Tips for writing an effective, personalised marketing email

Think about it, which email do you most look forward to receiving? And which do you open first? Is it the marketing email from the huge, corporate business, or is it the one from your best friend, Doug?

It’s a no brainer, really. Doug wins. 

You see, Doug would have a more relaxed tone. He’d probably even crack a few jokes. But above all, he’d definitely address you personally. You trust and value Doug.

So here’s rule number one: be more like Doug. What I mean by that is instead of writing to a generic list of people, why not try writing as if you’re emailing a friend or a colleague? The more friendly, relaxed, and personal you be, the more you’ll be seen as a trustworthy and helpful business. 

Here are some tips on becoming more personal:

  1. Use personalisation tokens where appropriate Don’t use any info that’s a bit too personal though, or your readers might get a bit scared. Just a simple ‘Hi [first name]!’ will do nicely.

  2. Only email when you’ve got something valuable to say Try not to clog up inboxes.

  3. Use a real person’s name as your ‘from’ address It definitely adds a more personal touch to see you’ve been emailed by Sarah, instead of ‘contact@business.com’.

  4. Be trustworthy Don’t abuse their trust by emailing too much or using clickbait.

  5. Be rewarding Offer something your buyer personas will find helpful.

  6. Establish relevancy Make sure they know why they’re being emailed and why it’s relevant to their specific interests.

  7. Use second-person language like ‘you’ and ‘your’ This language focuses on the reader and is arguably one of the most powerful methods of persuasion.

  8. Talk about benefits, not features Always start with the ‘why’.

  9. Use persona-aware language Do you have your buyer personas nailed? Write with the kind of language they might use themselves.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first you’ll want to start with the perfect subject line — something us marketers spend far too much time agonising over. But can anyone really blame us? These little guys act as the gatekeeper of your kingdom of content. If it doesn’t do its job well, no one will bother to open your email and it’ll all feel like a waste of time. No pressure or anything.


Luckily, we’ve got some tips on forming great subject lines:

  1. Promise something good And pull through on that promise in the email.

  2. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ Again, directly addressing the reader has some powerfully persuasive effects.

  3. Use a number Everybody loves reading lists. Look, you’re reading one right now.

  4. Pique curiosity Without using dishonest clickbait — the ol‘ bait-and-switcheroo won’t do you any favours in becoming trustworthy here.

  5. Use personalisation tokens For example, ‘Happy mother’s day, [first name]!’ would be a good one for next Sunday (little reminder for you there — you’re welcome).

  6. Use action-oriented verbs  ‘View’, ‘see’, ‘learn’, ‘read’ etc.

  7. Add time limits Something like ‘Registration ends Friday, don’t miss out!’ would be more likely to encourage readers to register for an event, there and then.

  8. Try out some emojis This one isn’t at all mandatory, but they do add a little relaxed-fun to subject lines. I only say this because one of my favourite emails to receive each month comes from the kooky email marketing language company, Phrasee, who almost always do this.

  9. Avoid SPAM triggers So your email actually reaches your readers’ inboxes.

  10. Optimise your preview text Preview text helps add a bit of weight to your subject line and is also a chance to demonstrate the relevancy of your email.

  11. Be brave Don’t be afraid to be funny. Take a look at UrbanDaddy’s subject lines, for example. They’re dry, funny, clear, and even a bit catchy:UD | Nunchucks. Made from Beer Cans. Finally.UD | Getting Everyone Together: Now Less ObnoxiousUD | A Grill the Size of a Foosball TableUD | It’s Ice Cream. It’s Beer. It’s Beer Ice Cream.

So you’ve got people to open your emails. Great. Now what?

  1. Let your enthusiasm and brand personality shine through In fact, it might be a good idea to write a tone of voice guide to really nail your branding and keep it consistent.

  2. Keep it short and sweet to maintain falling attention spans Marketing to us lot is pretty much like marketing to goldfish these days. Pretend you’re Hemingway and try to say a lot with a little.

  3. Ask questions Don’t be self-centred! Show you really care what your readers think.

  4. Write in short, strong sentences Be bold and clear to show you know what you’re talking about, without being dull.

  5. Add a call-to-action — one will do! You don’t want to overwhelm the reader over what they might need to do next.

So there they are! The finest tips we have on writing great, personal-feeling emails that bring genuine value to your audience. Why not test out some of these out for your next newsletter?

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