How To Write Marketing Emails (That People Will LOVE)

Look, I’m not a copywriter.

Chances are, neither are you 🙅‍♂️

English is not even my first language; I make lots of grammar mistakes & don’t know many fancy words.

But still, I keep getting replies to my emails with compliments about:

  • How they are designed.
  • How easy they are to read.
  • How valuable they are.

There’s probably something I’m doing right 😅

So in this guide, I want to share some simple strategies I’m using to write actionable marketing emails that people love.

Here’s what we’ll talk about, my internet friend;

Let’s do this 🙌

Design is important, or is it?

Before we dive into the writing part, let’s talk a bit about design first.

You can write amazing marketing emails, but nobody will read it if the template is way too busy or just a painful for the eyes.

Keep it simple

Most email template designs are rubbish.

They’re too cluttered, use too many images, and don’t work well across different devices.

I think, especially as a small business owner, that you want your emails to look like..

..an email from a person.

Not like a corporate flyer.

Here’s an example of what I’m using in ActiveCampaign right now:

example of my current email template design lr

See?

  • No header with any branding or logos.
  • No columns with background colours.
  • Not a dozen social media icons.

Just a simple email with a few small design elements so it’s easy to read.

Use highlights

Most people won’t read every word of your marketing emails, and will skim just quickly over it to get the gist.

That’s why you might want to highlight some text in your emails.

I usually do this when I want to make a point, or want to share something important.

An additional benefit is that it also breaks up a wall of text by making it more visually pleasing.

How to highlight text

Most email service providers let you highlight a text.

If not, you can use this HTML to highlight your emails;

<span style="background-color:#fff4cb;">awesome</span>

To change the color, change #fff4cb to any hex code you like.

Be brave & bold

This maybe sounds very basic.

But I see plenty of people that don’t make use of standard text decorations.

Make use of everything you can to make your text a joy to look at:

  • Make things bold.
  • Or write something in italic.
  • Strikethrough some text.
  • Make lists like this one.
  • Don’t underline things as people will think it’s a link unless you style them a bit.

But also don’t overdo it, as it can quickly get too busy.

Writing isn’t wizardry 🧙‍♂️

Seriously, like I said at the beginning of this article, you don’t have to be a copywriter to start writing great emails.

Write like you talk

Writing like you talk is important, especially if you have some kind of personal brand like I do.

There’s a couple of huge benefits.

Benefit #1: makes every email unique

Although you maybe write about similar concepts as other people, your unique voice and perspective make your emails stand out.

Use words you use, make up words that don’t even exist, throw in (bad) jokes you tell your friends, and tell embarrassing stories.

Benefit #2: easier for you to write.

When people write like they talk, they use shorter sentences and simpler vocabulary.

So naturally, you spend less time trying to find the right words or phrases 🙃

Benefit #3: people can connect better with you

It’s not that people just want to know who they’re dealing with your emails.

It’s also that they want to feel like they can relate to you.

Tips to keep in mind

Here’s a few things to keep in mind;

  • Don’t use big words when small ones will do.
  • Don’t think about writing as an academic exercise.
  • Don’t try to show off how smart you are, your audience is just as smart as you are.

But probably my best tip is this:

Read your text out loud after writing the first draft.

This is a really simple trick, but it works really well because you quickly notice when something doesn’t sound natural.

Listen for transitions between sentences, and for difficult words you would not use when you would speak with a friend.

Talk to one person

When writing emails, it’s easy to get lost in the fact that hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of people will receive your email.

But you have to keep in mind that everyone opens your email individually 📬

They’re not gathering around a campfire with dozens of people to read your email.

people dancing campfire we have a new email from max wohoo

(that would be really cool, hehe)

A simple fix is to avoid using things like “Hey everyone!” and use singular things like “you” “your” and “Hey (name)!” instead.

But it might still be hard to make it feel like your emails are written to one person.

Your audience probably has different problems, needs & goals.

So it’s easy to generalise your emails so they talk to everyone.

But by talking to everyone, you’re basically talking to no-one.

And while niching down or segmenting your email list will help a lot with this, it’s not easy to quickly do that.

What I would do to get started, is to create your ideal customer avatar that includes a name & photo.

Print it out & hang it above your desk.

(or have it digitally but easily accessible)

Then, when you write something, pretend like you’re writing to this one person.

Avoid a wall of text

Imagine you’re at the end of a busy workday.

You go to your inbox, you go over your 21 unread emails, and the 14th email you open looks like this:

boring wall of text email with lorem ipsum text do demonstrate how hard it is to read something like that

No way you would feel a lot like reading that whole wall of text, right? 🤮

The solution is not making your email shorter.

(while you could definitely also try that)

It’s formatting your emails differently.

Use shorter sentences.

Break long sentences up into multiple sentences (even if it doesn’t make much sense grammatically).

Set a max-width of 600 to 700 pixels to your emails so people don’t have to break their neck going from left to right.

