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Writing A Good and Attractive E-mail For Permission Marketing

By Daryl Clark
Posted Friday, August 6, 2004

Using permission based e-mail is one of the most powerful promotional tools available to any Internet business. What makes an e-mail successful? We believe an e-mail should promote, excite, educate and entertain. Our peers might disagree, they say that an e-mail should only promote. We think promotion is an essential part of an Opt-In e-mail but should not be the sole component. In this article, we will talk about the important components of a successful Opt-In e-mail. Those components include:

* How to create urgency.
* What type of promotional vehicle you can use to create urgency.
* Content that excites, educates or entertains your customer.

A direct e-mail should be content driven, with an offer. The offer needs to create urgency and that urgency needs to relate to an expressed need that the customer has. To create urgency, you need to have a time limit associated with the offer. Your offer may be any of the following:

1. Discount on products or services
2. A value added purchase
3. Discount on complimentary services
4. Sweepstakes

We have listed the types of promotional vehicles you can use, in the order that Western Consumers prefer. Recent studies indicate the majority of on-line shoppers prefer a discount on products or services over any other type of promotional vehicle.

1. Example of a discount on products of services:

"Receive 10% off on this product if you purchase before August 15th!"

This is a discount on the service or merchandise, with a defined time frame. The customer must make a purchase within that time frame, in order to take advantage of the discount. If you choose this method, make sure your on-line shopping system is programmed with the new price and discount. Do not give the discount after the defined time frame expires (ex: August 15th). The consumer must believe their window of opportunity is a limited time frame and they will not receive the discount unless they purchase within that time frame.

2. Example of a value added purchase:

"Purchase this item before August 15th and receive a similar or complimentary item for free!"

This is a great strategy to use, if you have a new item you would like to introduce to your customers or if you have an old item which you would like to eliminate from your inventory. The customer has to believe there is good perceived value to the "value added item" or else there will not be any urgency created and your promotional e-mail will be unsuccessful. This type of promotional e-mail offer, can be very successful but usually is not as successful the preceding method.

3. Example of a discount on complimentary services:

"Purchase our product or service before August 15th and receive a 10% discount on your next airline ticket from China Air!"

This type of promotional e-mail can limit your costs of running a promotion, but they are harder for the consumer to redeem and they might only target a small segment of your Opt-In list. The first two options are probably more appealing to the larger part of your customer base.

4. Sweepstakes

We all have seen sweepstakes offers on the Internet, so we won't provide an example here. Sweepstakes can create incentive for your customer to purchase, but they usually do not create urgency for a large segment of your list. Offering a free vacation or trip might be very appealing to you, but is this offer going to cause your customer to make a purchase today. If you decide to offer a sweepstakes, make sure you monitor your incremental sales that are generated. You might find that you only marginally increased sales vs. your regular monthly sales.

You have decided the time frame of your offer and what you want to offer. It is time to write your e-mail! When writing your promotional e-mail, make sure you are trying to reach the broadest cross section of your Opt-In list as possible. As we stated earlier, your e-mail should promote, excite, educate or entertain.

Make sure your e-mail opens with an offer to unsubscribe. Many companies locate their unsubscribe notices at the bottom of their e-mail. You show your customers a great deal of respect, if you offer them the opportunity to unsubscribe at the beginning of your message. You also quickly eliminate customers that are no longer interested in your products of services.

Have the promotional portion of your e-mail as the next part of our message. This is where you make your money. If you have four items or services to promote, include them all. Make sure you provide a direct link in your e-mail to the spot in your web site where the customer can purchase the promotional item(s). Do not make them go to your home page and navigate your web site to find the promotion!

The third component is to excite, educate or entertain your customers, by providing them with third party information that you have found on the Internet. If that information comes from a web site or web page, include that URL, so the customer can quickly access your information. If you excite, educate or entertain your customers, they will recommend your Opt-In list to others and your unsubscribe rate will be significantly lower than other companies that only promote their products.

In summary:

Using Opt-In e-mails for promotional purposes is one of the most effective and most affordable advertising strategies available to any web entrepreneur. Make sure that you promote, excite, educate or entertain and your Opt-In list will continue to grow and so will your sales.

About the Author
Daryl is a CEO & President of and Managing Partner of He publishes articles about how to run successful on line businesses and assists people in starting and improving their business. You can visit Daryl's site at: ( and contact him at
Copyright July 2000 all rights reserved.


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