How to write a great sales email

Greyhound wearing a santa hat

Over 111 billion consumer emails are sent every day. Writing a great sales email that people will actually respond to isn’t easy. Especially when you’ve fallen into the habit of making the same mistakes time and time again…

Despite our overpopulated inbox, email is still a very effective marketing channel. If the content is great then your mailing list will respond, if it’s crap a couple of times then your emails will start passing your audience by… eventually triggering the dreaded unsubscribe.

I’m not going to go into design or list segmentation here as it’s not my wheelhouse but when it comes to words, you’re in the right place.

So, how do you reengage your mailing list? Before you send your next email, go through the following checklist and make sure you’re sending the very best email you can – every single time.

Subject line

Obviously, this needs to be engaging. But me saying “write an engaging subject line” is about as useful as a screendoor on a submarine. By engaging I mean hook your reader in, use humour or puns if your brand lends itself to that, and don’t be afraid to A/B test. MailChimp and other similar services offer a simple A/B testing tool so you don’t have to rely on guesswork.

Instead of:

“10% off Santa hats”


“Keep Santa’s Little Helper’s ears warm this winter. Save 10% on Santa hats”


“Open this email to see a greyhound wearing a Santa hat.”

Consider your audience in the first line.

Every day, I see brands falling into the habit of starting sales emails with smug statements like “we’re so proud to” and “we can’t wait to”. BO-RING. Make the first line personal, this is the first thing they’ll see after your subject line and needs to be just as strong – if not stronger.

Instead of: 

“We’re very excited to announce the release of our new Santa hats for your greyhound”


“Imagine your greyhound wearing a Santa hat? That dream is about to become a reality!”


“Your longboi will sleigh the ladies this December in his very own woolly Santa hat.”

Focus on one message

Often I receive emails promoting a 20% off coupon code but then when I scroll down the brand is also promoting their “Designer” collections, the blog and other knickknacks. I expect not everyone will agree with this point but when it comes to sales emails, I think it’s best to keep the message to-the-point. Keep the rest for your newsletter.

Instead of:

“10% off Santa hats for your greyhound with the code LONGBOI. Check out winter coats. How to stop your greyhound stealing from the bin.”


“Don’t let your greyhound’s ears get cold while you’re drinking mulled wine at the Christmas market. Pick up an adorable Santa hat and boost your longboi’s elf-esteem this festive season. Use the code LONGBOI at checkout to save 10% on the purchase price.”

Keep the call-to-action high in the email

Whether it’s a button or a reply function, make sure the CTA is clear from the start of your email. This goes hand in hand with focusing on one message as one or two paragraphs of copy should suffice when it comes to summarising your offering. If your reader is faced with several paras of dense text, they’ll disengage before they scroll down to find the button or product listings.

Be concise

Another common pitfall brands often fall into is using too many words. Why use 50 when you can summarise your point in 15 or even less? Writing email copy is hard, and writing good, short email copy is even harder. Avoid passive voice, long sentences and dithering points… be precise and consistent throughout.

Instead of:

“As greyhound owners, we know that our furry friends have very low body fat percentages so they often need to wear clothes in the winter. You can buy lots of different types of clothes for your greyhound, including coats, hats and even snoods. Browse our collection of woolly Santa hats for greyhound below.”


“Winter is coming and your greyhound will most certainly feel the cold. Keep your furry friend warm with an adorable Santa hat. Browse the full greyhound Santa hat collection.”


I cannot push this point enough. A single typo in your email will affect your business’ reputation, whether you like it or not. People notice these things, even if they’re not consciously looking for them. My top proofreading tips include reading copy out loud, waiting until the following day or asking a knowledgeable friend. Grammarly is great but don’t rely on it – the human brain is still king when it comes to grammar.

There you have it – six tips for writing the perfect sales email. I know it’s not groundbreaking but until I stop seeing brands making the same mistakes over and over again, I won’t shut up.

Thanks for reading!