2023 Email Sequence Tips: Mastering Killer Copy
Maximize Your Engagement and Conversions With Powerful Email Sequences
Crafting a successful email sequence is much like preparing a mouthwatering, multi-course meal for your guests.
Each dish (email) must be meticulously planned and executed, with flavors (content) that complement one another and build anticipation for the next course.
The presentation (design) should be visually appealing, and the pacing (timing) should keep your guests (subscribers) engaged, satisfied, and eager for the next bite (call to action).
By mastering this culinary art, you'll be sure to leave your guests with an unforgettable experience that keeps them coming back for more.
What Is an Email Sequence in Copywriting?
An email sequence is a series of emails designed with a specific objective (marketing, education, brand awareness, or other), delivered using automation software.
Think about it like this - when you receive a marketing email, how much of it are you likely to read? If it’s very long, the answer is probably “not much.”
Sometimes it’s necessary to convey a great deal of information. But why craft a super long email to communicate a complex message–especially if they’re unlikely to read it all?
Instead, you can break down your topic into a series of shorter emails, set it up to be sent at your convenience, or even design a complete map of automated reminders and follow-ups.
I won’t get into the specifics of how to set up automation in a specific email marketing software, because the technical details will vary from one platform to another. However, I would recommend you check out beehiiv as a high-value alternative to send your automated email sequences.
Here are a few things to consider before we move on to email sequence copy:
You can “automate” these emails, but that doesn’t mean things will happen automatically.
It’s not like you will write a few pages of copy and magically make a ton of money from them or generate infinite leads.
They are called “automated” because the software sends them for you at your desired time–but you will need to invest time in writing the copy, testing a lot, and ensuring that these sequences stay relevant over time. You are required to provide value for these campaigns to be successful.
There are no rules or magic formulas.
Some people's “ideal” sequence has three emails, while others use more or less.
Some marketers try to make it look like a fully custom email typed at the moment, while others don’t.
Some people include videos and images, while others do plain text.
Okay, now that we’re 100% clear on that, let’s get to the meat of this article.
How Do You Structure a Copywriting Email?
I divide each email into five parts: subject line, preview text, introduction, body, and call to action. I’ll provide tips for each of these sections.
While there aren’t any rules for these segments, there are best practices, so I will try to cover that general advice.
Your job is to know your industry and target persona so well that you can tell if deviating from the standard for a better result is a good idea.
Get good at subject lines, and the job is almost done.
The subject line is the first thing that your recipient will see. This sentence will make them decide if your email is worth their time or if they should ignore it.
Your challenge? To keep the subject line short and attractive at the same time. Here are a few general tips:
Keep it between 5-10 words.
Use a killer combination of power and emotional words.
Avoid going for the easy “clickbait” subject lines.
Use emojis or other visual impact tactics if that tone matches your industry.
Get creative and test.*
* Please assume this is a rule in every segment, from this one until the call to action.
Need some inspiration to get started? Here are 100 Professional Subject Lines to get your creative juices flowing.
The preview text of an email is a crucial element of your email marketing campaign, as it appears right after the subject line in the recipient's inbox.
Here are some best practices for crafting a compelling preview text:
Keep it concise: Your preview text should be short and to the point, ideally between 35-90 characters. This will ensure that it doesn't get truncated on mobile devices.
Make it relevant: Use the preview text to give recipients a sneak peek of what's inside the email. Make it relevant to the content of the email and try to entice them to open it.
Use actionable language: Use action-oriented language to create a sense of urgency or excitement that encourages readers to open your email.
Avoid repetition: Don't repeat the subject line in the preview text. Instead, use it to complement the subject line by providing additional information.
Test and optimize different preview texts to see which ones get the best open rates. Use this information to optimize future campaigns.
The introduction of your email is critical, as it sets the tone for the rest of your message. It’s also the next likely place readers will lose interest, or dive into your copy with vigor. Here are some best practices to remember when crafting your email introduction:
Personalize your greeting: Use the recipient's name and address them personally to create a more intimate connection.
Get to the point: Your introduction should be short and sweet, ideally no more than 2-3 sentences. Use it to highlight the central message of your email and capture the reader's attention.
Provide value: Offer something of value to the reader in exchange for their time. This could be a discount, a free resource, or access to exclusive content.
Be conversational: Use a conversational tone and avoid jargon or overly formal language. This will help to create a more relaxed and approachable style.
Include a call to action: Encourage the reader to take action by including a clear call to action that directs them to the next step.
The email body is where you convey your message and convince the reader to take action. Here are some best practices to remember when crafting your email body:
Focus on benefits: Instead of just listing features, focus on the benefits of your product or service. Explain how it can solve the reader's problem or improve their life.
Use a conversational tone: Write in a conversational tone, like you're speaking directly to the reader. This will help to build a connection and make the email more engaging.
Keep it concise: Use short paragraphs and bullet points to break up the text and make it easier to read. Aim for at most 3-4 paragraphs.
Include social proof: Use testimonials or case studies to provide social proof and build trust with the reader.
