The 8 Tones of Voice in Email Copywriting (And What You Can Learn From Each)

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As an entrepreneur, you need to know how to create a highly recognizable tone of voice for email marketing.

You want to stand out from the crowd in your prospect’s inbox, and attract the right kind of attention by appealing to the right kind of emotions – after all, emotions provide the incentive to subscribe or find out more about you.

Whether you’re writing everything yourself, or employing an expert to do it for you, it’s important to be clear about what kind of voice you’re going to be using. You want copy that pushes all the right buttons.

This post will reveal eight tones of voice that can be effective in different situations. Each one has its place. You can learn something from each type of writing, and use the insights to craft the perfect voice for your copy.

Which of these elements do you want to increase in your tone?

1. The Helpful Voice

Turnstyle comes across as extremely friendly and helpful. It’s an effective tone of voice to adopt, and it works in most situations. If you’re writing as a solo entrepreneur, this voice can help you connect with prospects, and let them know you’re looking out for them.

Starting with a very disarming “Hey there!” Turnstyle quickly diffuses the usual feeling of annoyance that comes with receiving a corporate newsletter.  Their message is short, and they’ve managed to sound genuinely helpful.

Pro Tip: many solo entrepreneurs default to this tone, as it’s become very common in email copywriting. This isn’t a bad thing. But keep reading to find some lesser-used tones that will help you stand out.

Turnstylecycle email marketing example

2. The Charismatic Voice

Jack Daniels is a brand with a very distinctive tone of voice. Their entire advertising campaign is infused with that unmistakable flavor of the Deep South. With a brand like Jack Daniels, it’s acceptable to use grammar like askin’. Where other brands can use copy that is short and punchy, Jack Daniels is slow, comfortable, and rambling. There’s nothing rushed or ‘high-tech’ about it, and it’s not exactly thrilling stuff – yet after reading the email, you feel like you’re one of Jack’s personal friends.

While their email advertising campaign certainly isn’t the focus of their marketing, it does provide an excellent example of how to create a tone of voice that people will remember.

Jack Daniels email marketing example

3. The Philosophical Voice

Some products appeal to a different side of people’s emotions – or should we say, they appeal to the mind rather than the emotions. The Economist‘s email campaign comes across sounding exclusive, erudite, and informed. Entrepreneurs who do a great job with this voice include Taylor Pearson and Dan Andrews.

The Economist email voice

The real message is hidden between the lines, and in a very short space it makes you feel that subscribing to the Economist will give you an insider’s insight, and set you apart from the boorish masses. It’s a subtle and refined tone of voice that really suits the brand.

4. The Unexpected, Witty Voice

Indigo & Cotton have developed a unique tone of voice in a highly competitive market: online clothing. Their short email message makes you want to continue reading because the copy is engaging, witty, and provocative. There’s nothing boring about the way they present themselves.

First of all, the heading is unusual. You know it’s about clothing, but you’re immediately intrigued by the word choice: “Handsome Things by Way of Charleston”. The first sentence grips your imagination and your interest. The punchline or Call To Action (CTA) at the end is cleverly dressed in unexpected expressions like “emporium of natty button-downs” but it’s not overdone. Although you’re intrigued, it still feels accessible.

Indigo & Cotton email marketing example

5. The Simple, Straightforward Voice

Maybe wit isn’t your thing. With some markets, a better strategy is to keep things as simple and concise as possible.

Canva has managed to whittle down their email copy to the bare basics. There’s a simple logo, a headline, and three sentences – one of which is simply a bold reinforcement calling out to you to take the appropriate action. The entire design is refreshingly clean and minimalist – and it works for that reason.

Canva email marketing example

6. The Lighthearted Voice

It’s easy to come across as too serious in email. The marketing team at jetBlue steps outside of this box, writing, “It’s probably time we had a ‘Determine the Relationship’ talk.”

They’ve cleverly provided the emotional impetus to continue your subscription, and the graphic layout makes it simple to make the desired choice. It’s clutter-free and gets to the point directly, without making you feel any pressure at all. The tone of voice is perfect for what they’re doing.

JetBlue email marketing example

7. The Unassuming, Down-to-Earth Voice

Is it important to you to connect with subscribers as equals?

Warby Parker chose a rather ‘ordinary’ voice, and it suits their product and their kind of service better than a more flowery style. There’s no unnecessary hype or fanfare anywhere in the email, and there’s no place for pretense.

The email copy isn’t pushy or sly, and it’s not exactly inspiring either – but it doesn’t need to be. They’re selling glasses and eye tests – and there’s no need to oversell.

Warby Parker email marketing example

8. The Focused, Punchy Voice

Using short, broken sentences can create a real sense of energy and dynamism. Companies like Apple, for example, use the technique to great effect when it’s combined with sleek visuals, carefully chosen color schemes – and of course, a brand name like Apple.

But they’re not the only ones. Tesco followed suit with the example below. Striking and crisp images are juxtaposed with short, punchy lines of text. It’s a powerful technique.

It drives the message home.

It can make your tone seem commanding and focused.

You might want to try it.

