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3 Ways To Get Your Email Opened And Read

By Russ Phelps,

As you may know by now, the battle these days in the "email game" is to get

your email message opened and read. Here are three ways to "stack the

marketing deck" in your favor. If you follow these three formulas, you'll

enjoy greater response, sales and profits!

I know, because my clients and I are using these tested formulas right now to

do just that!

If you're like most people, you can barely keep up with the email flooding

your mailbox on a daily basis.

The fact is, most people sort through their email by just looking at the

"Subject" heading. Then, they often DELETE the email without reading it!

(Haven't you done this yourself?)

If the "Subject" heading doesn't grab them by the brain, arouse their

interest and curiosity, then your precious email message will often get

DELETED without being read…

For education purposes, here's the theory behind what I am saying. (By the

way, the purpose of my "Ad Copy Tips" is to not only to tell you what's

working, and what to do, but also to explain "why" it works based on timeless

direct marketing principles, strategy and tactics. That way, you not only

get hot tips you can put to work right away in your business, but you also

Miilllliion Dollllar Emaiills

© 2001 Surefire Marketing, Inc.

get a training session in savvy marketing and advertising.)

Savvy internet marketers know that they must apply timeless direct marketing

principles, strategy and tactics to their internet marketing in order to be

effective. Here's how profitable direct marketing applies to email marketing

on the internet.

1) Think of your email "Subject" line as the teaser copy on the envelope of a

direct mail piece. Envelope teaser copy has one over-riding purpose - to get

the envelope opened! And the purpose of your email "Subject" line is to get

the email opened!

2) Think of the email "Subject" line as the headline on a sales letter. The

purpose of the headline is to make the prospect read the letter. And the

purpose of the "Subject" line of your email is to get the prospect to open

the email and read it!

Keeping that in mind, let's move on. Simply apply the principles of writing

good teaser copy and headlines to the art and science of writing good email

"Subject" lines.

Here's how:

1) Put the offer in the subject line. For example, here's one I just wrote

for an office products company:

1000 Address Labels Only $12.99 - Save $6.00!

Clear as a bell, ain't it?

The key is to boil down your offer to the 60 or so characters you have

available in your Subject line. Do whatever it takes! Test different ways

to word your offer. If it hits them in the head like a bull's eye, they'll

open your email to find out how to take advantage of your offer.

2) Put your web site URL, link, response code or affiliate link code in the

Subject line, with a "call to action." For example:

Check out

Simple, isn't it? The truth is, if your wordy and windy email message ends

with a call to action that sends them to the same place, why not put it up

front in the Subject line? Chances are, many readers will go there directly

from the Subject line without even opening the email, just to see what's

going on! Mission accomplished!

Miilllliion Dollllar Emaiills

© 2001 Surefire Marketing, Inc.

Then again, some will open the email to find the "reasons why" you want them

to go there! And, if you email sales message does the job well, THEN they

will go where you want them to go!

3) Apply the "Yellow Post-It Note/Tearsheet Mailing" technique. Did you

ever get one of these in your snail mail box? It's a direct mail piece that

looks like a newspaper or magazine article, with a yellow post-it note that

says something like:

"Bubba - get this! It's great! J"

Well, these direct mail pieces are VERY profitable! I know - I've

written dozens of them, and my clients have mailed millions of them, thus

raking in much cash! (In fact, I was featured in the book "Million Dollar

Ads, Sales Letters And Marketing Pieces" on this very topic!) Now, here's

how to apply this to email Subject lines:

For personalized email to your house list:

David - Read this now - It's Great! From Russ


Angie - go to - new stuff!

For opt-in email, non-personalized or "cold" email that is NOT spam:

Go to - It's Great! (From J)

Well, dear reader, does this get your creative juices flowing? If so, GREAT!

Now think: How would you write an email subject line for your business, in

each of these three styles?

Now some homework: Write at least one email Subject line in each of the

three styles outlined above. Then test it against what you are doing now -

or use it to start a new project.

Test and compare many different approaches. Roll out with the winners.

And then keep testing new Subject lines and go for a breakthrough!

It's do-able! I know! My clients and I are doing it right now!

Now go thou and do likewise.

And let me know what happens, OK?

Miilllliion Dollllar Emaiills

© 2001 Surefire Marketing, Inc.

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Russ Phelps is a master copy writer and marketing consultant, with more than

600 clients nationwide since 1978 - including Fortune 500 companies and many

smaller businesses and entrepreneurs. He has written thousands of marketing

pieces for direct mail, print, publicity, Internet, email marketing, TV,

radio, back-end marketing, ancillary marketing and joint ventures. You can find

him at or call him at (858)831-1668

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Email Copy Tips

When writing your email copy throw everything you learned in English 101 out the


1. Personalize

There’s nothing better for a person to see their name. Use personalization in the subject

line and inside the body of the email (but don’t overdo it so it looks hokey).

2. Write just like you talk

Use plain, easy to understand English. Nobody cares if you can use xenophobia and

ostentatious in a sentence. Write almost like you’re talking to a buddy over a beer. So that

means use contractions. Be friendly and personable in your writing.

3. Put passion into your email

Since you won’t have the luxury of seeing your prospect eye-to-eye to gauge their

reactions you need to put extra passion into your message. Even if you think you are

overdoing it when you write, your letter will end understated when it gets read. Get


4. Write to one person

Try to think of the ideal prospect as you are writing and make the message just for them.

