Twitter Updates

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    How to write B2C direct email: 9 cues from Apple

    Here are some pointers I gleaned through my analysis of a recent Apple email ad that came my way on October 1, 2010. This isn't meant to be a soup-to-nuts presentation of how to write a killer email. In fact, I jotted these down it mainly to crystallize some concepts for myself--publishing it on my blog was only an afterthought. And I'm exceptionally short on time, so I'm just offering my notes as is, warts (and typos) and all.

    With that disclaimer out of the way, the nine points:

    1. Subject line is short, clear, and to the point(s).

    Consists of announcement plus price: "The all-new Apple TV is here. Only $99.

    2. Top nav supports desired response/action.

    Each is a mini call to action. Also, each funnels clicks toward a place where the reader is encouraged to buy an Apple TV:
    Shop Online (hyperlink)
    Find a Store (hyperlink)
    Phone number (text)

    3. Speaks directly to its audience and addresses their concerns and needs up front.

    Consequently addresses reader in 2nd person singular (“you”), which empowers the reader to be the active agent. Assumption: If you address their needs, they will buy. If you speak to them directly, they will buy. If you talk to them like they will buy, they will buy.

    4. It puts all its key messages up front.

    ALL (3) primary key messages were included in the first paragraph. One message per sentence:
    Rent from the largest selection of HD movies and HD TV shows to stream to your widescreen TV. Watch Netflix titles instantly.* And enjoy your photos and music on the big screen. Best of all, Apple TV is just $99. Try it out at the Apple Retail Store or order online to get free shipping.

    5. The call to action immediately following the “key messages” paragraph up front.

    Formed last sentence in first paragraph AND paired with a “Buy now >” button.
    Rent from the largest selection of HD movies and HD TV shows to stream to your widescreen TV. Watch Netflix titles instantly.* And enjoy your photos and music on the big screen. Best of all, Apple TV is just $99. Try it out at the Apple Retail Store or order online to get free shipping. [button here]
    Then mini calls to action follow each feature paragraph below it:
    Instant HD movie and HD TV show rentals.
    Rent thousands of movies and commercial-free TV shows. HD movie rentals start at $3.99. And TV shows are just 99¢ per episode. Learn more >

    More flicks with Netflix.
    Browse a huge selection of movies and TV shows from Netflix on Apple TV.* And when you find something you like, watch it right away or add it to your instant-watch queue for later. Learn more >

    Photos, videos, music, and so much more.
    Show off your photos and videos on the big screen. Stream your iTunes music library or listen to Internet radio through the best speakers in the house. Grab the remote and access YouTube videos, MobileMe galleries, and Flickr photos from Apple TV. Learn more >

    6. Having introduced key messages, it sticks with them consistently and emphasizes them throughout.

    Each key message then featured in its own paragraph, in the same order they appeared in within the intro paragraph (see examples in item 4 above).

    7. It uses imperative verbs everywhere and nearly always.

    Imperative verbs (verbs that tell people to do something) account for 65% of all verbs in the piece. Nearly every clause (not just the call to action) begins with an imperative (or “command” verb). Go back and read the three paragraphs copied above again. See?

    8. It’s smartly hyperlinked.

    Each blurb has a hyperlink to a specific page on Apple’s site (doesn’t look like a landing page, but still tracks analytics and drives reader toward making a purchase). The links are either contextual or “learn more >,” but not both. That no blurb has more than one link may be to avoid confusing the reader with multiple choices (it’s an established fact that people faced with multiple choices (which to click) often chose to make NO choice, whereas people who are only given one choice (whether to click) are more prone to click.

    9. It uses language efficiently, directly, and succinctly.

    Uses nouns and imperative verbs. Uses subject-verb-object and verb-object word order to the exclusion of every other configuration. It uses NO complex constructions, using coordinating, not subordinating, conjunctions, and never using participial phrases. Very limited use of infinitive verbs. No verbs in passive voice, and only one passive participle. Very limited use of adjectives and adverbs, and they pack a punch when used (they are used with a keen ear for common usage). Very short sentences (shortest: 2; longest: 24; average: 11). Three hyphenated words—all adjectives. Some stats:

    Word and character count

    1. Subject line (two sentences): 8
    2. Body (total): 265
    3. Total chars (w/spaces) 1463
    4. Heading average: 6
    a. Subject line:
    b. Headline 1: 8
    c. Headline 2: 4
    d. Headline 3: 7
    e. Headline 4 4
    f. Shipping heading: 4
    g. See it heading: 9
    5. Paragraph average: 32.7
    a. Intro paragraph: 55
    b. Feature graph 1: 24
    c. Feature graph 2: 36
    d. Feature graph 3: 44
    e. Feature graph 4: 28
    f. Shipping graph: 24
    g. See it graph: 18
    6. Sentences average:
    a. Shortest: 2
    (“learn more >”, which is repeated three times)
    b. Longest: 24
    c. Average length: 11

    Language and usage

    1. Person and number: 2nd person singular
    2. Verbs /words%: 37 / 14%
    a. Auxiliary verbs/verbs%: 3 / 8%
    b. Non-auxiliary verbs/verbs%: 34 / 92%
    c. Past tense/verbs%: 1 / 2%
    d. Future tense/verbs%: 1 / 2%
    e. Imperative mood/verbs%: 24 / 65%
    f. Infinitives/verbs%: 3 / 8%
    g. Feature headings do NOT contain verbs.
    h. Functional headings (shipping/see it) have imperative verbs.
    3. Nouns / noun phrases: (haven't counted yet)
    4. Discretionary adjectives: (haven't counted yet, but low)
    5. Discretionary adverbs: (haven't counted yet, but low)
    6. Conjunctions: 17 / 6%
    7. Prepositions: 25 / 9%
    8. Hyphenated words: 2 / <1% “all-new”, “commercial-free”, and “instant-watch”)
    9. Acronyms / abbrev.: 17 / 6% (all are either “TV” or “HD”)
    10. “you” / nouns % 15 / 6%
    11. “Apple TV” used in 5 out of 6 sections
    12. Dependent clauses: 0 (simple coordinating conjunctions used instead)
    13. Preferred word order:
    a. Subject-finite verb-object
    b. Imperative verb-implied subject (you)-object

    No comments: