4 Copywriting Tips That Work in Both Direct Mail and E-mail
Much is made of how different the direct mail and e-mail channels are - and the oft-repeated recommendation is to use both in a well-coordinated multichannel campaign. (An Aug. 20, 2008 Tipline article that I wrote, entitled "6 Steps to Improving Both E-mail and DM Content," begins with that premise, in fact.) However, not as much is discussed when it comes to their key similarities, especially from a copywriter's perspective. Finding these similarities can help get a campaign off on the right, truly coordinated foot.
I spoke about such similarities with famed copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis, author of "Creative Rules for the 21st Century - the Richest Resource of Copywriting Secrets for Today's Market" and president of Lewis Enterprises in Pompano Beach, Fla.
1. The E-mail Subject Line May Be Your Envelope Teaser
The first example that Lewis comes up with involves the e-mail subject line and the teaser that many outer envelopes use. "There might be a subject line that mirrors effective envelope copy, drawing the reader into the message," he describes.
2. Subheads Work in Both Mediums
Subheads are a staple of the long letter, but they can play an equally valuable role in e-mail that still aims to deliver longer content. "They break the text into chewable bites," explains Lewis, who does warn that if subheads unmask the message as a bald sales pitch, then shorter paragraphs bring better response than the subhead approach.
3. Follow the Lead!
"The lead paragraph? That's more significant than all the rest of the message," states Lewis, who underscores that by saying the lead paragraph means just as much in an e-mail as it does in a direct mail letter. While the outer envelope and e-mail subject line are doors that have to be opened first, you either hook the prospect or you don't with that lead.
4. Use an Expiration Date
The expiration date has long been a direct mail tactic to speed up response, or sometimes simply push a prospect to respond in the first place. Turns out that such a tactic is equally valid in the fast-speed universe of e-mail. "An expiration date that seems logical and genuine will work in both channels," suggests Lewis, who emphasizes that the expiration date must seem necessary in order to truly work in e-mail.