Writing High Converting Email Marketing Copy Like a Pro: A How-to Guide

The world of marketing is ever-evolving, with powerful new advertising channels popping up every year. However, that doesn’t mean that the tried-and-tested marketing email is going anywhere – after all, 4 out of 5 marketers say they’d rather give up social media than email marketing. It just means marketers have to work harder to keep their emails relevant.

From email newsletters, to product launches, to loyalty program welcomes, the humble email retains a number of ways to draw in leads and retain existing customers. Think of your email list as a private member’s club, where you can get your message directly to those who are most likely to respond. The key is to get those messages read.

According to a recent study, the average email open rate across all industries and email clients is 19.8%, the click-through rate is 11.3%, and the bounce rate is 9.4%. These don’t look like great odds, but with a little careful content marketing, you can get ahead of the curve and use your emails to guide audiences toward conversion.

The key to writing effective emails is actually very simple: it’s simplicity itself. As long as you understand your goals and audience, and present your message in a clear and concise manner, you will catch eyes and drive conversion rates.

Is it time for you to invest in email marketing? Read on to discover nine top tips for simple, structured, goal-oriented emails that sell.

1. Start With a Goal

Email copy has a tendency to wander off on tangents if you don’t align it with a goal from the very start. Note that we said, “a” goal – packing an email with multiple calls to action can only lead to confusion.

Begin your email copywriting strategies with a single, clear conversion goal. This will help you structure your copy, and give you KPIs to test your email campaigns against. By making your goal simple and measurable, you can write copy with a clear understanding of the action you’re moving your audience toward. For example, achieving testing toward greater diversity in software engineering so that your product will appeal to a more diverse audience.

Common email goals are getting readers to purchase a product, sign up for a demo, use a discount code, join a loyalty club, or leave a review. Once you define what your email needs to achieve, the job is a lot simpler for your email copywriter.

Bear in mind that not all emails will have the same goal. Consider dividing your email content calendar into discrete campaigns with specific goals such as education, sales, and retention. You can even set up specific email templates for each campaign, and assign campaigns to different segments of your email subscriber list.

This will not only streamline your email communications but could have significant benefits for your ROI: marketers who use segmented email campaigns see a 760% increase in revenue.

2. Know your Audience

Once you understand where you’re coming from, the next step is to know where your audience is. Again, each individual email marketing campaign may find itself with a completely different audience. Remember: if you try to make an email appeal equally to all your potential customers, you may find that it appeals to none of them.

Instead, align your audience with your goal. Focus on a single section of your email list that is most likely to respond to that goal. Think about what sort of tone, language, and imagery appeals to that particular set of email subscribers, and let this guide your copy.


First consider the basic demographic profile of your subscriber list segments, such as the average age, gender, and location. The differences here can be informative: 

74% of “boomers” think email is the most personal channel to receive communications on, compared to 60% of Gen Z, who favor social media and apps. By targeting your personalized messaging to a particular age range, you can work with or challenge their underlying assumptions about email marketing. 

Don’t stop there, though! Move beyond traditional audience personas by asking questions about the situations which may have led this audience to your mailing list, and how they felt while searching for a solution. Take a look at reviews and testimonials to answer these questions directly, and use your findings to shape persuasive and emotionally in-touch copy.
This nuanced understanding of different audience segments will not only increase the conversion power of your emails but can also help you A/B test emails for different audiences and calculate CSAT in the longer term.

3. Be an Approachable Persona

You’ve started thinking about audience personas, but have you considered your own? An approachable, conversational personality needs to shine through your email copy from the very beginning. After all, subject lines function like a call screening app, allowing users to quickly “hang up on” messages that they’re not interested in.

A great starting place is to ask whether your copy is conversational. “Salesy” language can put readers off before they’ve even opened the email, so simplify your language to the same level you’d use for a friend or colleague. 

This will help you avoid jargon and make your messaging easy on the reader’s eye, as well as give your emails a personal touch that keeps potential customers coming back for more.

This friendly persona can also inform the type of emails you send: instead of weekly sales-oriented emails, try a cheerful newsletter that keeps audiences in the know about new products or offers while also adding some fun facts that give your brand a human face. After all, 31% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the best way to nurture leads.

4. Stay Short and Sweet

Email copywriters can easily get carried away with beautiful language, especially if they’re more accustomed to writing blog posts. In longer-form content, lengthy and prosaic descriptions can paint a picture for the reader, but in email body content it can quickly cause readers to click away.

