Communication is complicated. We use a completely different syntax depending on who
we’re talking to – friends, family, our boss, the cat.
Marketing is no different. Writing copy for email marketing may seem simple enough, but getting your mailing list to actually read – or even open – what you send them is more complicated than you might think. You’re trying to sell, but you don’t want to seem like you’re selling. And that’s hard.
“Hello Dave, how are you today? Is the weather nice? PLEASE BUY OUR STUFF!!!”. That comes off as desperate, and likely to be marked as spam and never even opened – so what’s the point in sending it?
While we’re becoming more aware of the difference between a nice, friendly, relationship building email, and one that’s simply plugging the latest 10% off sale it’s important to remember that people do like relationship marketing (emailing to find out if they’re enjoying the product, want more information, or to give feedback), but they also still like to hear about your latest offers – the key is how you communicate this, and how to strike a balance between both. And we’re here to help you.
Do’s and Don’ts
– Pay special attention to your subject line. You need it to be compelling and actionable. “10% off sale, buy now” is very generic. Anything too salesy has a tendency to be marked as spam, and being creative is great, but make sure they recipient knows the meaning of the email: balance is key.
– Try and segment your emails, and personalise whenever possible. These kinds of email have a higher open rate. Peddling your 10% off bikini sale is unlikely to attract the attention of Jeff from Glasgow (it might, but it’s a long shot). Age, gender and location are great places to start. If you can target them based on purchase history, even better.
– Make sure you have their permission to contact them. You’ll just annoy them if you email without their consent, and then you’re almost guaranteed exile to their junk folder. Create an opt in/subscribe button to fix this.
– Make it brief. The point of the email is to give an overview of what you’re promoting, then link them to it (e.g. notifying them of your latest blog post with a link included). Write for scannability and respect their time.
– Bombard them with emails. Releasing a salvo of emails at their inbox will get you the wrong kind of attention. Try to stick to two a week – that would be one relationship building, and one promotional.
– Use all caps. WE KNOW YOU’RE EXCITED, BUT PLEASE STOP SHOUTING, IT’S SCARING US!!!
– While we’re at it, exclamation points. Don’t overuse them – one or two per email is fine, but only just; it’s like you’re laughing at your own joke (which is tragic and embarrassing.)
Buzzwords to use
– New appeals to their natural curiosity, and lets them feel like they’re staying ahead of the game.
– Save. People love buying great value items.
– Sale. Because who doesn’t enjoy a good sale?
– Safe. The internet is a dangerous place. People like to know their money is secure.
– Guarantee. This shows you’re confident enough in your product to offer the customer their money back if it doesn’t meet their standards. If you offer a guarantee, make sure you say so.
– Easy. Because, really, who wants put in effort? Effort is for peasants.
Words and phrases to avoid
– Free. Use with caution. This can lead to distrust if you constantly use it, but don’t live up to it, for example offering a free gift…but only with a £50 purchase. In the case of free delivery this does work, but free gift deals are often too good to be true, and people are catching on to that. It’s also a common red flag for spam filters.
– Hyperboles like “Amazing” and “Special” often lead to being marked as junk. If someone thinks your “Revolutionary” new hand blender is “Amazing”, they’ll decide so for themselves (thank you very much).
– Percent off tends to be directed straight to your junk or promotional mailbox.
– Help/donate regularly get filtered and discarded. Sad but true.
– Any kind of internet slang, ever. LOL, OMG, WTF. Just…don’t.
While there are hundreds of great, in-depth articles about email marketing, we hope this guide has given you enough understanding of how to speak email. If in doubt, ask yourself: Would I open it?
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