Copywriting Emails and Letters
Copywriting email and letters is the next logical step to promote and market your products and services. The first steps are to identify the purpose of your email and letters, and apply proper formatting for that intent.
A letter has a formal layout and convention that has largely influenced email. At the very least, we have a recipient name, recipient address, subject line, the sender’s (you) message to the recipient, the sender’s details, and a sign off. Whether you choose email to send your message, or opt for the more traditional path of letter-writing, you’re still engaging in a writing activity that has rules and conventions. These rules are important but no one really notices until someone comes along and does it correctly. Might as well be you. Copywriting email and letters takes into full account these conventions that sets apart your writing as professional.
The purpose of all email can be broadly grouped into 4 categories.
1. Self-fulfilling: these emails are for you to further your own cause and query.
2. Conversing: these emails keep connections and new relationships going.
3. Inquiring: these emails ask recipients for answers or clarification.
4. Motivating: these emails motivate recipients to take action, like buying a product or subscribing to a service.
Whatever purpose you would like your email to fulfill, it’s important to set a direction for it at the very beginning. Everything, from formatting and styling, to typefaces and font sizes will play a role to make your email that much more professional and acceptable to your target audience.
First the easy part: When typing your recipient’s details, use the top left corner of your canvas. This applies to copywriting email and letters. We do it often enough in letters, but hardly ever when composing an email. Often we take the email address in the TO: field as the recipient’s entire block of contact details. That’s simply not true. An email address is just that – an email address. In the compose section of the email,try typing out the recipient’s name, address, and contact numbers if necessary. Include the date below the address and contact numbers. Email composed in this fashion may well get you that extra bit of attention, especially in formal settings. This is not a hard and fast rule but it’s worth giving a shot and seeing the kind of response you get. Ultimately, copywriting email is about getting noticed, in a professional manner of course. Don’t be different for the sake of being so.
Next, the subject line: The subject line in a letter is easy enough to place. It comes below the date, usually in bold lettering or uppercase if hand-written, preceded by Ref, Reference or Re. When composing an email, we use the subject line as the reference line. There’s nothing wrong with this except that the subject line has a greater purpose than referencing what the message is about. When copywriting email, the subject line is an opportunity to grab the attention of your recipient. Consider the approach to reading an email versus reading a letter. A letter comes in an envelope. It’s sealed (hopefully) and requires time to open it, unfold the paper within, and commence reading. You may have twelve or twenty letters in your mailbox and most of them will go through the process above. The ones we usually don’t open are the ones that have THE OWNER written on the front, or envelopes that clearly fall into the junk mail category. The approach is quite different when it comes to email. All your mail is presented in a neat stack, automatically arranged in chronological or alphabetical order as prescribed by your settings. Most of us have our email configured to show the name of the sender, the email address, and the subject line, together with the time and date it was sent. Then, depending on which subject lines catch our interest, we begin the opening or deleting process.
The subject line in emails is critical when deciding whether that email is a keeper or a junk folder resident. Sometimes an email may have useful information that is marred by a poorly written subject line. Think of your email’s subject line as the envelope in which the mail comes in. An attractive, professional-looking envelope with your name and address spelled correctly is going to make a difference. The same rule applies for subject lines. Your subject line is not a reference line; it’s a tagline or strapline that pulls the reader in. Of course it must be relevant to the email’s content but it also has to pull the reader in. When creating a subject line, think of how you want your reader to react. Then formulate the subject line accordingly. It’s also a good idea to place your name or company name at the beginning of the subject line if your recipient is expecting a message from you. Otherwise start your subject line with a call to action, then place your name or company name at the end. Use your judgement in this case to see which will yield better results. Whatever you pick, remember your subject line is the envelope – the packaging of your message.For it to attract maximum attention, it first requires yours.
When copywriting email, remember to use paragraphs. It can be quite annoying to read a large chunk of text at a go without placing breaks. So where do you put paragraphs? It’s your call. Paragraphs should follow the natural flow of the reading order. it’s also good practice to appoint one paragraph for one main idea. As long as the reading order flows with natural breaks, the paragraphs are doing their job.
The easiest way to make your emails effective, is to follow these nine simple tips:
1. Keep it engaging: consider the subject line an envelope, which will make an impression, rather than a reference.
2. Keep it concise: only mention points worth mentioning and which are relevant.
3. Keep it texty-tweety: SMS and Twitter use 160 characters to drive only the most important points across; something to consider when bringing up only relevant content.
4. Keep it face-to-face: write as though you were meeting your recipient in one-on-one personal meeting.
5. Keep it simple: the best communicators make it very easy for their audiences to understand them.
6. Keep it legible: font size and type face selections matter since they lend character to your writing.
7. Keep it organized: bullet points and short paragraphs make reading a much easier task, especially on screens.
8. Keep it targeted: don’t overwhelm recipients with questions; a maximum of 2 questions is about perfect but play this one by ear.
9. Keep it going: include necessary URLs and links so your recipient can learn more about you and contact you.
That brings us to the end: Concluding an email or letter has it’s conventions, and how you sign off makes a difference. If you know the recipient’s name then sign off with Sincerely yours, Yours Sincerely, or just Sincerely. If you do not know the name of the recipient (find out if you can, it always helps) then sign off with Faithfully yours, Yours Faithfully, or just Faithfully. Now do we use a comma after the Sincerely yours? Yes if you have a comma after the recipient’s name in Dear Recipient, at the beginning. No if you have not put a comma after the recipient’s name. Place your signature (if you have a digital one) before typing your name at the end.
Copywriting email and letters is fun when you know the rules because then you can break them when necessary. Copywriting is a creative activity so treat it as such – experiment with it and you never know if the next convention in copywriting email is attributed to you.