How to Write Emails That Get Results

June 8, 2015 Maria Valdez Haubrich

email marketing

Once a marketing email gets opened, your job isn’t over. The tone and language used in the email can make the difference in whether the reader keeps reading—or hits “delete.” So what type of tone and language works best in email marketing? A recent survey asked over 1,200 people aged 18 to 64 about their email preferences including tone of voice, humor and slang. Here are the takeaways:

  1. Keep it simple. Long, complicated words don’t impress anybody—at least, not in email marketing. Among every educational level, more than one-third of respondents say obscure vocabulary or business jargon is slightly or totally unacceptable.
  2. Be more formal with men. Emails that use a professional, formal tone are widely seen as being from more intelligent, educated and authoritative senders, according to the survey. However, men are more likely to find this type of email persuasive, compared to women—which means a formal email can be more effective in selling to men.
  3. Humor works. You might be afraid to be funny in email marketing in case it’s taken the wrong way or appears unprofessional. However, more than 60 percent of women and 50 percent of men say humor is acceptable. Just be careful not to use humor that might be offensive to anyone. Think lighthearted rather than knee-slappingly funny.
  4. Think twice about slang. Are you trying to appeal to a younger audience by using slang or acronyms like BTW, Thx or LOL in email marketing? You’re probably turning them off instead. Surprisingly, the youngest survey respondents—aged 18 to 24—are most bothered by slang in emails: Over 40 percent say it’s “totally unacceptable.” Respondents over 35 are most likely to be OK with slang, but in order to be safe, it’s probably best to avoid these terms.
  5. Be more informal with women. Women in the study responded better to emails with a casual, informal tone. Both genders say this type of email makes them think the sender is funny and creative, but women are 45 percent more likely than men to believe the sender is “authentic”—which helps build trust—and they are also more likely to see them as “reliable.”

Of course, apply these rules to your own email marketing using your common sense. If you’re selling accounting services to women business owners in the mining industry, you may want to be more formal and avoid humor. If you’re wholesaling teen apparel to male retailers, a more informal tone might be more appropriate. The number-one rule of thumb: test and re-test your emails to see what works best.

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Author information

Maria Valdez Haubrich

Maria Valdez Haubrich

Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at


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