“E-mail is the greatest thing.” – Wally “Famous” Amos

In a recent Dilbert cartoon, the pointy-haired boss chastised Dilbert for forgetting to tell him about an important meeting. When Dilbert replied that he HAD notified him by e-mail, the boss replied: “Well, obviously you chose an uninteresting subject line; otherwise I would have opened it.”

He concluded by telling Dilbert, “You’re a bad e-mail sender.”

What about you? Are you a good e-mail sender or a bad e-mail sender?

Do people on your opt-in e-list actually look forward to getting your e-mails… and order the products you recommend in them? Or do they view you as a spammer – and unsubscribe in droves?

In my own start-up Internet marketing business, CTC Publishing, I’ve found three tactics that work particularly well in the e-mails sent to our subscriber list:

1. Tell a Story.

A “story” e-mail is just that – an e-mail that tells an amusing story or anecdote.

For instance, to promote our PR course to my subscribers, I sent out an e-mail that told a humorous – and true – story. It was about what happened when my then-7-year-old son dropped his new gigapet – the latest electronic fad at the time – in the toilet. The copy read:

“Alex took the gigapet with him to the bathroom… and promptly dropped it in the toilet.

“I quickly fished it out. But the water damaged the electronics, and the device was ruined.

“Upon seeing his digital pet was dead, Alex burst into tears.

“‘C-c-can we b-b-bury this one?’ he asked me tearfully.

“Being a soft-hearted dad, I immediately took him to the backyard – and, with a shovel, we buried his dead electronic pet, using a brick for a headstone.”

I went on to reveal how I had gotten on the front page of the leisure section of a major daily newspaper by sending out a press release on “Microchip Gardens” – the world’s first gigapet cemetery.

The e-mail was very profitable – and I learned that my list likes stories.

2. Give Them Valuable Content

An e-mail marketing message that actually presents an idea, tip, advice, or other content can often work better than one that is merely a sales pitch for a product.

In an e-mail promoting a program I sell on how to write a nonfiction book and get it published, I revealed a secret that many aspiring authors do not know:

“Do you want to write a nonfiction book and get it published?

“Then don’t write the book – at least not yet.

“Publishers don’t want to read an unsolicited book manuscript from an unknown author.

“If you send it, they’ll either mail it back unread… or toss your book in the trash.

“What you need to do is write a book proposal.”

If the reader learns something useful just from reading your e-mail, he appreciates the value you are giving him… and clicks on the link to your site to learn more.

3. Entice With an Ultra-Short Teaser.

In this type of e-mail, the lead talks about a benefit, a solution to a problem, or something else highly desired by the reader. And the next paragraph promises to deliver this benefit or solution when the reader clicks on the hyperlink to your landing page.

“A recent survey revealed that writers who earn more than $60,000 a year consistently do 22 things that writers who earn less money don’t.

“To get your hands on this list of 22 habits of highly profitable writers… and master dozens of additional strategies for earning six-figures as a freelance writer… click below now.”

This teaser e-mail generated a 2.5 percent click-through rate (which is about average) with a 10 percent conversion (the high end of average) to orders for a $29 e-book.

The best part of the teaser technique is that it has results that are as good as – or better than – long-copy e-mails, but takes two minutes to write.

Tell a story… give valuable free content… use a teaser. These three approaches to e-mail marketing have worked for me.

[Ed. Note: Bob Bly is a popular Early to Rise columnist, self-made multi-millionaire, and the author of more than 60 books. He is also the editor of ETR’s Direct Marketing University: The Masters Edition – a program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business.

Do you have additional e-mail marketing techniques that have been successful for you? Share them with your fellow ETR readers? Send your ideas to ReaderFeedback@gmail.com. Include your name and home town, and we may pass them along in a future issue of ETR.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.