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The Key to Email Copywriting for the Non-Copywriter

Marketers are constantly on the lookout for tweaks to make more revenue. But most don’t realize the quickest way to maximize email ROI is right under their nose: Improve your email copywriting. 

Better copywriting is a small step with an immediate uptick in your email ROI. You don’t need to hire a high-priced, fancy copywriter for better email copy. Just make sure you and your staff learn some concrete tips and techniques. 

As says Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, says, “To be successful in marketing you need to be a great storyteller, and that starts with great writing skills. Simply put, you cannot be a great marketer without mastering the art of writing.”

And that’s even more true when it comes to email. 

Small changes = big results

About a year ago I was hired to write B2B emails for an agency’s client. The client had been writing their emails in-house, and the content was the typical sales-y, generic and dry stuff. Granted the subject matter was highly technical, but still, they had a lot of room to improve–without realizing it. A few months after I took over the email copywriting, the agency told me the new emails for the client performed far better than any they wrote themselves.

Were the emails from the in-house marketing team horrible?

Not at all. They ticked a lot best practice email marketing boxes :
They were short and to the point,
grammatically correct, 
and had clear calls to action.

But they lacked the “copywriter magic” that gets emails opened and links clicked. 

The good news is, there isn’t any magic to it. Every in-house marketer can improve the nuances that get people clickin’. That’s where even an incremental improvement can result in a big bump in ROI.

The ROI of a tiny improvement

Email is a numbers game, and incremental improvements can have huge paybacks.

For example, consider a marketing team with a list of 100,000 names that achieves a ½ percentage point improvement in open and conversion rate.  Before and after the incremental improvement, the numbers look like this:

That’s a difference of $5,750 while costs stay the same, all from getting a bit better at email copywriting. That seems a small investment for a huge return, if you ask me. 

Your email copywriting matters now more than ever

You as the marketing director or business owner must do everything you can to achieve even the smallest improvement in email marketing results. Those incremental improvements are even more critical during an economic downturn like what we’re experiencing now. 

And the place to start is words. Email copywriting is not like other types of marketing content.

Karen Talavera, Founder and Principal of Synchronicity Marketing, puts it clearly: “Writing for email is a specialty all on its own.” 

That’s why your team needs to level up a.s.a.p., with a small investment in learning for a big return on that investment. 

Email copywriting: time to level up

Once you realize you or your team should improve, here’s the challenge: You can find plenty of blog posts and articles telling you to write better emails and offering email copywriting tips, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a specific, concrete framework / system with instructions for doing so. 

The reality is professional email copywriters have spent years honing their craft. Reading a quick blog post on four ways to better copywriting will help you. But it won’t give you the same skillset as a trained and proven professional.

So take the next step: Move beyond the simple blog post with tips and look for specific, concrete ways to implement the advice you’re following. The future of your business might depend on it.

Email copywriting for the non-copywriter

How can you or your team write emails that move the needle and get those numbers up? Find ways to learn the how, not just the what.

Because here’s the deal: You already know the “what.” You already know your team’s email copywriting could and should improve if you’re doing it in-house. But you lack the specific, concrete ways to implement the “what.”   

Professional email copywriters know the nuances of language. They are masters of subtlety and tweaking. 

  • They know starting an email with “you” instead of “we” gets better results. 
  • They know how to paint a mental picture in someone’s mind with words. 
  • They know empathy engages. 

This is what I mean by the “how” as I tell my students in my own online email copywriting class for non-copywriters.

2 quick examples to get you started

For example, “be specific” is one of the lessons in the class. But “be specific” is not specific enough.

Let’s do a quick exercise to see how being specific improves your email copywriting. I want you to think of a car. Now, I have no idea what kind of car you are picturing.
But if I told you to picture a red convertible, I’d know what image you’re seeing in your mind.

Using specific words means clarity in communication. And that means the image you get in your head is in line with what I want you to see there. I call this making a mental impression. It’s a persuasive technique you can use in email copywriting.

And that’s just one example of how you can master email copywriting. It’s a tiny investment of time and money that can pay back dividends with only one email campaign. 

Here’s another technique you can easily put to use: Start your emails using the pronoun “you,” not “I” or “we.” You’ll get the recipient’s attention right away because you’ll be talking about them, not you. (And when your emails use “I” or “we” at the beginning, they sound like typical sales emails from the start…meaning they get ignored from the start.)

Those are only two ways you can level up your email copywriting for incremental improvements in your email ROI. There are plenty more! 

Sharon Ernst
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