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Posts Tagged ‘e-marketing’

Better Writing Equals Better E-Marketing

February 25th, 2010 by Katherine

Smart entrepreneurs know that any sign of sloppiness can destroy a customer’s interest in buying. It doesn’t matter whether the problem area is directly related to the business’s primary focus; the public doesn’t trust unswept restaurants to serve healthy food, or unshaven pharmacists to mix prescriptions correctly. Likewise, an e-advertisement full of typos makes recipients suspect that the advertised product is put together equally carelessly.

The most frequent causes of sloppy writing are:

Putting blind faith in a word processor. Few spell checkers can tell the difference between “its” and “it’s,” or between “twenty-four suppliers” and “twenty for Suppliers.” Nor can a spell checker recognize every proper name (and nothing alienates a potential customer like seeing his or her own name misspelled). Moreover, automatic formatting can actually create a sloppy appearance: “correcting” something that wasn’t wrong; misaligning bulleted lists; turning e-mail graphics into jumbles of symbols.

Solution: Assign a human eye to re-read everything. Ideally, let every e-advertisement sit unviewed for at least twenty-four hours before the final edit. And with e-mails, include a link or attachment for the benefit of anyone whose inbox can read only plain text.

Assuming that “anyone” can easily write a decent e-advertisement. Never just assign the writing to whichever employee can squeeze out twenty minutes to throw something together. As every professional editor knows, passing high school English doesn’t qualify a person to write something others find worth reading. And actual mistakes are only part of the problem; even a grammatically flawless and typo-free advertisement won’t accomplish its purpose if recipients find it boring or irrelevant.

Solution: If no one on your staff has formal writing education or writing-for-publication experience, hire a qualified freelancer to prepare the text. Improved response will be more than adequate compensation for the investment.

Letting something get lost in translation. Inter-language advertising had perils long before the days of e-mail and Web sites. One misplaced letter or accent mark can turn an effective advertisement into something totally hilarious or seriously offensive. Even experienced translators make mistakes, particularly with slang and colloquialisms. At best, many translated pieces come out rather stiff, without the liveliness of the originals.

Solution: Either find a translator who is thoroughly fluent in both languages, or get a native speaker to critique the translated version. (Native speakers aren’t hard to find in the Internet age.)

It can’t be emphasized enough: if your software advertisement doesn’t get all its letters in the right places, people will wonder if the software’s programmer did any better. The best-written e-advertisements bring in the best responses!

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Creating an Effective E-Mail “Opening” Header

January 26th, 2010 by Katherine

Today’s e-mail users have more messages than time to read them, and are extremely wary of spam and phishing. If a subject heading looks at all suspicious, many recipients delete the message unopened. How to title your e-marketing messages so they pass this initial test?

1. Get rid of asterisks and other symbols rarely used in standard written text. Not only do they trigger “spam” warnings, they look unprofessional anyway.

2. Put all words of the header in standard format—all-caps and extra spacing arouse as much suspicion as do symbols. Capital letters also provoke the reaction “Who do you think you’re shouting at?”

3. Don’t promise a “Great Bargain” or say anything that sounds risqué or sensationalist. Recipients will mentally categorize you with countless junk ads that use similar headers.

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4. Don’t tell lies! Nobody wants to do business with someone who is dishonest, and it’s dishonest to use a header that sounds interesting but has no relevance to the message text, or to imply “you contacted us first” by starting a header with “Re:” if the message isn’t a genuine reply. (Don’t use “Re:” for “Regarding,” either. It may be traditional in office memos, but in e-mail headers it just confuses recipients and wastes space.)

5. Never leave a header blank. Very few people open a message solely for the purpose of learning what it’s about.

6. Limit your header to six words so it won’t run out of display space. Recipients may hesitate to open an e-mail if they can’t read the whole title, especially if what they do see is ambiguous. For the same reason:

7. Put the most important words first. Tell recipients exactly what your message is about before they run out of patience or their Subject displays run out of room.

8. Do include your company’s name if you expect most recipients will recognize it as trustworthy. Don’t do this for a really big-name company, though, especially if your mailing list includes people without current accounts. Phishing messages purportedly from major banks or Web sites have made the public suspicious of universally recognized names.

9. Don’t bother setting your server to include the recipient’s name or e-mail address in the header. It won’t improve the message’s chances of being read; it only wastes space that could be used to describe what you’re offering.

10. Research “spam indicators” (you can find a lot of information just by typing those words into a search engine) to learn what else not to do.

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