This post is part of a series of guest posts authored by popular bloggers and internet business consultants.
Today's guest post is written by Dean Shanson, a professional marketing writer and a regular contributor to some of the Web’s leading marketing blogs.
Email newsletters allow businesses to stay in touch with customers. They ensure that buyers haven’t forgotten them and they increase the chances that the next time a customer wants the kind of products or services they offer, their company will be the first to come to mind. They’re a form of drip marketing — but they’re also a form of direct marketing that needs to deliver sales immediately.
That only happens when the copy in the newsletter is written well enough to create desire and generate urgency in readers.
For many copywriters, that means turning first to the most powerful — and the most commonly-used — tool in the toolbox: a time-limited offer.
The Price of a Time-Limited Offer
The Teaching Company, for example, sends regular messages to its list with subject lines like: “Only 1 Day Left: June Sale on Over 70 Courses Ends Tomorrow.” Each email offers a new discount on a different subject, and each offer expires within a day or two.
It’s eye-catching and urgent, two essential copywriting ingredients, and it’s a strategy that’s likely to generate at least some immediate sales, especially when the discounts cut as much as 70 percent off a $255 lecture series. But those sales do come at a price. When time-limited offers are made regularly, buyers start to assume that the real prices are those in the offer while the listed prices are only for those without the patience to wait for the next email.
Time-limited offers can create a desire to buy but used too often and they can also give subscribers a more powerful desire for a bargain.
Offer Peripheral Products
An alternative approach is not to make the price temporary but to make the product temporary. Instead of offering a discount on items in your main product line, introduce readers to a related product that you don’t usually carry.
Professional photographers, for example, need to keep in regular contact with their wedding clients if they’re to stand a chance of being remembered when the couple need maternity pictures or baby photographs. To make sales from those newsletters though, the photographers can’t offer another wedding shoot. They can, however, offer deluxe frames, upgraded albums or larger prints. Because these services aren’t usually available from the photographer, their appearance in a newsletter brings its sense of urgency. If they’re desirable enough, they’ll also bring sales.
Be a Friend
And it’s possible too to create desire by using the right style. When a newsletter appears to come from a friend rather than a firm, the recommendation to a product that it contains looks like a friendly suggestion rather than a hard sell. Trading rules might require you to mention that you’re receiving a share of the sale price but even that message can be delivered with a wink and a smile rather than a line of legal small print.
When following a recommendation and buying a product brings a reader closer to a trusted source, the sales should follow.
Whether you choose to close down the offer fast, recommend an unusual product, make your offers personal or do all three, you should find that your readers want to buy — and that they want to read your next newsletter too.
About the Author
Dean Shanson is a professional marketing writer and a New York Times bestselling business book ghostwriter. He is also owner of ConstantConversions.com, an email marketing content company, and co-founder of Scribat.com, a content syndication service and writing agency. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.