Having difficulty attracting new customers or building solid relationships with your existing ones? This is undoubtedly a big dilemma many online businesses face today, especially with tough competition among direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. Moreover, acquiring customers is costlier than ever, emphasizing the need to rethink your digital marketing strategy.

If you’re looking for an effective way to reach your audience while maximizing your investment, email copywriting is the way to go. Industry estimates show that customer acquisition costs have risen by up to 60% in the past five years. Thus, smart brands have turned their attention to email marketing to re-engage with existing customers and foster long-term relationships. 

In this guide, we’ll break down the concept of email copywriting and explain why it’s a must for e-commerce businesses today. We’ve also included tips, guides, and resources to help you create a successful email marketing campaign. 

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What is email copywriting?

Email copywriting is exactly as the term suggests—producing copy in emails to engage with and convert prospective or existing customers. One of the most familiar examples is the email newsletter, which users can subscribe to for the latest updates on a particular brand or product. Other examples include promotional emails, feedback requests, welcome emails, and cart abandonment emails.

Generally, email copywriting is similar to any other type of copywriting in that you’re trying to compel readers to take some action. However, here are some key differences: 

  • Format. The most visible difference is the format, which naturally varies based on the channel you’re using. Of course, emails have a subject line and body, similar to how a product page would have a headline and a body. However, social media posts are much shorter and usually don’t have a formal “headline” section. 
  • Personalization. In most cases, email copywriting is highly personalized. You can segment your readers into different groups and send them targeted messages based on their behavior or profile. Conversely, website copywriting tends to be more general since you’re writing for a broader audience. 
  • Interaction. Customer interaction also works differently depending on your medium. For example, users can engage with the brand on social media by liking, commenting, or sharing posts. However, they won’t be able to do this in email copy. In this case, they usually just have two options—click the call to action (CTA) or ignore the email.  

Many assume that email has long become outdated, given the many channels to reach customers today. However, in truth, email marketing is more relevant than ever today. The number of email users worldwide was a little over four billion in 2020, representing more than half the global population.

More importantly, email marketing delivers the highest return on investment (ROI) among all marketing channels, generating a $38 return for every $1 spent. In fact, this has been the case for the last ten years, which just shows the potential of email copywriting.

What are some e-commerce email copywriting examples?

To give you a more concrete idea of how email copywriting works and how it differs from other forms of writing, check out these examples from e-commerce brands. 

Hestan Email Copywriting Vs Blog Copywriting Example

In this first example, you have a comparison between an email and a blog from the brand Hestan. Here, you’ll notice a significant difference in the message length in each channel. The email copy is extremely short, jumping straight to the main point and inviting you to purchase a gift card as a Father’s Day gift. Conversely, the blog is much longer, providing step-by-step instructions on how to use the product for cooking scrambled eggs.

Email Copywriting Example

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/for-the-father-that-has-it-all

Blog Copywriting Example

Source: https://hestanculinary.com/blogs/news/how-to-make-perfect-eggs-every-time-with-nanobond

Danner

This second example compares an email and Twitter post from Danner. In this case, the email is more targeted since it’s sent after signing up for their newsletter. As a bonus, it comes with a free shipping discount code to welcome you as a new subscriber. Compare this to the Twitter post, which mostly talks about one of their products, making it less personable and more generalized.

Email Copywriting Example

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/welcome-to-danner

Social Media Copywriting Example

Source: https://twitter.com/danner/status/1568016344318357504?cxt=HHwWgMDR0daj28IrAAAA

How do you start email copywriting for beginners?

Writing effective email copy is more complicated than it sounds, especially since you’re “competing” with many other emails. Thus, whether you’re new to copywriting in general or a beginner in email copywriting specifically, here are tips to help you get started. 

Know your target audience

The first step is to know who you’re writing to since this gives you direction on what to write. This means you should know your target audience inside and out—their needs, pain points, motivations, and goals. To do this, you can analyze your current customer base or conduct market research to know what questions your readers want answered.

Along the way, it helps to create buyer personas based on your research and existing customer data. Personas are representations of your ideal customers, which will guide you in your marketing efforts. They provide a clearer picture of who you’re writing to so that you can better tailor your email and determine the emotional copy.

Ultimately, having a solid understanding of your target audience allows you to craft your email to resonate with your readers. Your goal is to send the right message to the right person, and this is only possible if you know what information your audience is looking for.

