June 15, 2021

How to write marketing emails, Part 2

How to write marketing emails, Part 2

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(This article is a continuation of our previous post, “How to Write Marketing Emails, Part 1.” If you haven’t already, you may want to check it out before reading on.)

So, you’re asking yourself: how can I write effective copy for your email marketing strategy? How can I craft marketing email content that my audience won’t be able to resist? How can I ensure my copy will convert?

To craft successful content for your email marketing campaign, you will need to ensure your content is expertly crafted from start to finish.

Keeping in mind the key principles we shared in our previous article, we’ll walk you through:

  1. How to write copy for subject lines. 
  2. How to write copy for preview text. 
  3. How to write copy for the body of your email. 

So, let’s get started with explaining how to write effective marketing emails.

Illustration of a hand pressing send on an email marketing blast.

1. How to write copy for subject lines.

First things first: with everything you do, you need to engage your audience. 

This may sound like a no-brainer, but, regardless of whether you’re writing an ad or an email,  you want your copy to always be engaging; your audience needs to be hooked, they need to want to keep reading. 

So, when you’re writing emails, you want to start with a subject line that grabs your audience’s attention. Sounds simple, right? How hard can it be to write one captivating line? Usually, it’s a lot harder than you’d think. 

The less time or space you have to communicate your messaging to your audience, the more precise and impactful your writing has to be — every word has to count. 

This is especially true when you’re writing copy for marketing emails. After all, it’s super easy to delete emails. So, what’s going to set your email apart and tempt your audience into opening your email? Your subject line. 

When writing your subject line, take your time. Make it right. If you’re planning to spend 2 hours writing the body of the email, you might want to spend an hour on the subject line alone. 

Also, you’ll want to keep it short. Some research has shown that a subject line of six to ten words is most effective. 

Why? Because people are busy and don’t usually want to stop and take in something unexpected; people often prefer to scan — to quickly apprehend whether there’s anything in it for them if they engage with your content. 

In short, if your audience is intrigued or convinced that there’s something in it for them, they’ll engage with you. If not they’ll delete your email or unsubscribe from your mailing list.

So, the point of your subject line is to grab the attention of the scanner; you want to appeal to the audience member who is quickly scanning their inbox and just trying to get the gist of what you’re reaching out to communicate.

For example: 

Consider this subject line: “July 2021 Small Business Tips & Tricks Newsletter: 5 New Tax Write-offs Come Into Play This Tax Season”

Not only is this subject line too long, but you haven’t made it explicit why your audience should care about these new tax write-offs.

Instead, you could try: “Don’t miss out on these 5 new tax breaks”, “Your accountant’s probably overlooking these 5 new tax breaks,” or “5 new tax breaks to take advantage of in 2021.”

Not only are these examples more concise, but they’re drawing your audience in and giving them a reason to read on.

Another consideration you will need to keep in mind is how your subject line appears on mobile devices. Always test your marketing email formats across apps and platforms to ensure that your target audience will be able to see the subject line in full. This will allow your audience to easily apprehend what you’re offering.

2. How to write copy for preview text.

Whether you’re checking your email from your phone or desktop, you are typically able to see: the sender, the subject line, and a small sample of text from the contents of the email. 

This sampling of the contents of your email (which is typically the first sentence of your email) is what we call the preview text.

So, email applications are designed to give you a taste of what you’ll be getting yourself into if you open an email (if you even bother opening it at all). 

We often scan that first bit of body text before clicking on an email. This is true of many people. 

If the preview text is intriguing and well-written, you may just click on the email. If it isn’t (and especially if it’s unclear what the email’s about or otherwise seems fishy), you’ll probably delete the email without opening it first.

This is why you need to make the first few lines of your body text just as thoughtful and engaging as the subject line. 

If you can make that previous text look good, your audience will be more likely to open your email. 

And, ideally, you don’t just make it look good — you want to make it so enticing that your audience is hooked. 

You could think of the subject line as your pitch and the preview text as the explanation for how your pitch will pay off. 

So, for example: 

Let’s say you run a fitness and wellness center and you’re sending out a marketing email. 

And let’s say your subject line is: “Get $200 worth of massages for $100.”

That’s quite a pitch, isn’t it? You’re offering what sounds like a pretty great deal, you’ve been clear and specific, and there’s no doubt about what value you’re offering. 

