Using AI Tools for Writing Email Copy – A Deep Dive
Over the better part of this year, ChatGPT and its ilk have found mentions in headlines, literal and metaphorical, thereby urging businesses across diverse niches to seriously evaluate ways of incorporating it into their daily content writing operations. Small and mid-sized companies, as well as established enterprises- at present, everyone stands bitten by the AI bug.
And this includes, of course, the email marketing realm as well. As an industry, email is no stranger to AI to begin with. Optimising send times, detecting spam, generating personalised product recommendations, inbox delivery, and filtering- AI already has many use cases in this field. With generative AI, however, the contours of another aspect stand to be redefined: email copywriting.
Given the nascentness of generative AI, they have understandably invited more conjecture than conclusions. Yet, experts and enthusiasts alike have conducted plenty of experiments to derive a detailed understanding of the machinations of these tools. As AI-driven email copywriting continues to be deliberated upon with incredible gravity, it is only prudent that we dive deeper into this subject and contend with everything that's in store. Read on to join us as we embark on this fascinating journey.
Understanding What Makes Email Copy Tick
Now, before we start utilising AI tools for email copywriting, it is vital that we first understand what the ingredients comprising a winning copy are. Come, let's take a look!
Lead The Way With Your Subject Lines
With as many as 347.3 billion emails being sent daily across the globe, one can only imagine the kind of traffic that grips the inboxes of email users. Such a scenario makes it quite challenging for brands to call audiences' attention upon themselves, let alone win them over with their products or services. That said, they have one weapon in their armoury, which, if deployed effectively, can help them captivate their subscribers' imagination- subject lines (brownie points for everyone who guessed it right!)
Given that it's the first thing that recipients notice about your email, the onus on subject lines to be pitch-perfect is relatively high. So, what goes into crafting a winning subject line? Let's find out.
- Pay attention to the length of your subject line. Take into account the fact that your subscribers access your emails across both desktop and mobile devices. So, if your subject line is of a different length, it'll get clipped off, thereby hugely impacting your readers' user experience. Studies reckon that the sweet spot lies somewhere around 70 characters. To be extra concise, brands sometimes craft subject lines ranging between 15-30 characters. The problem with such subject lines is that they are too brief to convey anything meaningful to the recipient.
- Always strive to pique the subscriber's curiosity. Who doesn't like unravelling a mystery, after all? However, in the process, take care not to sound unnecessarily vague.
- Keep the subject line relevant to the email content. While this might sound too obvious a directive, you'd be surprised to discover how many out there fail to come good on this. If your subject line talks about apples, your email body also HAS to talk about apples; that's non-negotiable (unless you're planning an offbeat April Fool's campaign or something, but that's an exceptional case, of course).
- While it's all right to go for witty and sparkly with your subject lines, ensure you offer clarity. For your subject lines to nudge your subscribers toward opening your emails, they must be clear before anything else.
- Consider adding emojis to amp up the visual appeal of your subject line. However, you're strongly advised to exercise your discretion while doing so. This is because emojis are viewed as informal assets and thus may not align with all brand values.
- Create a sense of urgency with your subject lines. Is the sale deadline approaching soon? Communicate it in your headline. Something's going out of stock? Communicate it in your headline. You get the drift, don't you?
- If your email carries any special offers or coupons, hinting at the same in your subject line will increase the likelihood of subscribers engaging with your email.
- Consider addressing your subscribers using their first name. However, a simple personalisation manoeuvre can go a long way toward helping you catch your audience's eyeballs.
- Steer clear of using the “no-reply” sender name—emails from unfamiliar senders cue recipients to direct them to their spam. Adding the name of a real person is the wise way forward.
- Timing is essential; always keep that in mind. If you are a food brand, try delivering an email during lunch. If you sell winter jackets, consider emailing as winter approaches; get what we hint at. Emails delivered at the right time make their relevance highly apparent, amplifying their possibility of fetching engagement.
Besides ensuring that your subject lines hit all the right notes, focusing on your preview text is equally important. Write your review texts such that they add to the appeal of your subject lines and build on the context they are offering. An impactful preview text in tandem with a compelling subject line can significantly skyrocket the engagement rates of your campaigns.
Make Your Content Accessible
As calls for building an inclusive world order get increasingly prominent every day, it has become imperative for brands to make their communication accessible. Apart from firing on all cylinders from the perspective of content, your email copy must abide by accessibility standards as well to be considered ideal.
