Writing better emails might be one of the most important new year resolutions for you professionally. As emails continue to flood our inboxes and overwhelm us, the one goal would be learning how to write better emails in 2019.
No, there’s not going to be a magic pill. As Red Smith (or maybe Paul Gallico) said, “ There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
Good writing is tough, very tough. That applies to all forms of writing, including writing great email copy.
But writing is a craft and, thankfully, in the internet age, you’ve got hundreds of tools and resources to learn from and improve your writing skills with. Here are 5 tips to write better emails, along with appropriate tools to put those tips into practice.
1. Keep your writing simple
Simple writing is easy to consume — your readers can down it like a cup of slightly mellowed ice-cream. And, just like the ice-cream, they’d want more.
But writing simple, crisp stuff isn’t easy. And perhaps that’s why it’s valued so highly.
To begin with, you’d need clarity on exactly two issues: what point are you trying to make and what action you want your readers to take.
While there’s no one single way of keeping your writing simple, you can use the following four questions to test your writing against:
- Can I write this in fewer words?
- Is there any place where I’d better be using Active Voice?
- Is the language trying to show off my vocabulary?
- Is my writing open to interpretations I hadn’t intended?
If the answer to one or more of the above questions is Yes, your writing isn’t simple.
Grammarly and HemingwayApp are two of the many tools you can check out to improve your writing.
2. ‘Kill your darlings’
Edit your writing like a psychopath with a loaded machine-gun in hand.(It can also be written as “Edit like a psychopath”, if you’d rather follow Tip #1 from above.)
It’s difficult to say where writing ends and editing begins. Most writers prefer writing without worrying about editing and edit separately after they’re done with a page or a chapter or whatever’s the unit of their writing. Some do live editing — they edit even while they write.
In either case, a final editing is still required — and then some. And this is where you’ll need to ‘kill your darlings’, as William Faulkner put it. You’ll have to learn to cut out parts that you love but serve little purpose beyond being vaguely ornamental.
On the one hand, you try to grow your mailing list but if, on the other hand, your emails aren’t well-edited, your subscribers aren’t going to stay with you.
3. Learn the rules
Writing marketing emails is disciplined creativity. Which means you’ll need to know the rules and play by them when you learn how to write better emails in 2019.
You may, for instance, want to highlight the phrase“100% FREE” in the email copy you’re drafting. Unfortunately, that’s an overused word and most experts will caution you against using it — at least in the subject line. The reason?
Email servers kind of maintain a list of words that they believe suggests spam. One of these phrases is 100% FREE. So if your email copy contains the phrase 100% FREE too often, or at the wrong places (like subject lines), the email server will believe the email you’re sending out is spam. As a result, the email you send out will be placed in the spam folder and will never be read.
An email that never reaches the inbox produces no results.
You’ll want to learn the rules on how to avoid top email marketing mistakes.
4. Embrace technology and shine
You won’t believe this needs to be told, right?
It does, trust me.
Sending emails to thousands of subscribers is not the same as sending to four people.
When your email is going to land in thousands of inboxes, you’ll want to be absolutely sure of everything.
You’ll want to double-check everything. You’ll want to see how the email might look on hand-held devices. You’ll want to test how the email renders with and without the inserted images.
Thankfully, as we approach 2019, we have increased clarity on email marketing best practices. From helping you clean your mailing list to scheduling social media to segmenting (grouping your subscribers based on what kind of emails should go to whom), there seems to be no end to it.
Embrace technology, put it to use and you’ll begin seeing miracles.
5. Maintain a database of references
When you use data to support your writing, it becomes a great deal more compelling.
Unfortunately, data has the habit of remaining elusive just when you need it.
For instance, did you know 13% of all statistics is misquoted? (Now wait, where did I get this from?)
Some numbers are dynamic, like monthly sales or number of subscribers Facebook has. These numbers keep changing and it’s best to carry out a search only when you need them. If you use data that you have in one of your spreadsheets, you might end up serving stale data.
Other data isn’t that dynamic. The population of Russia or per capita income of France, for instance. Though these numbers aren’t constant, they aren’t measured or reported real-time. So in most cases, you’ll be able to use data you accessed a month or two back.
That means you can store this data in your spreadsheet and pull it out when you need it. Make sure you also save the link to the source (or the newspaper or magazine). That will save you a great deal of time.
Sites like Statista can be a great and reliable source of your data for pretty much everything.