9 tips for better email marketing writing

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Email marketing remains an effective way to reach customers and prospects. But it requires thoughtful writing to cut through the noise and drive engagement.

Based on insights from email marketing experts that have appeared on “The Business Storytelling Show,” here are 9 tips to improve your email copywriting.

1. Focus on Your Audience, Not Yourself

When crafting email copy, it’s tempting to talk about your company, product, offer, etc. But as email strategist and copywriter Samar Owais says, you need to focus on your audience instead.

“When you are writing an email, whether that’s a marketing email, whether that’s a cold email, SAS eCommerce does not matter. Focus on on your audience,” she says.

Too often, brands take a “me first” approach in emails. They immediately launch into what they want – a sale, a demo, etc. – rather than considering what the subscriber wants or needs.

Owais recommends making your emails conversational and customer-focused. Ask yourself: How can this email help the reader?

“That simple question will completely shift your mindset and reframe the way you even think about emails,” she says.

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2. Create a Sense of Urgency

Email marketing expert Jay Schwedelson says one of the most effective tactics for high open rates is creating a sense of urgency.

Words like “limited time,” “exclusive access,” “24 hours only” signal to readers that they need to take action quickly. This technique works well when you have a deadline or expiration date.

But even if your offer is evergreen, you can still generate urgency by saying things like “Don’t miss out!” Urgency grabs attention in an overcrowded inbox.

Of course, you need to avoid sounding overly salesy or pushy. The right language can pique interest without being off-putting.

3. Stress Exclusivity

Along with urgency, exclusivity boosts open rates, according to Schwedelson. When you make subscribers feel special and “in the know,” they’re more inclined to open and read your email.

Some easy ways to highlight exclusivity include:

  • “VIP access”
  • “For premium members only”
  • “Get it before anyone else”

You’re signaling that not everyone gets this offer or content. It’s exclusive to your email list.

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4. Speak to Specific Reader Groups

Your subscribers aren’t one big homogenous group. You may have distinct segments like:

  • New subscribers
  • Repeat customers
  • Loyalty program members
  • Business decision makers
  • Etc.

Tailor your messaging accordingly.

For new subscribers, you may want to deliver a friendly welcoming tone. For repeat buyers, emphasize their VIP status.

Email copy that directly speaks to readers’ interests and needs earns higher engagement. Make content hyper-relevant for each segment.

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5. Get to the Point Fast

Please get to the point is one of our nine email marketing writing best practices. People are short on time to begin with.

But too often, brands bury the lede and try to be clever or cutesy. Don’t make readers slog through paragraphs of fluffy copy before they reach the meat.

What bothers me about most emails, they just take forever to get to the point, right? So I just delete them. I don’t even read them, because I don’t have the time to do it.

Follow Owais’ advice to simply delete the first third of your email copy. Chances are, all of that is throat clearing or behind-the-scenes setup. Grab attention fast by jumping right into the value.

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6. Make Welcome Emails…Welcoming

The post-signup welcome sequence is a big opportunity to deliver value, educate subscribers, and start building loyalty. It’s an easily automated email marketing writing best practice.

Yet Owais notes that many brands squander this chance with lackluster welcome emails focused on discounts or pushing sales.

Instead, she suggests:

“Build customer awareness, basically, rather than going after that first sale, because you will have plenty of opportunities now that you’ve got their email address to ask for that sale,” she explains.

7. Match the Tone to the Stage

As subscribers move through your email journeys, adopt an appropriate tone for each stage.

For new subscribers, strike a warm, conversational tone and focus on value delivery. Treat repeat customers like VIPs and old friends.

Business buyers require a different approach than consumer subscribers. Adjust your style accordingly.

Owais stresses the importance of maintaining continuity. The promise and tone you establish on your website signup forms should carry through to your welcome emails.

Map your customer journey now!

8. Test, Test, Test

The “set it and forget it” approach rarely works in email marketing. You need to continually test and optimize different components.

Schwedelson advises brands to A/B test each email send. Compare subject lines, content offers, designs, etc. Little changes can have an outsized impact.

Don’t just test against old emails either. “How are you going to beat your control? How are you going to beat the one that’s always doing?” Schwedelson says. Identify what’s working and try to improve upon it.

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9. Use Visual Cues

Well-placed images, emojis, and visual formatting make your emails stand out. But avoid anything distracting or over-the-top.

Emojis are particularly effective to grab attention. Over 94% of email clients can view them properly, says Schwedelson. He recommends select emojis to denote urgency like an hourglass or clock.

Visual interest needs to be compatible with scannability. Use images, colors, and formatting to draw the eye to key sections like calls-to-action.

Just don’t let wacky visuals undermine your professional brand image. The goal is an aesthetically pleasing email that’s still easy to parse.


Email marketing success requires skill and strategy. Avoid common pitfalls like self-focused copy and disjointed messaging across campaigns.

By focusing on value, exclusivity and refinement, your emails will engage rather than annoy. With a subscriber-first mentality, you can turn routine communications into meaningful conversations.

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