email marketing

06.14.2019

marketing  |  8 min read

The simple guide to writing marketing emails

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Philip PIletic

Each year, businesses look for new ways to increase the effectiveness of their marketing spend by trying to spot new trends and opportunities. One year they might choose to go all-in on social media. The next year they're pushing video marketing. Then they're all about building an influencer campaign. Through it all, the anchor to their best-laid plans remains the same: email marketing.

The reason is the fact that email marketing routinely provides some of the best ROI for marketers, and has for as long as anyone can remember. In fact, 59% of marketers report that their email campaigns outperform all of their other digital marketing efforts in terms of ROI, so it's no wonder that they are the mainstay of the industry.

The problem with email campaigns, however, is that somebody has to be in charge of writing all of the copy that ends up in customers' inboxes. For small businesses, that duty normally falls on a single individual – who may not be a copywriter by trade. For them, finding a way to create winning email messages over and over may be a burden they're not equipped to handle. To help, here's a guide on how to make marketing email writing easy, so your business can take full advantage of its' most reliable marketing method.

Writer, know thyself

The first thing that anyone tasked with creating marketing emails must do is to get to know their own writing style and the environment they need to thrive. This information is essential because it allows the writer to create the right conditions for success before they ever put pen to paper (or start clacking away at a keyboard). To get started, answer these essential questions:

  • Do you need a quiet environment to gather your thoughts, or do you thrive with distractions?
  • At what time of day is your concentration level the highest?
  • Do you work best with a single-draft approach, or do you require multiple revisions with time between each?
  • Do you need to factor in oversight by decision makers?
  • The answers to these questions should allow the writer to create an environment and process that suits their own style and needs – then all that's left to do is follow it.

    Set a schedule and keep it

    With an environmental and procedural process in place, the next thing to do is to establish a specific, set schedule to write the number of emails that are required each week. Believe it or not, one of the keys to consistent writing of any kind is to establish a routine, and the same holds true for email marketing. For that reason, the writer should block out specific times in their work schedule to create the right messages. Assigning set times assures that the writing process won't be rushed or treated as an afterthought. Basically, it assures that the work will actually get done, which is more than half the battle.

    Avoiding writer's block

    Although the task of writing a few emails per week might seem like no big deal, it's actually not as easy as you might think. Marketing copywriters are subject to the same kinds of difficulties as those encountered by novelists, journalists, and every other kind of wordsmiths. When you add in the pressures of schedule and a need for high performance, you have a recipe for trouble, and that trouble often takes the form of the dreaded writer's block.

    To get over it when it happens (and it will happen), try the following tactics:

  • Turn to pen and paper
  • – changing your mode of writing in this way activates different parts of the brain and encourages the kind of creativity necessary to create excellent marketing copy.

  • Take a reading break
  • – The creative process of writing requires fuel for the writer, and for most, that comes from reading. Taking a break to read – even something unrelated to the task at hand – often gets the wheels turning in a writer's head and helps them to get back on track.

  • Reach out for advice
  • – When it comes to email marketing, coming up with new ideas is difficult due to the sheer volume of messages that people see each day. If you're stuck, search for some inspiration. There are many awesome marketing blogs out there, and they may suggest a new approach you hadn't considered, or send you in a different direction that opens the creative floodgates. Here’s another idea coming from Paul Gian from Beyond4cs.com: “When it comes to overcoming writer's block, try hanging out in the forums your customers hang out in. You could easily find problems or questions that people are asking and you can craft your email message that directly addresses similar questions. When done right, this helps you to build authority and trust with potential clients.”

  • Write something else
  • – Sometimes, all that's needed to overcome writer's block is to write something other than the needed email copy. Anything will suffice, from a project report to a thank-you note to a friend. Doing this gets you in a writing mode, and staying there usually isn't hard.

    Creating top-notch email copy

    At this point, email marketing is part art form and part science. That's because there are now mountains of data regarding what kinds of marketing messages work and which don't. That's good news for copywriters because it provides some useful ground rules for creating each new email. From subject lines that encourage the reader to open the message, to compelling calls-to-action that generate conversions, there's no longer any reason to leave anything to chance. Here's an overview of the best practices:

    1. Use actionable language in subject lines – An excellent marketing email subject line should include actionable language that lets the reader know what they can accomplish by opening the message. In practice, this usually means the subject will include verbs like click, buy, get, and choose. They're not the only way to encourage action, however. It's also possible for an email subject to compel action by letting the reader know what they'll miss by not opening the message – think: "Your discount is waiting" or "Don't miss out on your favorite product/service".

    2. Focus on simplicity – Email users have limited attention spans and even less patience. For that reason, the simplest, most direct copy usually works best. It's fine to inject personality into marketing email copy, but never at the risk of making the copy longer or harder to read.

    3. Segmented emails work best – When it comes to email marketing, the smaller the target audience, the easier it is to compose a message that's relevant to them. That's why it's a good idea to segment your email list into the smallest logical groupings. As a copywriter, you'll have more messages to write, but have an easier time writing them.

    4. Don't sell, identify benefits - These days, the volume of marketing messages people see each day is overwhelming. Email is still a great channel for pushing affiliate marketing programs, but many messages are just too salesy. Most will get tuned out by the reader unless they do one simple thing: identify how they will benefit from whatever the email's pitching. That means clearly stating what the reader will get out of doing whatever the message requires, without making the sales pitch a discernible focus. Here’s what Dmitry Ivanov from Elinext.com had to say: “You probably know your product or a service inside out. As much as you want to present every shiny little detail about it, your potential customer really wants to know one thing - how is this helping me? So, instead of rambling about technical mumbo jumbo, I’ll explain in plain language what we can do to make your business better”

    Get writing

    If you're about to get to work writing email marketing messages, you should now know exactly how to prepare for it, how to avoid the common pitfalls, and what to include in your copy. If that's not enough, you can even use these helpful email templates to give you a head start. Altogether, you should be armed with everything you need to make your company's next email campaign a smashing success – and to deliver the kind of ROI that makes email marketing such an evergreen and attractive digital marketing channel year after year. Now get to it!

    Philip Piletic's primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. He is an editor, writer, marketing consultant, and guest author at several authority websites.


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