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Writing a successful e-mail promotion: 10 tricks of the trade

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1. Place a strong emphasis on benefits. Say you sell skin-care products. You need to highlight the benefit to the customer (younger-looking skin) rather than the features (it contains 12 different moisturizers).

2. Make your offer exclusive. Let your readers know that this offer is being made available only to them and that it will be available only for a limited time.

3. Choose a great subject line. Steer clear of misleading or mysterious subject lines. An effective subject line includes a benefit and relates directly to your offer.

4. Include a solid hook. The first few sentences contain your hook and are the most critical part. The hook sends the central message. It should be clear and intriguing. Be sure it focuses on what they'll get, not on what you offer.

5. Tell them what to do. Limit your e-mail to two or three paragraphs, no more. Total length: less than 250 words, or approximately one-half page. Close with a call to action. Include hyperlinks such as "Click here to register."

6. Use clear, direct language. A well-written message uses the active voice, with short, concise sentences.

7. Focus on your offer. Your e-mail should talk about one subject and one subject only. Resist the temptation to make multiple offers, which may confuse your recipients.

8. Don't drop the ball. Include vital data, such as pricing and deadlines. It's unreasonable to expect customers to visit your site to evaluate your e-mail offer.

9. Include a P.S. It grabs attention. The P.S. should restate your hook and highlight your offer. After the P.S., give recipients a way to unsubscribe from your list.

10. Make it readable. Keep paragraphs to three or four lines and double-spaced. Use bullets or stars to emphasize key points, but avoid text in all caps. Set text width at 68 characters or less per line so it displays correctly.

— Adapted from Entrepreneur.com, "Writing Your First E-Mail Promotion."

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