How To Write Great Email Copy Quickly
You got to produce a high-quality email quickly.
What do you do?
Keep the basics in mind and avoid the most common mistakes.
If You Have 10 Minutes, Spend 9 Writing the Subject Line
Maybe this will be considered blasphemous, but here’s an important tip: don’t sweat over the body copy.
It’s not that the body copy doesn’t matter, but if someone doesn’t open the email then it doesn’t matter what your body copy is.
The subject line is so important I’m going to spend a majority of the article talking about it.
Avoid Spammy Words In Your Subject Line
Don’t waste your time crafty something that won’t get past the spam filters.
Hubspot created a whole post about spam triggger words divided up by industry. Check your industry to ensure you’re not using any of those words.
To double-check behind yourself, get feedback. Ask a colleague or even a friend if they would open the email with the subject line.
If you’re crunched for time and you can’t get feedback, use a tool.
I use CoSchedule’s Email Subject Line Tester. It helps you see how optimized your subject line is. The tool will help you avoid spammy language and suggest words that increase open rates.
Good rule of thumb: If you’re reading like a Billy Mays (RIP) infomercial…rethink your subject line.
And speaking of increasing open rates…
Choose One of 8 Best Type of Subject Lines
Okay, so you’ve gotten past the spam filters…now what?
How can I craft a line that my subscribers will be interested enough to open?
Subscribers are barraged with email on a daily basis, so few things will catch they’re attention.
I need to only look at my several email accounts with hundreds of unread messages to know that.
But thanks to all the data we can collect about what emails people will open, we know there are patterns of what people respond the most to.
- What will the subscriber get out of opening? Will their business make more money, will they look more attractive, etc.?
- We like to know what’s in it for us, but we also can’t stand not knowing. We’re complicated like that. If you pique their interest, but don’t give too much away you’ll increase open rates.
- Naturally, you’re in the business of selling things. So if you have a promotion or a product or service you think your subscribers would like, state that in the subject line.
- An oldy, but a goody. People don’t like missing out on things. Don’t abuse this type, but when it makes sense, persuade them to act now.
- One of the best features of email is how personal it can feel. It’s like someone invited you into their home and now you want to befriend them. How do you do that? You share things about yourself and you show kindness. Thank them, tell them a story about yourself or make a human appeal for their attention (i.e. “I need your help”).
- People respond to what is new and if your business keeps up with what’s going on in your industry you’ll establish yourself as an authority figure.
- Social Proof
- We look to others to make decisions. If our friend liked something there’s a greater chance we’ll give it a go too. Talk about individual’s success stories, familiar names and how many people are using the product or service.
- We love stories. And if you can start one, it’s a natural tendency the want to know what happens.
You can combine these but these are tried and true ways to capture your subscribers’ attention.
(Disclaimer: Of course, every audience is different. Sometimes an audience will surprise you in what they’ll respond to. These types are simply proven ways to capture attention, especially when you don’t have time to figure out what your audience most responds to.)
Write As If You're Writing To A Friend
I personally stick to plain-text emails, not just because they have higher open rates, but because it’s more personal.
(*whispers* And also because it’s less work)
You don’t send HTML emails to a friend.
…Or maybe you do. Not judging your friendships. Maybe I’m just a lazy friend. See above.
Don’t overthink the copy. Be helpful, be concise, be kind and move on.
Step Away From The Writing
After I crank out a draft, I have to let it sit for a bit.
It’s too fresh for me to edit it.
If you’re tight on time, get someone else to edit it (that’s a good practice anyway).
But if you can’t, put it away for a bit until you can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
To produce copy quickly: brainstorm, crank out a draft, walk away, come back, edit, rinse and repeat.
Don't Assume Your Readers Will Care
After all that work…still don’t assume anyone will care.
I’ve heard one of the challenges of writing is caring very deeply while writing and then not caring very much while editing.
Like I’ve said before, keep your email short.
If you’re lucky, you have about 2 minutes of their attention. But honestly that’s the total amount of time subscribers give to all their emails.
Get to the point and get to the call to action quickly.
I put the link in the middle and at the end because I don’t want to waste a reader’s time.
With Links, State Benefits
Don’t use the cliched ‘click here’.
Don’t just state where you’re taking them, tell them why they’re clicking.
If You Have Time, A/B Test
Always, always, always test if you can.
Test subject lines and test clickthrough links.
But if you can’t, that’s okay.
It’s nice when you can take your time, but as a marketer you have to get used to shipping quickly.
But if you keep some fundamentals in mind and avoid the common pitfalls, you’ll be fine.