Here are 22 tried-and-true ways to write better emails:
1. Write down your ideas
Our best content ideas come when we're not expecting them. Since our minds are constantly making connections throughout the day, whenever you have a lightbulb moment, write it down immediately.
Even if it's not a fully formed idea, it might turn into one. Think of the practice of note-taking as collecting elements that you'll later assemble into a campaign. You might take a quote from an article you read and pair it with a conversation you had with a client. Or maybe it’s an insight that was shared at your team meeting that you want to revisit.
It's easier to write when you're excited about what you're writing. You'll head back to refine your ideas later. Just get them down when inspiration strikes.
2. Create a strong subject line
Pay attention to the subject lines that pull you in. What made you open it? Study what makes them work.
Here are a few characteristics of strong subject lines:
Scarcity: Use this when you want someone to act quickly. For example: Only 20 tickets left!
Open Loop: Our brains need closure. Asking a question or using the "..." compels people to complete the thought. For example: Have you heard?
Urgency: This works when you're announcing something time-sensitive. For example: [Today Only] Will we see you at this Open House?
Benefit: What is it that your subscribers want most? Speak to that. For example: This might be your dream home...
3. Make your preview text interesting
Litmus reports as much as 24% of people look at the preview text first when deciding to open an email. The preview text is the text that shows right after the subject line. Most of us don't give it much thought, but there's an opportunity here to create urgency, build curiosity, and show your personality.
Here's an example from copywriter Cole Schafer:
4. Stick with one big idea
Before you start writing, determine the ONE big idea you want to get across in your email. This will help anchor your content.
I like to write my one big idea at the top of the doc. That’s my North Star. If any sentence doesn’t serve that North Star, it doesn’t belong in this email.
Sticking with one big idea will help make your emails more memorable.
We wrote some email templates for listing agents that you can use right now, check them out.
5. Establish your core themes
Your core themes are the topics that you revisit over and over again in your emails. Besides real estate, how can you share more of yourself in your emails? Maybe you talk about your obsession with The Office, or your dog, or French wine. It can be anything.
Why does it matter?
Because over time, your readers will start to identify your brand with your core themes. It'll make them feel connected to you.
The same is true when you share personal moments, stories, and struggles. This type of content is compelling because it's relatable.
6. Get specific
Specificity makes your emails – and your overall marketing – stand out.
Instead of "Here's how we sold their home," try, "In 19 hours, we sold 123 Main Street for $10K over asking. Here's how we did it."
Instead of “We deliver great service,” try, “97% of 343 clients we serve highly recommend us.”
Generalities suck the life out of your copy. Generalities don't give buyers and sellers a clear reason to choose you over your competitors.
Here's a quick specificity test: After you write an email, cross out every reference you make to your business. If you can replace your business with your competitor's and the copy is STILL true, you can make it stronger.
7. Speak local
Here's what I mean: Speak directly to your local audience by using language that only they would understand. Use your insider tone. Reference landmarks. Create analogies and metaphors specific to your neighborhood.
This signals belonging.
Here's an example: If you serve the Ottawa, Ontario area, you might say, "Buying your first home can feel intimidating – kind of like learning to skate for the first time on the Rideau Canal."
You can speak local in any email you send, but it's especially powerful in your welcome email. Only 57% of brands send a welcome email, so if you send one out (you should) speaking local communicates to your not-yet client, "We get you. You're one of us."
8. Mandate white space
Chunks of text clog up your email.
Frequent paragraph breaks make your emails easier to read (and skim).
White space also helps make bold, important points stand out.
9. Make "...so that…" a habit
Two of the most powerful words in copywriting: "so that."
It's a bridge to highlight a benefit. It gives the reader a clear reason why they should take you up on your offer.
Here's what I mean:
"Would you like me to send you a home valuation report?"
"Would you like me to send you a home valuation report so that you can get an accurate read on what your home is worth?"
See the difference?
10. Create a rhythm
How do you create momentum in your emails?
Write with rhythm --
Short sentences. Long sentences. One-word sentences. Repetition. Short paragraphs.
A mixed bag of different sentence styles will help create a distinct cadence in your emails that makes them more enjoyable to read.
11. Write from a distinct point of view
What's your fresh take on the market? How can you provide a unique spin on topics that have already been covered in depth by other agents? How can you challenge common misconceptions your reader might have about real estate?
Writing from a distinct point of view will help communicate your values – "This is what I stand for" and "This is what I don't stand for."
