How to make your email marketing copy stand out in 2024

Article detail for Actionable insights for your store:

Email marketing is changing. Rapidly. So are copy trends. If your ecommerce business isn’t quick to adapt, you’ll get left in the dust.

What once used to work — like holiday discounts, salesy language, and generic offers going to your entire email audience — is now exhausting. Buyers are becoming more and more desensitized to the typical “% off” and “shop now” messages. They don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to.

Conversation, uniqueness, personalization, and storytelling are important elements that brands need to incorporate into their marketing efforts if they want to win. Especially in today’s marketing landscape. All these things contribute to an increased sense of brand loyalty, which is just one step on the path to creating a repeat customer who trusts in your company and product.

Use these tips to come up with creative concepts for winning emails that convert and build brand trust. Borrow from this to your heart’s content. Or make your life easier and contact us so we can take over copy, design, and strategy for your brand’s email and SMS marketing. :) 

1. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader

Dear founder, I know your business is your baby, but don’t take what I’m about to say personally. What you want to write about may not be what your audience wants or needs.

So, while the thing you love most about your clothing brand might be that you only use hand-spun cotton from a remote region with a hard-to-pronounce name…

Your customers might only care about what new designs you’re cooking up.

Maybe you want to share the origin story of your brand because you’re so proud of the journey (as you should be), but your customers would prefer a behind-the-scenes look at your sustainability initiatives.

The goal is to understand your audience and where they’re at, through testing and experimenting with your marketing copy, design, and strategy. Which brings me nicely to my next point…

2. Treat your emails like a science experiment

Marketing really is a social and psychological science. You have to make hypotheses, follow a methodology, run tests, and record results. To keep track of what works, what doesn’t, and reasons why, start every email by following a checklist of must-haves. Some questions on my personal checklist are:

What do you want the reader to know, feel, and do?

Is the subject eye-catching, relevant, and inbox-disrupting?

What is the value of the product? What does it help the customer achieve?

Who are you writing for? What are the things they want? What are the things they’re struggling with? What are the problems they’re hoping your product will solve? Are they a repeat customer, first-time buyer, or prospect?

What strategy or angle can you use to encourage the sale?

One month after the email is shipped, look at the results and record them in a spreadsheet. Include the open rate, click rate, CTR, metrics on revenue generated from the email, and any other data that can help you analyze its performance. Then, compare your original checklist against the results. For example, your checklist might have:

What strategy or angle can you use to encourage the sale? Your answer: Urgency with a timer above the fold.

A month later when it’s time to analyze, you realize that this email outperformed previous sales emails that didn’t include a timer. You make a note of that and decide you want to implement the timer in future emails to see how your audience continues to respond.

Approaching your email marketing in a methodical way will not only make your job easier, but also set you up to create results like these:

How two of our clients’ emails have been performing recently #win

3. Keep a swipe file on hand and update it often

Consciously and purposefully search for creative ideas on a daily or weekly basis. Make a list of competitors and subscribe to their email lists. Carve out 15-30 mins a day to read through the Promotions tab in your inbox and record what you like and don’t like.

Take photos of “copy in the wild” from traditional marketing sources like magazines, billboards, newspaper ads, and TV commercials. Exposing yourself to creative ideas on a regular basis really helps get your juices flowing.

Some great websites I like to refer to for copy inspo when I’m hitting a creative wall are, and

    #copyinthewild — 40,000 feet in the air!

    4. Look ahead at the calendar

    Each month, pay attention to national holidays and other silly or celebratory days coming up that you could turn into a special promotion. Get creative with relevant puns for headlines and subject lines. (Drawing blanks trying to come up with puns on your own? Ask AI to do the thinking for you! See point #7.)

    For example, a National Leather Day campaign for a menswear brand. Or an exclusive email-only discount on National Cheese Day for a snack brand that’s launching a new flavor. These can make for really fun, engaging campaigns that leave a lasting impression on your customers.

    5. Have a bank for the ideas that pop into your head randomly

    Even ones that don’t make sense or that you might not be able to use right away. Trust me, seven months down the line you’ll be thanking your past self when you’re stumped on an email concept and have your bank of stray ideas to work from.

    Even just jotting down one sentence in your Notes app can (and almost certainly will) bloom into an entire creative concept when you most need it.

    My idea banks have saved me more times than I can count.

    6. Tap into the power of customer reviews and user-generated content

    It’s one thing for a brand to make claims about its own products. It’s an entirely different ball game when real customers have an amazing experience with your product and share a positive review or transformational story.

    Social proof truly sells, and high quality reviews should be used to your advantage. This is one of my favorite ways to come up with creative angles. Here are some examples of campaigns I’ve written that were constructed around reviews:

    With solid reviews, emails truly write themselves.

    7. Use AI to help you!

    Like it or not, AI is here. At Fuel Made, our view is that we can either get left behind in this new wave, or we can use it to fuel (pun partially intended) our creative efforts and increase our efficiency. Here are some things I’ve learned about AI in the last few months that have really given me a leg-up in my role.

    First, how you prompt an AI tool impacts what you get from it. Second, AI tools won’t present you with a finished product. For example, ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard) appear to still be learning about how marketing copy works, the structure of ecommerce marketing emails, and CTAs beyond “Buy Now.”

    I personally use AI in my work to get ideas flowing. I’ll give it information on the brand, audience, and product I want to highlight, and ask it to help me come up with an eye-catching subject line. Or create a punny headline. Or simply give me creative ideas for potential campaign angles. For example, I asked Gemini recently: I'm writing an email for a gourmet popcorn company - I want to highlight several ways you can use popcorn to bring people together in very unique ways. Can you help me come up with ideas?

    Here’s a snippet of what it gave me.

    Pretty good, right?

    Once I have a decent starting point, I add my human touch and ensure the structure and content make sense.

    I’ve found Gemini spits out way more creative stuff than ChatGPT — albeit borderline cheesy and cookie-cutter, but still solid as a starting point. Copy.Ai and Hoppy Copy are also useful resources that are a bit more attuned to marketing copy and trends.

    Creativity is like a muscle — you have to train it and use it, or you’ll lose it. Adding these small steps to your creative process every day will help train up that muscle. Author Robin Sharma said it best: “Greatness comes by doing a few small and smart things each and every day.”

    If your creative muscle is feeling overused, we’re here to step in and pick up the weight for you. Go here to schedule a conversation about how you can offload your email and SMS marketing to us.