How to write marketing emails to one person

How to Write Conversationally: 7 Tips to Write Marketing Emails To One Person

Shane Herring
Shane Herring

Course Developer at Atomic Education

Last Updated: June 23, 2021

One of my ‘rules’ is to write marketing emails to one person. I then get asked for more on how to do this.

So, here we go. But…before I start, I want you to two things for me.

Open the last work email you sent or received. As you read it, does it feel like someone is having a conversation with you? I’m not talking about sounding like someone is talking to you. I’m talking about the way it reads. Is it conversational? If not, it’s probably because the personality of the writer doesn’t show through.

Now, open the last personal email you sent or received. As you read it, you should see a difference. This email probably sounds more conversational. It reads like a human wrote it.

Conversational text is a lot tighter than spoken language. So, writing conversationally doesn’t mean transcribing your spoken word. It means you write so it doesn’t sound like writing.

7 tips to write marketing emails to one person

1. Stop writing to your list

I received an email some time ago that included this:

“Hi everyone.

Thank you to those who have registered for the upcoming expo. For those who haven’t, there’s still time. Select the link below to register today.

Thank you.”

That sounds like the sender is talking to a room full of people. It’s an example of writing to a list.

BTW, I had registered but after receiving this, I wasn’t so sure anymore.

To make this personal, and probably get a better result, they could try this…

“Hi Fred.

Have you registered for the upcoming expo? If so, thank you. If not, you can register today by selecting the link below.

Thank you.”

It’s more personal. They’re now talking to the person reading the email.

BTW, I wouldn’t send this to people who I knew had registered. 

2. Contractions are words too

When I was at school, my English teacher taught us to not use contractions. So, what we were supposed to write included lots of “should have,” “there is,” “do not,” or “could have”.

For many people, it’s still the preferred way to write business presentations.

But people don’t talk that way!

Using contractions, should’ve, there’s, don’t, could’ve, is how we usually speak. Not always but a lot of the time. If we do use the longer form, it’s usually in a more formal way. “DO NOT DO THAT AGAIN!” as you’re yelling at your kids.

3. It’s not always about you

It’s when we want our emails to sound ‘professional’ that we miss this one.

When writing, we can’t see the person on the other end of the conversation. So, we forget to engage our readers and merely write from our own perspective.

We use first person pronouns such as I, we, us, ours, me, mine, or my.

If you want the reader to feel like you’re writing to them, you need to be using second person pronouns. Words such as you, your, yours.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t use first person words. Like I just did. Just use them sparingly.

Here’s an example.

“Sign up to my email list, and I’ll send you my weekly email with marketing tips.”

It’s mostly about “me” and not a lot about “you”.

Let’s change it.

“Do you want to grow your business with smarter marketing. Sign up today and get weekly email marketing tips delivered to your inbox.”

A lot about “you”, nothing about “me” but the same message is delivered.

And if you want to be inclusive, using pronouns such as ‘we’ can refer to a team or to the sender and the reader. It will depend on context.

4. This is who I am

Why do you enjoy catching up with friends or your favourite work colleagues? It’s because you don’t always talk about work. It could be a movie you watched, or new online game or how your favourite sporting teams are doing.

Each of you are talking naturally and your personalities come through. That annoying friend who seems to forget their wallet when it’s their round. That work colleague who tells bad jokes. That’s their personality and it doesn’t usually make a difference. You still enjoy talking to them.

Think about how you can introduce your personality into the content your write.

Here are some ideas:

Over time, your reader should learn something about your personality.

5. Shorten your sentences

When I went to university, the lectures were sooooo boring. Why? I was sitting there listening to the lecturer drone on. It was worse when they read from the book. And then there are the marketing pages that have long lists of features and endlessly go on about how good their product or service is.

Just like my lecturer, emails with long sentences are tiring to read. To make them more readable, chop up long sentences.

When we talk in a conversational setting, we don’t speak in long sentences. We break things up with short sentences and only a few sentences at a time.

When you write, get to the point. Quickly. Paragraphs should be no more than four or five sentences.

And don’t worry about the grammar police. We write to engage the reader, not get an A+ in English.

6. Can you solve their problem?

Prospective buyers really aren’t interested in you or your business. What they are interested in is how your product or service can solve their problem. Your email needs to focus on your ideal reader and show that you understand their pain point.

This is where personas (a.k.a. avatars) come in. Each subscriber should be matched against a persona. You may have one persona or more than one. But each subscriber will be matched against one persona. Each persona will have different needs. Different problems that need solving.

So, if you have more than one persona, you need more than one email.

7. Read It Out Loud

Remember back at the start where I asked you to read two emails?

After putting these tips into action, it’s time to test it out. How?

This is how I test my video scripts, blog posts, and, you guessed it, my emails.

Read it out loud.

Does it sound “conversational”?

Are any sentences to long? If you need to stop and take a breath, that sentence is probably too long. Either shorten it or split it in two.

Are more contractions needed?

It is a great test to understand the flow of your conversational content. If you’re like me, as you read you might stumble over some parts of the content. You may change or rearrange words or rewrite sentences. And that’s fine. It’s why we do this exercise. Over time, you’ll find your conversational writing improves.

Wrap up

If you want your emails to ‘speak’ to one person, you need to write in a conversational tone. Your emails should read like you’re speaking to a friend. It’s how you’ll create a connection with your reader.

When you create a connection with your reader, you move your reader closer to completing that call to action (CTA) you’ve included. You have included a CTA, haven’t you?

Lastly, remember that personal email you read back at the start? Write your marketing emails like that.

Enjoy your day.

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