Writing Effective Short-Copy Emails

As copywriters, our job is to get our clients’ messages seen, read … and acted upon. Not an easy undertaking in today’s world of multitasking, short attention spans, and media overload!

One strategy marketers are finding effective is short-copy email.

That’s right … short-copy. Email.

Before you get outraged, hear me out …

I’m not debating the merits of long-copy sales letters versus short-copy emails versus micro-copy social media posts. (Although a debate between Michael Masterson/Mark Ford, Jay White, and Nick Usborne WOULD be fascinating!) These types of writing all have their place — or at least should — in a well-rounded marketing plan.

The question isn’t which is better, but rather, how best to use each effectively. So, let’s look at the short-copy email …

Your goal is the click.

A short-copy email is all about getting your reader to click-through to a sales page, opt-in page, ordering page, or some other landing page. That’s it.

When you begin with that end in mind (thank you, Steven R. Covey), it’s easier to write concise, targeted email copy that gets the job done.

You don’t have to answer every objection or point out every benefit that your client’s product or service offers. Your email doesn’t have to do the work of the sales page.

It just has to tempt and tease with enough information that your reader wants to learn more. You’ll give them more in the sales page.

You can think of this email as an appetizer. The feast lies ahead on the other side of the click.

And getting the click is the all-important goal, according to master autoresponder writer Jay White. He provides in-depth training for short-copy email writers in his program Email Copy Made Easy. Some of my favorite lessons include …

Hold fast to the Power of One.

In a short email, you must present one idea. One benefit. Make one point. You must be diligent about this.

If you have other points to make … great! Send other short-copy emails.

Don’t be tempted to cram multiple benefits into a single short email. It’s like taking everything offered at a dessert buffet and piling your plate high. You can’t possibly digest everything without hurting yourself.

Likewise, let your reader savor just one sumptuous idea/benefit in your short, sweet email. You’ll keep them coming back for more!

Make every word count.

When you have limited words (typically 200-500), you must make every single one count. Edit ruthlessly, and eliminate ALL unnecessary words.

For example, a few copywriter friends and I recently discussed how best to describe direct-response copywriting. The first suggestion was, “Direct-response copywriting is using subtly persuasive writing to guide a prospect to a specific action.”

We whittled that down to, “Direct-response copywriting persuades your reader to act.”

Clear, concise … powerful in its simplicity.

That’s what you have to do with short-copy emails.

Craft your subject line with care.

If the goal of your email is to get the click, the goal of your subject line is to get the open. And every word certainly counts here.

Going back to our meal analogy, you can think of your subject line as the invitation to dinner. The best invitations carry the implied promise of a good time … right?

And so do the best email subject lines carry an implied promise — a promise to solve a problem, a promise to fulfill a want/need/desire, a promise to make life better.

Use the same techniques on your subject line that you do on your email copy. Cut all unnecessary words. Utilize the Power of One. Focus on a benefit.

Include a clear call-to-action.

Conversion rates (the measurement of how many of your readers take action by clicking through to the next step) are some of the most valuable metrics in email marketing. You improve your rates when your call-to-action is clear and compelling.

So leave no doubt in your reader’s mind as to what the next step is. This element of good copywriting is the same whether you’re writing long copy, short copy, micro copy, or haiku.

Make it clear. Make it easy. Make it the most natural thing in the world for your reader to do.

For example, which of these two links are YOU most likely to click?

Click here to go to [sales page].


Start experiencing the [benefit] of our [product/service] for yourself.

Choose your call-to-action words carefully, and make each of them count.

The most valuable of all talents …

Thomas Jefferson said, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

The good news is that you can cultivate this talent. Practice it. Work on it. Your copy — short or long — will be better for it.

If you’ve had success with short-copy email, please tell me about it in the comments.

Write on!

This article, 5 Keys to Writing an Effective Short Email Message, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.

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Published: August 29, 2012

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