(same reason this article is a maximum of 688 pixels width on desktop)

(same reason books aren’t horizontal)

Add enough line-height between your sentences so that there’s enough breathing space 🧘‍♂️

Use sub-headings, lists, quotes, indents, and everything you can do to avoid that wall of text.

It’s much better to have people scroll through your email, than cramping everything into the first 20 pixels.

Talk with images

I bet you have never heard this quote:

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Napoleon Bonaparte

I know, super cliche 😅

But it’s true.

Stop relying on text alone.

Enrich your text with images to tell a story.

If you would, for example, tell a story about your two cute cats. Why not include a photo?

Anneke & Pietje on the tower

(these two are my coworkers)

Don’t overdo it because too many images in one email can trigger spam filters.

But one or two can’t hurt.

Spice it up! 🌶📸

Emojis 😜

People are so afraid to use emoji’s in their emails.

Why?

When you’re chatting with friends, you also include some emojis to convey emotion, right?

So, do the same with email 📩

How many emojis

There’s no right or wrong amount of emojis in emails.

If you feel like adding one at the end of every sentence, go crazy.

If you just want to sprinkle in a few here and there, that’s great too.

You’re not into emojis? Then it’s also fine to not use them at all.

(who isn’t into emojis?! 🤔)

Do what feels good to you.

Good content is important

You now know how to write like a human being (instead of a boring corporation) so you can get people to read your emails.

But most important is; what do you put in those emails?

Focus on value

It’s really easy to talk about you.

About you, and your products.

But what about them?

What does that person want to get out of your emails?

Certainly not one promotional email after the other 🤦‍♂️

You have to provide value.

I first learned this from Gary Vaynerchuck in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

gary vaynerchuck insta book

You could literally translate the book title to; give value, give value, give value, then ask for business.

I ignored this advice for years.

Oh boy, was that a big mistake.

My business went nowhere, until I started thinking what people want to get out of my emails.

What they want to learn

Which problems they want to solve.

And my business went from here:

max frustrated

To here:

max cheerful

There’s nothing wrong with an email promotion, we all need money for our online businesses to survive.

But be sure to mix it with mountains of value.

One goal

Why are you sending this marketing email?

What’s it’s purpose? What do you want people to do?

Make sure to write it down, and only have one goal for every email.

Here are some examples 👇

  • Email: write better emails
    • Goal: educate the reader about email copywriting so they see me as an expert
    • Call-to-action: reply if you have any questions
  • Email: Pitch Email Mastery with 20% discount
    • Goal: sell online course Email Mastery
    • Call-to-action: click link to the sales page
  • Email: welcome on my email list!
    • Goal: let the subscriber know they’re in the right place
    • Call-to-action: click link to join free email course

Doesn’t that give much more clarity to your emails?

Having multiple goals & call-to-actions will only overwhelm readers.

Use P.S. lines

In former times, when we still wrote letters on paper, postscript was an afterthought.

It allowed you to add something after the letter was written if you forgot something.

So instead of having to rewrite the whole letter, you could just add a P.S. to your letters.

And while postscript is technically totally unnecessary these days because you can just edit your text, many email marketers still use it all the time.

Why?

Because 79% to 90% read the P.S. first before anything else in the email.

That’s why marketers use the P.S. section for all kinds of things;

  • Repeating the call-to-action
  • Summarising the email
  • Create urgency by repeating the deadline (with deadline timers)
  • Gaining trust by showing a testimonial
  • Add an extra thought

If you would join my email list, you would see that nearly every email has a P.S.

Even if it’s just a simple “P.S. You rock!” 😋

Conclusion

If there’s only one thing I would want you to get from this article, it’s this:

Make your emails more personal by sprinkling bits of YOU all over it 🎊

Write like you talk, tell personal stories, share photos, add emojis all over the place, and don’t worry about being professional boring.

.

Now, tell me in the comments below, what are you going to implement right away in your next email?

I would love to hear from you & I reply to every comment 🤗

Avatar of Max van Collenburg
Max van Collenburg

I'm addicted to travel, love a good cappuccino, have two cute cats, and craft actionable content for online business owners that want to grow their business with non-sleazy marketing & automation. More weird facts about me here.

6 thoughts on “How To Write Marketing Emails (That People Will LOVE)”

  1. Avatar of Chris Lewin

    Hi Max, always good to read your emails and this one is full of good value again.
    Thank you,
    Chris

    • Avatar of Max van Collenburg

      Hey Chris! Happy to hear you found some value in this article 😄

  2. Avatar of Serge Petrik

    Hey Max! Great and very useful article. Both me and my clients are strugling with how marketing emails should look like and what should be in it.

    Now I can use this guide to make our life easier when it comes to writing the emails.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Avatar of Max van Collenburg

      Hey Serge! That’s awesome! Happy to hear this guide will make life a bit easier 🤗

      If you’ve any other ideas for guides I could write, let me know!

  3. Avatar of Dan Whittaker

    Great stuff as always Max well done and thank you

    • Avatar of Max van Collenburg

      Hey Dan! Thanks! Happy to hear you like it 😄

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