3 Email Copywriting Principles Of An Email Marketing Pro 

 September 13, 2015

By  Gavriel Shaw

With these 3 components, you can more fully optimize email marketing for long-term success without eroding your subscriber base.

  1. Relevance
  2. Cliff-hangers
  3. Automation


Email Relevance

Try selling pink crocodile handbags to a male nature conservationist and he’ll drop you like a lead weight in a swimming pool.

…but promote your handbag as a Western fashion-icon to high-fashion female chuppies (Chines young urban professionals) in Shanghai and even if they don’t buy, they’ll keenly stay subscribed to your list.

Put another way…

Our first step in crafting winning email copy is to identify the most relevant copy-platform based on the target audience and product.

We need to pinpoint your audiences biggest emotional need (as relevant to the product) and thereby identify the biggest appeal we can use to get and keep his or her attention.

Your subscribers will forgive receiving a lot of email from you as long as they perceive your email topics as relevant to their needs and interests.


Email Cliff-Hangers

Relevance alone is far from sufficient…

Bland straight-benefit copy does not maintain readership in email over time. If your emails become predictable (10% discount off said pink handbag), they’ll soon stop reading, even if they stay subscribed.

We need to make use of story, anecdotes, relatable news items, and so on, to fully captivate the reader so they are entertained even if they’re not yet ready to buy.

In a series of emails or an extended campaign, each email can help build anticipation for subsequent email, by tying in with previous email and alluding to what’s coming next, so tension, anticipation and curiosity is built up like a soap opera TV show.

(if you ever watched the series called ’24’ you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean).


Your subscribers then emotionally bond with your brand and ‘need to know what’s going to happen next’. They develop such an emotional response of excitement as soon as they see email from you that they’ll open it even before they read email from their own dear Grandmother.

And yes, the same principles apply in both B2C and B2B. We’re all human. Although the emotional triggers of people in terms of personal life vs professional life are often different.

Email Automation


One of the best methods of maintaining relevance through the use of targeted cliff-hangers, story and updates, is through behavioural based automation.

As Head of Marketing for an Email Service Provider in 2008/9 (DBGi as per my LinkedIn profile), I saw literally hundreds of email campaigns produced and tracked, including data-driven segmentation, with creative cells selected based on the individual contacts profile.

Then InfusionSoft, Sales Genius, MailChimp and other small-to-large business email service providers included various automation elements…

Despite being clunky in some ways they provide email marketers with a means of becoming more relevant as well as timely through segmented automation.

At present I’m working on behavioural triggered automation using the Active Campaign platform  (which I absolutely love) with multiple workflows throughout the customer nurture process, from initial opt-in through to sale and on to customer retention and growth.

Besides evergreen automation workflows, the very best approach is to have email campaigns tied in with relevant current events sent ad hoc when the opportunity arises.

For both ad hoc campaign email copy and evergreen automation series copy, you’ll find a number of email copy samples via my copywriting portfolio page.

Gavriel Shaw

Gavriel has product and marketing expertise from a variety of roles, including CMO, Head of Growth, Head of Marketing, eCommerce Director, Web Marketing Director, Product Marketing Manager, and Senior Copywriter in various sectors, both B2C and B2B.

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