Tesco email marketing example

Conclusion

Creating the perfect voice for your brand is more about understanding people than about understanding grammar or vocabulary. People’s emotions are powerful things, and tapping into that power is possible using the right kind of voice.

It might help to think of your brand as a person. What kind of a person is the ideal spokesman for your company? What’s appealing about that person, and why would people feel drawn and engaged? What does that person have to offer the world? Answer those questions, then simply choose words that would come naturally to that kind of person.

Whether that’s charismatic, earnest or sarcastic, friendly, fast or slow, humble or flashy – take a little time to make it truly your own. Giving any thought to this will likely make you stand out in the inbox.

How do you prefer to write emails to your subscribers? Let us know in the comments section below!

  • Joona Tuunanen

    You really weren’t lying Clay, this really was a great interview.

    Maybe the 2 biggest things I learned from this was the concept of evil twin brother and the importance of external threats. Especially the latter makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for sharing the interview with us 🙂

    • Absolutely. Robert was gracious to do this interview and I’m glad that you learned from it.

  • drkkesler

    Thanks for this!

  • Loved this! I’ve been a fan of the Geek Squad for a long time and it was fun to get the inside scoop straight from Robert.

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed this, Tea. IMHO Robert is one of the greatest thinkers in entrepreneurship right now.

  • Tracy Simmons

    I love it when someone has such strong opinions and isn’t afraid to share them so boldly.

    • I like that also. Folks who don’t take divisive stands for things aren’t fun to interview anyway.

  • great interview, and yes your lighting is excellent- should put together a short class on screencasting??

    • Thanks, Robert. I’ll consider it. I had no idea everyone would be so impressed with my lighting 🙂

  • I think the wonderful thing that Mr. Robert Stephens said about doing a business is that you build a company or whatever you do, you would do it even if you didn’t get paid; it would be something you have passion for. I remember how much passion I had when I competed as a former world ATP tennis professional. I am searching for what gives me that passion. I love teaching high school students; but now I want to do something that will allow my children to experience many things in life that formal education will not do. This interview was VERY inspiring! One more thing that I really learned is if you can build a company from bootstrap; then you will KNOW what to do when you do have money to build it right. Money is not the factor to build a great brand; it takes knowledge, creativity, and perseverance – that is what this great interview taught me. Thanks Clay! Great job on the interview questions! Ossil (Macavinta.com)

    • Hi, Ossil! I’m stoked that you liked this interview. I also liked how he talked about going with the ideas that you’re willing “to go down with.” It adds a lot of perspective. Opportunities come and go: things you’re truly passionate about do not.

  • Lori Reed

    One new idea I heard was about having contrast in the mix to make my work more focused. If you follow up with him, I’d be curious to hear what developed from his toying with that concept.

    • I’ll def followup with him, although that philosophy seems to be at the core of the successes he’s had so far.

    • Thanks for sharing what you learned.

  • Pick the stuff you love, because there will be shitty days! I love your response to that Clay! Another AWESOME video interview. I got a lot out of that and never cared for or ever really knew anything about Geek Squad.

    • Thanks, Danny. BTW wish I could recall my response to that.

  • Allan

    Hey Clay, After watching your video I can see why your wrote this

    “I keep on trying to describe why you should watch this . . . and each time I realize that I just can’t do this interview justice. But trust me on this interview. It’s good.”

    That was some profound stuff! I can see you get flabbergasted a couple of times yourself 🙂 I love what he said about creating the high-end product as well as it’s evil twin brother plus doing stuff that you’ll be thinking about ’til 2am in the morning and willingly create it for free because you believe in it so much.

    Thanks for the interview!

    P.S. I’m a new student of the Interactive Offer

    • Hi Allan! Really glad you liked this and are enjoying The Interactive Offer.

  • Mark Coudray

    Great interview, Clay. I love “Marketing is the tax we pay for being unremarkable.”

    • That was one of my favorite quotes from the interview as well. I like how he described the Geek Squad as one large performance art experiment.

  • Travis Rosser

    Loved the interview Clay. Robert is one smart dude.

    • Thanks, Travis. Yeah, Robert thinks (and reads) pretty broadly about business and technology. I know few people as dialed into the future (Fred Wilson is also up there). Anyway, I’m glad that you enjoyed this.

  • Carol Solomon

    Clay – great interview! Can you give us the links to the mac app, mic and light you used too? Yes, I listened all the way to the end!

  • Jaxi West

    his business perspective is really unique – tips never heard before. this was really valuable -thank you!

    • I think Robert has a really fresh and unique perspective on business. I agree.

  • Jaxi West

    brilliant strategy – built high end, then build the competitor of it on a cheaper end – so you are your own 1st major competitor 🙂

  • Amazing interview, and awesome to hear such a different perspective on growing a company too!

    • Thanks, Nathalie. I agree that he has a completely fresh and new perspective.

  • Great Interview Clay – thought he was going to hammer you on your tech. for a minute !! ” I will judge you by your skype background !! ” LOL 🙂

    • I know right. The compliments he ended up giving were pretty impressive coming from the Geek Squad Chief Inspector.