Stayin’ Alive was on the airwaves, Grease was in the cinemas, and email marketing was making its debut. Yep, email marketing has been around for a while (since 1978, to be precise). But unlike figure-hugging flares, it hasn’t gone out of fashion. Why? Because it still works.
Over 40 years later, the average return on email marketing in the UK is just over £35 for every pound spent.
That’s a tidy sum, especially when you consider that the average email open rate in the UK is just under 19% and the average clickthrough rate (when someone reads your email and takes the next step by clicking the link within it) is a mere 1.65%. How can such underwhelming numbers still deliver such a great ROI?
Because slow and steady wins the race.
Sending one amazing email isn’t going to result in an avalanche of new customers. But leverage some stellar email copywriting in a campaign of regular, engaging emails, and you can consistently convert a small but loyal following of new customers every month.
Email marketing achieves this by connecting with your readers through helpful content that informs, entertains, and engages. This keeps your brand and your services or products front of mind. So when a need arises that you can fulfil, you’ll be top pick for your readers.
Let’s not forget that email marketing isn’t just reliable, it’s also affordable. As one of the cheapest marketing channels out there, it’s the Volkswagen Polo of marketing.
That’s the upside of email marketing, now for the downside. Email marketing works well, but it’s all too easy to get it wrong.
A few lacklustre emails or off-the-mark sentiments, and you could end up with readers ignoring your emails or clicking unsubscribe in droves. This gets to the heart of why a copywriting service that excels in the art of email copywriting is so important for your bottom line.
Why do you need an email copywriter?
Your leads or customers have willingly handed over their email addresses to you (at least that’s the hope, don’t get us started on buying email lists; very, very bad idea) because they trust that you will deliver valuable content to them.
Betray that trust, and your giant list of potentially loyal customers and lucrative leads can transform into a disengaged, or worse, disgruntled rabble.
An email copywriter can help you hold onto your readers’ trust by creating copy that adds value and simultaneously nurtures readers towards making a purchase, or several. Yes, the cutesy emojis in subject lines are fun and sure, the colourful email templates are a visual treat, but ultimately, it’s your words that matter.
Those carefully crafted words need to promote your products or services without sounding pushy or salesy, while also informing or educating without giving too much away (you don’t want your offering to become redundant).
Unsurprisingly, this requires skilful email copywriting, and that starts long before pen is put to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard).
How to plan your email campaign
When you’re sending a text to your gran versus your friend, you probably take it easy on the textspeak and nonsensical emojis. You know your audience and you tailor your message accordingly. It’s likely second nature to you by now.
It’s a similar story with email copywriters. Crafting email campaigns tailored to specific buyer personas is like a reflex for these pros.
Having a buyer persona in mind when planning your emails doesn’t just help get those creative juices flowing. It allows you to target specific pain points, preferences, motivations, objections and goals. These need to be woven into the journey your customers will take through your email campaign.
Every customer journey is different, and as life is messy, those journeys aren’t necessarily linear either. However, broadly speaking a typical customer journey goes a little like this:
An individual becomes aware of your business, perhaps through social media, a recommendation, organic search or an ad. At this point, they may hand over their email address in exchange for a discount code or lead magnet. They’re interested in what you’re offering, but they’re hesitant to commit with their wallet.
An individual begins weighing up the pros and cons of becoming one of your customers. Can you really solve their problem? Can you be trusted? Do you actually know what you’re talking about? They’re curious, and depending on how you satisfy that curiosity, they may move on to the next step.
An individual takes the plunge and makes a purchase. They’re hopeful and excited. They didn’t just buy your product or service, they bought into the story you’re selling too. But that story is far from over.
Your customer ponders whether or not they should stick with you. Has your service met or exceeded all of their needs? Are you still front of mind or have you been edged out by a competitor with a newer, shinier offering? They could be frustrated or they could be delighted. That’s down to you.
Your customer is so happy with your product and exceptional customer service that they’re raving about you in the real and digital world. They’re satisfied, perhaps even thrilled, and it’s your job to keep them that way.
Email campaigns developed for each of these stages will help you hone in on the goals you want to achieve. Factor in your buyer personas too, and you can ensure you get as many conversions and loyal customers as possible.
Speaking of buyer personas, you need to relate these imaginary customers to what’s actually going on with your email list. It’s time for some email list segmentation.
It sounds dull, but it’s incredibly powerful. You need to divvy up your email list into segments that match your different buyer personas as closely as possible. This will give your different email campaigns the best chance of resonating with each of your audiences.
Five tips for effective email copywriting
1) Use short, engaging subject lines
The generally accepted rule with subject lines is that they should be short, ideally around 50 characters or less. This isn’t so much to do with engagement, but rather technology. Different email clients will cut off your subject line at different character limits. Using shorter subject lines, therefore, gives you more control over how they will be presented and avoids awkward cut-offs.