Wondering what measures you can take to make your copy accessible? The pointers below illustrate the same.
- Avoid organising your content into clunky paragraphs. Break your copy down, whenever possible, into brief sections of 2-3 sentences each. This way, individuals using assistive technologies to read emails can engage effectively with your emails. Besides, content that is organised into shorter blocks facilitates greater readability.
- Try to reduce the usage of long and winding sentences while writing your email copy. Also, take care not to use a complex vocabulary. Above anything else, your copy must be primed for effective communication, and complicated sentences and inaccessible vocabulary can be the biggest impediments to you realising that.
- Get in the habit of writing descriptive hyperlink text. Shun run-of-the-mill phrases such as “Click Here”, “Find Out More”, and the like. Instead, write descriptive hyperlink text that tells the reader exactly where they will be led upon clicking on it.
- Use headings, subheadings, and bulleted lists to organise your copy. This will help make your content extremely consumable.
Keep The Customer at The Centre, Always
Often, brands fail to engage their subscribers because they are too busy waxing eloquently about their offerings' supposed prodigious capabilities rather than highlighting how these very features can make a difference in their customers' lives. Putting the spotlight on the USPs of your products or services is, obviously, a part of the email copywriting gig, but what's critical is how you approach it.
Always try to make your product's features about your buyers. Say you are selling a scooter. To make an impression, mention its mileage, the durability of its body, the battery's lifetime, and the like. While all this is, no doubt, important information, a prospective buyer also needs to be told how these aspects will add value to their lives.
So, you need to connect the higher mileage with more significant savings, the durable body with lesser maintenance, and stuff like that. Unless the value proposition of your offerings is communicated to your customers, they can't be persuaded to care for it. If you feel there's a need for detail, go for it. Even though the rule of thumb is to keep things crisp and concise while writing email copy, as long as you offer value, you can afford to skirt around that convention now and then.
Say Goodbye to Jargon
This particular email copywriting best practice is aimed primarily at B2B and SaaS players who mostly dabble with complex, technical offerings. While explaining the scope of your product or service to your subscribers, avoid jargon as much as possible. Sure, the occasional technical term is probably inevitable, and we perfectly understand that, but if your email copy reads like a white paper, you need to double-take it.
Clarity and readability are the hallmarks of exemplary email copy, and frequent usage of jargon will take you in the opposite direction. Ultimately, if the fundamental essence of your offerings is lost on your readers, they will be reluctant to engage with them. And the only way to do so efficiently is by writing email copy that is articulate, conversational, and jargon-free.
Focus on Your Word Choice
Since email copywriting is informed by brevity, it becomes all the more important for writers to populate this limited real estate with words that will impact the readers. Your email copy can't strictly be practical; it must also elicit an emotional response from the readers. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to achieve this.
One method involves using analogies and metaphors. Other than offering greater clarity, these literary devices help your readers visualise the information you are trying to convey much better. Then, there are sensory words, which, if used tactfully, can help make your copy highly evocative and, therefore, much more emotionally resonant. While writing the CTA, using powerful words is generally encouraged- they help make your CTA highly persuasive, eventually nudging your readers to take the desired action. Attention to word choice can elevate your copy, and by extension, your email, from functional to memorable. And trust us, in this day and age of inbox fatigue, you want to aim for nothing short of amazing!
The Merits of Using AI
Now that we have a proper idea of the benchmarks that define good email copy, we can satisfactorily delve into AI-powered email copywriting. It is only natural that we consider this approach's pros and cons a prominent part of this discussion. First, we take a look at the former.
Break Free of The Writer's Block
For a writer, nothing is more unpleasant than being forced to stare at the blinking cursor on a blank screen, finding themselves, against their will, using the Backspace button on the keyboard more than anything else. The much-dreaded writer's block entertains no whim and fancy, and when it announces itself amidst an extremely pressing deadline, it can cause significant stress and anxiety. Thanks to the advent of generative AI tools, however, the days of writer's block might soon be numbered.
You see, all you have to do with these tools is enter the very kernel of an idea you have for it to generate multiple drafts around it. These drafts may be far from what you seek, but they will provide the fodder you need to get your creative juices flowing. On odd days, these tools can help you out of a lurch; even days, they can take your already heightened productivity to astronomical heights! Rightfully, these tools are being touted as writers' assistants possessing a pedigree that had never been witnessed before.
