Outstanding email copy is like terrific beer

It should be clear, uncomplicated, and have you coming back for more.


Let’s hear it for good beer. It’s refreshing, enticing, and, most of all—unique.

The same goes for email content. When you are satisfied with what it has to offer, you stay true to the brand and keep coming back for more. Just as you allow a beer to ferment, prime, and age before it can be imbibed, you craft and edit content so that it can be tried out by the masses in its best form.

The question is: What ingredients make the perfect recipe for top-quality email content?

Compelling subject line/compelling name

I am willing to admit that I have bought a pricy single 24 oz. bottle of beer simply because of its name. A prime example would be a brew named Blood of the Unicorn. Not only does it evoke images and ideas from fantasy films such as “Legend” and the Harry Potter series, but it also reels me in due to my love for general oddities.

A compelling email subject line performs in the same way; it draws readers in and spurs them to click to learn more, ultimately purchasing a product or service. Point blank? A name, title, or subject line alone can intrigue and result in a sale. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Personalization of a product or service

Highly segmented emails make for better open rates, and personalization will instantly make a product more attractive. You may have heard about the trend of bottling and branding your own wine label, but did you know that you can do the same with beer?

Just as you can target your audience and send out information specifically vital to them, breweries and distributors can provide a beer that people will relate to, even emotionally.

Emotionally? Really?

Even if a beer isn’t bottled with your surname on the label, it can be customized in other ways. A clever marketing move is to target people who are from a specific region who specifically connect with an image or phrase (many breweries have a canine mascot, such as Big Dog’s Brewing Co.’s prominent black Lab.) Some of their ales expand upon this idea and include brews such as Watch Dog Wit, Alpha Dog Double Red, and the Wonderdog Double IPA.

If my much-loved mutt was featured on a beer bottle, chances are that I would feel the obligation to pick up a bottle (or a six-pack). The same is often done with sports logos or mantras; diehard fans will buy almost anything with their team’s logo featured on it.

Likewise, I often will open an email that includes the identifiers “you” and “your,” because I feel the email is speaking directly to me. There are smart ways to insert a first name, and they don’t include beginning an email with the recipient’s first name; that’s an obvious spam technique. An A/B split test, however, is always a good idea in these situations.

Some industry customers may be more open to the personalized email approach than others. Just remember who your audience is; an email about the Green Bay Packers is likely to do better in Wisconsin than in Chicago.

In general, the use of the words “you” and “your” are recommended; if a sender calls me by my first name without any previous contact, I would be more than hesitant to open that email. Using identifiers such as “your” addresses a consumer’s wants and needs. Upon reading an email that addresses their needs, they will very often click to see what the offer or service is all about. For example, “Get Your Chicago Bears Gear Now!” would sell me on a product more than, “Get a Chicago Bears Winter Hat!”

Actionable language

When you are crafting a successful call to action, it must be brief. When you see a beer with a classic, simple label that says, “DRINK ME!” it tells you to do something you’d already planned on doing, simply in a more intriguing fashion. When you open an email, you aren’t going to notice a call to action if it’s buried in extraneous text.

A successful call to action makes the reader want to take immediate action. In the case of your email, it could be anything from requesting a free quote (“Get Your Free Quote Today!”) to trying a product (“Get Your Free Sample!”) to viewing a daily deal (“One-Day Lightning Deal”).

Don’t be afraid to simplify your approach when reaching out to customers. Much like a high-quality beer, excellent email copy is clean and straightforward. For complicated beverages, please see wine and whisky. Don’t get me wrong; beer can be complex, but most of the time we like when it’s simply refreshing and original.

A version of this article first appeared on the Straight North Internet Marketing blog.

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