Top 10 Tips to Writing Email That Sells

Those of you who popped your heads in the door last week are now thoroughly convinced that targeted email is the ticket to e-tailer bliss.

But how do you write email that cuts cleanly through the mumbo jumbo of mass marketing and enhances customer relations, while also boosting sales? Follow these top 10 tips to writing email that sells, and watch your response rates grow faster than a Paul Shaffer retort.

10. Be yourself. Remember the old adage “Don’t talk to strangers.” People live by those words. Introduce yourself, and your company, right away. Existing customers will greet you like an old friend, while potential shoppers won’t be forced to wonder if you are a shady scam artist.

9. Be clear and concise. What exactly are you offering, anyway? A sale on neon pink XXL gloves? Buy one Beanie Baby get the second at half-price? Free Ginsu knife in exchange for completing a marketing survey? Guessing games aren’t much fun and rarely lead to a sale. State your offer up front and without (too much) hype.

8. Be available. Can I get it express mail? What’s your return policy? Even when you address such questions up-front in your offer, these questions and others are bound to be asked. Let your customer know someone is minding the shop. Make it clear how and where to get more information.

7. Be a clock watcher. Is this an ACT NOW situation or is the offer good indefinitely? Include this information in your pitch. It is tempting to call for immediate action. However, if you go that route, be certain you don’t make the same offer twice. Remember, no one believed the e-tailer who cried wolf.

6. Be show AND substance. A little chic goes a long way toward keeping your customers interested. And lively writing never goes out of style. However, a good deal and flawless customer service is certain to linger longer than even the most eloquent turn of phrase.

5. Pass Go. Collect $200. The customer is sold on your offer. Now don’t mess up the actual sale by forcing Bob Buyer to hunt down details on how to give up his hard-earned cash. List purchase price and payment terms, plus delivery method and time, in an obvious location and in easy-to-understand terms.

4. Be an editor. You’ve heard it before: Your email reflects upon you. Your customer needs to know he is buying from the best. Proofread. Break up run-on sentences. Use simple language. Catchy phrases don’t make up for sloppy punctuation and typos. And if you can’t write, hire someone who can.

3. Keep it clean. I’m not talking language here. But unless you are marketing to an exclusively adult audience, I’d stick to puritan wording. Avoid the temptation to be too sophisticated in your design. Many systems still won’t support fancy formatting. Plus, most of it gets lost on the trip through the network anyway. Keep it easy on the eye with lots of line breaks and white space.

2. Get to the point. According to Jupiter Communications research, only 15 percent of web users read all email messages in their entirety. More than half (51.2 percent) read the first few sentences and then decide whether or not to continue. Forcing your customer to wade through paragraphs of superfluous information is the quickest route to the delete key and to the death of a sale.

And the number one way to write email that sells (drum roll, please):

1. Target your message to the right audience. Never forget what you are selling and to whom you are selling it. Remember: Even the most well-crafted pitch is worthless if it’s delivered to someone who doesn’t want it.

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