Boost Open Rates by Sounding Like Grandma

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The secret to persuading your customers to open and read your direct email marketing messages is to make them sound like a note from grandma.

Your customers receive three kinds of email:

1. Email from family and friends–personal.

2. Email from colleagues and suppliers–work.

3. Email from advertisers–legitimate and spam.

The least important of these emails, in the mind of your customers, are the promotional messages from you and me. Most customers say granny comes first, the boss second, and purported wives of deposed Nigerian leaders last.

That’s because your customers and prospects read newspapers and magazines, and watch television, for the news and entertainment, not the advertisements. Your sales pitch is an intrusion. Same goes for the phone. They use it to talk with people they care about, which does not include telemarketers. Same goes for email. Your customers and prospects read it primarily to learn stuff and to do stuff, not to buy stuff, which is why I recently unsubscribed from a popular email newsletter.

All it seemed to do was pitch products. Just about every issue tried to sell me something instead of teach me something. The author is a well-known and well-liked consultant and author. I like him. I signed up to learn from him. But just about all that he did was pitch me his products week after week. So I said sayonara.

Start with your subject line. “Grandpa is in hospital” will arrest the attention or your reader sooner than a subject line that says “Our furniture sale has many bargains for you.” So think of how you would grab the attention of a loved one in a letter or phone call, then write your email subject line using that same visceral power (while telling the truth, of course).

Next comes your salutation. Don’t use “Dear Customer” or any of its lame cousins. Address your reader by name. Say “Dear Alan,” or “Dear Mr. Sharpe.” You address family members, colleagues and vendors by name because you have a relationship with them. Extend the same familiarity to your customers and opt-in email prospects and they will immediately feel more inclined to read your offer.

Then, write only about things that are of the greatest concern to your readers. Appeal to their self-interest. You mail birthday cards to your friends and family. You phone mum and dad on their wedding anniversary. Do the same in your promotional emails, sort of, by putting your readers first, making them the star of every email, and making them feel important to you and appreciated.

They’ll love you for it.


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Alan Sharpe is a direct mail copywriter and lead generation specialist who helps business owners and marketing managers attract new clients using direct mail marketing. Sign up for free weekly tips like this at www.sharpecopy.com/newsletter

Boost Open Rates by Sounding Like Grandma
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