How To Write An Attractive Sales Letter Or EMail That Attracts More Readers

Like it or not, looks matter. And particularly in sales, appearance is important. For example, in a competitive situation, all else being equal, the appearance of the salesperson may very well be the deciding factor in who gets the business. And that may come down to the smallest of details, such as who had the better shine on his or her shoes.

Appearance is also an important factor in the success of your sales letter or marketing email. For example, the marketer with a good mailing list, a compelling offer, effective copy — and who pays careful attention to how his letter or email looks…will have better results than the person who focuses solely on content, with no regard to how it’s presented. This is akin to a master chef who slaves to produce a sumptuous meal and then dumps it on a paper plate and serves it up to you with no regard for its presentation. The meal would be every bit as delicious, but you might be the least bit hesitant about taking that first bite.  

No doubt about it: Your words are the heart and soul of your sales letter, and crucial to its success. So you want to do everything you can to make sure your prospect reads your words. That said, here are 5 tips for making your sales letter or email look more attractive. Put these tips to work and you’ll significantly increase the likelihood that your “must read” message gets read — and, most importantly, acted on.

Tip Number 1: Always use a reader-friendly typeface. Look at the major news magazines, such as Time and Newsweek and you’ll see that they use mostly serifed typefaces for their editorial content. (Serifs are the little knobs you see on the ascenders and descenders of individual letters.) That’s because typefaces with serifs (Times Roman, Courier, Century) can be read more easily than sans serif typefaces (Arial, Helvetica). At least that’s the case in the print world. In the online world the choice is less clear-cut, with some experts and tests showing that a sans serif font is actually more readable.

 Tip Number 2: Make your first sentence a short sentence. The first line of your direct response piece is the most important line you’ll write. So don’t blow your chances for success by starting off with some interminably long 20 – 30 word sentence. Here’s an example opening from my own files: “I know you’re busy so I’ll get right to the point.” Eleven words. I once wrote a sales letter that had an opening sentence that consisted of just one word. That word was, “Ouch!”

Tip Number 3: Limit the length of your paragraphs to between 5 and 7 lines. You want your letter or email to have an easy-to-read appearance to it. Because there are probably at least 14 other things that your customer or prospect has to do that are more important to her than reading your letter or email.

 So when she turns her eyes to your communication the last thing she wants to see are fat, 10 -12 sentence paragraphs that look like a lot of work to read. She wants to see something that looks quick and easy to read. I usually never go over 6 lines in any paragraph and I try to keep most between 1 and 5 lines. Also, always double-space between paragraphs.

 Tip Number 4: Vary the length of your paragraphs. The last thing you want is for the layout of your piece to have a boring sameness to it. That’s why I advise that you often use the “print preview” mode on your word processor with an eye toward the overall look of your words. So mix up your paragraph length. This will make your writing look more interesting and appealing.

 Tip Number 5: Set the body copy of your letter in 11-12 point type and use sub-heads, bullets and other call-out devices. Keep in mind the audience you are writing for. If you’re writing to Gen-Y computer programmers 11-point type is probably fine. On the other hand if you’re targeting the “mature” market you may want to consider using a 13-point type size.

Also, keep in mind that many people will scan your marketing piece before making a decision to read it. That’s why centered, bold-faced sub-heads and other call-out devices can increase readership. Here are a couple of sub-head examples from one of my projects.

 Customer service so good you’ll have to pinch yourself to be sure you’re not dreaming.

A special no-risk, no-obligation offer.

Sub-heads, bulleted lists, underlining, and other devices can help you attract attention to key parts of your letter. But take care to use these devices sparingly. Overuse of them can negate their effectiveness.

Yes, like it or not, looks matter. Attractive people get more looks and longer looks. The same holds true for your sales letters and emails — or for that matter, all your marketing collateral. Apply these 5 tips and you’ll make your letters and emails more attractive, attract more readers, and, generate more leads and sales.

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