The 5 Email Copy Mistakes Everyone Makes

April 19, 2021

Email copywriters beware.

We’ve audited 59 prospective client accounts in the last year, and we just keep seeing the same mistakes. Like, over and over again.

Maybe you’ve made some of these mistakes yourself. You’ve almost definitely seen them in your inbox. In any case, stick around to learn how to stop making them.When we audit accounts, we look at all the usual stuff. You know, like how their emails are performing, and what kinds of segments they’re using. But we also take a look at their email copy. And these are the 5 mistakes everyone is making.

  1. It doesn’t pass the squint test
  2. It’s too salesy
  3. There are too many CTAs
  4. There aren’t any CTAs
  5. It’s just too fucking boring

Let's dive in.

1. The email copy doesn’t pass the squint test

By now I’m sure you’ve heard over and over again that your email copy needs to be skimmable. And that you should use subheadings and bullet points and white space (oh my!) to make your important points stand out. And on and on.There's a problem though. The points that you think you’re emphasizing and the points your readers are actually noticing might be totally different.So, how can you tell which parts of your email are eye-catching enough?Let me introduce my friend: the squint test.

The squint test is an easy way to test your emails for skimmability. Simply squint at your email and take note of what catches your eye.You should see the most important parts of your email first. The second most important parts second. The third most important parts third, and so on.If all goes well, important things like your offer and your CTA should be the stars of the show.But, if you squint at your email and notice that your eyes are being drawn to, say, the unsubscribe button? You know you’ve got more work to do.

2. The email copy is too salesy

Marketer & cartoonist Tom Fishburne summed this idea up perfectly when he said “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.”Remember: your customers love to buy, but hate being sold to. And they are being sold to CONSTANTLY.

Your email is probably sitting in their promotions tab right now. Above it: an unused discount code to a store they’ve never even bought from. Below it: a reminder that this week’s whatever sale ends soon.When they DO get around to skimming your email, the last thing you want is to sound like every other email that’s ever asked them to “buy now”.Instead of just selling your customers, try enchanting, dazzling, and delighting them.You aren’t “browsing science prints” you’re “getting your geek on”.It’s not “returning to your cart”, it’s “inviting abundance into your life”.See what I mean? Seriously. Would you rather “shop briefs” or “revolutionize your underwear drawer”?

3. There are too many Calls-To-Action

When I was growing up, I used to go to a restaurant with my parents that had a menu as thick as a small novel. I used to think that having SO many options to choose from would be exciting. But in reality, it was distracting and it took me FOREVER to choose what I wanted.

An email with a CTA on every line produces the same result. When you offer your customers the whole menu, they first have to decide whether or not to click. THEN they have to decide where to click. And the odds of them sticking around long enough to actually land on your product page? Slim.Instead, choose one action you want your customers to take, and make it as easy as possible for them to take it.Limiting your email to one action also means you can give that action your undivided attention. You get to throw lengthy transition sentences out the window and write laser-focused copy. Then, you get to help your customer understand why doing anything other than that action would be a ludicrous move.

4. There aren’t any Calls-To-Action

There’s only one thing worse than telling your customers to do too many things: Not telling them to do anything. It’s like inviting them out to dinner but not telling them where to meet you.

Email is just the first stop on the journey towards becoming a loyal customer. And your customers need your help figuring out where to go next.Let’s say your email is promoting a product.Start by offering some valuable insight into why they might need it. And then, tell them to go look at it!“But wait!” you say. “You just told me not to use salesy language!”I’m glad you’ve been paying attention.First off, you can sell without being salesy. (We’re revolutionizing our underwear drawers, remember?)But you should be giving your customers something to do even when you aren’t selling.Switch up your CTAs and give your customers something new to engage with. Give them a video to watch, a Facebook group to join, or a review to write. Just make sure to give them something.

5. The email copy is too fucking boring

Let me start by saying, one of the core values that drives &BAM is “Don’t be fucking boring.”So, when I asked our Creative Director what else he thought should be included in this list, he got right to the point.An email copy mistake he sees all the time is that it’s just too fucking boring.

Overcoming this challenge will look different for everyone, but here’s a good rule to get you started.If you’re bored while writing it, your customers will be bored while reading it.(You can always look to your competitors for inspiration too 👀)And if you need an extra helping hand, we’d be happy to step in. After all, not being fucking boring is literally written into our job descriptions.Book a call to see if we’d be a good fit.

Ready to take off?