Social Trends

Nobody reads emails that miss these 3 essentials

By Elisa Dorman | 3 min read

People will skim your text, distrust your claims, and be indecisive no matter what. Copywriters must adapt.

The most brilliant novelist could write an email today that nobody reads. That’s because excellent writing isn’t enough anymore. Marketers must accommodate the buzzing modern mind.

Intuition can only get you so far. To be effective in the wild west of email inboxes and sales funnels, marketing agencies need data-backed, hot-off-the-press tactics to stand out. 

Here are three foundational best practices for designing marketing emails to everyone’s new audience – fast-paced skeptics.

1. Make text scannable or TLDR will wring you dry

TLDR = Too Long, Didn’t Read. TLDR is endemic among your potential customers and marketers will be left behind if they don’t make content ultra-skimmable. 

Thankfully a few tips can transform daunting long text blocks into readable, skimmable content:

  • Direct the reader’s eyes by using headings, sub-headlines, photos with captions, bold text and principles of graphic design to draw emphasis to key points.
  • Keep paragraphs to 90 words or less.
  • Bullet points are scannability magic. Use them.
  • Pop in prose tricks like alluring alliterations, rhymes at the right times and repetition, repetition, repetition. Irony and contradiction also draw readers in.
  • Put the “bottom line up front” – a 1 to 2 sentence summary right at the beginning.
  • Pay attention to the first line of each paragraph and the 3-5 words closest to the left of the page. These are most likely to be skimmed, especially in web formats.

2. If you’re not fake news, prove it

Readers are predisposed to think claims of greatness, transformation or excellent value are manipulative schemes to coerce open wallets. If you have something great to offer, you’ll be overlooked unless you can prove it. 

Excellent copy uses these tactics as possible to build credibility. The more you can incorporate, the more robust your credibility will appear.

  • Stats. Readers are twice as likely to believe a claim about product or service quality when it is backed by a relevant statistic from a reputable source. Graphs, charts, and links to documented studies are great too.
  • Explanations. Guide readers to come to logical conclusions about the value of your offer by breaking down how it works. Learning also excites people and excited people are more likely to be click-happy.
  • Testimonials. As a professional copywriter, I’m familiar with tricks to get people’s attention. What stands out to me when I’m reading a landing page is what other customers have to say. Testimonials or quotes, especially from experts, give a sense of objective credibility while also feeling relatable.
  • Network credibility. Flaunt your associations by including other business or organization logos and name drops. Even random logos from unknown brands are proven to increase trust.

3. Come to terms with commitment issues

We get it. There are a lot of options out there. Customers aren’t going to read your landing page and immediately buy a flag with your logo to hang off their balcony. 

Copywriters possess the power to frame their calls to action with hospitable assurances such as:

  • Offer-centricity. Sell prospective customers on a current, time-sensitive offer that will get their feet wet with your product or service. Don’t ask them to pledge their souls and buy your whole collection. Keep it light and start with something easy – click here to get a free coupon code, trial or more info.
  • Add value. Offer real information that has stand alone usefulness. An educational email or landing page doesn’t feel irritatingly pushy because it isn’t merely there to sell but also to inform. How wholesome and generous!
  • Take a soft approach. A vulnerable and submissive tone generally performs better than an aggressive sales pitch. Be conversational and personable. Creating a tone that respects people’s time and acknowledges that there are lots of options out there demonstrates your authenticity.
  • Add ample assurance. Never skip last-minute “click-triggers” to handle potential objections to follow through. Locate them right next to your call-to-action button. Proclaim a “money-back guarantee” or share a short quote from a satisfied customer.

Don’t disqualify your marketing efforts by failing to accommodate your rushed readers. Take your great ideas and craft scannable, proof-rich, unintimidating copy. Your audience and conversion rates will thank you.

And hey, this is a lot to think about with everything else you’ve got going on. If you want us to worry about the ins-and-outs of copywriting best practices for your business, so that you don’t have to, give us a shout.

Elisa Dorman

Elisa Dorman

Elisa Dorman is a writer and researcher with experience on the client and agency side.