Email Copywriting That Sells: 17 Simple Ways to Write Better Marketing Emails

Do you want to improve your email copywriting and make more sales?

Great email marketing is one of the best ways to improve conversion rates. However, it’s a lot more difficult than it seems. Even the most talented writers can struggle to perfect their email marketing copy.

If you want to send effective email campaigns, you need to learn how to write copy that sells. And we’re here to help!

At OptinMonster, we’ve spent the last 10 years helping businesses generate more leads. In fact, over 1.2 million users trust our marketing expertise.

In this article, we’ll share 17 strategies that email copywriters can start using right away. These tips will help you get more email opens, improve subscriber engagement, and make more sales.

Recommended Resources: Need to jumpstart your content marketing results? Get more traffic and conversions with our Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing in 2023. Or, check out this post on the most current email marketing statistics.

What Is Email Copywriting?

Email copywriting is the craft of carefully writing the words for your email marketing campaigns. Great email copywriters optimize every part of their email messages.

There are 4 main elements of email copy:

  1. Subject line
  2. Preview text
  3. Email body copy
  4. Call-to-action (CTA) button text

This list will show you how to improve all 4 of these copy elements, so you can send high-converting email campaigns. We’ll also share some effective email copywriting examples that you can use for inspiration.

Let’s get started!

17 Email Copywriting Tips to Get More Conversions

1. Write a Killer Subject Line

If you’re wondering how to do email marketing right, the best place to start is with the email subject line. In fact, perfecting your subject lines is the single most important way to increase your email open rates.

Compelling subject lines can be the difference between recipients opening your email, deleting it, or, even worse, reporting it as spam.

People open your emails if they feel they will benefit, if they’re worried about missing out, or if you present compelling evidence about why they should.

Email inbox showing subject line copy for three emails: Old Navy - "50%. OFF. ALL. JEANS." EyeBuyDirect - "More Eyewear, More Savings (with glasses-wearing smiley face emoji and a money bag emoji)" Blenko Glass Company - "(siren emoji) New product alert! Artist Series Ornaments"

The subject lines in the sales emails above are all benefits-focused. Recipients immediately know that if they open these emails, they’ll see a special offer or product launch announcement. For people who’ve subscribed to these email newsletters, this is exactly what they signed up for.

Here are a few more tips for subject lines:

  • Create a sense of urgency with phrases like “Today Only!” or “Final Hours.”
  • Experiment with using emojis, but only if they’re relevant.
  • Preview what recipients will find inside the email, but leave a bit of mystery to pique curiosity.
  • Use A/B testing to find out what types of subject lines your specific audience prefers.

Sure, it’s a lot to ask from a single email subject line. But with a bit of thought and practice, you can start crafting subject lines that will really catch each reader’s attention.

For more on improving email subject lines, check out these resources:

2. Nail the Preview Text

With modern email clients, it’s not just the subject line that convinces people to open your messages. Your email subscribers also see the preview text. That’s the piece of text that tells subscribers more about the content of your email.

With personal emails, the preview text is pulled from the first line of the email body.

However, most email marketing services, such as Constant Contact, let you customize your preview text.

Let’s take a look at the preview text for the 3 subject lines we showed you in the last tip.

Screenshot of a mobile email inbox. If features preview text for three emails: Old Navy "Plus, the  pant & blazer we're obsessed with"; EyeBuyDirect - "Up to 45% Off Plus Free Shipping"; Blenko Glass Company - "Enjoy 15% Off and Free Shipping on orders of$250 or more"

In this screenshot of a Gmail mobile inbox, you can see that the preview text is especially visible:

  • Old Navy uses the preview text to feature another special deal that users will find inside the email.
  • EyeBuyDirect gives more details about their offer in the preview text.
  • Blenko Glass Company uses the preview text to show that they’re running a sale, in addition to the product launch they announce in the subject line.

In short, preview text gives you another chance to prove the value of your email and encourage subscribers to open it.

3. Write for the Web

Now we’ll start exploring how to get your email body copy just right.

Writing email marketing copy is similar to writing web copy. That means it’s important to:

  • Follow a logical structure.
  • Keep paragraphs short.
  • Include one main idea per paragraph.
  • Use headings, bullets, white space, and divider lines for scannability.

Email from the meditation app Calm. It uses heading, white space, and divider lines to make the email easy to scan.

Above is an email from the meditation app Calm. It is optimized perfectly for web scanning.

