How to Write Email Copy That Converts

Struggling to convert sales email recipients into customers? Here are some tips for writing email copy that converts.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Most marketers recognize the power email marketing can have on business growth.

It’s cost-effective. It’s scalable. It’s capable of helping you achieve impressive sales and marketing results far beyond what you invest, whether you’re interested in demand generation, lead nurturing, or direct sales.

But you’re not going to see those results unless you understand how to write effective email copy that consistently converts readers.

Email copy refers to any textual information in your email marketing campaign designed to inform or persuade your readers. This includes subject lines, preview text, body copy, calls to action, and more. However, it’s essential for it to engage email recipients and make them eager to learn more, until they eventually buy from your business.

If you want to write email copy that converts recipients into leads or customers, it’s essential that you do the following:

  • Write a Catchy Subject Line
  • Use Engaging Preview Text
  • Personalize Your Content
  • Be Clear and Concise
  • Use a Human Approach
  • Include an Actionable CTA


Write a Catchy Subject Line

Writing effective marketing emails is important, but it’s not going to matter if your subscribers never bother to open your messages in the first place. That’s why writing a catchy subject line is arguably your highest priority.

Luckily, there are some of the best tactics to employ here:

  • Cater to your target audience. There’s no such thing as a universally good subject line, because different people are looking for different things when browsing their email inboxes. If you want to be successful, you need to write a subject line that’s specifically tailored to your target audience. That means developing buyer personas, conducting market research, and testing with people in your target audience to see how they work.
  • Think outside of the box. Most people get dozens, if not hundreds, of emails every day. If your subject line is one that your recipient has seen 100 times in the past week, they’re not going to give it a second thought. You need to craft something that stands out from those of your competitors.
  • Tease your subscribers. It’s good to spark interest with your subject line, but you also need to leave something to the imagination. If your subject line is too blunt and straightforward, subscribers may not have a reason to open your email message. For example, instead of a subject line like “$10 off with promo code: SAVE,” use a subject line like “Our latest promo code will have you saving!” You’re describing the value without giving everything away.
  • Avoid spam flags. Trigger words and indicators raise the risk of your email being filtered out as spam, and may turn people away unnecessarily. Familiarize yourself with common indicators (including topics like gambling and phrases like “free” or “buy direct”) and leave them out of your subject line (and, while you’re at it, the rest of your email).


Use Engaging Preview Text

If your subject line is catchy enough, it should motivate most of your recipients to at least open the message to see what’s inside. But some of your subscribers aren’t going to be convinced right away.

If you want to convince even more people to open your email, it’s important to use engaging preview text. Most email providers now have a user interface that allows you to scope out the first sentence or two of content before you open the message. Optimizing this text can motivate more opens.

Here are the top strategies to do it:

  • Have preview text complement your subject line. Work to complement your subject line in a creative way. Can you provide extra details about it? Can you follow up on a set up joke? Don’t simply repeat what you’ve already said in your subject line, but align the copy with its intent and the whole of the email itself.
  • Include the what and the why. This is a great opportunity to include some details on the what and the why. In other words, what is the point of this email and why should someone be interested in opening it? Again, you don’t want to give everything away before the user opens the email, but you should give them enough information to seriously consider it.
  • Be bold. Your preview text isn’t as prominent as the subject line, but it’s still something that users see before opening the message. Because of this unique position, this is just your best opportunity to be bold. Take a risk with your preview text and see if it pays off.


Personalize Your Content

Copywriting is almost always more effective when it’s personalized for the person reading it. Broadly appealing, generic messages might reach a wide audience, but they’re not going to be sufficiently interesting or appealing to anyone.

It’s much better if you can customize each email you send out for the person receiving it. Depending on the technology you’re using, your access to customer data, and the purpose of your campaign, you may have tons of personal details to work with or a very limited supply. At the very least, you should personalize your subject line and opening for the person reading the message. Ideally, you’ll be able to customize the entire piece for this person’s job title, pain points, and other factors.


Be Clear and Concise

Clarity means a lack of ambiguity, giving your readers precisely meaningful content that they can consume. Conciseness means efficiency of verbal economy, using as few words as possible to convey meaning.

Clear and concise emails accomplish many things simultaneously. They avoid wasting readers’ time with unnecessary fluff. They’re direct enough to encourage meaningful action. And they’re typically much easier and more enjoyable to read.


Use a Human Approach

Learning how to write marketing emails can sometimes make your copy seem stale or robotic. Fight back against this by injecting more humanity and personality into your writing. Unless your brand standards prohibit it, adopt a more casual, conversational tone—and avoid using technical jargon. Depending on your target audience, it may make sense to crack a few jokes as well.


Include an Actionable CTA

Even after you’ve learned how to write a marketing email generally, you’ll need to hone your copywriting skills as they pertain to calls to action (CTAs). They are your best opportunity to motivate user action, whatever that action happens to be. There’s an infinitely high skill ceiling here, which means there’s always room for further improvement.

Ongoing experimentation and analytics can help you gradually perfect the art of writing CTA for your target audience. But here are some great fundamentals to get you started:

  • Use strong action words. Calls to action are much more persuasive when they begin with strong, compelling action words. Take the difference between “start saving now!” and “are you ready to save money?” Both are arguably appealing, but the former is much more immediately compelling. Issue commands to your audience.
  • Appeal to emotions. Human decision making is primarily governed by emotion, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise. You’ll be much more successful in motivating action if you make an appeal to basic human emotions. Can you promise your readers true peace of mind? Can you stimulate a mild sense of fear? Are you able to evoke nostalgia to raise interest in a new event or opportunity?
  • Imply urgency, scarcity, or both. People are driven to take action in situations of urgency, scarcity, or both. In other words, if this is a limited offer in terms of time or quantity, your users will be much more likely to convert. Even simple tactics, like saying “limited quantities available: reserve yours now!” can make a big difference.
  • Make CTAs easy for users to identify. Finally, make sure your CTAs are clear and easy to engage with for all users. This is more of a technical issue than a copywriting one, but it’s worth mentioning, as a technical issue can render all your copywriting efforts useless.


Key Takeaways

Marketing email best practices take many forms, but good email copy should be one of your highest priorities. From the subject line to the signature, there are many individual copy components that come together to make your email “work”—and you’ll need to master all of them if you want your strategy to be successful.

At Sapper Consulting, we have lead generation experts, veteran copywriters, and email marketing gurus with the knowledge and experience necessary to utilize all these tips—and develop an email marketing strategy that generates more conversions. 

If you’re interested in mastering the art of email marketing, or if you just need some help with your latest lead generation campaign, reach out to us directly today!

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About The Author

About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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