12. Add vivid imagery
Our minds love concrete analogies and metaphors. Challenge yourself to paint a picture with your words in your emails.
Instead of, “The kitchen is bright.”
Try, “The countertops are drenched in sunlight.”
Show, don’t tell.
13. Use your clients' language
Our marketing is most effective when we use words that our clients use. Because you live and breathe real estate, terms like "inventory" "supply" "units" make sense to you – they're all words that experts use.
Instead, use language that everybody understands.
14. Give them a reason to care
Create context around data points and definitive statements. Use phrases like, "Here's why this matters…" and "Here's what I mean…" and "Here's why that's important…"
Tell them how the data directly applies to them. Create more context around terms that might be confusing to everyone outside of the real estate world.
15. Write smaller stories
Maybe you're afraid of writing the same thing over and over again in your emails
How do you keep your content fresh?
Write smaller stories.
Get granular. How many offers were there on the last listing you sold? What was your strategy? What went on behind-the-scenes?
If you're sharing a client success story, find a small moment in that process and zoom in on it. What emotions were involved? What scene can you highlight to shape the story around? Whatever details stand out to you when you're writing an email, tell that story. Make your email have a heartbeat.
When you tell smaller stories, your readers recognize themselves in your emails. It makes them feel something. It builds trust and connection.
16. End with questions
Always end your emails with an invitation to engage your reader. It doesn't always have to be real estate related.
If you send an email around the holidays, it can be a question about holiday traditions. If you send an email on a Friday, ask what they have planned for the weekend.
The goal is engagement.
17. Add a PS
In 2016, a study by Kate Goldstone found that 79% of people read a PS before reading anything else.
Here are a few ideas that you could swipe and steal:
PS - Several homes will be hitting the market next week. Would you like me to send you the best ones?
PS - Home values in our area are up 14% since last year. It’s the time of year where most people are checking in on their home’s value. Would you like me to send you a custom report for your home?
PS - I spotted a few listings that I think will have a MAJOR price reduction within the next 2-3 weeks. Would you like me to send them your way?
PS - Occasionally we get access to homes before they hit the market. Would you like to add you to our VIP newsletter? This is perfect for serious buyers.
PS - This past year we had the privilege of serving over 123 families with their real estate needs. We would love the opportunity to earn your business. If you'd like to connect, you can schedule a call right now here - LINK
Add a postscript to your email to drive traffic to your website, promote your next listing, or help you start more conversations.
18. Ban uncertainty
Be ridiculously clear on what you want your reader to do in your CTA.
To eliminate any confusion, focus on one next step that aligns with your one big idea.
Don’t ask them to read your latest blog post, tell you if they want a home valuation, RSVP to your event, and four other things all in the same email. This will backfire.
Instead, try to stick to one CTA. This is how you’ll generate the most response.
19. Count your "you"s
Count the number of times you mention "I" or "we."
Then count the number of times you mention "you."
If your "you"s outnumber your "I"s, that's a great indication that your email is centered on your reader.
20. Make sure you have a structure
We love order. If our brains can't logically follow an email, it makes it harder to read. It's distracting. It's disorienting.
After you finish your email, put yourself in the mind of your reader and read it out loud.
Does each line flow into the next? What's missing? Am I following? Is the point obvious? What's the takeaway?
21. Be a ruthless editor
Before you ship your email off, it needs a thorough edit. Trim the fat.
Is anything unclear? Vague? Cut it.
Read your email out loud. Does it sound conversational? Bold and italicize important words and sentences. Use bullets to accommodate the skimmers.
When you write an email you're proud of, it can be hard to part with some phrases or sentences that don't quite serve the purpose of the email. To avoid this, I like to create a separate Google doc that I call my "Delete Sheet." Whatever I cut from my draft I toss into my "Delete Sheet" to avoid the permanent repercussions of deleting something I might use in the future.
22. Use writing tools
There are a lot of helpful writing tools that you can use to double check your email for last minute edits so that you're not relying solely on yourself.
My favorites are Grammarly and the Hemingway Editor.
Grammarly scans your copy for grammatical errors.
Hemingway helps make your copy clear. It highlights adverbs, passive verbs, and sentences that are hard to read.
Like I said, an email rarely feels “done.”
But once you send it off, it’s no longer your job to judge it.
It is your job to let it go, and move onto the next email.
When you do, reference this guide and challenge yourself to practice one new strategy.
Writing emails WILL get easier. And they’ll get better with these tips.
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