From the look of your inbox each morning, it would seem that just about anyone can write a marketing email. Writing an effective marketing email, however? That’s a different story. 

Email marketing is a specialty all its own that takes practice and skill to be able to do it well. The good news is that it’s not difficult to learn how. Be on your way to racking up the click-throughs by following these steps:


1. Establish a purpose/goal. 

Marketing emails come in all shapes and sizes … and lengths … and frequencies … and, you get the idea. They might be one-offs or part of a larger campaign designed to promote an upcoming event or nurture your audience through the sales funnel. They could be salesy or informative. They can be sent at a specific time or cadence or go out only when a particular trigger occurs, such as a customer leaving items in their cart, requesting information or completing their first purchase. 

Before you can begin writing, you’ll need to know what it is your email needs to accomplish. A good place to start is by asking yourself what the call to action is. What is it you want readers to do as a result of reading your email? Hint: Our creative brief walks you through exactly which questions you should get answers to before beginning any project. 


2. Check the design parameters. 

Email marketing can be a bit more restrictive than other types of content, so be sure to check the specs before you write 300 words and find out you only have space for 75. And inquire about the format of the email. Is it text-only or will there be graphics? Are you expected to stick to a template? Does said template allow for any customization? How will the call to action function? Will it be its own button or a link within the copy? What are the word counts for each section? 

Having this type of information up front not only saves you writing time (and time spent guessing how much to write) but also will help avoid the need for large revisions post-layout.


3. Remember your audience.

Yes, marketing emails tend to be a bit more, well, marketing-y than other types of content, but you still need to keep your audience in mind while you’re crafting your draft. While your goal may be for them to sign up for your newsletter or register for your event, remember to focus on what they will get out of doing such things. 

As always, be sure to write to grade level. Keep copy concise where possible. And if there’s an opportunity to personalize text, do it.


4. Keep messages streamlined.

Readers are busy, and if they even bother to open your organization’s email, you better believe you’ll only have a couple of seconds to get their attention. And if you do that, you’ll probably still only have a few more seconds to get your point across. So stick to one key message per email, and make every word count. If you can communicate what you need to in 100 words or less, bravo! 


5. Complete your draft and edit.

Now it’s time to actually write the email copy. Be sure to include a subject line (multiples even, if you have the ability to do A/B testing) and preheader (preview) text. We recommend a headline in the body of the email too, even if all you can do within your template to set it apart from the rest of your text is make it bold. 

Give your email an edit, further tightening up copy where you can. Then, it’s off to the design team or into your CRM. 


6. Layout/review.

Always test your email before sending it out into the world. This includes making sure the design works for mobile and desktop, links work — and go to the right place — and there are no typos. But also take a step back and look at the email with fresh eyes. Does your message come through? Do the images support your objective and your CTA? Is anything confusing or out of place? Pro tip: If you make any changes at this stage, retest and repeat this step before scheduling a send date. 


7. Analyze and iterate. 

Marketing emails are equal parts science and art. And that science comes in the metrics. Sometimes copy you think is brilliant just doesn’t get the job done. Or vice versa. Our clients are frequently surprised by the content that works best for their audiences. And there’s no way to know unless you track. 

So monitor which emails get opened and what links get clicked, and look for trends. A/B test your subject lines so you can better understand what your audience responds to. Then, once you have more information, either update your campaign or start fresh with a new approach.

Marketing email checklist

Marketing emails are a dime a dozen. Here’s a recap of the steps you’ll want to follow to write one that’s actually effective:

  • Establish a goal for your email.
  • Find out how much space you have to work with.
  • Make sure you understand your audience.
  • Determine your messaging.
  • Write your text, including subject line(s) and preview copy.
  • Review and test, review and test.
  • Monitor the data and adjust your strategy accordingly.