Engaging Email Copy

We wanted to know what are the top strategies for writing engaging and converting email copy.

So…we asked.

But not just anybody.

We handpicked 20 email marketing and content marketing influencers from around the world to see what works for them.

Below you’ll find the entire list of expert advice we received.

We hope you learn something new to use in writing content for your email marketing campaigns.

Jordie van Rijn / @jvanrijn

Email Marketing Consultant, eMailMonday

If a business wants to write engaging emails, be sure to add focus to your email.

I see this go wrong all the time. Keep it to one topic.

Not zero, not two: One.

Like that song from Grease: You are the One that I want (meaning that they love each other)

That is the One topic you should choose. The One topic they love, and thus love to engage with.

Guess what their reaction will be if you talk about that?

Now we have the topic down, and the audience craving: Focus even more.

Inside the email, don’t give all you got, just what they need.

Drop the nuance, cut the lengthiness. Give enough to take the next step.

And make sure that next step super clear, crystal. Now you have a focused email.

PS: PS-es and calls for engagement work very well.

Kath Pay / @kathpay

CEO & Founder, Holistic Email Marketing

The answer is simple – be customer-centric and think “What can I do to help my customer achieve their objective?” As email is a push channel, we tend to use it to push our brand-focused messages to our customers, as it’s easy solution! However, I believe that we marketers need to do the hard work for the customer and make the conversion process as easy as possible for the customer.

Look at it this way: Our objectives and our customers’ objectives are two sides of the same coin. We want to sell to them and they want to buy from us (hence why they gave us permission to email them). So, if we were to ask the above question, then we would start focusing on the customer and their needs, which in turn will help them to achieve their objective (i.e. buy from you) and increase our conversions! so in fact, it’s a win/win.

Along the same lines as this, ensuring that the whole customer experience throughout the customer journey is optimal, is crucial for success. Therefore, understanding that the email is only a part of the journey and that disconnects (in design and copywriting) on the landing page need to be minimized. This can be as simple as carrying over a phrase that was used within the email to the landing page or ensuring the form you’re asking them to complete is visible above the fold on the landing page or using the same colour scheme/images used in the email within the landing page. If they stop and ask “Why am I here?” then you’ve lost them, so keep the journey connected and seamless.

Andy Crestodina / @crestodina

Co-founder & CMO, Orbit Media Studios

People ask you questions and you answer them. In-person, on the phone and through day-to-day emails. My best tip for writing engaging emails is to turn those 1-on-1 conversations into email copy. Use the #1 question people ask you as the subject line of your next email. It’s simple, powerful and the article is probably already written. It’s waiting there in your sent mail folder.

John Hall / @johnhall

Co-founder & CEO, Influence & Co.

Be as authentic as possible and differentiate yourself from everybody else out there. There’s a lot of noise out there so think about making a human to human connection and avoid making your audience think they are just another email. Be okay with being informal or communicating like it’s a 1 on 1 conversation. It can make you stand out in the crowd.

Dave Gerhardt / @davegerhardt

Director of Marketing, Drift

For me, it’s all about writing to people. I think so much of marketing today has become about gaming the system and looking for quick wins. So I focus on marketing to people — and I write like I talk. I care more about being understood than being grammatically correct, and I use short, quick, snappy sentences just like I would be writing an email to my wife, my mom, or a friend. One thing that helped me (in addition to writing more, of course) is studying the greats. If you want to get better at writing email copy, go and study people like Gary Habert, Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Robert Collier, Dan Kennedy, and Robert Bly.

Scott Cohen / @scottcohen13

Vice President of Marketing, InboxArmy

My top strategy for email copy is to ultimately asking yourself whether your copy answers this one critical question for your intended recipients: “What’s in it for me?”

Make sure your copy answers this question in as complete of a way as possible. Whether your copy is short and sweet and drives action on a big call to action or long-winded, funny, and/or informative, answering WIIFM should be your copy driver. Your answer could be as simple as a discount or as potentially drawn out as solving a problem your subscribers did or didn’t know they had. Either way, make your answer obvious, easy to find, and easy to act upon.