Take a look at this example from the company Ripe:

Source: https://milled.com/ripe-maternity/hospital-here-i-come-DdxJ1cgSfrn5oJjw

As a maternity brand, Ripe targets to-be mothers and aims to provide them with fashionable and comfortable clothes during their pregnancy. In the email above, the brand addresses a common concern that pregnant women have—what to include in their hospital bag. Choosing this topic shows that the company understands what their target audience needs, making the email more appealing to the readers.

Keep the email subject line short yet personal

The subject line is one of the most critical components in an email since it affects whether readers decide to open your email or not. In reality, people get dozens of emails flooding their inboxes every day, with the majority going unnoticed. You have to make your email stand out and catch the reader’s attention. 

The key to achieving this is to create a compelling and interesting subject line that inspires users to read your email. To start, it should be short and concise. Nowadays, most people check their emails on mobile devices, so it’s best to get right to the point to prevent your subject line from getting cut off. While there’s no hard rule on length, studies recommend sticking to six to 10 words to maximize open rates.

Aside from keeping it short, here are some other ways you can make your email more noticeable:

  • Get personal. Despite being short, the subject line should still be personal to connect with the reader and avoid sounding robotic. To do this, you should first address the recipient’s name directly. Then, use a real person’s name as the sender instead of a generic email or company name to stand out from other emails. Finally, use emotional copy that relates to your target audience’s pain points to evoke a strong reaction.
  • Use action words. Leading your subject line with action words helps incite curiosity and excitement. After all, the purpose of copywriting is to trigger some type of action. Thus, by “teasing” this bit with action verbs and a clear promise, you can entice users and make them feel like they’ll gain something from reading your email. 
  • Add a deadline. Another effective way to grab attention with your subject line is to add a deadline. This tactic creates a sense of urgency that compels readers to prioritize your email over others. Brands often use this when running limited-time sales or promotions to inform customers about special dates and trigger the fear of missing out (FOMO). 
  • Ask a question. If deadlines aren’t applicable for your email copy, you can instead try asking a question in your subject line. Questions—particularly open-ended ones—help evoke curiosity and push readers to open your email to know the answer. 

Keep your message short and personable

Capturing your readers’ attention with a catchy subject line is just the first step. Once you’ve accomplished that, you need to keep them interested as they read your email. When writing the body content, remember to align this with the subject line to ensure that readers find the information they were promised.

Again, your message should be short but personable. Most people don’t read emails the same way they do books. They often just skim the content to get the gist of it, so they don’t have time to go through lengthy emails with huge blocks of text. In fact, seeing this can even discourage some users and prompt them to close their tab or hit the back button. 

This includes what’s happening, what you’re offering, and what readers should do. Make sure to break up your copy into paragraphs and use bulleted lists, when possible, to improve readability. Also, include a good amount of white space in the email and incorporate high-quality photos to make it look more visually appealing.

Of course, don’t forget to personalize your message for the reader. Beyond inputting the person’s name in your greeting, you can segment your email list into different groups based on specific criteria to send the most relevant information. Other strategies to make your copy more personal include sending targeted recommendations, marking customer milestones, and sending behavior triggers.

For example, here’s an email from pet food company Chewy:

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/running-low

The overall message is short and easy to read. It simply asks if you’re running low on Chewy and immediately directs you to the CTA to shop for its products. However, despite its length, the email is still personalized. Based on the opening line, you know the message is targeted to previous customers who are almost out of product based on their order cycle. Then, the bottom part also lists their “pet’s favorites” and offers additional discounts when buying them.

What e-commerce email copywriting courses are there?

By now, you should better understand the basics of email copywriting. However, you can look up resources online if you want to improve your skills further and focus on specific topics. The Internet is filled with many e-commerce email copywriting courses that can help you through your journey.

However, if you’re overwhelmed with all your options, we’ve narrowed the list down into three key courses. These should provide you with foundational knowledge and skills to understand email copywriting and get started with it for your e-commerce business. 

Chase Dimond: Email Marketing Course

Chase Diamond’s email marketing course is designed to help e-commerce brands and agencies learn the ins and outs of email marketing to launch effective campaigns. Whether new to using this channel or looking to improve existing efforts, this course will teach you everything you need to know to maximize returns and results. 

