Email Copywriting: Tips from 3 of your peers


How do you write the subject line of an email? How do you write the first sentence? How can marketers write effective copy on a deadline?

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, will share our email copywriting discoveries and offer live optimization suggestions for audience-submitted email marketing in Wednesday’s free Web clinic – Email Copywriting Clinic: Live, on-the-spot analysis of how to improve real-world email campaigns.

But before we share what we’ve learned, we wanted to hear from you. Here are a few email copywriting tips from your peers …



On mobile, intro lines lead to more opens than subject lines

With 88% of people checking their email via mobile devices on a daily basis, your focus on subject line is not enough since most subject lines get cut off after four-to-five words (25-30 characters).

The big opportunity lies in the two-to-three lines of text that appears below the cut-off subject line in most mobile email viewers. It shows your intro text, which usually consists of less-compelling words such as “Hi, I wanted to reach out … ”

Instead, it should include the core emotion, offer and benefit all within 15-20 words (70-75 characters) that can be read in the email viewer before an email is opened. In our experience, we saw 20% more opens when we changed the intro text while keeping the subject line the same.

Personal intros in the beginning of email body hurt clickthroughs

People like to get right to the point when reading an email. So, in our experience, when we included a benefit in the first line, it got 35% more clickthroughs than including an introduction in the first line.

E.g. “Hey, just saw your website and I think our product can help you get 35% more leads through our service … ’’ had better clickthroughs than “Hey, my name is Adeel and I am the … ’’

65-85 words with one CTA is the sweet-spot for clickthroughs

If your email is too short, it may not be compelling enough to take action, and if it’s too long, it may not be read in its entirety.

We’ve found that 65-85 characters are just the right length to be read on any day of the week and any time of the day. Include in it one clear call to action and more people will click.

In our experience, this led to 25% more clickthroughs. For most marketers, it’s hard to adhere to this limit. The only way to meet this limit is by adopting the mindset that the purpose of email marketing is only to entice the reader enough to click-through to a landing page to get more information.

Adeel Vanthaliwala, CEO/Co-Founder, Incentivibe



In the case of B2C recipients, they’re the decision-makers, and they’re buying out of their self-interest – no matter how altruistic the offer.

In the case of B2B, recipients operate as agents of the organizations for which they work. Whether they are the decision-makers or not, their purchase criteria are based on the good of their organizations rather than merely their self-interest. This distinction is important since it determines the context which email copy must address.

In both cases, however, the approach to writing email copy turns out to be pretty much the same. Put yourself in the role of your intended recipient, and write to persuade yourself. For B2C, that means convincing yourself of the happiness and satisfaction you’ll get from making this purchase. For B2B, it means deciding that this purchase will improve my organization and my job.

The more formal path to this approach is developing personas for each type of intended recipient, and then writing to those. Often, though, there’s not enough time for that, or the result is too abstract. Adopting the role of an intended recipient yourself is not only much faster, but also builds in automatic feedback which a persona cannot provide. If you can’t make yourself believe, it’s unlikely you’ll convince your target audiences either.

Prugh Roeser, President, The Devereux Group



1. Focus your email. Figure out what your top priority is for reader action and focus your links and messaging on this. Sure, you can have a few tangential options. But make sure there’s a clear focus.

2. Make it personal and engaging. Email works best as a one-to-one message. Along these lines, make the “From” line consistent since people scan there quickly in deciding whether to open an email.

3. Less graphics, more text. Many email recipients don’t see graphics if they have HTML turned off.

4. Focus on building a relationship over the long term. Use storytelling, interesting info, empathetic statements to build a long-term relationship with your audience. The sales come out of this.

Sarah Clachar, Owner, Healthy Marketing Ideas


Related Resources:

Email Marketing: 7 resources for email optimization

Promise vs. Intrigue: What is the most effective way to word a subject line?

Email Marketing: Questions about subject line length, differentiating alert emails, and multivariate testing

Email Testing: More specific subject line improves open rate by more than 35%

Email Optimization: 72% of marketers test subject lines

Calls-to-action Tested: 3 words that increased conversion by 43%

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  1. Kirsten Nelson says

    Really great tips. So many different “hard and fast” rules to wade through that don’t seem to apply to today’s market anymore. I always know I can look to you guys for the real deal. Thanks!

  2. Matt Lord says

    Love this piece of the article:

    “People like to get right to the point when reading an email. So, in our experience, when we included a benefit in the first line, it got 35% more clickthroughs than including an introduction in the first line.”

    you nailed it. One of the most important parts of successful email copy is getting people’s attention right from the start. Most of the time, introductions don’t accomplish that very well.

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