There are no large blocks of text. Instead, there is made of short sections:

  • A brief introduction with a CTA button
  • A relevant call-out quote about mindfulness
  • A chart of the week’s meditation schedule, with another CTA button
  • A footer with social media links and contact information

In between these sections, there are dividing lines and plenty of white space.

Calm combines these elements to provide the information subscribers want without overwhelming them.

See more examples in 10 Killer eCommerce Email Examples With Exciting Email Copy

4. Write Like a Person Talking to Another Person

If you really want readers to click, then you have to sound like a real person. Avoid marketing speak and be conversational. Write as though you’re talking to someone who’s sitting across the table from you.

Here is an example of a Black Friday email campaign from OptinMonster.

Screenshot of an email. Subject line is "I promised to send you this (sorry for the delay)." Sender name is "Angie at OptinMonster." Email body copy is "Hi Jennifer, I promised to let you know when our Black Friday sale starts, so here I am! You can get up to 62% OFF when you expand your OptinMonster subscription before the end of the year with an Enterprise subscription. Enterprise is a big word, and it can be scary. You might think you need to have a mammoth company to qualify for that, but I assure you that’s not true."

Let’s go over the features that make this email feel personal:

  • The subject line sounds like it could come from a friend or colleague, rather than a company.
  • The sender name is “Angie at OptinMonster,” rather than just the company’s name.
  • The email greeting uses my first name. You can use personalized tags, also known as merge tags, to include your subscriber’s name in the email body or subject line. We’ll talk more about personalized tags later.
  • The email body text is casual and written in the first person.

Every company has a different brand voice, so your emails probably won’t look exactly like ours. But you can try out some of these strategies to see what works best for you.

The bottom line? Don’t be boring. There’s no rule that says emails from a business have to be dry. Use your emails to stir readers’ imagination. Consider sharing an insider’s view of your company, customer stories, or even a personal anecdote. When your subscribers can imagine themselves in your shoes, you’ll start to build a relationship with them.

5. Promote Action With Your CTA Button Copy

The subject line and preview text convince subscribers to open your emails. A well-crafted, scannable email body encourages readers to read through your entire message.

The next step is getting them to click your call to action (CTA).

A CTA in email marketing is a button or prominent link that you want your subscribers to click. CTAs may ask readers to:

  • Activate a coupon code
  • View a product page or place an order
  • Sign up for a webinar
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read your latest blog post
  • Leave a review on a recently purchased product

The next email example is a fun one from online florist Farmgirl Flowers:

Email says "Set Your Timer" and then has a week-long calendar that shows the final day to order to get delivery before Thanksgiving". Below that, the copy says "Thanksgiving is getting closer, and preparations arein full swing. Need some floral support for the big day?" A large Call to action button says "Gobble It Up"

Farmgirl Flowers sent this email the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. This section of the email lets subscribers know when they need to order if they want flowers delivered in time for the holiday.

The bold, black CTA button says “Gobble It Up.” This CTA copy certainly catches users’ attention more than a simple “Order now.” The button’s link goes to the business’s “Thanksgiving Shop” page. There, users will find the bouquets and floral centerpieces that Farmgirl Flowers is promoting for the holiday.

Here are a few best practices for email CTA copy:

  • Keep it concise.
  • Use action words that encourage users to click.
  • Try writing in the first person. Instead of “Start Your Free Trial,” use “Start My Free Trial.”
  • When possible, be creative and light-hearted, like the example above.

Learn more in-depth advice with 130+ Email CTA Examples That Can Boost Your Conversion Rate.

6. Don’t Shout (It Makes You Look Like Spam)

Avoid all caps and multiple exclamation marks in both the subject line and body of the email. Not only are all caps the equivalent of shouting online, but overusing them screams spammy email marketing. That’ll hurt your email open rate. And if enough subscribers report you, it could also hurt your email deliverability. Or worse, get you blacklisted by your email newsletter service.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. In fact, the Old Navy example from earlier used all caps in its subject line. Their brand is well-established enough that subscribers know their emails aren’t spam.

If you know your subscribers have a high level of confidence in your brand, then you can occasionally experiment with all caps and multiple exclamation marks. Just don’t do it for every email.

7. Know Your Audience

When you understand your target audience, you’re better able to write email marketing copy that meets their needs. Your email copywriting should convince your target audience that you have the products or content they need.

