Quality of execution converts

As authors, you have a built-in marketing superpower: your ability to write. Industry sources estimate email open rates at 15% [Source:]. Your strength with words could create copy that beats those rates. When you write ads, reader communications, or even email subject lines, consider ways to:

• Create a sense of intrigue or urgency. Pique interest with benefits and content that are relevant for your audience

• Build your brand equity by being consistent with your brand’s tone of voice (let your style shine through, whether it’s whimsical, cynical, light-hearted, pensive or anything between)

Below are a few examples that have shown up in my inbox lately. These companies’ confirmation emails build personality for their brands. Instead of a generic “thank you for your order,” how much more memorable are these messages?

1. Bare Minerals sent me this after I ordered foundation: “Gorgeous news—your order 123 has shipped. That’s right, soon you’ll be united with your new beauties.” 

They don’t have to hit customers over the head that they’re a skincare company. In two succinct sentences, they’ve communicated their category, and a sense of personality, by judiciously including a few beauty-related terms.

2. This Shark Tank start-up demonstrated their sense of humor with every communication from ordering to shipping:

We were working diligently, heads down at our computers when everyone stopped and looked up. “It’s order #1200!” Sierra exclaimed. It was really a milestone moment here. We’ve had orders before, but #1200 was really the tipping point. Next stop: Mars. 

The countdown was flawless. Taylor could barely sleep the night before. He stopped for a cup of coffee before settling in to Mission Control. Taylor pulled the microphone close: “Order #1200 cleared for launch. T minus 5…4…3…2…1” The crowd that had gathered behind Mission Control cheered as order #1200 left.

Sure, it’s campy and over-the-top. But it’s also effective. They’ve gone from an unknown to a company with a personality through a few emails. Their use of first names puts a “face” on the brand. They could’ve simply said that they were excited to receive an order but “showing” is much more emotive. And why not? Remember, this didn’t cost the company anything more than a bit of time to think about the email copy.

Beyond the content, email subject lines make a difference in open rates. Here’s how some clothing brands catch my attention. Check out these effective subject lines:

• “re: you forgot something super cute” they use a conversational tone to remind me when I leave something unpurchased in my cart

• “hey, i’m still here but not for long” they create a sense of time urgency, and write in lower case, which makes the email seem more personal, like it’s from a friend

Even sales promotion messages can work hard. For instance:

• “Snatch That BOGO! Buy One Get One 50% Off EVERYTHING” uses a strong verb and call to action

• “Want 50% off?” your hint is inside│Free shipping over $50│View inside This is a good example of the subject line and preview copy working together to create a sense of anticipation, in order to increase the chance of the shopper clicking open the email.

So next time you’re writing marketing material, think about:

  • Ways to make the content relatable
  • Ways to earn attention
  • Building your unique brand and personality

Happy writing,

Carol Van Den Hende, MBA

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