The Email Marketer’s Guide on How to Write an Informal Email

Melanie Balke
January 30, 2024

Let’s face it.

You don’t always need flashy bells and whistles to win hearts. There are plenty of places you should use a professional tone and formal greeting, of course. However, there are just as many use cases for informal email copy. In these situations, your casual language can put otherwise jittery recipients at ease and sow the seeds of a successful customer interaction.

It’s time to eschew the professional formalities and greet consumers like old friends.

Keep scrolling! I’m about to reveal some of the email marketing world’s best-kept secrets about informal email writing.

The Difference Between Formal and Informal Emails

Teams playing pickleball. “Differences: Formal and Informal Emails.”

As usual, I want to start with the basics.

Today, most written communication is informal. Few people follow the prescribed format of formal content outside of ceremonial or professional settings. However, most people don’t spend time thinking about their written tone! So, I’ll start with a quick refresher.

What Is a Formal Email Format?

Like letters, formal emails follow a tried-and-true template. You’ll always have a salutation, some content, and a cordial sign-off. This rigid structure is one of the key differences between formal and informal emails, and it looks a bit like this:

Dear Mr. So-and-So, (This is your “salutation.”)
I  am writing you a formal email. (This is where the body of your formal email begins.)
I wish to express something very important. Thus, I am using a formal tone and avoiding personal anecdotes. While I may add a small personal touch if I am familiar with you, I shall mostly refrain from doing so. Instead, I shall use polite language and show off my writing skills with comparatively lengthy sentences; such sentences may even include a complex sentence structure. (This is where the body of your formal email ends.)
Best Regards, (This is your sign-off!)
Melanie Balke

This may remind you of your grade school days!

Yes, your English teacher taught you the art of formal email writing. After all, this is the most widely accepted format for a professional setting. It’s sure to please anyone and keep your job safe. However, it’s rarely the tone you’ll want to use in email marketing.

For that, you’ll want…

What Is an Informal Email?

An informal email is — in comparison — more general and personal.

You’ve probably sent some of these without realizing it. For example, you (probably) don’t use formal formatting when you text close work colleagues. Similarly, few people are running about sending lengthy texts to their best friends, beginning with, “Dear Sir or Madam.”

So, if you want an example of informal writing skills, just check your phone!

(If the above does apply to you, ignore what I just said. Instead, send a cordial salutation to your closest Gen Z friend and ask them to text you.)

Beyond the lack of reliable formatting, you’ll quickly notice that casual messages are less wordy. They may even make use of abbreviations and slang. Most serve personal purposes, although that (generally) won’t be true for marketing emails.

Now, check your email inbox. Look for any content from an eCommerce business. Again, you’ll likely find a great informal email example. It likely has no set format and speaks to consumers as an old friend. Many brands are also incorporating an increasingly casual tone into their marketing materials, leading to plenty of formerly unthinkable inclusions, such as “LOL” or “OMG!”

Other unique elements of informal emails include:

  • Abbreviations
  • Casual language or slang
  • Emojis or emoticons
  • More frequent exclamation points
  • Splashy visuals (e.g., embedded images or graphics)

The Structured Informal Email

That’s not to say you cannot use the tried-and-true formal letter format to write an informal email!

Plenty of casual content begins with a salutation and ends with a sign-off. However, in these cases, you’ll use a more intimate and personal tone. For example, where a formal email may begin with “Dear Work Colleague,” an informal email would use  a friendlier greeting — something like, “Hello, Dave!”

Similarly, the conclusion will differ. You’re more likely to see something like “Best Wishes, John” at the end of an informal email. You are, after all, addressing the recipient as a close friend.

The Subject Line Issue

A large warehouse. “Subject Lines: An Informal Way to Catch Readers.”

Another difference between formal and informal emails can be found before you open the email! The subject line is one of the most important parts of any email, conveying critical context before the greeting.

A Formal Email Subject Line

Most formal emails use clear, unadorned subject lines. Your business emails’ subject lines won’t often include cutesy previews or a clever opening line. A few random examples of my own inbox include:

  • Blog posts for next week completed and scheduled
  • Keyword Updates
  • Non-urgent request for consultation
  • Re: Updating consultation time

Notice how each example is straightforward and concise.

I’m not left to guess what the email is saying, nor am I expected to feel anything more than professional interest in the topic. These aren’t the flashy, clever openers of most marketing emails. They’re straightforward extensions of the main body of the email.

An Informal Email Subject Line

Comparatively, informal email examples often have more relaxed subject lines. In a professional setting, they should convey your message in a similarly upfront manner. However, it’s fine to find a fun way to say things, assuming the matter isn’t urgent.

In a formal environment, this sort of subject line is often reserved for special occasions. You’ll probably see more of them around the holidays or when your boss sends birthday wishes.

However, within an email marketing context, an informal email subject line can be (almost) anything it wants to be! To demonstrate, I’ve pulled a few random examples from my inbox:

Notice the relaxed tone and emoji use in these subject lines. While the tonal quality is a given, the emojis aren’t strictly necessary. Regardless, these informal email subjects act as a friendly greeting and interest hook.

That open-ended quality is one of the key elements of writing an informal email subject line. Beyond being a casual greeting, these words serve as a personal way to invite additional engagement. They aim to catch interest rather than convey a straightforward idea.

What to Know When Writing an Informal Email

Overlapping leaves. “Tips & Tricks: Informal Email Marketing.”

It all sounds simple, right?

Most people unconsciously use an informal email format every day. In fact, most people default to using a friendly tone when contacting others. It seems like something that comes naturally, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

You’ll need further assistance when writing informal email marketing. Otherwise, your down-to-earth tone may alienate your readers. Even the best regards of your most casual writer can backfire.

Most consumers don’t want professional emails. They want something informal and personal.


Being Overly Personal Is as Bad as Rigid Formality

Paradoxically, being overly personal is as bad as being a stick in the mud. You obviously shouldn’t be addressing Zoomers as “Dear Sir or Madame,” but you must limit the depth of your knowledge.

As a marketer, I know you have that information. I know you know the family composition of each recipient. You probably understand the buyer’s personal interests and have an easily accessible purchase history for every subscriber. However, the key to a successful informal email campaign is balance.

Adding too much familiarity borders on creepy. It puts forward an otherwise comfortably hidden message, that of consumer insights and in-depth analytics. In a marketing context, it’s a short leap from the “old friend” approach to looking like a digital stalker.

Don’t ❌ Write 🖊 Like ⚖ This☝

Similarly, there’s a thin line between informal writing and annoying writing.

While some brands can play off the emoji-heavy look for laughs, most can’t. More importantly, few brands have the deliverability and reputation to do so. Like the typo-ridden nonsense you probably see in your spam folder, “spammy” content does more harm than good. In particularly egregious cases, it may even torpedo your email marketing efforts by landing your brand on a blacklist!

Remember, you’re writing for a person.

Yes, you have a massive charcuterie board of insights. But you’re ultimately writing to catch consumers.

Find a Professional Partner

Ultimately, learning how to write an informal email is an essential part of any email marketing strategy. It’s the backbone of most campaigning, yet it’s a remarkably delicate art.

That’s why I founded The Email Marketers!

My hand-picked team of pros can write formal and informal email marketing. Together, we’ve tackled the needs of countless businesses and created content that goes beyond simple greetings and formalities.

More importantly, our professional writing team knows when and where to use informal and formal emails.

We’re an on-demand resource that treats every client like family, and we can’t wait to work with you! All you have to do is schedule a free strategy session. You’ll get a one-on-one meeting and a personalized plan for your brand.