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Copy that Delivers

Keys to Copy that Delivers Your Message – Not Just Your Email

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Delivery rates. Open rates. Click-through rates. These are all key email metrics. Making sure your email gets into your readers’ inbox and opened are critical to email marketing success. You can read some tips to improve both here and here .

But even if your email is getting delivered – is your message? Are you creating the connection that you intended with your reader through your email? Or are you writing in gibberish as far as your audience is concerned? Even if you’re writing about the right topics  , the actual writing still needs to get your message across. Here are some key copywriting tips you want to follow:


One Message at a Time

That’s it. Just one message. That’s all your email should be about. If you have a lot to say, that’s great. But you don’t want to say it all in one email.

A recent study found that multitasking actually makes us 40% less productive. We might flatter ourselves that we can focus on more than one thing at a time, but we really can’t. So don’t make your readers try. You can make more than one point, but all your points should support the same key message.

As a practical matter, this means identifying your key message before you write. Your message is (slightly) different than your topic. My topic here is how to write an effective email. My key message is: If you want your readers to get your message, don’t make them work that hard.

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Simple Language – It’s not dumb; it’s clear

A jewelry store sends out an email explaining the value of keeping your jewelry clean. Which sentence do you think will keep readers reading?

“Myriad sources of chemicals dispersed throughout one’s home can instigate an oxidative reaction on precious metals.”


“Common household chemicals can damage your jewelry’s metal settings.”

You don’t need convoluted grammar and SAT words to show you know your business. Your emails aren’t here to test your market’s reading comprehension skills. Short sentences and common words make for easy reading. Easy reading makes it easier to get your message across.

Send Me an Email

You can test your email’s readability using a Flesch-Kincaid test. There are two: the Flesh-Kincaid Reading Ease score and Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level. If you use Microsoft Word, you’ll see both scores when you run the spelling/grammar check utility. If you use anything else, you can use this online tool.

Try to keep your writing between 60-80 in the reading ease score, and below the 8th grade on the grade level score. This doesn’t mean dumbing down your copy. Even the super-smarties of the world will find simple, clear writing easier to understand and will retain more of what they’ve read.

FYI: This article has a Flesch-Kincaid reading ease score of 76.4 and a 6th grade level score. Are you calling me stupid?


Don’t Be Coy – Tell your reader why they want to read your email

People will abandon an email pretty quickly if they can’t figure out what it’s about and why they should care. Tell them. This doesn’t mean starting each email with “This important email is about….” That opening isn’t effective and worse, it’s boring. Instead, present your topic in the context of why your reader should care.

Let’s go back to the jewelry store. The email can start in the middle of conversation:  “Polish your diamonds regularly.” It can be cryptic: “Gardeners shouldn’t wear jewelry.” Um, OK…

Neither of these really grab the reader and let them know why they want to read your email. The gardener opening might get some readers out of pure curiosity, but you’re relying on your reader wanting to give the email enough time to find out.

How about: “Regularly cleaning your jewelry protects its value.” With this opening, you’re telling your reader what this email is about, and how reading it will benefit them.


Putting It All Together

There are issues other than writing, such as how to format your email for better readability , that affect whether your message gets delivered. However, the three tips here each focus on one critical aspect of an effective, well-written piece of content:

  1. the overall content – have one clear message
  2. the specific words – write simply and clearly
  3. the reason why – make it obvious how reading this is a good use of the reader’s time

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