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3.4

How to Write Powerful B2C Sales Letters & Emails with 7 Real-Life Examples

Imagine this: two sales letters are sent out to the same customer from two different companies. Both companies offer a product that fills the same need and send the letters on the same day of the week. But somehow, one sales letter ends up open on the customer’s desk – the other gets tossed in the garbage bin after a mere skim. A similar fate befalls two sales emails: the customer opens and even replies to one, while the other is erased almost as soon as it’s received.

Why does the customer consider one and chuck the other? There are many possible reasons, but they all boil down to the same thing: how well the sales letter or email is written and presented.

A quality sales letter or email can put your company on the radar of new potential buyers. It can help you re-stimulate inactive leads and convert your leads into customers. On the flip- side, a poorly written sales letter or email can result in wasted resources and can even have a negative impact on your brand image.

We’ve written this chapter to help you make sure that you are writing the right kind of sales letter: the kind that your customers will open and act upon. Use this step-by-step guide with real-life samples to write a sales letter or email that will persuade your prospective B2C (business-to-consumer) customers to buy your product.

Format Your Letter

Many sources recommend formatting your sales letter the way you would a normal letter.

That means starting with the date and the contact information of both you (the sender) and the recipient in the upper left-hand corner. An optional heading may also precede the greeting.

With sales emails to consumers, you also have the option of playing with designs, links, and graphics. Images and GIFs can be used successfully if they help you communicate with your audience. Just don’t go overboard – you don’t want to take the focus away from your email’s written content.

Pro Tips

Use white space abundantly! Add spacing between lines to break up text in sales letters and emails to make them more readable and guide your reader’s eye down the page.

In emails and letters to consumers, use bold text, underlines, and italics to call your audience’s attention to your most important points. Use these elements selectively and avoid WRITING IN ALL CAPS – this can make your sales letter look spammy.

Write the Subject Line or Heading

While not all sales letters have headings, all sales emails must have a gripping subject line. The best email subject lines are compelling. They may contain a call to action, an intriguing question, a cryptic proposal – or really anything that might appeal to your recipient’s interests (or curiosities!).

Here are some examples of email subject lines that work:

Want to increase website traffic?

Ask your audience a question that they want to know the answer to.

Tired of not achieving your goals?

Present the problem while hinting at a solution.

If you’re struggling with insomnia, you’re not alone.

Show your prospect that you know them and what they are going through while offering a sense of community and a glimpse into your expertise.

Be the writer that your colleagues aspire to be.

Appeal to your readers’ competitive side and get their imagination going.

Can I help?

“…With what?” Appeal to your reader’s curiosity.

Your free 3-day meal plan is here.

Use the word “free” to spark interest.

Alex, do you have five minutes to talk?

Use your recipient’s name to stand out, while letting them know you won’t take much of their time. This also sparks the question, “Talk about what?”

I can boost your savings by 10% in 10 minutes

This headline has an interesting proposal that you can allegedly learn fast, leaving the reader tempted to read on.

Unlike sales emails, by the time the user gets to the heading of a sales letter, the letter has already been opened. Headings for sales letters should reflect a specific, enticing promise that is relevant to the letter’s content, and inspires the recipient to read on.

Pro Tip

In sales letters, place your heading beneath the logo to help both stand out. Be careful not to write an email sales letter subject line that is too spammy. Headlines like “FREE 100% GUARANTEED IT REALLY WORKS!” practically guarantee that your recipients will delete your sales emails without even opening them (and may land you in the junk folder anyway).

Address Your Reader

Whether you stick with a simple “Dear Reader,” or address your recipients by name is up to you. However, these are not the only options for addressing your readers. Here are some of the ways that real sales letters have addressed their target audience:

  • “Dear Reader,”
  • “Dear Friend,”
  • “Dear Artist,”
  • “Dear Fellow Music Lover,”
  • “Dear Bird Lover,”
  • “Dear Gardener,”

Depending on your brand’s persona, you can also use a bit of humor to address your readers and spark intrigue. In one sales letter, The New York Review of Books uses the
following greeting: “Dear Intellectual Dinosaur.” This greeting brings the magazine’s
on-brand use of sarcasm with empathy into the creative recognition of its reader. By
inviting its prospective customers to participate in the joke, The New York Review of Books
generates a sense of confidence between the reader and the brand. The New York Review of Books uses the following greeting: “Dear Intellectual Dinosaur.” This greeting brings the magazine’s on-brand use of sarcasm with empathy into the creative recognition of its reader. By inviting its prospective customers to participate in the joke, The New York Review of Books generates a sense of confidence between the reader and the brand.

