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There are many different types of sales letters and emails. And a quick internet search will show you that there are many different approaches you can take to writing them.
Whether you’re writing business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), here’s what to consider when preparing your own sales letter or email.
You aren’t writing your sales letter or email to everyone. To write the best sales letter you can, it’s important to remember who you’re writing to, and appeal specifically to your target audience.
Are you writing to a current customer or a prospective one? A corporate decision-maker or a consumer? Are you writing to one or to many? What is the age range, common interest, or necessity of your audience?
Knowing your intended audience will help you make several important decisions about the tone, content, presentation, and personalization of your letter.
If you are selling B2B, or business-to-business, remember that your sales letter will be part of a longer decision-making process, involving a greater number of involved stakeholders. You may have to speak to multiple decision-makers, and will likely draw from a smaller pool of leads. When writing B2B sales letters, it is important to draft shorter, more personalized letters that are a part of an ongoing conversation.
If you are selling B2C, or business-to-consumer, the decision-making process will be briefer, as consumers tend to have less money on the line than corporations (and fewer shareholders to consult). Your relationship and correspondence with the consumer will likely be more limited than in B2B sales. If you are selling with the B2C model, you may want your sales letter to be a little longer in order to persuade your customer to take up your product in a single contact. You might also send the same sales letter to hundreds of customers, meaning that it will not be as personalized as B2B sales.
When writing your sales letter or email, remember that people read what is interesting and useful to them. By keeping your audience in mind, you will be able to write a relevant, effective sales letter.
What is your intention with this sales letter or email? Is it to try and convert a lead? To spread awareness of a recent promotion? To follow up on a sales pitch? To get money for an active fundraiser?
Knowing the purpose of your letter will help you establish your offer ahead of time. Being very clear on what you are selling will help you convey that clearly to the customer, and avoid confusion. Reflect on the purpose of your letter to keep your content concise and to the point.
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There are two main types of sales letters and emails: long copy and short copy. But which one is better for what you are trying to sell?
In general, short copy sales letters are around one to two pages. Long copy sales letters can have anywhere from two to 20 pages (or even more if necessary).
One of the best things about long copy is that it allows you to answer more questions and remedy more customer doubts. Long copy often works well for products that require a greater explanation of value, how they work, and proof of results. Short copy, on the other hand, can work well for selling to informed customers, or for selling products that are self-explanatory. Short sales copy may also work well for follow-up letters, and letters that entice a follow-up action in order for the reader to get access to information (such as setting up a phone call to go over options, for example).
If you still aren’t sure about whether you should write a long or short copy sales letter, ask yourself whether you have a need-to-know or a want-to-know product.
A need-to-know product is a product that your target customers already feel they need, therefore you don’t have to take as much time or letter space to persuade them to buy. Short copy does best for need-to-know products. These products might include clothing, household services (such as lawn care, house cleaning), food deals, auto care, and more.
A want-to-know product is a product that you must convince customers to want to know more about. Long copy does best for want-to-know products. These products are non-essential, however, a successful sales letter or email can persuade your audience that they are necessities. To sell want-to-know products, you need more letter space to create a desire for that product where none existed. Think about the infomercials you’ve seen on TV. Nobody thought they needed sleeved blankets like the Snuggie, limited edition presidential coins, or a CD collection set until infomercials convinced them otherwise. Want-to-know products may include magazine subscriptions, self-help books, CD or DVD collections, certain beauty products, novelty items, charity donations, and more.
Regardless of product, the shortest copy should be reserved for emails. A study of 40 million emails by Boomerang showed that emails with between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%. That means that sales emails that are as short and sweet as a tweet sell better than their longer counterparts.
What is the best way to send your sales letter? Should you send it through traditional “snail mail” or email?
It depends. The advantage of sending sales letters through email is that it’s cheaper, faster, more convenient, and more easily quantifiable. With emails, you can measure engagement, track replies, and schedule delivery times. You can then use any of the information gathered to plan follow-up contact and adjust your sales strategy accordingly.
Still, “snail mail” has its advantages. Many customers and executives report suffering from email overload and see letters – especially personalized ones – as something that stands out. As one commenter wrote, “People receive hundreds of email messages each day but only a few letters and packages.” Many recipients also have email systems that filter out “junk” mail, potentially reducing the visibility of your sales email.
The physicality of mailed letters is another one of their benefits. While emails can be disposed of in a matter of clicks, people have to physically handle mail before dismissing it. “Snail mail” also gives businesses the option of sending in small freebies to further incentivize the reader, such as a free edition of a magazine, a pin, a catalog, a pen, or more. While email is best used for short sales letters, physical letters can more easily accommodate any length.
Sending a sales email is all about timing. The problem is, studies often disagree about when is actually the best time to send sales emails.
According to a Hubspot study, Tuesdays around lunchtime (from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm EST) are the best day and time to send sales emails. Another study by Yesware, which focused on explicitly measuring B2B sales emails, argues that weekends are 10% more likely to result in open rates because 80% less marketing emails are sent on weekends (this means less competition for your reader’s attention). The times that Yesware recommends sending B2B emails are early mornings (from 6:00 am to 7:00 am) or evenings (around 8:00 pm).
Once you have made these considerations, you will be clear in your purpose, your audience, and your methods for writing your sales letter or email. With your planning finished, writing will come easily.
Whether you are writing a B2C or a B2B sales letter or email, we hope that this blog post has given you a few helpful considerations to mull over, and new ways to consider planning your sales strategy.
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