So, in this case, you might want your preview text to say something like, “With this discount code, for one week only.” 

You’re now giving your audience a reason to open your message — you’ve let them know what’s in it for them more broadly (i.e., $200 of value for the price of $100) and what’s in it for them if they open your email (i.e., the discount code they need to claim your offer). 

However, when crafting your copy, just be careful that your pitch or offer doesn’t sound too good, as this can make your audience skeptical — we’ve all heard the expression “that sounds too good to be true”! 

Another example of a reasonable offer could be: 

A subject line of: “Special Offer: Save 25% When You Order Now,” could work well with a preview text of, simply: “Discount code enclosed.” 

Or, if you had a subject line of “Don’t miss out on these 5 new tax breaks,” your preview text could say something like, “Significantly reduce your taxes owing in 2021 with these accounting hacks.”

So, you want to make sure you use your preview text to give your audience a clear, concise idea of what’s to come in the body of your email. 

Additionally, the preview text is a great place to incorporate buzzwords and use language that will help spark a connection with your audience. 

Don’t let the preview text section of your email go to waste.

3. How to write copy for the body of your email.

First off, the entire email writing process should be completed using the key principles we covered in our previous article

Secondly, you’ll want to ensure you do the following in the body of your email:

  • Know your audience, be relevant, and be personal.
  • Clearly identify the value you’re offering. 
  • Keep it connected and tight. 
  • Make your call to action compelling.
  • Make it effortless.

Know your audience, be relevant, and be personal.

Yes, we’ve covered this before. However, we really cannot stress this enough. No matter how elegant your writing is, your marketing content will have little impact if it doesn’t speak directly to your target audience. 

You are not sending this email out to the faceless masses. 

Rather, you are sending this email to a particular group of people who want to feel seen, heard, and understood by you. 

This means that your content should be relevant to their needs, interests, and pain points. 

So, again, be sure that you are super clear on who your target audience is, then ensure that the body of your email is drafted to speak specifically to them. 

Be (appropriately) personal with your audience, be human.

Clearly identify the value you're offering.

Rarely will an audience jump just because you say “jump.” 

Rather, for your call to action to be effective, you will need to clearly communicate to your audience what’s in it for them. 

Ideally, you’ve already used your subject line and preview text to give the audience a pretty good idea of what’s in it for them, but your body text should continue to drive this home. 

Are you going to help me get in shape? Are you going to help me relax? How will you make my life easier? Why should I act now? Why you and not your competitors? 

You will need to leave me with no doubt as to what’s in it for me if I choose to engage with you.

Keep it connected and tight.

Your subject line, preview text, body text, and call to action should all work together as a cohesive whole. 

Think of your email as a map or set of instructions. You are trying to get your audience from “point A” (opening the email) to “point D” (taking action). 

For your audience to follow your instructions, you will need to ensure that your content is well-connected. 

You’ll also want to be respectful of your audience’s time and keep it as concise as possible — you shouldn’t waste a single word. If it isn’t essential to your email, don’t include it.

Make your call to action compelling.

It isn’t enough to just throw in any old call to action at the end of your email. 

Rather, you will need to carefully craft a call to action that works together with the rest of your email as a whole — it will need to make sense in the broader context of your email content. In other words, the call to action you include should follow logically from the content that precedes it. 

Your call to action will also need to appeal to your audience in such a way that they won’t be able to resist; it will need to be relevant, engaging, and simple. 

Make it effortless.

Reading your marketing emails should never feel like work to your audience. 

Your goal should be to write copy that is so expertly crafted that engagement is effortless for your audience. 

Ideally, your audience will be provided with a seamless, painless (perhaps, even pleasurable) experience from the moment they notice your email in their inbox.

If you are unable to do this, and especially if your email is too long, cumbersome, or demanding, you risk turning off your audience and losing leads.


Though email marketing can be a very effective piece of your digital marketing strategy, writing good email marketing content is no easy task. 

To write effective marketing emails for your small business (i.e., emails that will convert and drive up your profits), you will need to carefully craft the subject line, preview text, body text, and call to action to appeal to your target audience.

For more small business tips and resources, you can check out our recent blog posts here.

You can also reach out to us for a free, no obligation quote for our copywriting 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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