5 ways to write effective email acquisition copy

Published by Tim Kachuriak


The most important factor that influences conversion is your value proposition. And the most important tool you have to communicate your value proposition is your copy. When writing email acquisition copy, clarity equals persuasion.

The goal is to communicate the value of the offer as clearly as possible.

Communicating your value proposition in email acquisition copy

Experiment #1621

Communicating value proposition - ControlOur research partner for this experiment is Alliance Defending Freedom. The purpose was to test email acquisition copy on their homepage. This page was receiving about 12,000 visitors each month, and less than 1% were giving their email address.

The initial signup offer was very simple.

We decided to add a call-to-action in the headline. We changed the copy to sound like less a command, and included value proposition language to identify the benefits of giving an email address. Lastly, we added a button that communicated real value.

Communicating value proposition - TreatmentThe difference in the A/B split test was a 44.1% increase in the number of email signups.

Every interaction with a visitor is a potential for a value exchange. Maximize that opportunity by choosing the best potential way to communicate your value to the visitor.

Eliminating Copy that slows down your visitor

Experiment #2313

In some cases, optimizing your email signup offer by adding copy will increase its value. But sometimes there is too much copy on the page, and it needs to be condensed.

In the initial offer, there is a large block of copy for the visitor to work through before giving their email. We wondered if this slowed down the visitor’s ability to move through the form, so we removed it entirely.

Eliminating Copy

The difference in the A/B split test was a 26.2% increase in the number of email signups acquired.

Choosing the right copy

Experiment #2606

More important than adding to or subtracting from your email acquisition copy is choosing the right copy. After our breakthrough on Experiment #1621 (our first example), we tested a few variations of language within the copy to see how it influenced conversion. Here’s what we tested:

2606 - Control and Treatment

We found that different language represented a different value proposition, and in this case, the treatment was less attractive to our audience. Conversion decreased by 29.5%.

What we love about continual and consistent testing is that, whether your conversion rates increase or decrease, you will always evolve your understanding of your donors and subscribers. Most importantly, you gain more insight into what they value most, and you learn how to communicate better. Your website shouldn’t be just a collection area. It should be a place where you can listen and pay attention to data!

Clarifying the process-level value proposition

Experiment #833

Clarifying Value Proposition - ControlThis experiment was for Good of All for an email acquisition campaign. Traffic was driven to this page from Facebook, and visitors were offered an e-book in exchange for their email address.

As you can see, the initial call-to-action focuses on what you need to do instead of what you can get.

We decided to nuance how we communicated the value proposition and add clarity. Instead, we addressed the reader as a “fellow world-changer” and communicated the value of the offer rather than the action required. Then we added an intriguing question to draw in the reader. Here’s what the treatment looked like.

Clarifying Value Proposition - TreatmentWith these small changes, we received a 133.7% increase in the number of new emails acquired.

The goal of your copy – including the headline and call to action – should be to consistently and compellingly communicate value at every step.

Using visitor-focused language

Experiment #986

In this last example, we tested an email signup page for Hillsdale College. The purpose of the page was to get people to signup for their free course, “The Federalist Papers.”

We wondered if the word enrollment was a rough choice. For some, it implies filling out applications, or it brings back anxious memories of enrolling for classes at the start of a new semester. That wasn’t the picture we wanted to paint, so we decided to try a different approach.

Visitor Focused Language

We changed the call-to-action above the signup form, and left the remaining copy exactly the same. In comparison, activation suggests that the course is already in one’s possession; it only needs to be turned on, if you will. In contrast, enrollment suggests a series of work that needs to be done in order to access the course.

In an A/B split test, this treatment produced a 31% increase in the number of email signups received.

We discovered that activation language is a significantly more attractive way of describing what the user desires. Even if the internal goal is to get a user to enroll in the course, the user wants to activate the course immediately instead.

Wrap Up…

Each experiment above shows a different concept of manipulating your email acquisition copy. Overall, the elements you can test with copy are:

  • Adding copy
  • Subtracting copy
  • Different value propositions
  • Headlines
  • Body copy
  • Calls-to-action

The most important factor that influences your conversion rate is the value proposition. The words used to communicate that value are your most important tool. On every level of the page, the goal is to communicate the value of the offer as clearly as possible. Use copy to create some suspense within the readers to propel them forward into the page. Hopefully these examples give you ideas to begin testing your own email signup offers right away!


About the author:

Tim Kachuriak

Tim won "Best Stage Presence" for the 1991 Pittsburgh Boys Choir.