remember that you’re not standing on a grand stage like Steve Jobs, talking to a captive audience. Nor are you royalty delivering some grand address from the gates of your palace.

No, you’re a small to midsize business on your way to success. And yes, you have something of value to offer and you’re pretty awesome. But you still need to show your audience this — you need to make them believe before they’ll want to listen to you.

So, first off, your audience isn’t quite captive yet. Secondly, no one wants to be preached or lectured to (especially if they don’t know you). 

However, people like to feel seen and heard — understood. People like to feel a sense of connection. So, if you show your audience that you’re interested in them and you understand them, there’s a chance they’ll then want to listen to you and engage with you further. 

For this reason, it is important that your writing be personal, tailored to your audience. 

It may help to imagine yourself talking to a single member of your audience, one-on-one. You’re not standing on a stage or lecturing at the head of a classroom. Rather, you’re sitting together with that one audience member, having a dialogue, a conversation

To keep your writing personal, you’ll also want to try avoiding attempts to impress your audience. 

While it’s fine to demonstrate your value through tangible evidence, you probably won’t want to brag or attempt to assert your credibility too strongly. Basically, you want to ensure you sound like you know what you’re talking about, but you don’t want to set out to try and impress. 

Imagine if you were on a first date with someone and if, instead of connecting with you and showing you what a kind, funny, generous person they are through their actions, they sat there telling you how amazing they are, regaling you with stories of all the awesome things they’ve done. Would you be interested in seeing that person again? 

Ultimately, the exact tone and style of writing you adopt will depend on the demographic you’re appealing to. However, you will typically want to avoid using unnecessary or excessive jargon. Using too much industry jargon risks confusing your audience or signalling to your audience that you’re arrogant or insecure — it can be off putting.

So, remember: try to imagine you’re speaking one-on-one with your audience. Be informative but relatable, and never brag or set out to impress. 

The goal should be to connect with your audience on a personal level — show your audience you see them, understand them, and have something of value to share with them.  

Be direct.

As we mentioned, your audience is busy and has a lot on their minds. So, at no point should your audience have to guess at what you’re offering, what your UVP is, or what the value of your marketing email is. 

Similarly, your audience shouldn’t have to try to decipher what the intended call to action is — when they receive your marketing email, it should be apparent what action you are hoping your audience will take. Otherwise, you also risk your audience not understanding what the next step is; they may be interested in your brand and your product, but they won’t know how to advance that relationship.

Here are three other reasons why we think it’s important to be direct in your email marketing copy:

First, you’re probably asking your audience to pay for your product or service, and, if they’re paying you, they’re going to want to feel like they’re getting as much bang for their buck as possible. So, they won’t want to feel like they’re being put to work. 

Second, everyone likes an easy ride. The more value you offer your audience with as little work for them to do as possible, the more interested they will be in engaging with your brand. 

Third, we all like to feel good, so, if you can make your writing direct and easy to understand and make me laugh or smile or feel appreciated, you’ll do even better.

It’s simple: no one wants to have to decode your brand’s intentions and messaging, and presenting your audience with muddled or unclear communication can also erode trust. 

So, it is important that you are always very clear, honest, and direct about what you’re offering and what action you want your audience to take upon receiving your marketing emails. 

2. Know your audience.

Usually, by the time you’re emailing potential consumers, you already have an idea of your  demographic. 

So, you probably shouldn’t just shoot your email out to everyone on your contact list and hope the messaging lands. 

Rather, you will want to ensure your marketing emails are as targeted as possible, geared towards your demographic’s unique characteristics.

For example:

Let’s say we’re near the top of the marketing funnel and 100 people have clicked your initial call to action in that first, attention grabbing bit of marketing. 

Now, let’s say 100 people have subscribed to your small business’ newsletter. 

Perhaps, from the clicks on that initial call to action, you’ve learned that 60 people work from  home, 20 work in the service industry, and 20 are students (many of whom are also able to study from home). 

If your product were, say, a household cleaner, you could focus your writing to appeal to the people who are working from home. 

By working with your marketing team, you’ll be able to learn about the work-and-study-from-home demographic in much more detail and will be able to build some pretty detailed personas. This will enable you to make your email marketing as focused and personal as possible, appealing more strongly to your target audience.

Once you know what your target audience’s lifestyle choices, interests, values, hobbies, and pain points are, you’ll be able to identify which of your products they would find most relevant and will be able to effectively market your product to that particular demographic.