Becs Rivett-Kemm / @becskr

Founder, Rivett-Kemm Consulting

The most engaging emails for a customer to receive are ones where the focus is what the customer can get out of it. Always think about it from the customer’s perspective “What’s in it for me?”. Remember to use “you” and repeat their name throughout the email (rather than just “Dear FIRSTNAME”). Here’s an example:

BAD: Thanks for signing up! We’ll send you news and information about our company.

GOOD: You’re in the club! As a member, you’ll get to hear all the latest goings on from inside company HQ weekly, plus you might even get a little discount or two along the way! Becs, we’re so glad you’ve joined the crew.

Jason Quey / @jdquey

Founder & Owner, The Storyteller Marketer

Talk to your customers. Not only will they tell you the problems they are having (that your email copy should answer), they will share the exact words you can use.

Why does this trick work so effectively? Because they feel the pain intimately and know the transformation when your solution works.

Aaron Orendorff / @iconiContent

Founder, iconiContent; Marketer, Shopify Plus

Engaging and converting email copy comes from two ingredients. First, write like a human. Forget all the stuffy and jargon-heavy non-sense. Pretend you’re having a conversation with a single person and always read your copy out loud before you load it up into your email service provider. Second, keep your calls to action singular: one email equals one CTA. That doesn’t mean only having one link or button, but it does mean making sure every link and button sends readers to the exact same destination.

John McIntyre / @JohnMcIntyre_

(The Autoresponder Guy) Founder, The McMethod

Research and empathy. Know your market….their hopes, dreams, fears and pains, and create content that fits that. Great copy always begins with research.

William Harris / @wmharris101

SaaS Marketing Consultant, williamharris.me

Before you write one line of copy, you need to figure out your buyer personas. That will help you figure out what your ideal customer will react to. What words will get his/her attention in the subject? What will cause them to click on your CTA?

A lot of owners think they “intuitively” know – and sometimes they can be close, but often they are writing to themselves, not their customers. I have to remind a lot of CEOs that they aren’t necessarily their ideal customer.

Jenn Lisak / @jlisak

President & CEO, Sapphire Strategy

Writing engaging and converting email copy is dependent on combining data and intuition. Historical data is a large part of how we, as marketers, make decisions, and it’s important to use data to find out which emails performed well in the past and which ones didn’t. But I also believe that data isn’t everything, especially in marketing. We need to use our intuition based on our past experiences and personal preferences to determine what would be appealing and engaging for the target audience.

To me, an engaging email is going to be 3 things: 1. timely, 2. as concise as possible, and 3. somewhat mysterious. Some of the best emails I’ve seen have made you wonder what’s in them, and they get to the point quickly. They are also sent at a time when I’m likely to open them. My top strategy for writing engaging email content is to ensure the email is all of these things, combined with the power of data and intuition.

Ryan Robinson / @TheRyanRobinson

Content Marketing Consultant, ryrob.com

When I’m drafting an email to my community, I force myself to write as if I’m having a simple, face-to-face conversation with just one person from my community. Over time, I’ve come to really value the connection I have with my readers, and by taking a very conversational approach to my emails, I’ll get dozens of replies to my weekly updates. By building that genuine connection over weeks and months, without constantly blasting hardcore sales emails their way, I’m able to capture their true attention without gimmicks when I’m ready to release a new product that I believe will be a good fit for them.

Brad Smith / @BSmarketer

Owner, Codeless

Stand out. Every marketer talks about “being remarkable.” The only problem? Their copy is boring as sh!t. You can’t stand out — aka “be remarkable” — and ‘fit in’ at the same time.

Offending people comes with the territory. Polarization works in a world overrun with the same exact people saying the same exact things about the same boring products/services that nobody cares about.

