Archive for April, 2011

E-Newsletters: Email Usage Statistics in the U.S.

Email marketers alert! Business email usage data in the U.S. presented in a neat infographic. The visualization maps the usage pattern for each region across time.

Even though it’s from the same country, each region has different usage peak and trough; meaning email marketers situated at different regions would have to employ different strategies to specifically cater to the region’s behavior.

Sending email ads at trough period could possibly mean that the emails ads wouldn’t reach the audience instantly. It will probably end up in the trash folder as work piles up with time.

On the other hand, sending it at peak would reach most people but it could also mean that they don’t have the time to catch the mail. But at the very least, we can safely assume that the email headline is read. Note that all these are so far based on qualitative analysis. Data and Graphics provided by Rackspace.

Business Email Usage Statistics

Web and Social Content Creators

Writing Great Headlines: Do You Love People or Money?

You’ve heard us discuss before that the headline is the MOST critical component of your written piece.

But to start back at zero, let’s ask a question first:

“What is the primary purpose of any piece of writing that you publish both online and in physical form — whether a blog post, an E-newsletter, a sales letter or web tutorial?”

In the most basic sense, it’s to get visitors to read what you’ve written, correct? Before you can generate sales, revenues and profits, or even awareness, someone has to take the time to actually read what you’ve written.

And with that said, what is then the primary purpose of your headline; your layout and graphics; your color schemes and fonts; every single element of your content?

The simple but perhaps surprising answer is…

To get the first sentence read.

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This may seem simplistic or maybe even confusing to you. “Don’t we have to write compelling and interesting content with great structure and design? Don’t we have to convert?” you might ask.

Well, of course, but until the visitor reads the content in the first place, nothing else can happen.

When focused on writing great headlines remember that your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a casual browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.

Since I began my career in PR those many years ago, I have spent plenty of time trying to master the art of writing a perfect headline, properly conveying product benefits, and learning how to craft a compelling call to action.

But along my journey, I had one of the most successful writers at our agency share the secret to becoming a great copywriter, and that is:

Every element of copy has just one purpose — to get the first sentence read.

This applies not only to headlines of course but also to the layout and graphics, the sub-headlines and titles, the font and color scheme used, everything.

The purpose of all is to get the first sentence read. Period.

And the purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read. And so on, down a slippery slide that leads to your offer and the sale.

This is an extremely valuable way to go about structuring any writing, and it’s crucial to writing intended to persuade or sell. Many times we find ourselves so eager to arrive at our conclusion that we forget that the essence of making a persuasive point (or causing any action) is how we get there.

* A strong, compelling headline is critical;
* Immediately focusing on the benefit to the reader is so crucial;
* You must make a promise to the reader that you later fulfill (which this post hopefully achieves, although I used a provocative headline to help make my point);
And the key to getting someone to read is one sentence at a time, so compelled by the sentence that they want to read the next. In other words, how you say it is how you get there.

And though I accomplished the goal of getting you to read this entire article, I wouldn’t exactly recommend the strategy employed here.

It worked, and in this case it helps illustrate the points being made in the post, but in most cases pulling stunts like this won’t help you in the long run.

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…and although not related to online content, if you happen to be interested in my take on choosing people over money ~

If I offered you $10,000, tax-free with no gimmicks, but could only give you the money in quarters, would you take it? What about in all $1 bills? Or $10 bills? Still want the money? Unless you only use your head as a hat rack, you’ll accept the money in whatever form offered to you. Money is money no matter what, right?

But many people are far more accepting of money in all its forms than we are of people in all their forms. We’re far less discriminating when it comes to green pieces of paper, but are brutally judgmental when it comes to people. And yet we all want people to accept us exactly as we are. We all want to be loved and appreciated as is, and are hurt and offended when we aren’t.

When considering that list of criteria you have for friends or a spouse, like skin tone, hair, eyes, weight, height, financial or social status…remember that when you harshly judge others, you are also judging yourself. If you think that someone is ugly or dumb, you are assuming that you’re smarter or better looking. Learn to be as accepting of other people as you are of money and you can’t go wrong.

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