On the other hand, if you just send out every product email to everyone, you risk those leads becoming irritated or losing sight of the value of your product. This can lower your conversation rates and alienate members of your audience who would have otherwise been interested in engaging with you and your product. 

So, before you begin writing copy for your marketing emails, be sure that you have a clear understanding of who your target audience is, what their interests and pain points are, and how your products can benefit them.

3. Leverage storytelling and narrative.

Yes, your emails are a great place to provide your audience with relevant newsletters.

However, as you get more and more focused and develop a clearer understanding of which segments of your broader audience you are trying to market your products to, you will have an opportunity to try storytelling

By incorporating storytelling into your marketing strategy, you will be able to connect with your audience on a personal and emotional level. You will also be able to highlight the features and benefits of your products in a more meaningful way. 

For example: 

Let’s say your small business specializes in producing various household cleaning products. 

Let’s say you’re working on an email campaign to highlight your new all-purpose household cleaner called Serenity

You could summarize some bullet points about your product: 

  • Easy to use.
  • Can be used on all surfaces, including marble and wood. 
  • Has an anti-fingerprint and anti-smudge finish.
  • Deters dust build up so you don’t have to clean as often. 

But you could also tell your audience a story that highlights this product’s features and benefits. Perhaps, you share a testimonial about your product followed by a small bio:

This product literally changed my life! -Mila, Oakville, ON

“Mila works from home, and every day’s a busy day. She gets her kids ready for school, takes the dog for a walk, then gets settled into her home office for a long day of hard work. But, sometimes, Mila would have trouble focusing. Did she clean the kitchen counters after the kids left? Did she notice dust on the living room floor? Look at all the fingerprints on her desk! With so much to do around the house, Mila couldn’t focus on her job.  But, then, Mila found Serenity. Thanks to its long-lasting anti-fingerprint, anti-smudge finish and dust-resistant makeup, Mila doesn’t have to worry anymore. One clean can last for up to two weeks. No more scouring, scraping, or touch-up cleans. Now, Mila can focus on what matters most. Like Mila, you can have that peaceful, clear, uncluttered space you deserve. Use Serenity. Order now and get 25% off your purchase + free delivery.” 

However, while storytelling can be an important part of writing effective copy for your marketing emails, you will want to remember that you’re not writing a book. So, your story shouldn’t be too long and shouldn’t meander away from the point you’re trying to make.

Nevertheless, depending on the demographic you’re trying to reach, sharing a story can be an impactful means of connecting with your audience; leveraging narrative in your writing can help your target audience identify and connect with your content and carries a great emotional punch than other styles of writing. 

4. Include a clear call to action.

Keep in mind that your marketing emails are just one step in your marketing strategy — they’re not the end goal. 

Never should your audience receive an email from you that just ends. It shouldn’t just say, “Thanks for reading, and have a great day!” 

Rather, your email communications should include a clear call to action that compels your audience to advance their relationship with you, to engage with you further. You want to “end” your email without ending the dialogue, without saying “goodbye.” You should be prompting your audience to move from this thing (i.e., your email) onto the next thing.

Perhaps, for example, you want them to follow your social media accounts, subscribe to your podcast, register for your newest webinar, or make a purchase. Whatever the action is that you’re trying to elicit, just don’t forget to include the call to action and make it clear. 

So, for example, using the Serenity household cleaner example we considered previously, your call to action is “Order now and get 25% off your order + free delivery.” Perhaps, you even go a step further and add “Hurry now — offer ends tomorrow at 5:00 pm ET!” 

Or, perhaps, you want to get them onto your blog, onto your website. So, you add a “click here for 10 bathroom cleaning tips that will change your life” prompt. 

Whatever your call to action may be, you just don’t want your reader to finish reading your email in the same way they would finish reading a book; they’re shouldn’t be a “the end” moment where they put the book down and walk away. 

Rather, think of your marketing like a TV show: every “episode” — every step of your marketing strategy — should end with a “to be continued” that keeps your audience coming back for more.


While email marketing can be incredibly effective at converting leads into paying customers, its success hinges largely on the quality and suitability of your copywriting. 

To write effective copy for your small business marketing emails that converts, you will need to: 

  1. Keep your writing focused, personal, and direct. 
  2. Know your audience. 
  3. Leverage storytelling and narrative.
  4. Include a clear call to action.

For more tips on how to write effective copy for your email marketing campaigns, you can keep reading here

You can also reach out to us for a free, no obligation quote for our copywriting and content development services by sending us a message here.

Steve Chambers

Steve Chambers

Steve is a copywriter and content developer with a passion for creating effective, engaging written content.

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