Even if your web site will be read by thousands of people each day -- every person will

read it one at a time. Use “you” and “your” liberally. Focus on them, not yourself.

5. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and simple.


Miilllliion Dollllar Emaiills

© 2001 Surefire Marketing, Inc.

Sentences (and even paragraphs) can even be one word like that last one. And paragraphs

should be no more than 4 or 5 lines. You want your email to look easy to read with a lot

of white space. Make it inviting. Long blocks of words are scary. Paragraph breaks do not

need to be determined by content.

6. Use plenty of compelling subheads

Subheads should be like mini-headlines. Use them to break up large bodies of text and to

bring people back into the body of the letter.

A lot of people will scan your email so you need to make you subheads give a complete

selling message by themselves. Also, be sure to use different graphic embellishments.

7. Eliminate excess wording

Simplify. Convey your message in a clear and concise manner -- but remember that

doesn’t mean keep it short. You need to ruthlessly edit your email for flow.

8. Use action verbs whenever possible

If you see too many “as”, “is”, “was” or “were” replace them. Sentences using action

verbs are more powerful.

When writing your email you want it clear enough so any 6th grader could understand it.

Now you probably think your prospects are a lot smarter than 6th graders but nobody has

time anymore to sit down and figure out what you’re trying to say -- so keep your writing

simple and straightforward.

In fact, to help you even more with this important aspect of email marketing, I’m

reprinting several articles here:

How A Hidden Psychological 'TRIGGER' Makes

Prospects Practically Line Up and Beg To Do

Business With You

By Yanik Silver of

Do you remember the stupid beer commercial a few years back with the tagline "Why

Ask Why?" Well, completely unknown to the ad agency -- they had almost stumbled onto

a breakthrough marketing concept.

Telling people the reason why you are doing something is one of the most powerful

influencers of human behavior.

Miilllliion Dollllar Emaiills

© 2001 Surefire Marketing, Inc.

Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. in his book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" talks about

an experiment by Harvard social psychologist, Ellen Langer, that concluded people like

to have a reason for what they do.

Her experiment consisted of people waiting in line to use a library copy machine and

then having experimenters ask to get ahead in line. The first excuse used was "Excuse

me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?" This

request coupled with a reason was successful 94% of the time. However when the

experimenter made a request only: "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox

machine?" this request was only granted 60% of the time. A significant drop.

Okay now for the shocker.


t may seem like the difference between those two requests was the additional

information of "because I'm in a rush", but that's just not the case. Because in a third

experimenter, the experimenter asks "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the

Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?" There's no reason mentioned or

new information presented, just the words "because". This time a full 93% of the people

said yes simply due to the word 'BECAUSE'! And it didn't even matter that there was no

reason given. Just the word because triggered a magic response.

Using this psychological 'trigger' can massively increase your Marketing success.

Here's an example: John E. Powers, one of the top copywriters in the 1900's, wrote this

ad for a Pittsburgh department store in severe financial trouble:

"We are bankrupt. We owe $125,000 more than we can pay, and this announcement will

bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and *buy* tomorrow, we shall

have the money to meet them. If not, we shall go to the wall."


nstead of yelling 'SALE' like so many other stores would, there's a legitimate reason

given why people should spend their money at this store. And this ad was said to be

responsible for saving the store. Another ad written by Powers, for a different merchant,

proclaimed "We have a lot of rotten raincoats we want to get rid of." This sold out the

entire inventory of raincoats by the next morning.

Max Sackheim, famous for the long-running ad "Do You Make These Mistakes In

English" and originator of the book-of-the-month concept, says this: "Whenever you

make a claim or special offer in your advertising, come up with an honest reason why,

and then state it sincerely. You'll sell many more products this way."

And this powerful strategy works just as well today.

Using this secret weapon for a medical equipment company, I helped them produce a

massive 1,073% return on investment simply using "reason-why" copy.

The premise was how can we sell a product for the incredibly low price of only $477?

(Regularly this product sells for about $695 - $895.) Then the ad went on to explain that

the reason why the price was so low was because the manufacturer wanted to gain

market share and get nurses and doctors accustomed to using their product. It was a

huge winner and a big money-maker for the client.

Miilllliion Dollllar Emaiills

© 2001 Surefire Marketing, Inc.

So how can you apply all of this to your business? Easy. Let's say you have a slow time

of year and you want to increase your business during this period. Well, write a simple

letter to your customers making a special offer, only good during your slow period.

Maybe you'll throw in an extra free bonus, an extra service, or a special discount simply

because it is your "slow time" and you need to pay your staff anyway.

Let people in "behind the scenes" at your company...

* Are you overstocked on merchandise because for some reason customers only want

the deluxe widget - but you ordered tons of the basic one?

* Did you have a flood and you need to liquidate (pardon the pun) your inventory?

* Do you need to raise cash so you can pay for your nose job?

Whatever the reason. Tell them the truth. For some reason everyone wants to be

mysterious about their business. If you're lowering the price nobody thinks you're doing it

just because you're "such a nice guy". So let people in the reason why.


know this probably goes against every grain of business sense, but I promise if you

give people a good, believable reason why they'll respond with open wallets.

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How Much Is One Good Sales Letter Worth To Your Business?

Yanik Silver has created the ultimate no-brainer, fill-in-the-blank sales letter

writing resource. In less than 3 minutes you can create a winning letter

guaranteed to sell your product or service...WITHOUT WRITING! Check out:

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