Copywriting in Email Templates

I’ve already written posts on the basics, anatomy, formatting, and images of email templates, and in this post I’ll tackle the last component: copy. Using a guide for your copywriting can be difficult, since email content varies greatly among different industries, brands, and even types of emails. While every marketer has his or her own personal writing style, though, there are certain points each section of an email should hit. In this post, I’ll go through these points, as well as some general stylistic rules you should follow.

General Rules

Voice
The voice, or the writing style, you use in your email templates should match the copy on your website. It’s important to maintain consistency in order to establish your brand, so if your copy is lighthearted on your site, use this same voice when writing your emails. If it’s more straightforward, the same rule applies.

Tone
Use a conversational tone when writing your emails. Email allows you to be more personal than your website does, since it’s a direct channel of communication. Don’t be afraid to address your recipients with a “Hey, Marissa” instead of a “Dear Marissa.” The more formal your copy, the more mechanical your emails will seem.

Grammar
This may go without saying, but make sure your spelling and grammar are impeccable. Klaviyo’s block editors use spell check, but consider drafting your copy elsewhere to ensure that it’s grammatically correct, too.

Preheader Text

I discussed how to format preheader text in a previous post, and briefly touched on what it should say. The copy in your preheader text should be concise, since it’s displayed in the inbox preview. It should either summarize the main point of the entire email or complement the subject line in a way that entices recipients to open the email. In practice, this could mean your preheader text acts as a continuation of your subject line, or there is some interplay between the two — a “Knock Knock” subject line and “Who’s there?” preheader text, for instance.

When writing your preheader copy, convey your message in as few words as possible, and keep keywords at the beginning. For all email copywriting — but for this section in particular — brevity is essential, and how much of your preheader text will be displayed in an inbox is subject to variation among individual recipients. The Hemingway Editor is a fantastic tool that helps writers cut down needlessly wordy sentences. In fact, I used it while writing this post. It’s meant for longer chunks of text, but will suggest simpler alternatives for words even in short sentences.

Headings

EMAIL TEMPLATE copywriting

Depending on the type of email template you’re creating, headings should either mirror your subject line or encourage recipients to take a certain action. For this reason, writing your headings in the imperative is a good rule of thumb. Your headings should point your recipients in the direct of your corresponding call to action, since you can have multiple of both within the same email.

If you’re running a sale email, for example, your heading could read something like, “Don’t miss out on 30% off all designer shoes.” Because this is the primary goal of such an email, the heading should be an H1 or H2, and all subsequent headings should be H3. Similarly, your primary heading should be at the top of the email, before the fold, along with your primary call to action.

Call to Action

EMAIL TEMPLATE copywriting

Like headings, calls to action should be in the imperative. Short, two-word phrases like “Buy Now” or “See Products” work best because they can fit easily on a button. Unless your call to action is a sentence with punctuation at the end, use title case. If you are using punctuation, use exclamation points or question marks instead of periods to invoke a stronger sense of urgency.

A call to action should do exactly what it sounds like — encourage your email recipients to take a certain action. Often, calls to action will link back to a page on your site that the email is intended to draw visitors to. For this reason, your call to action should be above the fold and in plain view, towards the center of the email.

Body Text

EMAIL TEMPLATE copywriting

Unless you’re sending an informational email, your body text shouldn’t be lengthy. People tend not to read large blocks of text, and they can detract from the rest of your content. Emails introducing new products often don’t contain more than 3-4 lines of text. In some cases, body text might only include product descriptions.

Welcome emails, since they’re more on the informational side, can contain a paragraph or two about your company and product offerings. You can include a condensed version of your “About Us” page in this section of a welcome email.

Unsubscribe Link

EMAIL TEMPLATE copywriting

The copy in your unsubscribe link should be clear, brief, and to the point. Something as simple as “Unsubscribe here,” works perfectly well. Recipients should be able to find it easily at the bottom of your email. You can also include a preferences link in this same section, in case recipients would like to update their email frequency instead of unsubscribing altogether.

Since you don’t want recipients to unsubscribe from your emails (and they know it), you might want to be a playful in your copy. Tongue-and-cheek unsubscribe text might read something like, “Want to break up? Unsubscribe here.”

Conclusion

In sum, here’s what you should keep in mind when writing the copy in your emails:

  • Use your brand’s voice
  • Keep the tone conversational
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread
  • Preheader text should be short and sweet, with key information at the beginning of the sentence
  • Use the imperative in headings and calls to action
  • Body text should be clear and concise
  • Unsubscribe link should be clearly marked, but don’t be afraid to have fun with it

To see a full, downloadable version of the email template we used as our example, click here!

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments!

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