Produce Large Volumes of Content Instantaneously
Be it blog drafts, emailers, or social media posts- by feeding a few lines of instruction, you can generate whatever content asset you need in the flash of an eye. The best part? There's no bar on the volume, either! This is extremely handy in cases where one must create multiple iterations of a particular brief while adhering to a fixed template. Imagine the amount of time such a task would consume if it's attempted manually. By leveraging generative AI tools, you can immensely fast-track content creation that involves an element of repetition.
Think of all the hours that go into manually drafting similarly worded emails for your contacts during the holiday season. With generative AI, all you would need to do is prepare a master template and have it generate these analogous drafts for you instead; tweak and spruce them up a bit, and you are good to go!
Level The Playing Field
Suppose you are a small or mid-sized business. In that case, you might often find your limited budget holding you back from realising elaborate content campaigns like the established players you are competing with in your domain. Generative AI tools can help you bridge this back to a significant extent. By having your existing content team work with these tools, you can amp up your day-to-day content production volume and be as visible as the already recognised names in your industry.
Raise The Overall Level of Your Communication
Take a moment to consider the bigger picture. At the moment, AI-fueled content might appear novel, but gradually, as more and more companies start embracing this route, it will eventually become the norm. At that point, copywriters will focus extensively on making their content more personable and human than ever, ushering in a new level of qualitative achievement.
All said and done, no AI tool will have as nuanced an understanding of your customer's unique interests and preferences as you, who has spent considerable time observing it from close quarters and catering to it. So, as AI tools attend to the grunt work of the content writing process, they will allow copywriters the space to hone their craft and evolve into highly mature communicators and storytellers. This augurs well for the brand, enabling them to strengthen customer relationships and foster unprecedented brand loyalty.
The Downside of AI Tools
Though there are many possibilities that AI tools have helped uncover, the picture is not entirely rosy as well. In this section, we look at the disadvantages of using AI tools for email copywriting.
The Quality of Content is Questionable
While AI tools are adept at producing large quantities of content in the blink of an eye, the quality of content often leaves much to be desired. Even in cases where one has supplied detailed briefs, one has to contend with redundant, incoherent, and inaccurate content. More importantly, AI-generated content is found to be massively lacking in personality and spontaneity, things that only a human mind can infuse into a piece of content. And you can't expect an audience to respond enthusiastically to formulaic content, right?
Hence, one is strictly advised against using the drafts yielded by these tools as is for their content requirements. These drafts must be subjected to human intervention to meet the quality benchmark. Only after they have been vetted and edited by an experienced content professional can we publish them.
Plagiarism Looms Large
AI tools yield content by repurposing and borrowing from millions and billions of sources on the internet. As such, they don't have any mechanism to distinguish between sources in the public domain and those governed by intellectual copyrights. Hence, AI-generated content can often be found to be guilty of containing plagiarism. If you fail to review and address this while working with such content, you will inadvertently end up infringing copyrights, inviting a torrent of legal disputes. Such incidents will invariably lead to customers losing their faith in your brand.
Content Contains Bias and Prejudice
The databases on which these models are trained are not free from stereotypes, biases, and prejudices. Therefore, inevitably, these seep into the content that is subsequently generated by these tools. Consequently, you must scrutinise such content with great rigour to weed out such tenets, or you will end up hurting or offending certain sections of your target audience. Exercising ethical considerations while dealing with AI-generated content is of utmost importance.
Content May Betray Brand Identity
Your understanding of your brand's tone and personality, which contribute significantly to your brand identity, is quite tacit, developed over your years of attachment. Articulating such a thing satisfactorily can always get challenging, let alone having it reproduced appropriately by an AI tool. For all their virtues, generative AI tools can leave a lot to be desired when it comes to writing content that aligns perfectly with your brand identity.
Another department where AI tools can't compete with the human mind is concerned with providing truly original insights. This is because one's perspective is a direct function of one's lived experiences, something that can never be fed into an AI tool. Of course, you can get them to imitate your writing style and persona to a certain degree by providing a decent amount of your writing samples, but even then, they won't be able to view the world through the unique lenses that you do. And it is compelling and original insights that help a brand establish itself as a thought leader in their domain.
Wrapping It Up
As much as we all agree that AI-powered email copywriting is the future, at the same time, there's no denying the uncertainties that are associated with it as well. Hence, to understand this subject, we contacted a host of luminous experts in the email space to get a firm understanding. We compiled their responses in this neat infographic. Check it out now!