Great E-mails: The Key to Increasing Sales

Jeannette de Beauvoir


Millions of e-mails are whirling around the globe every moment of every day, but none of these e-mails are going to do a marketer any good if they can’t be backed up with a clear and compelling call to action. That call, along with myriad other communication issues, is the domain of the copywriter. A good copywriter has a flair for writing content that’s inviting to share and link to. She needs to have top-notch writing skills for her content to be clear and optimized and convert readers to buyers. That’s why a copywriter is a vital member of any serious marketing team.

I know that you’ve probably received e-mails about so-called copywriting secrets, and you may have been tempted by some of them. But are there really secrets to knowing how to create an e-mail that gets results?

There definitely are components to good e-mails, but the secret part usually has to do with someone telling you how to do something that they don’t themselves do very well. (Let’s face it, if they actually made millions, why are they trying to get your money to teach you their secret? Why aren’t they by a pool somewhere, sipping on a drink with little umbrellas in it?)

If there’s a secret at all, it’s about constantly improving your marketing efforts. Let’s face it, I look back at copy I wrote years ago (and sometimes even months ago) and I cringe, because I could write it so much better now. And if you look at past copy and don’t cringe, then that tells you something about yourself – that you’re not learning and changing and getting better at your craft. The online marketing space is constantly changing, and we need to be able to be flexible to speak to today’s customer needs.

Consumers are far more sophisticated than ever before. The snake-oil salesman could count on the incredulity of his audience; our audience is online, uses Google and Facebook and Twitter, talks to others in social networks, reads blogs and compares prices. Selling is selling is selling… but the way we sell has to adapt to new contexts and new environments. I will say that some things stay the same, and the fundamental one is the call to action.

That starts with a great subject line, because these 50 characters can make or break sales! Here are some suggestions for constantly improving your e-mail subject lines.

  • Reading newspaper headlines will help you see how to encapsulate a lot of story into a very few words. Just like a headline, an e-mail message should clearly state what is in fact in the e-mail.
  • Secondly, there’s no secret formula. E-mail subject lines are all about campaigns, and should be targeting that campaign and no other. Make sure that your “from” line is your company name, but you may want to use that name, or the name of the newsletter, in the subject line as well to make it stand out.
  • Always personalize your e-mails; I’ve never understood why this works, but it does.
  • Put in a little urgency – remember those TV infomercials? Call in the next two minutes and you’ll receive? Works here too.
  • List key information first, and test. Mailchimp did a study of best and worst subject lines; you might want to check them out!

Okay, so now I have a great campaign-specific, personalized e-mail subject line. What does the e-mail itself need to do?

In the marketing world, AIDA is an acronym for:

Attention – Get them to open the e-mail

Interest – Introduce the e-mail well. Give them something interesting to read so they don’t hit delete right away

Desire – Build motivation in the body of the e-mail

Action – Drive the reader to click your link

So Attention is your e-mail subject line. Let’s look at Interest and Desire. You need to make this sales pitch be about them, not you. It’s not what you have on offer, but what need they have that you can fulfill.

Instead of your products and all the fantastic things you can sell, write about your list members problems and how to solve them. Your products and services can be introduced as part of that solution.

Just as the subject line is there to get the e-mail open, your intro needs to do one job: get them to read the rest of the e-mail. The introduction is a landing strip that leads to the body of the e-mail. Tell a story, capture some interest, build a mystery, whatever it takes to make your reader stop thinking about what is for lunch and take notice of what you have to say. It doesn’t need to be pushy; in fact, conversational works best.

And then on to Action – again, don’t be pushy. Make the call to action clear: click here, fill this out, press this button; but also make sure that it answers the problem you’ve set up in your e-mail.

Consider what your most wanted response will be. Create a compelling subject line that invites opening, Write your e-mail content to build up motivation. Make your call to action clear and easy. And test – track your responses to figure out what worked and what didn’t. That’s the best way to great e-mails…and great sales!

 Jeannette de Beauvoir has provided content consultation and business/marketing writing to companies worldwide since 1990. She currently works with eWayDirect of Southport, Conn.

Jeannette de Beauvoir has provided content consultation and business/marketing writing to companies worldwide since 1990. She currently works with eWayDirect of Southport, Conn.