Pro Tip

Make sure that however you are addressing your readers is natural and on-brand – don’t force anything that is unlike your brand, or readers may feel put off by it.

In sales letters, instead of settling for “Dear Reader,” use other ways of addressing your target B2C audience to make them feel like part of an elite, appreciated group. In sales emails, it is normal to address the recipient by their first name, since these are easy to send out with a quality marketing automation software.

Hook Your Reader

Your heading (or subject line) and greeting can get your prospective customer’s attention, but they can’t hold it. That’s why like high school essays, sales letters also need a gripping “hook”, or in other words, an interesting opening sentence.

A quality hook does just what its name suggests: it “hooks” the reader and keeps them from ditching your sales letter before they even get to read your offer. In sales letters and emails, the hook sentence often stands alone in its own line.

For an example of this, let’s look back at how More magazine begins their sales letter:


“Dear Girlfriend,

Maybe you’ve heard of them.”

Here are some of the ways that you can hook your prospective customers into your sales letter or email:

“For as little as…” – Entice with the price

“We’re happy to introduce…” – Draw in with novelty “Did you know….” – Present a question

“Are you having trouble with…” – Ask about the problem “Maybe you’ve heard of…” – Appeal to curiosity

“What if you could…” – Paint an idyllic picture

“If you are the kind of person…” – Establish expertise in your audiences’ reality “There are over 9000 species of birds on our planet…” – Share a statistic “Busy is as busy does…” – Use an idiom, saying, or quip

“The polar ice caps have melted faster in last 20 years than in the last 10,000….” – Boldly illustrate the problem

“Growing up, a teacher once told me that my performance was so bad, I made her want to quit teaching…” – Relate to the reader on a human level with an interesting personal anecdote.

Pro Tip

Stories sell – just not to everyone. Some short sales letters and emails for need-to-know products may not require or even benefit from an overarching story, and that’s okay. If you are selling a straight-forward product and would rather cut to the chase, then go for it.

Keep your story alive by using active voice; keep it interesting by using memorable images and unexpected word combinations. Keep your story relatively short and to the point.

Present Your Product

Once you have told a story that resonates with your audience, you can move on to presenting your product. The product can be introduced in a number of ways. It might be evoked as a solution to the problem presented in the story. It might arrive as a bold promise made to the reader following an idyllic picture. It might appear in response to a portrait of the target audience (i.e. “You care about ___, you’re this kind of person… this product is for people like you”). The product can be presented in any way so long as it corresponds with the story told in the introduction.

Once you have introduced your product, you can begin to delve further into why your customer needs it. Here, you can explain the product’s benefits, your business’ practices (if this would be of interest to your audience), and the kind of experience they can expect to receive from your product.

When telling your customers about your product in a short copy sales email or letter, consider using a bulleted list to guide the reader through your product’s top benefits. With sales emails, you might embed a video or a link to help deliver that information.

Pro Tip

When selecting which of your product’s benefits you will include in your sales letter or email, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would you want to hear if you were the customer? While you may be tempted to mention every amazing thing about your product will all of those things be of utmost importance to your audience?

Rather than compiling a large list of product’s robust features, make your sales letter or email about the customer. How will the product benefit your target audience?

Make Your Offer

Once you have taught your customer about your product and instilled the need for that product, it’s time to make your offer. What exactly will your customer get, and for what price? The offer should be clear, concise, and leave the customer aware of what to expect from each option.

In long copy sales letters and emails, the offer is often made close to the end of the letter.

However, in short copy sales letters and emails, the offer can be made as quickly as the opening line. This is especially true and works well for companies that are offering a low- cost, useful product that needs little introducing. In these instances, the price is so good

that it is used as the clincher that pulls the reader in. Here is one example of how this might work:


“Dear Reader,

For as little as $7, you can have home-cooked meals delivered to your
doorstep.”

Since this offer comes before any explanation, readers then need to read on to learn about the product and what that $7 investment would get them.

Pro Tip

Word choice makes a difference. Use key words like “only,” “as little as,” “take advantage of,” “value,” and “save,” to make your offer more compelling.

Use multi-tiered offers to give your readers more options to choose from, and to sway them toward more expensive but better deals.

Inspire Immediate Action

You aren’t sending out a sales letter or email purely to be consumed. You want your prospective customer to react, and to engage with you.

Follow up your offer with a clear call to action. Do you want them to mail in an order form? Set up a phone call? Contact you for more information? Initiate a trial period?

