Copy Matters: Writing Better Emails

Copy Matters: Writing Better Emails

March 19, 2012 by

This is part five in our Copy Matters series.

A few years ago, I had a position at a church where I was in charge of communications. As the church grew, I personally emailed about a hundred people each week. Most of these emails contained a request for an investment of time, so getting a “yes” was extremely important.

The people you communicate with have overflowing inboxes (when they even look at it), and your definition of “important” is not necessarily the same as theirs. So how will you get their attention—and earn their trust?

Write well. It’s not just for books anymore.

If the subject line of your email isn’t compelling, and informative, it may never get opened. If the first sentence isn’t interesting, the rest of your words will never be read. If the email is too long, they won’t open your next email.

Getting a “yes” with your writing is important—and it starts with someone reading your email.

This is a wonderful opportunity to become a better writer! Think about the emails, and letters, you hate to open—and have stopped opening. Long, random, with multiple topics and no clear call-to-action. Now, look at the last few emails you sent. Were they a work of art? Did you take time to refine them? Do your subject lines “cry wolf”? (Are all your volunteer requests urgent?)

Whether you write five or 500 words, the “do unto others” principle applies to email, too!

So how do we do this? We practice. And you get the rare chance to gauge the effectiveness of your writing by the results your emails produce or don’t produce. We can learn a lot about church communication from a good song.

Here are some basic elements to make your message sing:

  • A fresh introduction. The subject line is your opening chord.
  • Engaging tone and personality. The personal introduction is your first verse. Be personal, interesting, humorous… be yourself (and be brief).
  • One main idea that sticks with you: the chorus.
  • A clear purpose or call to action. Ask me to say “yes” to something, and make it simple. That’s your bridge.

Does a call for volunteers have to be drudgery? Be a better writer, and make your emails sing!


Getting Started: Copy Matters - "Bad writing tries too hard to impress."

Post By:

Mike Loomis

Mike Loomis is a church and nonprofit consultant, writer, literary agent, and senior team leader with Vaughn Street and www.MikeLoomis.CO.
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4 Responses to “Copy Matters: Writing Better Emails”

  • Matthew Sandahl
    March 19, 2012

    Amen. Emails and how theyre writtten are a huge reflection of your character, especially for those who have never met you face to face.

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    • Shelley Schneider
      March 21, 2012

      I love your website! Do you have someone on staff who created and maintains it for you or did you hire an outside source? We are looking at making some major changes to our site in the very near future. Any resources you can give us would be greatly appreciated! Blessings on your ministry. Shelley Schneider, Business Manager

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  • Ty Buckingham
    March 19, 2012

    I agree with a ton of this,

    my question though is where is the line between being conversational and professional. And as creatives how can do email better? This shows how to do email, but what’s that next level?

    I don’t answers, but maybe one of you do?

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    • Mike Loomis
      March 29, 2012

      Hi Ty – sorry for my LATE response!

      To me, “professional” is a loaded word. People are bombarded with “professional” emails, and this in many cases equals “cold, formal, and lengthy”.

      Whenever possible I believe we should GIVE some life, some joy, some personality in our emails. The real test is to try to picture how people will react when they see ANOTHER email from you (which in churches is usually the case – repetitive emails)

      This applies to books, marketing, sermons, blogs… everything. I encourage people to be a bit bold and unique in their communications. Some people will not “get” it, but those who do will appreciate your art!

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