Northwoods business owners: How to write emails that double your profit
It has always amazed me that copyrighters and marketers can spend days crafting great letters or offers that never get read. I once saw a very well done 11-page presentation by a bank that came in my mail.
It was wonderfully done and had great graphics inside with beautiful printing and well-chosen words that told a believable story. If I hadn’t been consulting for another bank at the time, however, I probably would have never opened it. There was nothing on the envelope that made me even a little bit interested. Like thousands of others who received this expensive promotion in the mail, I would have just tossed it in the circular file as “junk mail.”
For many of us today, emails are the modern day equivalent of junk mail. Perhaps it’s due to the nature of the business that I am in, but I get over 300 emails a day. Most of them go unread or even unopened.
Open rates differ by the type of business you are in, but usually vary from 20 to 40 percent. Some categories are below 10 percent and just a few are north of 50 percent. If you can change a word or two in your email title and raise your open rate from 20 percent to 40 percent, you have just doubled your chance to make sales. Think of your email title like a headline in a newspaper or magazine. If your customers are not interested in the headline, they will not read the article.
If you send out 3,000 emails to your customer list and get just 20 percent to open them, you can only hope to get a percentage of the 600 people opening your email to respond. If you only get a 5 percent response rate, that would generate 60 responses. If, with a better title, you got 50 percent of your recipients to open your email and you achieved the same 5 percent response rate, you would get 75 responses from the same offer just by having a more interesting title. If you make $10 profit per response, you can see that spending some extra time on the email title to get an extra $750 profit is probably well worth it. If you are sending out 30,000 or 300,000 emails each month, or week, you can see how this will make a huge difference over time.
People decide to open an email the same way they decide anything in life – with an instantaneous emotional reaction. If you provide cues or shortcuts that will tap into the emotional center of your recipients, you will make it easier for them to click and open your messages.
To do that, your subject line must pack a strong emotional punch to have a chance. You can think of what would trigger an emotional response by using these thought starters:
What makes your customers and prospects warm and fuzzy? Can you mention or personalize your message with the recipient’s own name, or use the name of someone or something they know, like and trust?
What are your customers afraid of? How would your viewers feel if they saw a notice from the IRS, a lawyer or the health department? Be truthful without being slanderous, but get their attention.
What are your customers really interested in or what do they want to learn more about? Headlines in this group are teasers that make them want to read more. Sometimes they’re incomplete, like “Did you hear the latest rumor?”
What would be a spectacular benefit that your customers would like to get? An example might be “Would you like to cut your heating bills by 30 percent?”
What is nice and timely? A common but effective approach is to use your customer’s information to send out timely notices on their birthday, anniversary, etc. Many organizations capture this information with frequent buyer programs or other sign-up programs like sweepstakes, etc. Having your mail list sorted by that customer interest, even if it is as simple as knowing and sorting your customers based on their birthday month, makes this sort of specialization easy.
This approach works just as well with your print ads, direct mail and promotional material. Can you recall tossing out lots of direct mail with envelopes filled with long letters and offers just because the envelope looked boring or like “junk mail?” What if the authors spent even a fraction of the time they took to craft the 10-page letter inside on the outer envelope? With an average in the mail cost of $.70 or more per addressed direct mail letter, getting four out of 100 people to open the offers instead of two means you could cut your cost in half and achieve the same effectiveness, or keep your investment the same and double your profits.
About the Author – Scott Francis is president of Topline Development LLC, a strategic marketing consulting group that provides new product development and start-up strategies, advertising and marketing consulting and sales support programs. To learn more about Topline Development LLC, visit ToplineDevelopment.com or contact Scott directly at Scott@ToplineDevelopment.com.