Be specific about what you want, and how the customer should do it. Don’t leave any room for hesitation or doubt. If you want your customer to mail back an order form, make sure that you include an envelope that is postage-paid, so that they won’t have anything to stop them from doing what you’ve asked. If you want a fast, direct reply, make sure you give your potential customers multiple options for contact. If you want to arrange a phone call, ask your customer to let you know what time you can reach out. If you want your customers to initiate a trial period, tell them exactly where to click to get started.

Here is an example of a call to action in a sales letter by American Express:

“Why not apply for card membership today? All you have to do is fill out and mail the enclosed application. As soon as it is approved, we’ll send along the card, without delay.”

This call to action makes the process of filing for an American Express credit card seem so easy, it’s just a matter of “well, why not?”

Here are some of the ways that you too can inspire immediate action from your readers:

Give a deadline – “Just shoot us a reply to this email address, and we’ll put you on the list for our next seminar. And don’t forget, this offer expires February 15th!”

Throw in a bonus offer – “Act now and get our collection of 80’s love songs absolutely FREE!”

Use a scarcity mindset – “Because there has been such high demand for this product, our stock is limited. Don’t miss out on this offer – Act now!”

Tell customers: it’s easy! – “All you have to do is click on the link below, and we’ll set you up with your free trial!”

Tell customers: you’re almost there! – “You’re so close to being able to more effectively manage your time. You can still access your free trial…”

Pro Tip

Action can come in all forms: a click, a response, a call, a purchase. Make sure to keep tabs on engagement – especially with sales emails – and to follow up accordingly. (For example, if a customer clicks on the link for the free trial but then navigates away, you can send a follow-up email to help ease their doubts or reignite interest.

Supercharge Your Persuasion

Remember the doubts that your audience will be facing when they read your sales letter or email. These may include some of the following:

“You don’t understand my problem.”

“How do I know you’re qualified?”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t need it right now.”

“It won’t work for me.”

“What happens if I don’t like it?”

“I can’t afford it.”

When writing your sales letter or email, don’t be afraid to pull some tricks out of your persuasion bag to convince readers otherwise. Consider adding attractive bits like the following to convince your reader to take the sales plunge:

“Satisfaction guaranteed.”

Buyers want to know that they won’t be stuck with a product they end up not liking. Guaranteeing satisfaction often makes prospective customers feel more secure about trying out a new product.

“No obligation.”

Like guarantees, making something no-obligation immediately alleviates your buyer.

“Free!”

Free anything is a big win in the customer’s mind. Whether you’re offering a free trial, a free edition of a publication, a free bonus add-on, or boy-one-get-one free, the word “free” is persuasive in any form it takes.

“It’s worth ___, but you get it for ___!”

Consumers like to hear how much something is worth, and how they are getting it for cheaper than they should. Tell your customers that you’re giving them a special deal, and they might respond with purchases.

“Imagine”

It’s been said that the word “imagine” is one of the most powerful words in sales. Use it to energize action, and to help your readers picture where they could be with your product.

Testimonials

Whether you collect your testimonials from famous people or people just like your audience, you can be sure that testimonials often make a good case for purchasing.

Expert knowledge

Use statistics, credentials, and a profound knowledge of your ideal buyer to show your audience that you are an industry expert. This will improve your letter’s believability, and help you gain more trust from readers (using a human tone when writing can help with this, also!).

Promises

Promises are bold moves that put your name on the line. Is there any gain that you can promise your customers your product will bring them, or their money back?

Timelines

How fast can your product get out? When can your readers start their trial? How long will it be before your product gets them the results that they want? With a fast timeline, you will attract more sales.

Photos

Sometimes pictures are necessary to help prospective customers see a before and after, or better visualize what they can expect. If photos work for what you’re trying to sell, use them!

Use these sales tactics when you can, but don’t compromise the quality of your letter or email by forcing them in there. Take what serves you and leave the rest.

Pro Tip

Different sales tactics work best with different audiences and different products. Consider what will truly help your products case before pulling all the sales ropes.

Sign Off and Add a P.S.

Once you have addressed all your main selling points, wrap up your letter with a conclusion. Tie up any loose ends, tackle any last doubts, and make your final references to your selling story. Once your letter is done, don’t forget to sign it with your name and your company title (the latter is optional).

Oh, and don’t forget your P.S.

In sales letters and emails, the postscript is the last chance to say something that will inspire your reader to buy. The P.S. could be used to throw in a final incentive to act – such as an additional discount or freebie. It could also be used to remind the reader of an important selling point.

Pro Tip

In the conclusion, reference your story (if you have one) one final time to bring the letter together.

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 chapter has given you a few helpful considerations to mull over, and new ways to consider planning your sales strategy.

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