For more context, the course contains six hours of content—49 video lessons that run for four and a half hours, along with two bonus videos for an hour and a half. As a plus, you’ll have access to all additional videos uploaded to the bonus section once you’ve purchased the course. Content-wise, you can expect to cover topics like:

  • Setting up a Klaviyo account
  • Building email collection forms
  • Understanding email flows and campaigns
  • Segmenting lists per quarter 
  • Best practices and helpful tips

Chase is undoubtedly one of the most recognized names in this space, having had major success with cold emails and later growing a seven-figure email marketing agency. His course will provide you with valuable information, tips, and tricks you won’t find elsewhere. It contains comprehensive content that breaks down the technical aspects of email marketing, ultimately giving you more direction in writing your email copy.

Klaviyo: Automation and Segmentation Masterclass

As an e-commerce email copywriter, you should know how to use different tools to help you create your email campaigns. One such tool is Klaviyo, a unified marketing automation platform that allows you to manage your emails and deliver more personalized experiences. 

If you’re new to this platform, Klaviyo’s automation and segmentation masterclass will be the perfect crash course to get you acquainted with the basics. With 29 lectures that total three hours and 40 minutes, this course will teach you how to use Klaviyo’s email marketing capabilities to drive more sales to your e-commerce store. Specifically, you’ll learn things like:

  • Connecting Klaviyo to your e-commerce store 
  • Segmenting your audience effectively to increase engagement
  • Creating and testing emails 
  • Designing automated email flows to drive more sales
  • Integrating Klaviyo into your Facebook marketing campaigns

Given that Klaviyo is a staple for e-commerce businesses, it’s crucial to know how the platform works and what you can do with it. As such, this course is perfect for all brand owners, regardless of whether you’re new to Klaviyo or have yet to extract its full value. It’ll expose you to advanced features you may not have known, which can help increase your engagement and conversion rates.

My Ecommerce Product Research Course

The last recommendation on this list is my free e-commerce product research course. Where the first two courses focus more specifically on email marketing, this course is about understanding your audience. While creating it, my main goal was to teach you how to do product research to create more effective copy.

For context, research is one of the most challenging aspects of copywriting, but knowing how to position or promote your product is crucial. Ideally, your copy should clearly show how the product solves your audience’s pain points or addresses their needs. To do this, you’ll need a deep understanding of your target readers, which is where many copywriters or e-commerce brand owners get stuck. 

Given this common dilemma, my course offers a fresh take on product research—reverse engineering your customer’s brains. The idea is to learn more about customers’ thoughts by reading their sentiments on similar products on different e-commerce platforms. From here, you’ll gain tons of valuable insights about your audience’s likes, dislikes, and needs, which ultimately inform what you should and shouldn’t include in your copy.

In this course, I’ll walk you through the concept of reverse engineering the customer, with key topics like:

  • Overview of product research
  • Understanding the motivations behind purchasing decisions
  • Learning how to use the system to write copy

To ensure you can apply your learnings easily, I grant you access to the master template that can be used for all types of ad copy in your e-commerce business. With this resource, you can standardize your copywriting process or train your team to scale content operations seamlessly.

Overall, the three courses above provide valuable knowledge, tips, and resources to help you improve your email copywriting efforts. Of course, beyond this list, you can also search for other courses based on your specific needs. Just make sure you do your due diligence by verifying the creator’s experience and checking the course content to see if it aligns with your expectations. It also helps to read reviews to know what others learned from the course.

What is a good email copywriting format?

While there’s no fixed format as to how you should write your email copy, there are best practices you can follow to make it more effective. Check them out below to get a better idea of what constitutes good copy.

Start with a story

Storytelling has always been a powerful tool in marketing as it helps you draw attention, engage, and build a strong connection with the audience. The same applies for email copywriting. 

Starting your email with a story leaves a more significant impact since it allows readers to put themselves in a situation and relate more to what you’re saying. When done right, it can trigger certain emotions and make them feel more invested in your message. In fact, some prospects may even change their mind in favor of your brand after reading through your story. 

Compare this with an email that contained purely statistics and facts—it likely wouldn’t have the same emotional effect as readers don’t feel any connection. Some may also get bored seeing numbers they don’t understand, which can affect your chances of closing a sale.

If you need help incorporating storytelling into your emails, you can use different frameworks as a guide. One popular example is BAB, which stands for:

  • Before – Sharing a relatable problem that resonates with your target audience
  • After – Discussing how you discovered a solution and what benefits you enjoyed
  • Bridge – Explaining how readers can enjoy the same benefits with your product

That said, remember that you don’t necessarily need to follow a specific formula when telling your story. Ultimately, what’s important is you share something about your brand or identify with the reader, then relate your product to the problem and solution in the story. 