When you know your audience and hone your writing to them, your conversion rates will climb higher and higher.

Analyze your web and social media analytics and your interactions with customers. Then use that data to build your buyer personas or customer avatars. When you know your customers, it’s easy to write email marketing copy that makes them want to click.

8. Choose the Right Words

When you look at the best email copy examples, one thing stands out. Word choice is crucial to make sure that reading your email a great experience. Since most emails are short, every word counts.

You want to stir readers’ imagination, appeal to their emotions, and get them to take action. These techniques can help:

  • Use analogies, repetition, and other literary techniques.
  • Seed your email marketing copy with sensory words to help them see and feel the picture you’re painting with your words. In an ideal world, you’ll evoke touch and taste, too.
  • Energize your readers and convey action by using power words in your subject line, email body, and CTA copy.

Using these types of words can help you craft more engaging emails.

Additionally, what you don’t say is also important for building trust. Avoid making false promises and other sleazy marketing tactics, or you risk losing subscribers forever.

9. Use Psychology in Email Marketing Strategy

As human beings, our brains are wired to react in predictable ways to certain types of input. That’s why psychology can help you create more successful, high-converting email marketing campaigns.

Some factors that make subscribers read and click include:

  • Fear of missing out (FOMO), because we never want to feel left out. That’s why time-limited discounts work so well. Evoke scarcity, urgency, and curiosity in your email, and more people will click.
  • CTA color choice, so your action buttons stand out. Your excellent CTA copy won’t matter if readers don’t notice your buttons.
  • Photos of faces, because they can elicit the emotions shown on those faces. The direction of the person’s eyes can also direct the user’s gaze towards a CTA.
  • Social proof, as a way to show readers that their peers like your company. This makes them more inclined to read your emails.

Check out our guide to using psychology in email marketing for more help.

10. Be Relevant (Take Advantage of Your List Segmentation!)

One of the smartest strategies in email marketing is email list segmentation. Segmentation is when you divide your list by data points, such as purchase history, geolocation, sales funnel position, or email engagement level. You can even target emails to customers who have abandoned their carts!

Make the most of your emails by writing copy that specifically targets the people you’re emailing. Avoid generic marketing writing in favor of specificity. For instance, you don’t want to send the same email to a new subscriber as you send to a repeat customer.

A new subscriber should receive an email welcome series. Loyal customers should get notifications about products they’ve shown interest in.

Sending relevant emails improves open and clickthrough rates, so segmentation is essential.

Thankfully, OptinMonster makes segmentation easy!

OptinMonster homepage

Our email optin popups let you collect segmentation data from every new subscriber. Then, you can craft your copywriting based on:

  • Which popup campaign the subscriber signed up through
  • The user’s geolocation
  • Referral detection, or what website or link brought new subscribers to your page.

This video will show you more about how OptinMonster can help you with segmentation:

11. Know Your Goal (And Just Have 1)

On the subject of targeting, it’s best to have a single goal for each email marketing campaign. In other words, each email should focus on 1 thing you want to achieve.

Doing so will help you focus your marketing copy and CTAs. Having a single goal also makes it easier to track the success of each email campaign.

For instance, if your goal is to increase sales of a particular product, that’s easy to track. Just monitor sales before and after the email goes out.

Screenshot of an email from AMC. It has an embedded trailer for the film Wish, with CTAs that say "Get Tickets" and Watch Trailer.

The email above is from the movie theater chain AMC. The entire email is focused on 1 goal: selling tickets for the upcoming film Wish.

As subscribers scroll through the full email, all of the images, copywriting, and CTAs drive readers to that goal.

Remember, if you have multiple goals, you don’t really have a goal at all. When planning your emails, focus on the key action you want readers to take. Then build your email content around that action.

However, not every email needs to have the goal of selling something, especially for new subscribers. Other goals may include directing users to a specific blog post, building a relationship with potential customers, or moving through the onboarding process for your service.

12. Use Technology to Personalize Your Email Copywriting

In tip #4, we touched on personalizing your email copy. Let’s discuss this idea more in-depth.

Read any advice on writing email marketing copy that works, and it’ll include a tip about personalization. In addition to writing in a personal style, technology can also help you better target your email marketing.

There are 2 main ways that you can use technology to personalize your emails:

  1. Use personalization tags to include your user’s name in your subject lines and email copy. You can also use tags to mention the city or state your subscriber lives in.
  2. Use segmentation to create hyper-focused email campaigns that tempt subscribers with offers you know they’ll love.

