Monday, December 19, 2005

P.S., I Love You

I sent an email to Steve O'Keefe and, out of direct mail copywriter habit, I saved a main point for the closing "P.S."

Then I added (in a P.P.S.!) that to DM copywriters, the P.S. is the second most important part of a letter. (I even added a P.P.P.S.! But my spell checker balked at that one.)

Steve wrote back, raising an interesting question:
The problem with P.S.'s is that they don't work as well in email as they do in snail mail. Due to "quoting" and "signatures" most folks stop reading when they see the sig. A fascinating study would be into subject lines. Email, voicemail, newsreaders, blogs... the science of headlines has never been so important.
I started to look for an answer and went right to the books: The Online Copywriter's Handbook : Everything You Need to Know to Write Electronic Copy That Sells, by Bob Bly
and Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy, by Nick Usborne

Bob Bly didn't seem to discuss the question, except to include "P.S." in a list of "mechanical techniques you can use to call attention to key words and phrases online." Nick Usborne mentioned the technique in connection with that trusty old tool, the "Johnson Box," adding that its inventor--copywriting pioneer Frank Johnson--"was also the first person to take the P.S. on a direct-mail letter seriously" because readers often read the P.S. first. "So he started writing the P.S. as if it were a headline. And so has everyone else ever since."

Ivan Levinson writes gives tips on using a Johnson Box in emails including a suggestion to:
Use a box at the top of a seminar or Webinar invitation. The top of the letter or e-mail is the perfect place for a box that tells the reader What/When/Where/Why they should attend.
The only reported test results I found came from online strategist Larry Chase who says,
Use a P.S.: After the salutation, the P.S. is typically the most read element of a sales letter. I notice the most amount of clicks from the Johnson box at the top of the sales letter, and the line in the P.S. at the bottom. The P.S. usually restates the entire offer and maybe throws in some added incentive to take action now.
Have you used a P.S. or Johnson Box in your email marketing? Would you like to share your results?


P.S.: You can email me or comment below.
P.P.S. Thanks to Lee Marc Stein for the title.

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