Most emails are badly written. This isn’t surprising given that there are 293.6 billion of them being sent every day. Despite the rise in alternative communication tools, the tech market research firm Radicati has found that there are still 3.7 billion email users in 2019, and this number is growing. So, why is email copywriting just not a priority? What’s going wrong?
Email copy crimes
- Copy length: Content is too long, wordy and difficult to read.
- Poor structure: Email is difficult to navigate and can’t be scanned or read quickly.
- Basic mistakes: Poor spelling, punctuation or grammar.
- No clear call to action: Copy does not make clear what should be done or how to act on the information.
What good looks like
Bad emails just won’t do. When written correctly - for the right people - email marketing can boost your lead generation efforts. So, to avoid your prospects hitting delete, here are ten tips you should always follow:
1. Clear subject lines
Keep subject lines clear, descriptive and concise. Use personalisation where appropriate.
2. Respect privacy
Ever received a round-robin email? One addressed to hundreds of people, with all their addresses included? This is a gross breach of privacy and it is also pretty much the only circumstance where a BCC is appropriate.
3. Avoid long paragraphs
Consider using one-sentence paragraphs. Keep sentences short. Use bullets for short lists. Use subtitles to break up long emails.
4. Use fewer words
Fewer words, greater understanding. Imagine your email was a telegram and that you were paying by the word. With email, shorter is better. Also, short words are best.
5. Perfect punctuation
Punctuation exists to make it easier for people to make sense of what they're reading. Poor punctuation, bad spelling and inappropriate capitalisation slow down people's brains when they read and make it harder for them to understand what you are saying.
6. Highlight actions
Highlight actions and key points. It's fine to use underlining, highlighting or bold to help people concentrate on the key points.
7. Write well
Use strong, active verbs; avoid jargon and abbreviations, and use fewer words.
8. Think about the reader
Email is about the reader, not the writer. Don't think about what you have to say. Think about what the reader needs to hear. There's nothing more tedious than an email that starts out with 200 words of self-justification when all it needs is a single sentence containing a question.
9. End strongly
Tell people exactly what you expect them to do as a result of the email.
Re-read it. Out loud. Delete any unnecessary words. Think about whether you can express any point more clearly and succinctly.
On the subject of improving communication within the sphere of business, the journalist William Whyte wrote ‘the great enemy of communication, we find, is the illusion of it’.
Follow our ten tremendous tips for email copywriting success and work at improving your writing on a daily basis. That way, when your emails land, they pack a punch.