Make an accomplishable promise

As mentioned earlier, one way to make your subject line stand out is to promise something to readers. However, remember to stick to accomplishable promises. Be careful not to exaggerate benefits or make false promises, as doing so can damage your brand reputation. 

Readers clicked your email or CTA expecting to receive what was promised, so you risk losing their trust if you can’t deliver on it. Given this possibility, choosing your words carefully when making any promise in your email is crucial. Ultimately, you want to say something attractive and compelling while staying honest and realistic. 

Aside from trust, relevance is another important factor to establish. Regardless of your promise, make sure it’s connected to whatever you write about in your email. Otherwise, readers may lose interest, and your clickthrough rates may suffer. 

For example, take a look at this email from the clothing brand Everlane, where the subject line promises savings on summer bundles:

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/save-with-summer-bundles

True enough, the email body shows that the company is running a limited-time promotion on summer bundles. Below the CTA, you’ll find examples of these bundles, which include the original and discounted price to prove that you can save money as promised.

Fulfill the promise

Whenever you promise something in your email, make sure you fulfill it. If you promise something in your subject line, you should deliver it in your copy and CTA. In this case, there’s no specific format or formula to follow since it ultimately depends on the nature of your company and target audience.

However, to give you a better idea of how you can structure your email, check out this example from Better.com:

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/refinance-your-home-for-the-holidays-and-pay-0-upfront

Based on the subject line, the company promises a way to refinance your home in the holidays while paying $0 upfront. As seen in the photo above, the email fulfills that promise by suggesting a method known as rolled-in refinancing, where you add your closing costs to the total loan amount.

Tie relevant emails like a TV series

Have you ever been so engrossed in a TV series that you immediately couldn’t wait for the next episode right after finishing the one that just came out? That’s the exact feeling you want your audience to feel after reading your message. 

Essentially, you can think of your emails as seasons or episodes in a TV series. The idea is to send them regularly and link the content together so readers are left wanting more every time they finish reading. Doing this keeps them interested and engaged with your brand since they’re always looking forward to what you have in store for them in the next email.

Holiday Emails

Every e-commerce company is unique, so the email copy they create won’t necessarily be the same at all times. However, if there are two types of emails you’ll find in almost any company, it would be the holiday and discount-focused ones. 

The holidays are one of the most exciting times of the year. With customers shopping for the best deals for gifts, it’s undoubtedly the perfect opportunity for businesses to ramp up their email marketing efforts. Statistics show that 20% of website visits during the holidays can be attributed to email. More notably, consumers who buy products from email offers spend 138% more, which shows the massive potential of driving sales with this channel. 

There are many special occasions you can target in your holiday campaign, but here are a few of the most popular ones:

  • Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are undoubtedly the best times for e-commerce businesses to score sales. BFCM weekend is the biggest online shopping day of the year, so it’s the perfect time to send out holiday emails. However, remember to start early and tease offers to customers weeks before, so you don’t compete with hundreds of other brands on the actual day.
  • Christmas. Unsurprisingly, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day should also be top priorities for your holiday email campaign. There’s many ways to engage with your customers at this time, such as helping them find a gift, wishing them happy holidays, or encouraging them to treat themselves.
  • New Year. After the holiday festivities have cooled down, you can send emails for the new year. However, it’s important to be strategic with timing for this as open rates are generally known to be low during New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. As a rule of thumb, you should send your emails at least four days after as engagement picks up on January 5. 

Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to inject some wit and humor with elements like seasonal emojis or festive jokes to get readers into the holiday spirit. Check out this fun example from BarkBox, a dog toy subscription service:

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/emails/dog-people-give-the-best-gifts

BarkBox sent this holiday email to entice customers to send a gift to their furry friends. The company used a witty subject line, “Dog people give the best gifts,” to entice customers to click. Once you open the email, you’ll also see fun graphics like a humorous jingle and comic strip to add to the light nature of the message. Finally, the CTAs are straightforward, giving readers the option to buy a box for their dogs or send one as a gift.

Discount Emails 

Similarly, discount emails are equally effective for capturing leads and boosting sales for e-commerce brands. To convince customers to buy, include the discount in the subject line immediately. Then, use the scarcity principle by implementing the sale for only a limited time or number of customers.

