The Power of Getting Personal

When in doubt, try a letter was a main point of Karen’s presentation at the recent ClickZ E-Mail Strategies event. Letters tend to work, as Karen illustrated with a number of case studies of marketing letters that have broken campaign response records.

Letter writing is an art. Which is why top companies use direct marketing copywriters for their email and direct mail letters. You can’t just string a lot of business-to-business (B2B) marketing jargon together and put a “Dear” in front of it to make it a letter.

A sales letter is a personal communication that must quickly capture the reader’s attention in the first line and bring her to the compelling conclusion, I’ve just got to do this/have this… now!

We saw a recent example of the “power of getting personal” we’d like to share with you.

25 Percent Response From a Personal “Note”

MuseCube is a new portfolio-hosting service for artists, photographers, and models. In a little over two months, the company has managed to capture roughly 30 percent of its largest competitor’s market share, largely through the success of an email campaign that yielded a 25 percent response rate.

Here’s a sample of a letter to photographers written by Geoffrey V. Brown, MuseCube’s president. It’s really striking in its simplicity and personal tone:


I saw your photography online, and I just wanted to drop a note/personal invitation. I run the website MuseCube (; we are a free portfolio hosting service and talent directory.

Being a photographer myself, I know the downfalls and shortcomings of many of the portfolio/model listing sites on the internet today — having used them myself. With this mind, we are striving to build the most reliable, responsive and top-quality model/photographer listing site.

Presently, we have 2800 portfolios listed on our site, about 80% of which are models added within the last month.

Anyway, I wanted to invite you to stop by the site and see what we have to offer. If you’d like, feel free to post a listing on our site. It’s free, and I think you will be pleased with the service that we are providing. I also think that you would be a great addition to our site….

Why It Works

Let’s look at the note paragraph by paragraph to see why this works so well:

  • Paragraph 1. Begins with a really personal statement, “I saw your photography online, and I just wanted to drop a note/personal invitation.” It’s flattering and intriguing and acknowledges the reader as a colleague.

  • Paragraph 2. “Being a photographer myself…” establishes a peer relationship. The rest of the paragraph focuses on the “pain point” in the industry and offers a solution.
  • Paragraph 3. Establishes credibility.
  • Paragraph 4. Creates a call to action, without sounding like a typical email offer. The last sentence, “I also think that you would be a great addition to our site,” again flatters the reader in a collegial, believable way.

A similar letter was sent to models. Our guess is they respond to flattery even more!

The Rest of the Story

Presently, MuseCube receives upward of 92,000 views and nearly 500,000 hits per day. Other efforts in addition to email have contributed to its success:

  • Aggressive link exchange gets photographers and models to add MuseCube’s link to their sites. The result is 977 indexed inbound links, per Google.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) was enhanced due to its Google page ranking, resulting from the link exchange efforts.
  • Automated follow-up systems trigger email contact with users who may have had trouble with the site. These had a 70 percent open rate.

MuseCube also carefully analyzed its competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and strategically developed its site in response. On many competitive sites, portfolios aren’t updated regularly, so the company launched the “MuseRate” system as an incentive for photographers and models to keep portfolio information current. Basically, it allows visitors to sort searches based on a ranking system that includes metrics such as portfolio “freshness” and the talents’ responsiveness to referrals and work opportunities. An e-newsletter is in the works.

An added benefit of MuseCube’s popularity is attracting more Web design and marketing projects to the company. Photographers and models look to MuseCube to design their portfolios.

Next time you sit down to write an email, get personal. Think of an actual person who meets your “best customer profile,” then jot him a note. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes. And you’ll probably get a much better response.

Summer is a great time to look back on all the hard work you’ve done this year — and share it with ClickZ readers. Send you success stories, tips, and techniques to Karen.

Don’t miss ClickZ’s Weblog Business Strategies in Boston, June 9-10.

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