How To Write a Marketing Email

How To Write a Marketing Email

16th October 2014

I doubt there’s many people in the world with an email account who don’t receive at least 3 marketing emails every single day. But what factors decide whether recipients read them or send the straight to the trash file?


How you acquire your database is very much an individual choice. Some companies only market to existing customers, or those who have agreed to be emailed by means of a sign up process. Some buy marketing lists, either ‘legitimate’ ones of those of a more dubious nature. Sometimes I get marketing emails from such random places I’m honestly not sure how they got hold of me.

I would strongly recommend you stick to more transparent and honest practices when building your database, doing otherwise is a bit of a fool’s errand, in a similar vein to buying Facebook Likes and Tweets.

Spewing out millions of unsolicited emails to all and sundry will not drive business to your site. It may drive traffic, but so what? If those users are not your target audience and are not going to convert, what is the point? Targeting relevant, qualified traffic will deliver a much better return on investment and far fewer of your emails will end up in the trash folder.

Frequency & Timing

Frequency of emails is also quite an individual thing, depending on your type of business and any time sensitive conditions. It is worth testing different time frames for your mail shots, and comparing the data to see which frequency returns the best results. If you email too often, people will get bored and unsubscribe. If you email too infrequently, they will forget about you leaving them open to the competition.

Think about how often you would expect to be emailed by a company in your industry. For example, I would not expect to be emailed every week by the company who I buy anti-virus software from, as this is updated annually. However I would expect to be emailed every week, if not more, if I was looking for a match on a second hand car I wanted to buy.

Think too about timing, is there a particular day that gets a better response than others, or a particular time of day? If you are unsure this is a another good one to test and compare.

Sign Up

As with all things you want to optimise for conversion, keep it simple. Don’t ask for anything you don’t need, and keep clicks to a minimum. Every delay in your sign up process is another potential stumbling block, or reason for users to leave.

Here’s a great example of a truly awful sign up form from

Bad Sign Up Form

Just to clarify what I mean by simplicity, you could even go as far as this example from

Good Sign Up Form


A few pointers for writing your copy…

Keep in mind that you are sending one of hundreds of marketing emails your recipient will be bombarded with every month, and they don’t have time to open them all any more than you do. Bear this in mind while writing your copy, and especially while writing your title.

Why should your email be read?

What are you offering or informing your user of that simply cannot be ignored?

Why should they trust you?

Write a Summary

Most users will scan email copy, we’ll get to this in a minute, but some will not even do that. Compose a clear, concise summary at the start of your mail, maybe even just bullet points if that fits. You have about 1 second in front of your reader in which they will determine what to do with your email. Make it count.

Make Content Scannable

Those who get past the summary do not want huge lumps of content to wade through whilst hunting for the point you are trying to make. Divide text up into am easily digestible format and stick to the point. Eliminate all waffle.
This place is dangerous…

Feature – Benefit

Whatever kind of email you are writing it must offer something to the user. If you have nothing to say, say nothing at all. Whether you are offering ‘fantastic limited time discounts’ or simply an update on your latest charity campaign, make it point of the email clear, and explain why it is of value to the reader.

Strong Call To Action

Sounds obvious, but surprisingly often overlooked is a good strong CTA. This goes hand in hand with Feature-Benefit. Users do not have the time nor the inclination to hunt out what you are trying to get at. Tell them what you want them to do out right, and save everyone some time.


Then tell them again.

People like to say we don’t like repetition, but actually it would seem that maybe we do, when it comes to marketing anyway. Reaffirm your CTA at least once, and drum it into your reader.


Increase trust, CTR and engagement, and improve your reputation at the same time by including proof in your email. Reviews are good for this, and try to include an image. Even an example such as ‘Mrs Baillie from Grays saved £400 on her car insurance with [your company name]’ will help.


Finish your email reasserting your CTA and remember to include a large, clear link to the relevant page on your website, or the home page if there is not one…though if you’re doing this right there should be one!


Written By
Laura is a Digital Marketing Consultant with Aira Digital & Advance Promotions. With search experience in a large number of industries both in-house and agency side, Laura has a strong interest in conversion optimisation and web psychology.
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