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What's an email copywriter and why you shouldn't hire a content marketer instead

What draws people to become email copywriters? In short, the smart writers see that email offers an average ROI of $42 for every $1 spent and that reflects pretty well on our job prospects! We know that equally smart companies will be hiring for a specialist email copywriter role.

Does this mean that email copywriters are money-hungry and you could get a content marketer to do the same for cheap? Not at all, the skill sets are different and it's unusual for people to be naturally amazing and practiced at both. In this article, you'll see what the difference is between an email copywriter and a content marketer, and why one is better than the other for a specific job.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of skills, experience, and tasks-to-do, consider why so many companies value email marketing.

Why is email marketing worth investing in?

Interestingly, we have two conflicting data points that contradict the value of email marketing and hiring a copywriter to run them:

  • Adestra's study showed that 6 in 10 respondents feel that they are receiving too much promotional email, with teens the least likely to feel this way.

  • Simultaneously, 7 in 10 people in the US consumers (sorry, non-US readers, the internet is dominated by US audience research!) would prefer to receive email communications from businesses over direct mail, SMS, and push messages.

Which is true? Well, while 9 out of 10 (made-up stat) marketing blogs cite this data from Adestra, the information that's being consistently regurgitated is from 2016 — far from up-to-date.

So let's throw this data out the window, if only to avoid boring those of us who have to read blogs every day, thankyouplease. Instead, let's recognise more recent data from Statista, that there are 4.3 billion email users as of 2024, which is a huge audience to target.

A keyboard, phone case, and stationary sit on a marketing writer's desk.

Another reason to consider email marketing worth investing in: welcome campaigns have an average 50% open rate so, as long as you have a talented email copywriter to hook them in that first email, you've got a captive audience seeing half of all your marketing. That's a much better percentage than every other marketing campaign, barring account-based marketing.

Email marketing provides a direct and personalized way to communicate with your audience, fostering stronger relationships and driving customer engagement. Unlike other forms of digital marketing, email allows businesses to deliver targeted messages straight to their subscribers' inboxes, ensuring that the content is more likely to be seen and acted upon. This level of direct access, combined with the ability to segment audiences and tailor messages to specific demographics, makes email marketing a highly effective tool for nurturing leads, promoting products, and maintaining customer loyalty.

Additionally, email marketing is cost-effective, measurable, and adaptable, allowing businesses to track performance and optimize their strategies for better results. It's a marketer's dream!

Now you're persuaded of the value of email marketing, let's dive into the meat of this article.

What is an email copywriter?

An email copywriter is a highly specialised professional who's dedicated to making engaging, persuasive, and effective email content for businesses. Their primary role is to craft emails that capture the reader's attention, convey the intended message, and drive the desired action. The desired action might be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or simply clicking on a link and going to the next step.

Key skills and expertise of email copywriters

An email copywriter who's going to push your business forward must possess the following skills to create impactful email campaigns:

  1. Be a magician with subject lines The subject line is the first thing a recipient sees, making it crucial to grab their attention immediately. A skilled email copywriter knows how to craft intriguing and relevant subject lines that entice recipients to open the email.

  2. Be the Grim Reaper with their own copy Emails need to be direct and to the point while still being persuasive. An effective marketing copywriter excels at creating concise messages that clearly communicate the benefits and encourage action without overwhelming the reader.

  3. Be an audience whisperer Effective email marketing often involves segmenting the audience based on various factors such as demographics, behaviour, and preferences. An email copywriter must understand these segments to tailor messages that resonate with each group.

  4. Be a devotee to analysis and pivots To continually improve email campaigns, an email copywriter conducts A/B tests to determine which versions of emails perform better. They also analyze performance metrics to understand what works and what doesn’t, refining their approach based on data.

There is too much to be lost in hiring an email copywriter who lacks the above skills. Of course, a dedicated person can improve all of the above, but if you're hiring for such a specialist skill, it's better to be searching for these specific skills.

An email copywriter in a pale office space smiles at her notepad, in front of her laptop.

Looking to hire an email copywriter? Skip to the mistakes so many companies make when hiring email copywriters. If, on the other hand, you plan to train or position yourself as an email copywriter, read on. Here's what you can expect to be working on.

Typical projects and responsibilities of an email copywriter

Email copywriters handle a variety of projects, each requiring a unique approach and style:

  1. Promotional emails These are designed to inform recipients about new products, special offers, or sales and are also called email blasts. Their goal is to generate excitement and drive immediate action, making a purchase or attending an event, for example.

  2. Drip campaigns The name drip refers to a series of automated emails sent over time to previously interested prospects and guide those leads through the sales funnel. These campaigns require a strategic approach to gradually build interest and encourage conversions through a non-aggressive educational, nurturing campaign.

  3. Transactional emails While lower on the priority list and rarely creatively done, emails triggered by specific actions taken by the recipient, such as order confirmations, shipping notifications, or password resets can contribute enormously to customer loyalty when humanity is integrated into the marketing. Yes, their primary purpose is to convey important information, but they also offer opportunities for cross-selling and enhancing the customer experience.

