Writing Effective eDMs: Copy that Converts

January 23, 2019

  • Content Marketing

Believe it or not, our attention spans are actually expanding (not shrinking) when it comes to one Internet mainstay.
Yes, Email.
According to a report from Litmus Email Analytics (2017), the average time spent reading an email increased by 11.1 seconds in 2017, up 7% from 2011. What’s more, the percentage of emails read for more than 18 seconds also grew to 44.4% in 2017 compared to 38.4% in 2011.

Social feed fatigue?
On-toilet readability?
While we can’t be entirely sure why people are spending more time reading emails, what we do know is that learning how to write effective email marketing copy is a must. Copy that is conversational, click-worthy and at the end of the day, converts.

Hit up our complete list of eDM copywriting guidelines before hitting ‘send’.


Decide on a singular objective

If you have multiple goals for a single eDM, you don’t really have a goal.

Instead of trying to cram multiple subjects and calls-to-action into one email, focus your energy on just one goal you want to achieve e.g. directing your readers to a website or simply wishing them happy holidays.

Showing restraint around how many things your eDM communicates allows you to build effective copy around your strategic objective that reads clearly and naturally.

Play to on-screen advantage

Emails are read off phones.

It doesn’t matter how good your content is, if it doesn’t read well on your phone, it doesn’t get read.

Make sure it’s properly optimized.

Also, remember to use Preview Text to your advantage.Ranging from 35 to 140 characters, Preview Text is a snippet of copy pulled from your email and often displayed underneath the sender name and subject line in a reader’s inbox, making it one of the first things your reader will read and react to.


Is long form back?

We are big proponents of keeping copy simple, short and sweet.
However, recently there has been an emerging trend for long-form eDM copy. Who would’ve thought?

Perhaps it’s our generous attention span for email content, but people are now willing to read through a significiant amount of copy.

The main takeaway is that as long as your copy is engaging and rewarding from end to end, people are willing to read more of it.

Scrutinize your subject line

Your subject line determines whether your reader opens you, deletes you or reports you as spam.

3-6 word subject lines perform best.
Just like an article headline, your subject line does 80% of the work. If you’ve only got ten minutes to write your eDM—spend eight of them crafting the right subject line.

There are many different types of subject lines you can use.
Pain point subject lines. FOMO subject lines. Curiosity subject lines.

Choose wisely!

Get personal

Less ‘we’, more ‘you’.

Keep your copy focused on your readers rather than who you are and what you offer.

After all, people are more interested in what you can do for them than anything else.

You can be more customer-centric by:

  • Using the readers’ names in your copy
  • Sending your emails from individuals, not from a business/brand account
  • Avoiding off-putting corporate speak

Write for the web

If it’s getting read off a screen, your copy needs to follow a few simple rules.

To give your copy the best chance of getting read and actioned:

  • Follow a logical structure
  • Keep paragraphs short
  • Include one main idea per paragraph
  • Feel free to use bullets and subheadings
  • Make it scannable—can your reader get the gist in a few seconds?

Make it unsubscribe-able

If your reader wants out, the exits should be clearly marked.

Don’t be one of those annoying brands/companies that make readers jump through hoops to take themselves off the mailing list. It’s not good business to piss people off.

As you continue to email someone who wants off of your list, your relationship and their sentiment can only go down. Not only is it not optional, but it’s also a legal requirement, so make it easy for your readers to unsubscribe and hope that your amazing content wins them back someday.

Talk features benefits

It’s not about you, remember! It’s about them.

Instead of simply listing the features of your brand/service/product, talk about the benefits your reader can enjoy if they choose to follow your call to action.

Ask yourself—what’s in it for the reader?

Throw in some Emojis

Emojis have worked their way into everyday vernacular and the hearts of (most) readers.

According to a report by Experian, using emojis in your subject lines can increase your open rates by 45%. If they fit your brand style and tone of voice, AB test with Emojis to see if your readers love or hate them.

Recruit the right words

Every word counts.

Diction or word choice is how you hook your readers, entertain and encourage them and keep them coming back for more.

  • Use analogies and other proven literary techniques
  • Incorporate sensory words to paint a picture and evoke as many senses as you can
  • Establish urgency and encourage action by using power words throughout

Reward your readers

If you’re going to take up someone’s time, the least you can do is make it worth their while.

Rewarding readers ideally should start from the moment they open your email. This doesn’t mean giving away free stuff or discount codes, although that helps. It simply means creating copy that clearly outlines the benefits as well as proof of benefits without forcing them to click through to links.

For example, you might provide them with stats or collected data that proves subscription to your emails will save them money/time/energy.

And of course, make it enjoyable to read!

Promote Action

After your subject line, your CTA is the most important part of your eDM.

If you aren’t ultimately getting readers to share, read, visit, book or buy something, what’s the point of sending the email?

When you’re crafting your CTA, choose words that drive action, such as “Buy now” and “Book today”. Plus, don’t be scared to pepper the CTA through the email, just don’t overdo it. That way, when your reader feels compelled to act, they can then and there.

Exceptions include emails such as Christmas cards or a letter from CEO.

Always be proofreading

Check, check and check again.

It’s seems obvious, but proofreading is not practised enough.

Not only can you get into trouble if your content is not accurate, but things like typos and inaccuracies directly impact your credibility. If you can’t be bothered to check your work, your readers might question how bothered you’ll be with their wants, needs and concerns.

Give thanks

It’s just good manners.

In this busy, busy world, if someone has taken the time to read your email, gratitude is always in order.

Oh, and thanks for reading!

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