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So You Want to Write an Email? (Part 1 of 2)

Posted @ 10:48 pm by Dan Kutler | Category: Copy & Content, Email | 0 Comments

What we’ve learned about writing emails for one of the world’s largest search engines.

As more brands tend to value efficiency over personalization, email communications can easily lose their voice. While working for one of our most valued clients, we’ve had the chance to refine the craft in a way that satisfies two objectives: the customer’s desire for quick, relevant (and persuasive) content, and our desire to inject some fun and personality into a pretty standard medium.

The first part in this series explores the first half of an email–the opportunity to grab your customer’s attention with a compelling subject line, snippet, headline and subhead.





The subject line lets your reader know what the email is about, why they should care, and what they should do next. Keep your subject lines short and punchy. And if you can write them in 50 characters or less, chances are you’ll have a higher open-rate.


The snippet (or preheader) appears above your masthead and provides an overview of the email, explaining how it can help the reader. It’s important that the snippet doesn’t repeat the subhead, and tells enough of a story that your customer will be compelled to keep reading. Snippets are also a great opportunity to introduce your first call-to-action.


If the bulk of your email is where you need to say it straight, the headline is where you get to say it great. The headline crystallizes the core message into a few choice words which compel the user to pay attention. They can be punchy, pun-y, clever, direct or vague–but should always be enticing and relevant.


Here’s where you can pay off your headline, summarize what the email is about and let the reader know what they should do next. Subheads should generally not exceed two lines, and the best ones are usually kept at one.

In Part 2, coming next week, we’ll talk about best practices for body copy, effective closing CTA’s and using sidebar spaces to callout statistics, offer incentives, and more.


Dan Kutler is a senior copywriter at SolutionSet in San Francisco. He writes email communications and direct marketing campaigns for one of SolutionSet’s biggest clients.

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