You wanna know why a clothing store like Pink Lilly makes over $1 million in sales every month from Facebook ads, while other stores burn through their ad-spend without seeing a $1 in return? People ignore vanilla. The stuff in the middle. While the ones at the end of each spectrum clean up.

Nikki Trojanowski / @NikTrojanowski

Public Relations/Content Marketing Consultant, nikkitrojanowski.com

Engaging and converting emails are highly-targeted, concise and written in a way that fuses expertise and relatability. The more personalized and truly relevant the email can be to its recipient, the more likely it is to convert. As far as length, be as concise as possible, while still being clear. People aren’t looking for long-form reads in their inbox. Finally, the content should feature a message that showcases the sender’s expertise, while remaining relatable. Meaning, stay away from the jargon and stuff that isn’t important.

Nathan Resnick / @naterez94

CEO, Sourcify

This may sound simple, but the best way to write engaging and high converting emails is to be personal. In today’s world, you can find out so much about a person through the internet. This process can be automated either through software or a VA and once you have it organized in a spreadsheet, you’re set. All you have to do is create custom fields in your email automation.

You can even automate the details about where a person last vacationed (either through Instagram or Facebook) and in the summer months, maybe start with a warm intro tying in how you’ve also been to that place before. This shows the lead that you’ve at least done your research and know the person. At the end of the day, you’re not going to convert people through email unless you add that personal touch.

Ashley Zeckman / @azeckman

Director of Agency Marketing, TopRank Marketing

First and foremost, be respectful. That means being respectful of your audience’s time, intelligence and personal space.

The assumptive close doesn’t work that well as audiences have wised up. Instead, offer something of value that doesn’t take a lot of their time to consume and inspires the reader to take the next step on their own.

But in order for any of that to work, you have to know who your audience is and what they care about. Only after you’ve done that research can you truly create email content that shows that you can help them solve their top problems.

Trevor Yager / @TrevorYager

President & CEO, TrendyMinds

The key to crafting engaging email copy begins long before our fingers ever hit the keyboard. We work to develop an intimate understanding of who our subscribers (or our clients’ subscribers) are and to build trust by speaking with them on a personal, individual level using the direct and indirect information they share. We also focus on writing in a natural voice—letting our brand’s personality come through—speaking to our subscribers on a human level. After all, email’s original intent was to facilitate person-to-person communication.

Lorraine Ball / @lorraineball

Owner & Marketing Strategist, Roundpeg

A great email campaign begins with a great subject line. If you don’t capture the reader’s attention and motivate them to open your email nothing else matters. There is no one magic formula but here are a few suggestions to add spice to your headlines.

Lead with action

Want a title which commands attention? Start the title with a verb. It is implied that you are speaking directly to the reader, calling them to action.

Example: Read this Now

Negative phrases stand out

Our inboxes are filled with emails promising to help us improve, grow or build. They all sound nice, helpful and boring. Readers skip over these nice articles but a word like hate, worst or destroy will stop them in their tracks.

Example: How to Ruin Your New Carpet

Surprise or shock

If you are brave or your style is a little edgy, this is a great approach. Make your subject line something so outrageous your reader has to click just to find out what the article is really about.

Example: Cocaine Marketing: It Takes More to Get High.

Adam Connell / @adamjayc

Founder, Blogging Wizard

Right now, my favorite strategy is simply the combination of facts and stories. This is something I learned from Justin Brooke of AdSkills.com.

For some, facts are enough. But for everyone else, they aren’t enough. That’s where stories come in, particularly stories that give credibility to the facts and add emotion.

Actually, Justin’s ‘Daily Edge’ newsletter is a perfect example of this approach in action. While I’m subscribed to loads of marketing related newsletters, this is one of the only ones I read on a regular basis.

Well, there you have it!

20 of the best in email marketing and content marketing spilling their secret sauce to writing engaging email copy that converts.

Share this with your colleagues, and if you have some advice to contribute Tweet us at @Delivra.

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