According to renowned copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis, two factors have severely damaged the effectiveness and pulling power of both e-mail and direct mail: 1) phony or duplicitous offers; and 2) national and personal economic fears.
In his Feb. 26 webinar with Inside Direct Mail, "Crafting Content That Works in E-mail and Direct Mail", Lewis discussed message structuring for direct mail and e-mail that can overcome this damage by separating effective direct marketing from speculative guesswork.
For example, he shared the simple rules for word use that help a mailing or e-mail be taken seriously by a prospect; he also showed how to reassure the recipient, diminishing hesitancy based on obvious or subliminal dread of wasting money or making a commitment.
Here are some smart questions from attendees that Lewis answered after the session:
Q: What's your favorite envelope teaser style?
HGL: My personal favorite is beginning the letter, in a typewriter font, stopping short of a complete thought and adding … "(CONTINUED INSIDE)."
Q: What is the right balance of addressing economic conditions without creating fear?
HGL: I see nothing wrong with creating fear, provided we offer a solution.
Q: How many times is too many to repeat a theme in an e-mail? For example, the subject line, preheader message, intro, graphic, alt tag and footer—that's seven possible repetitions.
HGL: No single answer exists. It depends on what else is in the message. I'd settle for subject line, first sentence of text and end reference.
Q: Do you have some best practice advice for e-mail subject lines?
HGL: Avoid self-stroking. Be certain the subject line is relevant for the recipient.
Q: How do you craft an effective call to action with high-end services that don't lend themselves to immediate price points or consumer product-based words?
HGL: Position yourself as the ultimate helpful source, beyond any internal capability. And promise exclusivity.