Creative Corner - The Trouble With E-Mail (1,091 words)
• Give up on hard-sell tactics. All those bait-and-switch techniques, bogus sweepstakes and "too good to be true" offers stopped working in direct marketing years ago, and they really don't work online either. While over-sell copy might generate some curiosity response, it's not going to help your credibility in building customers for the long term.
• E-mails are written by real people and should sound that way. It's off-putting when an e-mail sounds so corporate and official that it has absolutely no human element. If you put forth a real personality you'll be more engaging, and prospects and customers will be more interested in what you have to say. People want to talk to people. Language online needs to be appropriately friendly, not stilted. Your language must really reflect your target audience. The tone and voice you use with a particular group should be consistent.
• The subject line is similar to the outer envelope in direct mail, and the point of this copy is to get the reader interested enough to open the package. But the word "FREE" doesn't seem to work on e-mail subject lines. I think readers anticipate a scam, and many corporate firewalls are blocking messages with the word "FREE" because they know these messages are just server-clogging advertisements.
• Don't make your e-mails too long. Most people have very little time and attention for your e-mail message, so keep it short and sweet.
• One of the most deceptive aspects of e-mail is that people are inclined to think that writing online is the same as writing off-line. Absolutely not.
Off-line, our purpose is to persuade, through benefits and an irresistible offer, that the customer needs to buy this particular product or service … now. Online, it's really all about maintaining and building a relationship. Online writing should be much more informational in tone with less hype—a much softer and more down-to-earth sell.