Do you ever worry that your contacts don’t actually read your emails? Seeing a respectable ROI from your email marketing efforts hinges on sending messages that your recipients will actually find engaging, and strong copy is the key.

According to expert copywriter Liston Witherill, “Copy can boost your sales by almost 20 times on the same offer.

Great inbox placement and a beautiful template certainly help, but they can only take you so far — amazing email copy firmly grabs hold of your readers’ attention and compels them to respond to your call to action.

In this article, we explore the basic principles of powerful copywriting, including how to write from your customers’ perspective, build trust, and craft a strong call to action. Here are our top five email copywriting strategies to make sure your emails get opened and convert:

1. Make It About Them

Writing great copy really isn’t about talking about yourself, your product, or your business. Copywriting is about getting into your customers’ minds, figuring out what matters to them, and bridging the gap between their pain points and the solution/benefit your product provides. Here’s how to write copy that speaks loudly and clearly to your ideal customer.

Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

Try to look at the world from your customers’ perspective. What do they want more than anything? What is their life like on an average day? What are the biggest problems and pain points they are dealing with?

Give Them the Perfect Solution to Their Problem

Once you have a sense of your customers’ biggest problems, make a bridge and connect your product or service as the solution to these problems. Show them exactly how your product or service will help them get rid of certain pain points. Try to really focus on the benefits your product or service provides — instead of telling readers about features and expecting them to understand how your product features will solve their problems, explain how those features will impact their everyday experiences.

Explain Exactly What They Have to Do

After you’ve successfully made the connection between their problem and your solution, it’s important to tell readers exactly what is necessary for them to reap the benefits you advertised. Keep it as simple as possible — what is the next step you want them to take? Maybe you want them to click a link to view a product or register for a webinar. Isolate one single action you want them to take after reading your email. Everything in the body of the email should be moving the reader to take this action.

2. Build Rapport

One of the most useful, yet difficult, copywriting tips is to write copy the same way you talk. One step further — write the way your audience talks. Aim to create a conversational tone that makes your audience feel as though they are reading a personal email from a good friend. You can amplify this effect by personalizing your message with merge fields to include their name.

3. Keep It Brief

Don’t count on holding your readers’ attention for too long, even if your copy hits the nail on the head. There are likely dozens of other emails sitting there waiting for them to read, so make sure not to beat around the bush. Don’t make your emails any longer than they need to be — create concise copy to convey the information or offer you’re sending.

4. Craft Effective Subject Lines

No matter how amazing your email’s body copy is, your recipients may never see it if your email subject line doesn’t compel them to open it. Here are a few tips to writing subject lines that will spark readers’ curiosity and make them want to click through.

Offer a Reward

Give the reader a reason to click. Are you providing valuable info, a special offer or a unique opportunity? Let them know what they stand to gain.


  • We’ll teach you to do search marketing in your sleep – MarketingProfs
  • A Gift for Dad, a Bonus for You – Birchbox
  • What’s free and saves you money? – Zulily

Be Honest and Straightforward

People can sniff out deceptive headlines, so don’t promise them something you can’t deliver on. You’re better off telling them exactly what your email is about, while also showcasing the value it offers them.


  • Three Simple Steps to Striking Design – Canva
  • SEO at a price you can afford – Bluehost

Create a Sense of Urgency

Everyone suffers from F.O.M.O. — Fear of Missing Out. If your offer expires in a limited time or has limited availability, mention it in the subject line, but don’t create fake scarcity that doesn’t accurately reflect your offer. That could cause your readers’ spam radars to go off.


  • Eeeek — something you like is almost sold out!  – ModCloth
  • Just Hours Left to Win $5k! – Weebly
  • Time is running out to claim your $50 – Lyft

Trigger Emotion

Use your audience’s emotional reactions to grab their attention quickly. Instead of framing the value of your message in a purely logical way, try framing it in a way that shows them what they’d gain on a personal level from opening it. Think about what your audience values, what they hold dear and what they desire most.


  • Cute Things for Free. Take Your Pick! – Birchbox
  • Make Yourself a Hot Tech Commodity with UX Design Skills – General Assembly
  • You’re so close to riding in style – Uber

Use Unique and Intriguing Language

Another great way to arouse your readers’ curiosity is to use words that they wouldn’t expect to see in their inbox. Don’t be overly silly or outrageous, but do choose words and phrases that are colorful, descriptive, and a bit unusual. It adds a sense of mystery and intrigue.


  • Fireworks and Darts and Models and Swim Trunks – UrbanDaddy
  • Chocolate dipper + pretzel = nom – Graze
  • For hustlers only – AppSumo

Create a Strong Call to Action

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or the Mozart of copywriting, if you don’t spell out a single, clear call to action, you won’t be satisfied with your email marketing ROI.

Remember the reason you’re writing email copy: to get readers to take action. Do you want them to download a piece of content, respond to a specific offer, or sign up for your free webinar?

No matter what action you want your readers to take, you have to make it crystal clear, then tell them to do it. Don’t ask too politely or beat around the bush. Spell it out in black and white, and tell them exactly what will happen once they take the action.

Here are a few good examples:

Email copywriting can be tricky to master, but these basic concepts will take you far. By focusing on your audience, writing in a clear and concise manner, and giving your readers actionable solutions they can use right away, you’ll be able to write email messages that capture your readers’ attention every time.

About Megan Monroe
Associate Editor Megan Monroe is a graduate of Santa Barbara’s Westmont College where she studied Philosophy and Communications. After working for several local small businesses (where she gained firsthand experience with the frustration of manual segmentation and follow-up), Megan joined the Ontraport Growth Team. When she isn’t writing marketing copy, social media posts or educational guides for entrepreneurs, she enjoys taking advantage of the Central Coast's amazing wineries and cooking without following a recipe.