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Copywriting Email: The Anatomy of a Strong Email Campaign

Speed dating is hard. But copywriting email campaigns is harder.

Studies say speed daters have less than 30 seconds to make a good first impression and “connect” with a potential dating partner.

6 email writing tips with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

But 30 seconds is an eternity compared to the newest email marketing statistics.

With email, you’ve got 2 seconds to make a good impression.

Yep. Two measly seconds.

A recent tracking study by Litmus (an email marketing and analytics solutions firm) tested 4 million opens.

The bad news: 51.1% readers spent less than 2 seconds reading the email before punching the “Delete” key.

The good news: of the best email campaigns that Litmus tracked, 77% recipients read the email from start to finish.

Can you say, “Good first impression = promotional survival” three times fast? Copywriting email campaigns that are strong, engaging, and get the open simply depend on some important basics.

Elements to Include When Copywriting Email

Here are a few proven ideas to help you survive that precarious 2 seconds and get your email read from start to finish.

  • Write a dazzling subject line. Make it provocative or enticing – even offer a promise (but make sure the email content delivers on that promise.) Avoid a generic “Your Newsletter” -type title. Tap into readers’ curiosity. You’ll get them to slow down, wonder what the email may contain, and then click “open” to find out.
  • Name a real person in the “From” line. Not an organization. A person’s name is, well, more personal.
  • Use the recipient’s first name. People love seeing their name in print and better yet, online. They like thinking that you think they’re a person. Place the reader’s name in the subject line and in the opening line of the email. When they see it, they’ll pause for a split second – enough to slow down, hit “open,” and read a bit more.
  • Lay out email with the reader in mind. It’s tempting to insert cool graphics near the top, but bells and whistles don’t open emails. Solid content does. Set up your email so that recipients can see some content even before they open it. Little boxes with hidden pictures at the top are an invitation to lower open rates and click-off rates.
  • Open with a hook. Use a benefit, powerful statistic, some engaging humor, or a tantalizing fact. If your recipient is surprised, laughing, or engaged, he’ll keep reading. (Get tips for writing a hook.)
  • Get to the point fast. What do you want the reader to know and then to do? Don’t wait until the third, fourth, or tenth paragraph to tell him. Tell him right out the gate. Then weave the "Ask" in a couple of other times in the body of the email. And close with a strong call to action, too.

Extra tips for copywriting email that's effective

  • Insert plenty of links. But don’t use ad links – instead, embed text links naturally into the copy. Text links don’t interrupt the flow. Plus, good numbers of text links give the reader lots of opportunities to respond. (Get tips for writing links.)
  • Keep it short. When copywriting email, don’t babble on needlessly. Prattle and gibberish bore people on first dates – and people reading emails. If they sense you’re wasting their time, they’ll click off faster than you can say “recycle bin.”
  • And as always ... use spell check. Proofread your copy and then read it aloud. Give it someone else to check, too. Typos and misspellings scream “SPAM” and chase away prospects who otherwise read every word ... and respond.

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