  4. Newsletters Companies that regularly schedule emails providing valuable content, updates, and insights to subscribers should consider hiring an email copywriter over a content marketer. The impact on your traffic and soft marketing could be enormous if you prioritise driving leads over pure education, as most newsletters do. That said, newsletters aim to build and maintain relationships with the audience, keeping them engaged and informed about the brand, so consider an email copywriter an option, not a must-hire for this task.

In summary, an email copywriter plays a critical role in a business's marketing strategy, leveraging their skills to create compelling, effective email communications that drive engagement and achieve business goals.

An email copywriter sits at their desk, thinking with their hand to their beard over an email campaign.

What's the difference between email copywriters and content marketers?

Marketing leads will always assert that both email copywriters and content marketing pros are integral to a company’s marketing strategy. However, they focus on different types of content, employ varying writing styles and techniques, pursue distinct goals, and utilize unique expertise in platforms and tools. Here's how you can tell them apart.

Email copywriters

Content marketers

Focus on different types of content

Email copywriters specialise in creating email campaigns, including promotional emails, newsletters, transactional emails, and drip campaigns. Their content is often concise and designed to provoke immediate action or response from the recipient.

In contrast, content marketers produce a broader range of materials such as blog posts, articles, eBooks, whitepapers, social media posts, and videos. Their content typically aims to educate, inform, or entertain an audience over a longer period, fostering engagement and brand loyalty.

Distinct writing styles and techniques

The writing style of an email copywriter is often direct and persuasive, focusing on clear calls-to-action and succinct messaging to capture the reader's attention and drive them to act. Email copywriting relies heavily on compelling subject lines, personalization, and urgency.

On the other hand, content marketers use a more informative and narrative-driven approach, often delving deeper into topics to provide value and build trust with the audience. Their techniques include storytelling, SEO optimization, and content curation.

Different metrics for success

The primary goal of email copywriting is to achieve immediate responses such as clicks, conversions, and direct engagement with the content. Metrics for success include open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

Content marketers, however, focus on long-term objectives like brand awareness, audience engagement, and thought leadership. Their success is measured by metrics such as website traffic, social shares, time spent on content, and lead generation.

Unique expertise in platforms and tools

Email copywriters need to be adept with email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or HubSpot, and familiar with A/B testing tools and email analytics to optimize their campaigns. They must also understand spam filters and email deliverability best practices.

Conversely, content marketers often use content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, SEO tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush, and social media management tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer. They also need to be proficient in keyword research and content distribution strategies.

In summary, while email copywriters and content marketers both aim to engage and convert audiences, they do so through different mediums, styles, and tools, each bringing their unique expertise to the marketing ecosystem.

A copywriter leans back on a lounge chair, notebook open on her lap, smiling and relaxed.

4 mistakes companies make when hiring email copywriters

As is true during any hiring process, mistakes when choosing the person managing your external communications, holding a direct line to your clients and prospects can be enormously detrimental. Moreover, it's your responsibility as the hiring manager to understand the role in-depth, to ensure you're setting your email-copywriter-to-be for success.

1. Misunderstanding the roles of email copywriters and content marketers

One of the most frequent mistakes is misunderstanding the distinct roles of email copywriters and content marketers. While both roles involve writing and content creation, their focus and expertise differ significantly. Email copywriters specialize in crafting targeted, concise, and action-oriented messaging designed to engage recipients and drive conversions. Content marketers, on the other hand, create broader content strategies that include blog posts, articles, social media content, and more, aimed at building long-term audience engagement and brand awareness. Confusing these roles can lead to ineffective email campaigns that don't leverage the specialized skills of an email copywriter.

2. Underestimating the complexity of effective email campaigns

Effective email marketing involves more than just writing and sending emails. Any role is complex if you look hard eough at it! Email marketing requires a strategic approach that includes audience segmentation, personalization, A/B testing, performance analysis, and understanding deliverability issues. Companies often underestimate this complexity, assuming that any good writer can handle email marketing. However, without the specific skills and knowledge required for email campaigns, the results are likely to fall short. Hiring someone with proven expertise in email marketing strategies is crucial for achieving the best outcomes.

3. Choosing a content marketer for an email-focused role

Another common mistake is hiring a content marketer to fill an email-focused role. Beyond the fact that your results will be tepid, you will make a content marketer into an unhappy bunny. Few of us want to switch roles mid-job unless we propose it, so do not force an organic engagement writer into a conversion role.

4. Ignoring the importance of data

Email marketing success heavily relies on data and analytics to optimize performance. Companies sometimes overlook the importance of hiring individuals who can interpret email metrics and make data-driven decisions as well as giving them the tools to measure, pivot, and excel. An email copywriter armed with excellent data platforms with a strong understanding of analytics can continually refine email campaigns to improve open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Without this analytical expertise, companies may struggle to understand what works and what doesn’t, leading to stagnant or declining email performance.

As you begin your hiring process, differentiate between the roles of email copywriters and content marketers, recognize the complexity of effective email campaigns, and prioritise candidates with strong analytical skills.

Alternatives to email copywriting

If, after reading this, you're convinced you'd rather poke your eyes out than go into email writing, consider pivoting to content or becoming an expert in your own content marketing as an entrepreneur.

There are oodles of specialities in the writing field, so never feel pigeon-holed to one with which you're discontent!

Prefer to hand over email copywriting to someone who lives for clicks and opens?



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