Now, it’s worth noting that you can send discount-focused emails even without a special occasion. You don’t need to restrict yourself to the holidays to give your customers promotions and perks. For example, you can welcome new subscribers, remind customers to repurchase, or re-activate dormant customers with a discount code or free shipping offer to get them excited from time to time. 

Here’s a classic example from meal delivery company Blue Apron:

Source: https://milled.com/blue-apron/72-hours-left-get-a-100-gift-card-110-off-lqi9362dvUtpq8U2

The email above uses the subject line: “72 hours left: Get a $100 gift card + $110 off!” It’s clear and straightforward, providing the main offer and how much time you have left to claim it to drive urgency. Upon opening the email, you’ll find more details on the discount and see a clear CTA that prompts you to order now. 

Where to find e-commerce email copywriting examples

While the tips above can guide you in writing your email copy, you may need extra inspiration to stir your creativity. If so, it helps to look at different examples of e-commerce email copywriting. The more exposed you are to different types of emails, the more ideas you’ll have for your email marketing strategy.

Fortunately, several websites allow you to browse archived emails from popular brands. Here’s a list of some key resources you can visit for brainstorming or writing inspiration:

Milled

Milled is a search engine for email newsletters, which gives you access to thousands of emails from different brands and retailers. While it’s technically designed to help customers find the best deals, offers, and discount codes, it doubles as a database for copywriters to find examples of emails. 

The website is extremely easy to use, with a search bar on top to input brand names or keywords. You can also filter your search to specific countries and product categories to find the most relevant results to suit your needs.

Really Good Emails

Really Good Emails (RGE) features a collection of over 10,000 emails handpicked from community submissions. The website aims to be the go-to resource for email design, copy, and strategy by curating the best examples out there. Right at the homepage, you’ll be able to view some emails and even filter your search based on category (type of email) or company. 

However, to save emails and gain full access to the website, you’ll need to sign up for an account. RGE offers two pricing plans:

  • Free: The free plan is good for individuals who mostly want to use the website to find inspiration for email copywriting. It allows you to curate up to three collections and upload emails to the public feed.
  • Pro ($9/month): The paid pro plan is great for teams looking to interact and collaborate on the platform to brainstorm email marketing campaigns. Here, you can create unlimited collections to store all emails in one repository. Aside from this, you can also upload emails to a private library and comment on emails with your team.

Email Gallery

Email Gallery is another similar website that collates emails from various individuals and companies. However, it’s unique because it’s more geared towards email designers, so you’ll notice that the search filters are more design-oriented. Specifically, you can filter based on the number of columns, theme colors, or type of business to match your branding. Nonetheless, copywriters can still use this website to get fresh ideas for writing and structuring their emails. 

Pinterest

Another useful resource for email copywriters is Pinterest, which is probably one of the more familiar names on this list. Pinterest is a massive visual discovery engine designed to help users find ideas and inspiration for their interests, hobbies, or work—and email copywriting is no exception. By searching keywords like “email copy,” “email newsletters,” or something similar, you’ll find plenty of images and videos you can pin to your board.

Email On Acid

Where the previous websites mentioned are databases that help you search for email examples, Email on Acid works slightly differently. It’s an email pre-deployment platform that streamlines the quality assurance (QA) process to help you always send well-crafted emails. Some of its key features include email previews, content checking, and analytics to ensure your email appears the way you want it to in people’s inboxes. 

Email on Acid offers different pricing tiers:

  • Basic ($74/month). The basic plan grants one user unlimited email previews, access to the email editor, and partial content checking. 
  • Premium ($134/month). The premium plan accommodates up to three users and has all the basic features. However, it provides full content checking, along with deliverability, the ability to comment on previews, project folder organization, and email analytics.
  • Enterprise (custom). If you have a larger team and want to get them on board with the platform, you can also customize an enterprise package with Email on Acid. 

The Best Of Email

The Best of Email (TBOE) is very similar to Really Good Emails but operates at a smaller scale since it doesn’t rely on community submissions. It contains handpicked emails that stand out in different aspects, such as design, segmentation, subject lines, and many others. The website creator, Noya, is an email marketer herself, so she’s particular in choosing emails that reflect the best practices and latest trends. 

Emails Fresh

Finally, Emails Fresh is another straightforward resource that compiles emails with good content, design, and code. While there’s no dedicated search bar, you can filter the emails by category and industry and sort them by date or rating. The website is also interactive since you can leave a thumbs up and comment on emails that catch your eye, upload emails or resources, and create your own collection.

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Zack Miller