Using people’s names in subject lines and email marketing copy gets their attention. When people are getting dozens of promotional emails every day, personalization tags give your campaigns a leg up on catching people’s eye.

We talked earlier about segmentation. Well, that affects personalization, too, because each segment is looking for something different from your emails. You can send different emails depending on the age, gender, and location of your audience. You can tailor your emails for people making personal purchases vs. business purchases.

Here’s another example from AMC. This is a highly personalized email I received from them recently.

Email from AMC with information about the subscriber's ticket's for an upcoming screening of The Marvels.

I got this email through segmentation and email automation because I had purchased a ticket for the film The Marvels. My name is included in the subject line and throughout the email body.

There are more personalized details, such as the name of the theater my showing was at, my ticket confirmation number, and the QR code for my ticket. (I’ve blurred these details).

Every detail of this email is specifically for me. It improved my user experience (UX) because it gave me all the details I needed to attend my screening. The extremely targeted copy guaranteed that I would open the email and use it as intended.

The best email copywriters know how to use personalization and segmentation technology to make their copy as precise as possible.

Bonus Tip: You can get more subscribers when you personalize the email signup forms on your website. Check out our guide to using OptinMonster’s Smart Tags to personalize your popups. 

13. Let Readers Get to Know You

email marketing personalization

Another aspect of personalization is letting subscribers know who you are. As we mentioned in tip #4, you can use a person’s name as your email sender name. This is especially smart if you have a specific “face” of your company. But even if that’s not the case, you can use:

  • The names of customer support staff members. This can make users feel more comfortable asking for help.
  • The names of some of your most popular content writers.
  • The names of customers giving testimonials.

Perform some A/B tests to see which sender names your subscribers respond to best.

To introduce yourself even further, consider adding a photo of the person your email is coming from. You can also include personalized letters or introductions with a handwritten signature.

When you take this approach, it’ll help subscribers form a connection with you, which is the first step in winning conversions.

14. Keep Your Promises and Stay Consistent

Your email copy should deliver on the promise of the subject line. Your emails should also deliver on the promise of the optin form or landing page where subscribers signed up.

For example, if you’re delivering a lead magnet ebook, you’ll probably have a picture of the book on both the optin form and the landing page. When you send the confirmation email, you should include the ebook title and image again. The tone of the copy should also stay the same.

This consistency reassures readers that they’re getting what they signed up for. You’re laying the groundwork for trust.

Want to learn more about ebook lead magnets? Check out this post on how to make an ebook popup to get even more leads from your ebook.

15. Reward Your Readers

Any guide to email marketing best practices will advise you to reward readers for opening your email. Special offers are key to making sure subscribers stay on your list and keep opening your emails.

But to cement this, you’ll need the copy to clearly illustrate the benefits of being a subscriber.

It can be as simple as providing an extra free gift to thank them for subscribing, like in this email from OptinMonster:

Email copywriting from OptinMonster: " Hi Jennifer, Here's the deal... I want to have my team create an OptinMonster campaign for you, so you can see how powerful OptinMonster really is 🤗. No cost to you, just our way of saying thanks and helping you get started. And if you approve the campaign we create for you within 48 hours, I’ll also give you a super-soft, super-cozy OptinMonster t-shirt! 🎁 How To Claim Your Complimentary Gift Campaign 🎁"

This email has recently been part of our onboarding welcome series for new customers. It provides 2 valuable rewards:

  1. A free popup campaign, created by our design team.
  2. A free t-shirt for users who approve the campaign quickly.

This email shows new customers that OptinMonster will provide them will value. It also rewards users for using our software and getting started quickly.

Most importantly, the email demonstrates our commitment to helping our customers succeed.

You already know that your products and content are valuable. When you use your email copy to provide rewards, customers will see that value, too

Bonus tip: Provide proof of your reward’s benefits. For instance, your emails can include statistics or testimonials. You can also link to a case study. These strategies let readers know they were right to subscribe, and it gives them another reason to stay on your list.

16. Monitor Data and Perform A/B Tests

As you work toward optimizing your email copywriting, you don’t have to guess. If you really want to boost conversions, you’re going to need data. And there are plenty of tools to help you along the way.

Before you send emails, check subject lines for effectiveness with the WPBeginner Headline Analyzer or the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.

