Adding Bite to Your E-Mails

James T. Berger headshot

James T. Berger
Senior Marketing Writer

Published March 1, 2008

If e-mail has become your main marketing squeeze, there is a wonderful resource on the Internet.  Her name is Pat Friesen.  Visit her Website and you will discover a wealth of information.  It’s like getting into the mind of a master.

Included in the Website are many articles, many of which have appeared in TARGET MARKETING magazine.  I was most impressed with a piece she wrote in 2001 entitled: “10 Tips for Writing Productive E-Mail Copy.”  Despite the fact, it’s 7 years old, her suggestions are as fresh today as when she first wrote them.  Here are her 10 tips with a little editorial help from this writer:

  1. Think of the subject line as your headline.  Make it personally meaningful to your reader. Make that subject line 3 to 5 words maximum.
  2. Clearly identify the sender of the e-mail. Friesen says “It’s the relationship between the sender and recipient that sets the stage for the message to follow.”
  3. Personalize the message. She suggested writing to an “audience of one” and keep the message conversational.
  4. Keep the message short, focused and relevant. Quickly get to the point and don’t waste the reader’s time.
  5. Short paragraphs. Friesen suggests no more than 5 or 6 lines.  The Maximum message should be under 300 words and two to three paragraphs.
  6. Make it easy to read. Short, simple sentences.
  7. Compelling offer. Have it make sense for the reader to immediately buy or act or visit your Website.
  8. Focus. Stick to one subject, product or offer.  Don’t muddy the message.
  9. Make the offer early. Allow the reader to click quickly if he/she is interested – don’t force them to read the whole e-mail.
  10. Ask for the order. Include a specific call to action like visit your Website or your e-commerce site.  Don’t cut them loose to roam elsewhere.  You’ll never get them back.

Friesen is is award winning on- and off-line copywriter.  Clients include AT&T, Hallmark, Hasbro, Hershey’s IBM, Motorola and Century 21

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About The Author

James T. Berger headshot
James T. Berger, Senior Marketing Writer of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.