Email marketing has been a staple of the advertising and sales field for decades. In the early days, it involved no more than assembling a list of addresses and sending promotional messages to each one. The technique wasn’t much different than leaving a paper flyer on the doorknobs of private homes.

Nowadays, the strategy has evolved into one of the most effective, sophisticated ways of bringing new customers onboard and keeping current clients happy. Done right, this stalwart of the promotional arsenal can deliver solid results for marketers who know how to use it properly.

What’s the core component of a successful, persuasive piece of electronic mail when used for business? The secret, if there is just one, is all about the quality of the copy, the words you use to build the piece so that it not only informs but persuades.

Additionally, marketing professionals aim to be as efficient as possible, and that means not sending the same message to everyone. Segmentation is perhaps the second most important part of the puzzle, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s first take a look at best practices in writing short, compelling, memorable email copy.

Be Willing to Spend Enough

Even if your organization is on a budget, it is essential to spend enough on the process of creating an excellent copy. For those who don’t have the cash on hand, the best alternative is borrowing from a private lender. There are multiple advantages, including the fact that you can use funds to improve your resources at just the right time.

Passing up a chance to acquire new clients just because your monthly budget is tight is not a strategy for long-term success. Smart owners and entrepreneurs borrow when there’s a compelling need, and financing a top-notch email campaign are as compelling as it gets.

Avoid All Caps, Exclamation Points, and Bold Typeface

Most consumers associate smarmy sales techniques with lots of all-caps words, frequent use of exclamation points, and intermittent use of bold typeface. Avoid all three and your communications will carry a more professional, persuasive appeal.

Master the Art of Ethical Borrowing

Do not be reluctant to use powerful, attractive techniques you see in competitors’ advertisements. To find some of the best, check your personal spam inbox. Look for products and services in your line that draw your attention and spark your interest.

That is a sure sign that the writer had experience and knew how to compose an actionable e-mail with attractive qualities. Of course, do not copy directly. Adapt the method for your own purposes and feel free to add key terms where appropriate.

Spend Time on the Subject Line

The oft-quoted point about subject lines being the most vital part of any marketing piece is true. Consider that the vast majority of readers never even open emails that appear to be advertising-oriented. Spend as much time crafting a short, pertinent subject line as you spend on the content of the piece itself.

Deliver As Promised

If your opt-in page or main website promised readers that they would get a free report about acne, or a 90 percent-off coupon on their next purchase, be certain to live up to your promise. The subject line of the promotional e-mail should indicate that “… this is the free report” or “… this is the 90 percent-off coupon you asked for.” Let them know you’re giving what you said you’d give.

Know Your Power Words

You can find lists of power words in lots of places. But just knowing the principle is a valuable lesson. Power words are descriptive and carry a heavy dose of connotation. For instance, three of the most common power words used in advertising copy are ultimate, deadline, and extra. Next time you read ad copy, be sure to make a note of how many times those particular words pop up. You’ll quickly lose count. One reason they’re used so often is they have an inherent store of power compared to other, more common terms. Compare the following:

  • The deadline for ordering your extra 75 percent-off bottles of XYZ is July 28, at midnight. It’s our ultimate sale of the year. Don’t miss out.
  • At midnight, July 28, our 75 percent-off sale will end. All customers are allowed to order two bottles total. We hold this sale every year.

You can even use power words to explain how utterly fantastic power words are:

  • They’re like jet fuel for your campaign, and make a gargantuan difference because they’re massively awesome, put fast money in your pocket, and can deliver a whopping six-figure income fast. Act now and earn a fortune, or lose out and miss this incredible opportunity.

Reveal Your Identity

No need to reveal your real identity unless there is a compelling need. This suggestion is about personalizing each piece you write by taking on a specific persona. Use the first name to identify yourself, and offer a bit about your background. What kind of email are you more receptive to, the first or second of the following?

  • From the Sales dept of ABC Co: We want to announce a 10 percent off sale beginning next Sunday.
  • From Mike at ABC: Hi. Mike here. Just wanted to remind you that next Sunday we’re doing our annual 10 percent off event. Thanks.

Number two uses a first name and a conversational tone. Both announcements say essentially the same thing, but the second one, from Mike, is more like a text you’d get from a friend and has a much better chance of being successful.

Write For the Readers

This suggestion is simple enough that merchants often forget it. Not writing for your customers is the equivalent of leaving home without your car keys. You won’t get far, but we’ve all done it at one time or another.

What is writing for readers? Simply put, the gist of the method is to know the average age, background, and educational level of your audience. Are you marketing high-tech computer peripherals to engineers, cosmetic products to college students, or auto parts to middle-aged men? 

Eventually, you will be able to increase negotiation leverage by tracking client views and knowing your audience when writing truly steps one. Each of those hypothetical demographics calls for a particular way of writing. The best way to get in the right frame of mind is to imagine a group of people from your target demographic sitting at a large conference table with you.

They’re listening intently while you deliver the message at hand. In person, we find it much easier to modulate our speech than when we write. Just think about the different tones and ways of speaking you use when speaking with children and adults.

Use the One Goal Technique

There is an old rule that still holds in the world of written marketing: to focus on one goal. Even though there are many exceptions to the suggestion, it’s especially applicable in e-mail promotional campaigns. Before hitting the send button on a batch of messages, review the piece and ask yourself what is the one goal with this communication?

It really does not matter what the goal is if it aims to bring in or keep customers. But if you have two or more goals, consider rewriting in order to focus on just one thing.

Often, a single goal revolves around getting the reader to either buy or request more information via clicking on a specific button within the message. But there can be dozens of different goals. The point is to keep things simple and focused.

Leverage the Social Proof Strategy

The concept of social proof is as old as the practice of commercial selling. In modern terms, merchants let prospective customers know that others approve of the product or service and are already using it. “Millions were sold last month,” or “five out of ten working electricians use our device,” are typical examples of the social proof technique.

Try to think of ways you can demonstrate, within your written copy, that your item is popular with others, used by multitudes, or well-reviewed on social media. Whatever it takes, just be sure to only cite verifiable statistics and data.

Put the FOMO Effect to Work

Fear-of-missing-out is a compelling human emotion. People don’t want to miss a good thing, whether it’s a sale, one-time discount, special announcement, or free upgrade. Pepper your communications with phrases that instill FOMO and readers will be more likely to respond.

Employ Linguistic Tools

Use common linguistic tools like the repetition of keywords, rhyme, reference to common cultural themes, humor, compelling warnings, and any other turn-of-phrase that works for your message and its goal. For instance, if you’re attempting to engage buyers of home medical devices, it’s often effective to include science-based warnings about the consequences of not monitoring one’s health.

Putting It All Together

Of course, you will probably find yourself using a half-dozen or more of the tools listed above. But, it’s important to consider all of them, understand how each one can work, and then decide which group is a best fit for your organization’s needs. When it comes to expanding a customer base, it makes sense to know what kinds of tools are available, and then select carefully from the options.