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When you mail to an opt-in list, the email message that you send can have a significant effect on the click through rates achieved. Our network sees a huge variation in click through rates – anything from 2% to 76%! Not all of this variation is due to the message of course – some of it is due to the product/service/web site on offer – but a good proportion IS certainly down to the message.
So how do you make the best use of a simple text email message to gain the maximum response?
First the basics:
What are you trying to achieve?
Before you write a word, carefully consider what you want the email to achieve. Normally the aim is to bring visitors to a web site. Sometimes there are secondary requirements. Sometimes you want to achieve a sale or sign up as a direct result of the email.
Whatever the aim, you should always keep it in mind at all times when writing your text. Keep focused.
Check Spelling and grammar
Poor spelling and poor grammar are an instant turn off. Compose your message in a word processor (using plain text of course) – and use the spell check on the word processor to check the text – then simply cut and paste into your order.
Some email software does not provide a line wrapping facility – so if you do not include carriage returns in the text – the recipient simply sees a long line of text.
Keep the line length to 80 characters or less and use a ‘hard’ carriage return (press the return key) at the end of each line rather than allowing the software to wrap the line.
DO NOT USE ALL CAPS – IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING AND IS HARD TO READ.
The sentence above should illustrate the point. OCCASIONAL use of caps to emphasize a word – or possibly a header – is ok. Put the whole message in caps, and you come across as a net newbie – not good for sales.
Keep paragraphs short. Long paragraphs of plain text are hard to read and look boring. Short paragraphs get read!
In general, aim to keep your message as short as possible – while getting the necessary message across. AdScholar imposes no maximum on the number of lines that you can include in an email, the maximum is imposed by the readers interest threshold.
There are at least three sets of circumstance where a longer message can be used:
An ‘email only’ ad, where there is no web site to visit. Here the whole sales pitch has to be contained within the email. This naturally makes for a longer message – but even in these circumstances, unless you write like Steven King, you are still best to keep the message as short as you can. Don’t waste your prospects time with your ‘eloquence’.
If you do not have the time to make changes to a site, or perhaps you do not have editorial control of the pages you are advertising, there is a case for using more text in the email.
In this instance you will use the email as a guide to the site, drawing the readers attention to the parts of the site and the offer that you want to emphasize.
Once your prospect is talking to you, you can say a bit more!
“Aye there’s the rub” as Shakespeare said. What should the content of your email be? Well, first lets look at some general rules:
Sell the benefit of visiting your site. What will they find out? What can they gain by visiting?
Picture your customer – who are they? how old? where do they live? Then write to that one person!
Gain your visitors trust – Your claims should be believable. Write factually, and tell the truth. Make sure your site looks professional.
Don’t tell the whole story in the first line! If your headline tells them the core of what’s on offer – will anyone bother to read the detail that makes the offer exciting? Write an enticing first line not a summary.
Your first sentence should be short. Don’t tax your reader early on.
Focus your email. Don’t ramble.
The next thing to decide is the general style of the email. This very much depends on the aim, but also on the product/service that you are promoting. One of the more successful email ads that I have seen used curiosity as a pull. It read thus:
Subject: What is MLife?
What is MLife?
Find out at http://www.mlife.com/
I hope you enjoy your visit.
…and was signed off with the CEO’s name. This ad pulled over 35% visits. Can you resist visiting to find out what it is? By the way, ending the email with the name of the person sending it, and some form of contact method (email or telephone) always helps to build trust – which boosts response.
So curiosity is a good pull, but only useable in certain circumstances. What other emotions can be used to increase response?
Fear – Fear of missing out on something (that’s why special offers with time limits work better), or actual fear (“Is your house safe?”, “What if you can’t support your family?”). Fear always tends to pull well – if it’s a believable threat!
Greed – Offering something for nothing, special offers, bargains, low prices – all rely on greed for success. In some ways this is a harder emotion to work on – as the ‘triggers’ can vary greatly between people. Sometimes even ‘free’ is not cheap enough!
Involvement – take people into your confidence. Involve them in your sales effort – “We think this product is right for you – please take a look and tell us what you think”.
Truth – be totally up front about WHY your product is low cost – “We bought too much stock – now Christmas is over we can’t sell it – we are offering this once in a lifetime price to save our cash flow”. Opening your heart to your customer can forge very good relationships through building on trust. DON’T ABUSE THIS. If you use this line once – and then use it again later, and it is seen by some of your original customers…..the end.
You can think of other variations on this – but the key is to adopt a theme that supports your aim – and then use that theme throughout your email ad.
The final point on content has already been touched on. Add a personal touch to the email. Give a name that the reader can use. Openly give contact information. Sometimes writing the whole email from a personal perspective can work extremely well.
In summary – Keep it as short as possible, No spelling mistakes, write to a theme and write to the person you visualize as your target. Do all of the above, and you will see your response rates increase.