E-mail marketing is more than just getting past the spam filters. In fact, writing better e-mail copy only begins once the customer opens the e-mail.

Writing better e-mails is all about good writing for a busy reader. Unlike a novel or a letter to your mom from summer camp, readers of commercial marketing e-mails are very impatient—you probably have less than five seconds to get the reader’s attention. If you don’t get the reader’s attention, he or she might delete the e-mail or, worse, hit the spam button.

It starts with the first sentence of the lead paragraph. That first sentence needs to arouse the curiosity of the reader and make them want to read more. Often this means that the first sentence needs to be slightly controversial. Starting with a question is a good way to get things going for the reader. For example, another way to start this blog might have been “Ever read an e-mail that made you mad?” Did I get your attention? If so, read on.

With your curiosity now piqued, the first paragraph must deliver the goods: the four “Ws and an H”. The lead paragraph must say who, what, when, where, why, and how. This is extremely critical to e-mail marketing since the reader may read no further than that first paragraph. Yet, the ultimate goal is to explain to the reader the benefits of your offering which are placed in the middle of the e-mail or the next paragraph.

These benefits may be best presented as bullets:
– three to five bullets will suffice
– benefits must crisp, clear, and tangible
– they must be written in the reader’s language

Finally, the e-mail must have a call to action which is the next step for the reader to take. It can be a “buy now” link, an 800 number to dial, or a landing page to visit. This call to action must be direct and easy to do.

One more thing: only one subject per e-mail. Respect the reader’s busy schedule and get to the point but make it only one point.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2007 All rights reserved.

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