Email marketers use a variety of strategies to improve the effectiveness of their campaigns, but one often-overlooked area of email marketingt is what fills the page – the copy you write.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned writer, it’s always important to strengthen your editorial skills and make sure that your email marketing communications contain pertinent, valuable information. Effective email marketing copy helps your readers to better understand what you’re offering – and how to respond to your offer. The following copywriting tips are ones that professionals know well. Keep these “commandments” in front of you when you write, and you will find that you can create compelling copy that conveys your business message, engages your readers, and creates effective calls for action.

Commandment #1: Know your audience.

Who’s receiving the email? Envision the average customer on your list. Give them a name. Think about what their day has been like. Consider what’s important to them. What are their passions? How old are they? What services or products have they purchased in the past and why? The more you know about your audience, the more relevant and targeted your email marketing copy will be.

Commandment #2: Determine the value of your proposition.

Know the answers to the following questions: Why should the customer buy your service or product? How can they benefit? What’s in it for them? Why is your product better than the competition? What sets you apart from the company down the street?

Commandment #3: Find a unique selling plan.

Your chances of getting a response will be higher if your offer stands out from the crowd. A unique selling proposition is a promotion that offers a product or service that the competitors do not, or will not, offer. Your proposal must be strong enough to entice new consumers to your product or push those who are sitting on the fence over to your side.

Commandment #4: Form a clear objective.

Does your email have a purpose? What’s the point? What action are you attempting to get the reader to take? You must be clear on this before you begin drafting your copy. If the answer isn’t clear to you, it certainly won’t be clear to the reader.

Commandment #5: Use a compelling subject line.

This may be one of the most important email marketing rules to follow. The subject line is what readers first see. It’s what gets your email opened, so don’t throw something together seconds before sending. You need to convince your readers that they have to open your email. The most effective word that you can use to grab their attention is you. The word “you” says that the email is about them. Other excellent words for subject lines for your email marketing copy include introducing, exclusive, exciting, and new.

Commandment #6: Create a fantastic headline.

If the subject line gets your reader to open up your email, the headline is what makes them read further. You can even use the same buzzwords mentioned in Commandment #5 in your headline so that it’ll grab your readers with an obvious “What do I get out of it?” message. Ask yourself: What happens if my customers only read the headline? Will they know enough about my business and what I’m offering?

Tip: Write five to 10 different headlines and five to 10 different subject lines to see what best works for you. Also, you may find it easier to write a headline and subject line after you’ve written the body of the email.

Commandment #7: Avoid “weasel” words.

Don’t use words that avoid a direct command, also known as “weasel” words. These include strive, perhaps, could, but, try, wish, hope, maybe, and may. Instead, use words such as can and will to describe what your service or product can or will do for your reader.

Commandment #8: Write in the present tense.

Avoid passive voice since it weakens your message. Here are several examples so that you can see the difference:

  • “We created 10 new designs” versus “Ten new designs were created.”
  • “Fifteen new products arrived” versus “We have had 15 new products arrive.”
  • “Our company received an award” versus “Our company was chosen to receive an award.”

You can see that the first examples convey a direct message to the reader, and the second examples are not as strong nor concise.

Commandment #9: Include a quote from a customer.

Do you have a quote from a customer that you can include in your email? A convincing and brief quote can add creditability to your email marketing campaign. The more real you can make your customer to the readers, the better. If possible, include the city or state in which he or she lives, his or her name, and even a photo, with permission, if it fits your campaign.

Commandment #10: Keep your email marketing copy concise and clean.

After you write your first email marketing draft, read it out loud to yourself. Consider having someone else read it prior to sending to see if he or she understands your message and the call to action. As you edit, delete unnecessary words to consolidate your ideas. See if you can shrink your text down to 30 to 50 percent of your original draft. Also, include bullet points or subtitles to make your copy easy to read – and, more importantly, easy to scan – as most readers skim across a page before deciding whether they should read all of the details.

Great email marketing is just within your reach. Keep these helpful tips in mind when you write to improve your copy and make it easier for readers to understand and respond to your email campaign. In addition to leading clients to your blog or business, thoughtful, effective email marketing copy will ultimately improve your success as an email marketer.