Jon Writes

The Brand Blog

Want to engage your audience? Send them an email. Seriously.

Looking for an easy way to boost your branding and engage your customers in one fell swoop?

Send them an email. Or two. Or five.

As scammy and spammy as email may seem, it’s a powerful marketing tool that can help you build and maintain a relationship with your customers. It’s so effective that Salesforce estimates that email marketing has an average 3,800 percent return on investment — making it, by far, the most formidable marketing tool in the universe.

Email I got from Sweatcoin this week. This will become relevant soon.

Email I got from Sweatcoin this week. This will become relevant soon.

Surprised? Think about it.

Emails are mobile. Targeted. Personalized. Cheap. If written well, they can be conversational and informative, engaging and useful. With the right mix of words, a good email will convert the casual observer into a loyal follower.

The key is knowing how to write them.

“Wait a minute, Jonathan. I know how to write an email. It’s not like it’s a science.”

Actually, it is.

Writing quality emails requires knowing your audience, understanding their wants, needs and desires and pairing that intel with the right words that will motivate them to action. It takes skill — so much so that it’s an actual job people get paid to do. Yep, really.

And good words can make all the difference between an opened email or the ones that just sit in inboxes. Waiting. Here’s how to ensure yours gets opened.

Don’t be cute. Be simple.

A single email should communicate a single idea. One. That’s it. Don’t overwhelm your readers with unnecessary or unrelated facts. Keep the theme of your email focused and narrowed, and ensure that every sentence and paragraph reinforces it.

Tout the benefits

Your business idea could win you a Nobel Prize one day. Good for you, but what does that mean for your customer? Your readers don’t care about your accolades. They care about what you can do for them. Keep your email focused on the benefits to the reader and not on giving yourself (or your product or service) a pat on the back. Check out this example from Wealthsimple, a Canadian online investment service.

Screenshot courtesy of

Screenshot courtesy of

Notice how this email doesn’t talk about Wealthsimple at all. It’s all about the benefits YOU get when you use their service.

Hook ‘em with the subject line

Your subject line is the first thing your readers will see, so it should give them an idea of what they’ll find in your email. That means it should be intriguing. It needs to pique your readers’ curiosities or speak directly to their wants, needs or desires.

That’s where the words come into play. Here are four key ingredients to a good subject line.

  • Use active verbs: “Get,” “find,” “discover,” “explore.”

  • Elicit emotion with power words: “Free,” “love,” “save,” easy,” “new.” Check out this list of power words for more ideas.

  • Create a sense of urgency: “Now,” “today,” “soon,” “don’t wait.”

  • Make room for personalization: Code your emails so the names of your subscribers appear in the subject line. It works. Emails with the first name of the recipient in the subject line tend to perform much better than emails that don’t, according to HubSpot.

Here’s the subject line from an email I got recently from Sweatcoin. You better believe I opened it (and yes, I realize that being in the top 80 percent is not that impressive).

sweatcoin subject line.png

Keep them with your body copy: Your job’s just beginning once a reader opens the email. You have to keep them engaged. That means your body copy needs to be stellar — or, at least, compelling enough so they don’t lose interest.

Sidenote: We in the biz call the words in an advertisement or piece of content “copy.”

Here’s where all your storytelling acumen comes into play. Your email copy should:

  • Be clear: People love to be clever. And clever’s cool. But it should never trump clarity. Your copy needs to clearly communicate your message. If it doesn’t, what’s the point? Clarity is top priority. Always.

  • Focus on benefits to the reader: Remember, the reader doesn’t care much about how great you are; they care about what you can do for them. Don’t focus on the features of your product or service. Focus on the benefits to the reader.

  • Use “you” often: Write in second person. That means using pronouns like “you,” “your” or “yours.” That signals to the reader that the email is focused on them, not you.

  • Be concise: Brevity is key. While there are good long-form emails out there, you should make a habit of keeping your emails concise and to the point. Write short. Think about how you read emails. Do you read every single word? Probably not. Keep that in mind when you write yours.

  • Be relatable: Your readers are human. Write to them that way. Save your impressive vocabulary and impressive industry jargon for board meetings. No one’s interested in finding that in their inbox.

Take a look at this email from Sweetgreen, a healthy dining restaurant chain.

Screenshot courtesy of

Screenshot courtesy of

The email is brief. It focuses on the reader (the writer used “you” at least five times). It talks about some pretty cool perks (benefits). And it even throws in a little personality to make it more relatable. Take note.

Close with a strong CTA

Every email you write needs to include a compelling call to action.

Remember, the overall goal of your email is to persuade the reader to take action. That could be signing up for your boutique salon service, following your business on social media or downloading your latest eBook, white paper or newsletter.

Here’s an example from British meditation company Headspace. Notice how the email hits the reader with a benefit right off the bat and then follows with a relevant call to action.

Screenshot courtesy of

Screenshot courtesy of

Stop sleeping on email, and stop sleeping on Jon Writes. Get more writing tips on the Jon Writes Brand Blog.