Good Email Copy; More Than Words

[Transcipt] Good copy is about more than just the words that you use.

A hot topic amongst marketers, and coming to an SMS and social media marketer near you is something we call: accessibility.

Copy, moreover the design elements of that copy, can matter more than the words themselves. If you don't pay attention to anything having to do with the design.

I like to think of it a little bit like nutrition and exercise when it comes to keeping a healthy body. We all know that both contribute to good health. There's a saying. One cannot outrun a bad diet. Well, this is true.

Diet has such an impact on your overall health that while it might be 50 or 70 percent of the equation, if you're not paying any attention to your nutrition, it's actually closer to 100 percent of what could be causing you to struggle against your goals.

That is that's like the design elements of copy. If you're not paying attention to them, then they're causing you a lot more pain than you realize.

Another way to think of it would be like having the perfect apology scripted for your significant other. I have no idea what you did, but let's say you've worked out exactly what you need to say as an apology. But. You're trapped in a soundproof room.

You could be writing Shakespeare, but if you're using poorly contrasted colors or illegible font choices or styles, if the orientation of text on the page is wonky, then all of your efforts to communicate could be derailed by those choices.

Let's talk about how these elements relate to accessibility, and let’s define accessibility.

You can think of accessibility as an expansion of the ideas introduced in the Americans with Disabilities Act the ADA, but without the regulation necessarily.

A lot of the choices that you would make with email marketing to make it more accessible or not dictated by laws on the books, but by your own selfish motivations for success, whether that's to make money or communicate an idea, aligned perfectly with creating emails that are accessible to as many people as possible.

And this stuff isn't that hard.


Let's talk about contrast. Even for the visually normative person, the contrast of a font against its background matters. Add to that, any level of visual impairment and any font that doesn't - I hate to use this word - pop off the page can suddenly start to be more difficult to read.

And the less that contrast, the more difficult that is. So who might we be talking about? I mean, it could be any type of visual impairment, like just run of the mill corrective lenses where perhaps somebody's prescription needs an update, or they just don't like to wear their corrective lenses.

They don't have them on for some reason. It's early in the morning or they're in a social situation where they don't want to wear them.

That person is immediately going to have a challenge. If the font isn't clear against the background, but what if someone has partial blindness or colorblindness. It can get messy pretty quickly.

So maybe you think, Really Damon, how big of a deal is this? I mean, how many people have visual impairments? According to the CDC, we’re talking about 3,220,000 people. Visual impairment ranks in the top 10 list of disabilities.

Size and Style

Let's talk size and style. Compounding matters for the people that we're talking about - and frankly, that's everybody, but especially for people with visual impairments - is the size and the style of your font.

Some fonts that are more like calligraphy or handwriting, which can be popular, have a couple of problems.

For one, they might not render as you wish them to in some email clients. So right away the time you'd put into getting them just right, would be wasted. But in some cases, even, when they do render correctly, they're simply difficult to read; more difficult than a more simple type of font.

Traditionally, we might be talking about Arial or Times, but I wouldn't even use those two. I would go with for Verdana or Georgia. And if you want something fancy use Trebuchet.

I'm just going to come out with this: Size matters.

When I create an email, I generally use a 14 (pixel) size font. If you're using fonts that are smaller than 12, you're going to have challenges for anyone trying to read that email, especially since most people are going to be looking at that in a mobile device.

So go with a 12 size font. Ultimately, test to see the way it looks. Maybe 14 is not big enough for you. Maybe you want something 16 or 18, but definitely don't go with a small font.


Let's talk about orientation. This is where designers and copywriters often butt heads from a copywriter's perspective, your mostly concerned with the way those words make the reader feel; in what ways they manipulate the emotions of the person that's reading them.

While a designer shares that sentiment, they're thinking about it more from the perspective of how the total design of the email looks and the way those words fit on the page.

The big culprit here is center aligned text. It's really popular. I see it a lot in a lot of emails and I use it too. But what I'm thinking about with texts that center aligned is, is it a headline? Is it a couple of lines of text?

Once I break past two or even three lines of texts - I stick more to two because what happens is -, as you cram that text into a mobile view, two lines becomes four, and now they start to look like little paragraphs with that center aligned text.

What you're asking me to do as the recipient is you're asking me to burn calories on finding the starting point of each subsequent line of text. It might not seem like a big deal, but it actually creates friction.

One of the things that is an email marketer and a lot of marketers are trying to do is reduce friction. You're trying to make the experience of engaging - whether it's an ad or social media or a SMS - you're trying to reduce the amount of friction that the user experiences. Huge chunks of center line, text, create friction.

It doesn't take a genius to start to see that the needs of your recipients completely married with the needs of your business. For the time that you spent crafting an email you want as many people as possible to be able to read, enjoy, engage with that email as easily as possible without friction.

If you start to think about it in that way, you realize that as smart marketers, we don't need regulators to tell us what makes sense to do. Our needs are completely aligned with our recipients. We want the same things they do.

If they're going to receive an email, then they want to receive it from someone they want to hear from, and they want to be able to understand it. We want that too. Especially after the time you put into creating those emails, it only makes sense. Right? We only have to know how we would want to be treated if it was our inbox.

Now, if, if you think a totally off base. Or if you have questions about anything that I've mentioned, then let's connect. I'd love to talk to you.

Message me.


 Damon Re Mitchell © 2021