9 Writing Tips for Successful E-Mail Marketing

A few months ago, I wrote a professional guide for the H-S Learning Series entitled "101 Writing Tips for Successful E-Mail Marketing." Since that time, I've worked on dozens of highly successful projects and have discovered some additional tips for boosting response. Like these:

  1. Ask a question in the subject line.

    This almost always gets the e-mail opened. I suspect that is because questions are so much a part of everyday e-mail between friends and colleagues. It's a natural way to begin a conversation. Just be sure your question is honest and straightforward – not cryptic, hyped, or suspicious.

  2. Write a letter, not an ad.

    With the growing use of graphics in e-mail, a lot of marketers are experimenting with formats that look more like an ad than a personal message. The fact is, an e-mail "ad" is more likely to be deleted on sight than one that appears to be a personal message – even if that message is obviously promotional.

  3. Don't be afraid to go long.

    In the early days of e-mail marketing, short copy was the rule. But this is changing. For some offers, at least, longer copy that tells a more complete story is doing better. This is especially true when a transaction such as a subscription or sign-up is involved.

  4. Put your hyperlink at the beginning, middle, and end.

    Most click-thru responses will come from the hyperlink at the top, bottom, and middle of your e-mail message – in that order. A lot of marketers forget the middle hyperlink. Don't. Your response rates will suffer.

  5. Show a picture.

    For graphics-enhanced e-mail, consider including a picture of your product. This will tend to lift response. Of course, if your product is intangible, you'll have to think of an interesting way to present it as an image. But, trust me, it's worth the effort.

  6. Link the images.

    If your e-mail contains pictures and other graphics, be sure to hyperlink them. You'll be surprised at how many prospects will click on them to respond.

  7. Use drop-text images.

    A drop-text is a text message that appears when your curser hovers over a graphic. This is common on web pages. In e-mail, this technique works like a picture caption or sidebar that displays as your prospect interacts. Very powerful.

  8. Bribes work.

    An offer of free shipping, a discount, an invitation, or a free gift is extremely effective in e-mail marketing. For my money (and that of my clients), information premiums – white papers, guides, checklists, downloads – work best.

  9. Add a toll-free number.

    Most prospects will click thru and respond to your offer online. But some prefer to call and speak with someone live. A toll-free number will often boost response.

[Steve Slaunwhite is an award-winning copywriter with 19 years experience in B2B and direct marketing. He is the author of several books, including "Start and Run a Copywriting Business" (Self-Counsel Press.) Steve can be reached at www.steveslaunwhite.com.]

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Published: January 19, 2004

1 Response to “9 Writing Tips for Successful E-Mail Marketing”

  1. I am now studying Steve's course onf writing emails. IT IS GREAT! Even though I am an educated former professor of English, emphasizing writing, I find that Steve's approach works. He repeats his points 2 or 3 times before continuing. Clearly! As if addressing a Grade schooler. No personal crap! All business. His style WORKS!His style of teaching works for me! If a subject interests me, and Steve wrote it, I will buy it! Richard Lee Van Der Voort, M.A.

    Your Writer in Residence

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