Although I would not recommend recycling traditional direct mail copy as the Internet is a completely new medium, the fundamentals of selling are still the same. For this reason, I still think it is worth noting the principals regarding writing a good sales letter, and thus would recommend looking at this paper on our website: How to write good marketing letters This said, there are a number of other things to consider when writing email copy. Here are what I consider the top 10:
The subject is the headline.
Write a succinct subject “headline” – three to five words. Your subject determines whether your email gets read or not. Tricky headlines (not related to your message) don’t work. Internet users are smart and they know exactly what they want. They resent being tricked. It’s a tough way to start a relationship. The subject line is the door opener, so use those 3-5 words to grab the reader’s attention.
Make it personal.
It’s good to let people know that you are interested in them as an individual, and can relate to their situation, so as a minimum use a personal salutation as an opener (eg Hi John rather than Hi There or Dear subscriber). Also, use whatever you know about them to personalise the message. If they have bought from you before, or made an enquiry but not bought make reference to that. Good emailing systems will allow you to merge text specific to an individual from your email database, so use that facility.
Get to the point.
Keep it short and simple. Don’t drone on and on for several paragraphs…or pages. People on the Internet want information quickly and clearly. Paragraphs should be no more than four to six lines. Keep total length under 300 words. And remember, unlike traditional mail, you don’t have to cover everything in the email. Keep the email punchy & to the point then use ‘read more’ links through to your website. This way you can track what people are interested in.
Give them an incentive to act.
Provide a reason to buy or act NOW. People on the Internet tend to have short attention spans. They’re in a hurry. Give them a compelling reason to visit your site or buy NOW (limited-time offer, free trial, free shipping, contest, discount, etc.).
Include a call to action.
Tell people what you want them to do. Don’t leave them wondering what to do next. Point them to your “most desired action” Otherwise they may just surf around and forget what they’re trying to accomplish.
Use your Web site.
Drive people to your Web site. Don’t try to close the sale in the email. You want people to have (and ask) more questions. Questions require interaction, and interaction promotes relationships.One key purpose of your email should be to drive people to your website.
Few (if any) customers worth having are interested in a “one night stand.” Have a long-term relationship objective in mind. Listen to your customers. Treat them like you’d like to be treated. Just because they don’t buy now, doesn’t mean they are not interested. Even if they don’t buy, your email should strengthen your relationship with them.
Do what you say. Put your hands and feet where your mouth is. If you make an offer, make sure you deliver. It’s an ever increasingly small world, remember.
People love to get something for nothing, so offering free information, advice or a promotional offer that will further engage with your audience can be a great option. However in doing this remember point 8. If you are not willing to follow through, don’t make the offer.
Make it Sustainable
Marketing is a process, and to be effective, an email campaign should be sustainable. There is little point in doing one-off email, so make your email process is ongoing. If it takes you a week to put together every email, you are not likely to be able to get them out regularly. This is one reason why Blogs & emails work so well together. If you regularly post interesting items to your blog, these can often be adapted as email copy.