End with a call to action: End the email with a clear call to action that tells the reader what you want them to do next. Use action-oriented language to encourage them to take action.
Call to Action
The CTA (Call-to-Action) in an email refers to a clickable button or link that prompts the recipient to take a particular action, like purchasing a product, registering for a service, or attending an event.
Its significance lies in its ability to direct the reader towards the intended outcome, which can significantly improve engagement and conversions in email marketing campaigns.
Crafting a compelling CTA and placing it strategically can be crucial in determining the success of an email campaign.
Use action-oriented language that is clear and concise.
Place your call-to-action prominently, and use contrasting colors to make it stand out.
Use urgency and scarcity to encourage immediate action.
Personalize your call to action based on the recipient's interests and behavior.
Test and optimize your call-to-action to improve its effectiveness.
How Do You Write an Email Marketing Sequence?
Now that you’re prepared with my top tips for each section of an email, let’s walk through creating an email sequence. I could create several types of email sequences for this article.
Some examples could be:
Welcoming new subscribers or clients
Onboarding new users
Abandoned cart sequence
Let’s go with a welcome sequence.
If you have a newsletter–or are thinking of creating one–you want new subscribers to stick it out with your newsletter long-term instead of just unsubscribing after a couple of emails.
How do you make sure that takes place?
You can start by creating a sequence that will warmly introduce your new subscribers to your newsletter experience.
It will let them know what to expect from your emails in terms of cadence, value, and format–and of course, you can take advantage of this opportunity to link to other content offers, programs, and more.
In other words, you want to set them up for success.
Let’s create a fictitious example so you can replicate the process.
The problem is, even if your landing page is excellent and people subscribe, people who subscribe six days before your next issue may get distracted or lose interest.
A welcome email sequence would be a great way to engage with them early, and build anticipation and trust, before the next issue.
For our fictional newsletter, we’ll do a simple three-email sequence. Again, there are no rules for this, so don’t worry about copying this example exactly. You know your audience, and their needs, best–so use what will work for them.
Welcome Email Example
You could use the welcome email for a variety of things (not necessarily all). For example:
Thank people for their trust and support
Set up expectations regarding format, cadence, and more
Link other offers, projects, or invitations
This is great example from the Monday.com team:
“Free Value” Email Example
This is for the person who has decided to stick with you past the “welcome email.” They are most likely interested in what you have to say.
Some things I could use this email for (not necessarily all of them) are:
Give my subscriber a freebie (ebook, PDF, report, resource, template, free course, etc).
Increase their interest in what will “come next” in this newsletter experience.
Follow-up Email Example
I would save this email for users who have already opened one issue of my newsletter.
You introduced yourself, and you gave something to them. Why don’t you check in to see how they are doing?
I would create this as a friendly email saying things like, “I hope that you are enjoying the experience so far,” and think of creative (but sustainable) ways to talk to my audience.
Include a poll
Ask them to comment on a social post or YouTube video
Include a feedback form
Invite them to reply and then reply back
Here's an example follow-up email:
Remember that a great way to scale is by doing things that don’t scale, like taking the time to go above and beyond. A good first impression is invaluable.
It’s important to note that this is just an example sequence. The type of emails in your sequence, and the number of emails you should send, will vary greatly depending on your context, objectives, and more.
As I mentioned, you need to test and iterate your settings, copy, and cadence as much as necessary until you find that “sweet spot.”
Email Sequence Copywriting (5 Best Practices)
I hope you enjoyed this guide. As a wrap-up, I will share the five best practices when putting email sequences together.
Find what works for you. Some emails perform better with HTML design, others with plain text. You must determine what's best for your brand and purposes and apply the same principle to everyone and everything else in your email sequences (signatures, what tool to use, font colors, etc.).
Don’t settle; test. Once you have a decent sequence, you'll be tempted to think it's all done. The best practice here is to run several tests and keep updating the copy, length, links, visuals, and more to get to the point where your sequence can work on autopilot. That means it gives you the best results without giving it maintenance or even thinking about it.
More is not always best. Define the number of emails that you will use in a sequence wisely. That's why you need to test. People can feel welcomed or engaged, but they can also feel harassed depending on how many emails you send them, how long they are, or the ratio of value vs. fluff you provide.
Apply the 80/20 rule. As you may know, this rule comes from the famous Pareto principle, which says that “for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In other words, a small percentage of causes have an outsized effect.” How would I apply this rule or principle in this case? In your email experience, give 80% value or more, and ask for something 20% of the time or less. With that focus, your calls-to-action will be set up for the best results possible.
Nothing can beat true value. Focus on giving value, and the rest will follow. Think more like your user or client, do what you can to make them feel like they are winning, and you’ll see how email sequences become your hack to improving your operations and processes.
It’s your turn! Don’t let this post become another on your ever-expanding “implement later” list. Creating an email sequence doesn’t need to be difficult. With this guide, and beehiiv’s intuitive editor, gorgeous templates, and optimization tools, you can create an effective email sequence in minutes.