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Writing Emails as a UX Writer

UX writers know how to craft titles, tooltips, and CTAs. We can make a paragraph more understandable and create intuitive section headings.

What we don't talk a lot about, though, is writing emails. You know, those things you automatically delete in batches four times a day even though you really should just unsubscribe?

Product emails are sometimes written by the marketing team instead of the UX, since they're not part of the UI, but writers are finding themselves face to face with email writing more often.

Notification Emails

Some actions within the UI are tied to confirmation emails: being mentioned in a comment, seeing a new update, etc. Users can typically opt in and out of which emails they receive, but it's important to not to make the default overwhelming.

Think about all the emails you delete without a second thought. What's different about the ones you do open and read? Probably:

  1. Clear subject lines that tell you exactly what you need to know

  2. Just the right amount of information

  3. A CTA option in case further action or review is needed

I know: saying that our writing should be "clear" and "just the right amount" isn't very specific. I can't say what the perfect character limit is, or what that perfect amount is. But being a UX writer is like being Goldilocks, trying different options that are too little and too much until it's just right.

If you're writing notification emails, ask yourself what you'd want to know. Someone mentioned you in a comment? Well, you'd probably like to know who, what they said, and where they said it. The email can provide that, plus a link to the location in case you'd like to respond or see more context.

Feature Emails

We always want to share new features. It's natural; you and your team have worked hard to make your product better. Invariably, someone pipes up and says "We've got to get this out there!"

Feature announcements have a time and place. Before you start writing one, ask:

  1. Is the feature already discoverable in the UI?

  2. Is this a big enough change that users need to know immediately?

  3. Does this email justify the risk of being spammy?

If your team can answer yes to all three questions, okay. But be careful in the writing, too. It's easy to make feature announcements markety, focusing on how amazing your product is. Like any good UX writing, your focus needs to be on the benefits to the user.

In a recent email, Notion hit the nail on the head: "I don't think you care about project management apps." They know that people don't use Notion because it's a cool product; they use it because it fulfils a need. The email goes on to list some of their new releases, but the focus is 100% on the way these changes will make the user's life easier.

Research Emails

If you're lucky enough to work for a company that values research, you may be asked to help draft an email recruiting existing users to test current and new features. It's a great way to get insights from real people who actually use your product.

Chances are, though, your users aren't thinking about your product all the time. They have other things going on. While people tend to enjoy sharing their opinions, feedback is something that takes time. In my experience, there are a few things you can do to increase your response rate:

  • Personalise the email with the recipients' name

  • Explain why you value their time and feedback

  • Be clear about the format and commitment of future talks

And, as a side note: I've worked on projects before where users were persuaded to participate with a gift card or similar reward. While this increased the quantity of feedback, quality was hurt: people who hadn't given a moment's thought to the product signed up, and tried to make the interviews as quick as possible so they could get on their way. There's nothing inherently wrong with thanking participants, but be mindful of how you do it.

At the End of the Day...

You're a UX writer. Do what you know: keep it simple, provide only necessary information, and clarify the benefits. Those emails will bring users to a UI that uses the same principles.


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