Watch Out! E-mail is not the same as paper mail
If your company is using e-mail to generate leads, make sales or drive people to your Web site, let me issue an important warning: If the person writing your e-mail letters is using the same techniques he or she uses when writing standard PAPER direct mail letters, you risk getting creamed!
Yes, direct mail and e-mail share many crucial similarities, but there are BIG differences too. And if you write both exactly the same way and expect great results, you could be in trouble.
Let me give you an example that makes this point clearly:
Some time ago, TigerSoftware sent Word Finder Plus customers a letter by regular mail that started this way:
"Dear Registered User: Consider this: No two words in the English language have precisely the same meaning. That's the beauty of the language -- and the challenge ... If you write letters, reports, proposals, speeches, ads, articles, essays -- anything -- this private offer on the all-new Word Finder Plus is being made especially for you."
Now, on paper, this lead-in could work just fine. But in e-mail, it would crash and burn.
Why? Because when prospects pick up a letter, they're at their desk in the office, or sitting comfortably at home. They're somewhat at ease, somewhat receptive and relaxed. They're in their "let's go through the mail" zone. Sure they throw out the junk mail. But they'll sometimes give a letter 10 seconds (that's a LOT of time!) to see what it's about. This means that a letter's lead-in paragraph, like the one above, at least has a shot.
But what about e-mail? Do people go through it the same way they go through paper letters? As they say in New York, "fuhGEDaboudit!" Their in-box is jammed -- and full of spam. They're under the gun and moving quickly. If someone starts an e-mail by telling them that "no two words in the English language have precisely the same meaning. That's the beauty of the language -- and the challenge ..." they're history!
E-mail copywriting demands that you grab people's attention quickly, then move IMMEDIATELY TO THE OFFER. Here's an example of an e-mail lead-in that I wrote for Intuit to promote Quicken Deluxe:
"Interested in tracking stocks and mutual funds?
Want to spend more time investing and less time searching for data?
You need INVESTOR INSIGHT!
Now you can try it absolutely FREE FOR 30 DAYS
without risk or obligation!"
See what I mean? In e-mail you have to jump in very quickly!
My advice? When you're creating an e-mail sales letter, remember to include the bottom-line benefits (the way you would in paper direct mail), but pare down the language and get to the point even more quickly!
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.