Next, collect data on email marketing performance from your email marketing service provider so you can figure out how you can improve performance.

Finally, it’s time to test. We’ve mentioned A/B testing, also known as split testing, a couple of times already. Now let’s explore this strategy more closely.

Start by split testing your optin forms, which is easy to do with OptinMonster.

Then use A/B testing to compare your emails’ subject lines, copy, CTAs, and more.

Most email service providers (ESPs) allow for A/B testing. This feature lets you try out 2 different variations in your email campaign.

For instance, you can test 2 different subject lines for the same email campaign. Your ESP will send your email to a small portion of your list, with half of those subscribers seeing each of the 2 subject line variations.

Whichever subject line performs the best will then be used for the full email campaign.

As you monitor the results of these split tests, you’ll learn the preferences of your subscribers.

Read our guide to split testing to learn how testing can help you get more conversions with your marketing efforts.

17. Steal Great Ideas

Don’t worry, this kind of stealing is perfectly legal.

Need some inspiration for high-converting emails? Subscribe to your competitors’ email newsletters or any other newsletters that interest you. By doing so, you can see what strategies they’re using to get each reader’s attention. Add these to your own writing toolbox so you can adapt them to suit your brand’s email marketing strategy.

Other places to find good ideas are sites like Quora, Reddit or Answer the Public. These sites lets you you can explore the topics people are talking about or searching for. Use these as inspiration to craft emails that address key issues for your target audience.

Below is an example of a search term chart from Answer the Public.

Chart from Answer the Public showing results for "dog treats"


You can also use headline generators to come up with titles as a starting point for winning subject lines. Tools to try include:

Build a Great List for Your Email Copywriting

Now you know the secrets to writing email marketing copy to boost conversions and sales.

But even the best email copywriting won’t matter if you don’t have a strong email subscriber list.

OptinMonster can help!

OptinMonster is the best lead generation software in the world. We help businesses create high-converting email signup forms with our lightbox popups, floating bars, inline campaigns, and more.

With our robust triggering and targeting features, you can show the perfect optin offer to each website visitor. And they’ll see those optins at just the right time.

That means you’ll convert more visitors into subscribers, and you’ll have the data you need to segment your list.

Get Started With OptinMonster Today!

I'm writer and digital marketer with over 15 years of experience. As a former marketing director for small nonprofits, I understand what it's like to be a one-person marketing department. I'm here to help you generate more leads in less time.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.


  1. Thanks for reading this article – I hope you found it helpful.

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  2. Thanks for such a thorough checklist, Sharon. These email tips are great.


    1. Sharon Hurley Hall July 4, 2017 at 5:58 am

      Happy to help, Carolyn. 🙂 You might also enjoy our guide to boosting your email click-through rate.

  3. Thank you very much for the advice.

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall September 26, 2017 at 5:18 am

      Glad you enjoyed it, Wendy. 🙂 You might also like our article on content marketing ROI.

  4. Learned a lot from your post today and still highly relevant and to the point for someone new in copywriting. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for such great information! Well written, thorough article with great examples and resources.

  6. Thanks for the great tips! I couldn’t agree more that getting into your audience’s inbox is an invaluable and too many marketers waste the opportunity, but these tips will help them avoid that mistake.

  7. #8 is the key. Marketing is commercial psychology.

  8. Helpful article

    Do you think you could write one about Copywriting

    1. Nathan Thompson
      Nathan Thompson April 17, 2020 at 7:41 am

      Hey Edmond, thanks for the comment! We’ll probably have some copywriting articles coming down the pipeline soon enough 🙂 That said, here’s an article with tons of copywriting templates you may find helpful.

  9. Thanks for your advice

  10. Vishal Shankar Hingane May 1, 2020 at 2:32 am

    Thanks for sharing usefull information

    1. Nathan Thompson
      Nathan Thompson May 1, 2020 at 4:55 am

      It’s our pleasure. Thanks for reading!

  11. Oluwafemi Atolagbe August 4, 2020 at 7:59 am

    Thanks for this insightful article.

  12. Johnathan Weberg November 19, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    The best and highest converting strategy I’ve used in email marketing – is stringing together emails successfully in succession. Often people just spam out the headlines and copy inside as if they’re separate and not related.

    This is fine and can still do well. However after being in the digital marketing and email world for 10 years… I’ve done quite a few tests and found continued storytelling used in each email and in succession of emails does very well.

    Amazing article Sharon!

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