Email content needs to be concise and to the point, so easily distracted digital natives can quickly digest it between messages from coworkers and notifications from social media. Just as legacy systems in insurance industry can overcomplicate digital launches, a focus on florid language can make emails too complex for prospective customers to read.

Instead, enjoy economic language, packing as much feeling into short, punchy sentences as possible. This type of writing is optimized for online readers and can convey all the emotion and the intrigue of a paragraph in a single excellent subject line.

Let’s say your goal is to get readers to sign up for your affiliate program. Instead of lengthy copy like, “Do you want more from your shopping experience? Join our brand ambassador program for great rewards when you promote our products”, try something punchier:

“Ready to take this to the next level? Sign up, @ us, collect rewards.”

This less is more approach adds a playful edge to your message as well as lending itself to graphically-focused email content. Readers are more likely to want to learn more and will click through to your site as a result.

5. Make It Active

Part of what makes copy punchier is using active language. The active voice has immediate power and incite action long before your readers reach the CTA. These language tools denote movement toward a goal and are likely to carry your potential customers along with them.

The active voice is a way of ordering sentences to highlight action. Rather than “Prices are being dropped”, try “We’re dropping prices”. Instead of “All of these prizes could be yours,” go for “You could win all this”. The difference is a more direct phrasing that immediately makes readers feel like something’s going on and that they’re a part of it.

Once you’ve written a piece of email copy, glance over it for any uses of passive voice, and switch these out for an active alternative. Make sure you’ve included plenty of verbs, as these contribute to the driving sense of movement you want your copy to elicit.
Many email marketing tools rightly focus on the call to action as a single button or link at the end of your email. While this is helpful for structuring your message, remember that the call to action should be occurring throughout your email text. The CTA button itself should serve as a final reminder of the direction readers have been moving in all along.

6. Appeal to the Senses

Just because your email copy is concise and simple doesn’t mean that it can’t appeal to readers’ senses. Evoking the imagination across all types of content can put potential customers in the shoes of someone benefiting from your product or service.

Emails can grab readers’ attention through the use of strong graphics, but using sensory language can engage the other senses: sound, smell, taste, and touch. This will give readers a tangible sense of what you have to offer, and lead them to crave it on a more personal level.

A rich, sensory writing style is commonly used in advertising edible and cosmetic products – consider smooth, silky skin cream or dark, decadent chocolate. However, telling a sensory story can add an extra element of engagement to all sorts of marketing goals.

To use a legal electronic signatures example, imagine that a charity has launched an email campaign with the goal of getting signatures on a petition about climate change. By painting a sensory picture of how climate change is affecting our ice caps and rainforest, email marketers can give readers an emotionally loaded picture of why they need to act.

7. Nail the Subject Line

40% of consumers say they have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox. It doesn’t matter how great the body copy is in these emails if they never get opened – and that all comes down to the email subject line.

We purposefully left the subject line to the end of our tips, as in our experience, it can be helpful to form your simple, cohesive body text before considering how to introduce it. The subject needs to either sum up the contents of the email in an appealing way or arouse curiosity.

Your subject line needs to stand out in a reader’s daily deluge of branded emails. To achieve this, go back to what you learned about your audience segment, and choose a subject line that resonates with their needs. This moment of empathy and relevance in a full inbox will encourage readers to learn more.

Personal emails take this one step further, allowing you to add the recipient’s name into the subject line, or draw from data about their shopping behavior to get them back into the sales funnel.

Remarketing emails with subjects such as “You left our blue two-seater sofa in your cart – just one click can make it yours!” are a good example of how personalized subject lines can grab attention and make a quick conversion.

Be careful when trying to be clever with subject lines: anything that uses too many symbols or repetitive salesy words could send your message straight to the spam folder. Similarly, make sure that your personalized subject line can’t be misinterpreted as a scam or phishing attempt, as readers may delete your email without reading it.

Make Your Email Marketing Copywriting Work Harder For You

Whether you consider yourself a communication expert or you’re still asking, “what is a phone extension?” you’re sure to be aware of email’s power as a marketing tool.

However, poorly written and non-targeted emails can do more harm than good when it comes to draining resources and decreasing your reputation. Our email copywriting tips are designed to steer your content away from the spam folder and toward conversions, keeping it simple, jargon-free, and targeted to the right audience segments.

Beyond this, however, you want your email marketing copy to be audience-centric, identifying genuine needs and keeping these at the heart of your messaging.

If you’re ready to up your marketing game with well-written compelling email campaigns that drive conversions, try some of these tactics today.


About the author:

Jessica Day – Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad phone system for business, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Jessica Day also published articles for domains such as Women Love Tech and HeyCarson. Here is her LinkedIn.

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