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Delete-Proof Email: 6 Strategies that Boost Results

Win the race for the inbox and generate more revenue

Email is white-hot right now. The last thing companies want is for it to start a fire in prospects' trash by getting deleted. Herschell Gordon Lewis has made a career of avoiding the "delete" button and is in the Direct Marketing hall of Fame for his efforts. He offers six rules marketers should live by to maximize results.

  1. Make image secondary to offers
    Email arrives unannounced and must communicate a logical, quickly absorbed and obvious reason for prospects to respond immediately.

    So it's best to tailor designs to fit the copy, not the other way around. Cleanliness in email design doesn't count as much as it does on a website where prospects see the company out.

    Tip: If an email flops, start with surgery on the "from" and "subject" lines to make the offer and benefit more clear.


  2. Appeal to emotion over intellect
    An offer that appeals to prospects' emotions will always outperform a more intellectual offer.

    Example: A prospect who reads, "How businesses can better leverage human resources to optimize the production process," will think "What does that mean? These people aren't in my world."

    Better: Aim to resolve prospects' biggest headaches, with a message like, "Here's how to motivate employees and increase production."


  3. Cut clicks
    Every time prospects have to click through to another page, response drops.

    Example: Linking to a company website to complete a purchase may be a necessary evil, but it'll result in some lost prospects. Make sure the first click takes them to the most important page.


  4. Follow the F-pattern
    People's dominant reading pattern typically follows an F-shape. Readers have short attention spans. It's important to put crucial info and primary calls-to-action inside the F-pattern:
    • Prospects first read horizontally, moving across the upper part of the screen (the F's top bar)
    • Next, prospects move down the page and slightly across (the F's lower bar)
    • Finally prospects do a quick vertical scan of what remains on the left side of the page (the F's stem)

  5. Think hard about price
    The web is price-driven. With the click of a button, buyers can search for the best deals. Does your product or service have a price factor that's recognizable to prospects? If so, putting price in the subject line will improve response. Prospects want to understand prices, without a lengthy description.

    Example: "Widgets for $199 $150" is easy to understand and can allow sales directly from an email - which means no harmful click-throughs. Warning: While price info increases response, they can also increase the chance of ending up in spam filters.


  6. Be specific
    Specifics outperform generalizations when it comes to prices, discounts, benefits and even product names. Also precise results like "48.3% cost savings" or "31.7% boost in productivity" are more convincing.



  7. Reprinted with permission from The Marketing Report, 370 Technology Drive, Malvern, PA 19355, 800-220-5000.

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Bethany Frasco
Development Associates