That’s the short part, now to the engaging part. This is a finer line to tread than you may think.
First, what counts as engaging or entertaining varies across industries and audiences.
Second, you want to create interest, perhaps even intrigue, but you don’t want to come off as spammy. If you can’t deliver on your bombastic subject line with the content of your email, your readers may feel disappointed or duped.
Finally, you need to balance brevity with clarity. Readers like mystery in a whodunit, not a subject line.
Truth be told, particularly with B2B email copywriting,where your readers’ inboxes are already overflowing with supposedly clever subject lines from endless sellers, spelling out the obvious in plain English may be the best approach. But the only way to know is to test, test, test.
A/B testing your subject lines is email copywriting 101. Miss this step and your emails may never even get opened. Of course, there are lots of other things you should be A/B testing too, which is where an email copywriting agency comes in handy. (Hint: everything in this list should be A/B tested, and that’s just for starters.)
2) Nail your preview text
Most email clients display around 40–110 characters (depending on whether they’re used on mobile or desktop) which reveal what’s within an email – this is your preview text.
If you don’t tailor it, an email client will pull the first few lines of your email. This could be great, but it could also be uninspiring, uninformative or worse, it could be “Email not displaying correctly? Click here”. Cringe.
Take the time to craft engaging preview text that reveals what’s in store within your email, compliments your subject line, and whets a reader’s appetite. With busy inboxes, this could mean the difference between a reader clicking open or delete.
You can check which email client(s) the majority of people on your email list are using and find out the specific character limits you need to work within.
3) Stay value-focused
Depending on your goal, email campaigns can last a couple of weeks or a couple of months. It’s a long haul, which makes it easy to lose focus and start writing about what you want your customer to do rather than what your customers actually want to hear about.
Read every email you’re about to send while standing in your customers’ shoes (not literally, that would be creepy).
Keep in mind what they want and what they’re interested in. This will help you create content that adds value to their day and ensure you avoid morphing into a pushy salesperson.
4) Get personal
Everybody enjoys that personal touch. Doesn’t it feel good when your barista remembers your name, or better yet, your order? Your emails need to recreate that special feeling with personalisation.
This goes beyond using a reader’s name when addressing them. This is about content. Segmenting your email lists will get you halfway there as you should already be addressing the specific pain points of that target audience. But now it’s time to use whatever data you have to go deeper.
Has a reader recently made a purchase with you? Consider sending tips, tricks and advice on how to get the most out of that purchase. Has a reader just downloaded your lead magnet, signed up for your event, abandoned their cart or not made a purchase in a while? Respond to these behavioural triggers with intuitive content.
70% of consumers like personalisation in their interactions with businesses, as long as they handed over that personal data themselves. Getting personal can, therefore, help put you in your readers’ good books. But don’t go overboard – avoid ramming readers’ names into subject lines.
Personalised subject lines were all the rage, but readers cottoned on to this quick trick and they don’t like it anymore. In fact, personalised subject lines can now lower your open rate.
5) Optimise your CTA
Email copywriting is all about adding value, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on an opportunity for a compelling CTA that meets your goals.
Keep it short, make it clear, and use powerful action words that persuade. And, of course, test, test, test.
You’ll need to have a play to figure out not only which words work best but also which presentation: in-line text links or buttons, different colours, spacing, the works. And don’t forget, 40% of emails are opened on mobile, so make sure it looks great on there too.
Each of these five tips translate from B2C to B2B email copywriting, but B2B email campaigns are a little different.
B2B email copywriting
Emails come in at number three, behind only websites and blogs, as the channel most used for B2B content marketing. So, it’s popular in the B2C and B2B worlds. But why is B2B email marketing different from B2C email marketing?
Because each email you send isn’t merely nurturing one, hopefully, engaged reader to take action. In fact, your reader is probably not even the person making the decision to purchase or not.
There is likely an entire hierarchy of managers, procurement staff and other stakeholders who need convincing, which means the decision-making process is a lot more involved. B2B email copywriting, therefore, needs to cater to the needs of many, not just the reader. This doesn’t mean chucking your buyer personas out of the window, though.
The person reading your emails is the gatekeeper to that hierarchy of stakeholders who make the purchasing decisions. So you need to delight your gatekeeper with the kind of details that they’ll need to convince their stakeholders about your product or service.
B2B email copywriting should focus on educating and informing.
Don’t get heavy-handed with reams of data and lengthy text, though. Your harried reader has a long to-do list, so your content still needs to be clear, punchy and easy to digest. Unlike in the B2C world, using industry-specific language can actually help get your point across more quickly and clearly.
And there is still room for personalisation and entertainment. Yes, you’re targeting a business, but ultimately, you’re still dealing with a person.
Raring to click send?
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, if you want emails that get seen, get opened and get conversions, our email copywriting agency is here to make it happen. Get started today, book your discovery call.