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P.S. Five Tips to Increase Email Click-Through Rates

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • Why email marketers should use post scripts in their messages
  • Five ways to create powerful email post scripts

You receive an email from your friend and scan it quickly to get the gist of the message. She signs the email with her usual "Talk later, Joan," and adds a post script (P.S.).

Suddenly, she's got your attention. You know that she's going to share a juicy tidbit that might even be the primary reason for her email.

Direct marketers have used the P.S. for years, likely beginning with the father of direct marketing, Lester Wunderman, way back in the 1960s. More recently, online marketers have relied heavily on the P.S. to make one final push for a click.

Simply put, the post script is a powerful tool, whether used in a direct mail piece or a simple email. Here are five things you can do with your post script to generate more clicks in your emails.

1. Restate your key benefits


Hopefully, you've made your point in the body of your email and provided the key reasons recipients should take action. Usually, those reasons are the key benefits of responding to the call to action. For example:

  • You'll discover an oft-maligned word that increases conversion 113%.
  • We finally reveal the one thing we did to practically double our opt-in rate.
  • We explain why using a "siege mentality" will get you more business.

In case recipients have read your message through to the P.S. and still haven't taken action, simply repeat the key benefits one more time and include your link.

(P.S. This approach also works really well for any call to action, including an opt-in form or add to cart button.)

2. Make another promise or introduce a surprise benefit

If you're following basic copywriting guidelines, your message is focused on a single powerful idea (called, appropriately, the "Big Idea").

Let's say you've made a promise and talked about the key benefits, but, unfortunately, email recipients have read all the way to your signature and haven't clicked the link. Try offering another promise or a surprise benefit in your post script to jolt them from their stupor and move them into action, such as the following examples:

P.S. To get an instant return on your investment and to enjoy absolutely ZERO risk, click the link below to get a surprise bonus.

P.S. If you decide to order now, we'll send you an extra report that answers every question we've ever been asked about building the perfect landing page.

3. Provide more credibility

Perhaps your email recipients aren't clicking because they don't believe you or what you're saying. Maybe you're pitching too soon in the sales cycle, or maybe your offer doesn't offset their doubts at this point.

You can use your post script to offer more proof or credibility, hopefully pushing readers over the edge. And, if all you want is for them to read your blog post, for example, you can still use the credibility trick to get the click:

P.S. Acme Company used the idea you'll read in this article to move up all the way from No. 47 to No. 3 in Google for its main keyword phrase in just three weeks!

P.S. I used the technique I describe in the article to get 3,276 new visitors to my website in less than a week, and it took only 20 minutes of my time.

P.S. Hubspot reports that companies that use this approach will increase inbound leads on average 60%.

4. Communicate urgency

You can communicate urgency in many ways, and most of them aren't believable.

I'm sure you've been to a landing page that shows the number 500 crossed out with the phrase "only 19 remaining!" next to it. Return to that site a year later, and you'll see the same numbers. Some sense of urgency...

Urgency works only when it's real. You can't say you've got a limited supply of e-books, for example. Even the most naive shopper would see through that ploy.

You can, however, use urgency when a timeline or limitation exists. I like this example from an old, but very successful, sales letter on fly fishing:

P.S. We've ordered enough FREE CREELS—we think—to meet the anticipated response. But they are likely to go fast, so why risk waiting months while we re-order? Since your creel will be shipped as soon as you pay for your subscription, why not get it immediately by enclosing payment now?

You can use this approach quite well if you limit "insider" information to members or current customers. Here is an example:

P.S. This kind of tip is normally available only to our current customers. We'll leave it up on the website for exactly one week, and then take it down forever. Get it while you can...

5. Restate or expand on your guarantee

Whether you're selling a service, pitching a product, or giving away free advice, your prospect will always have doubts. One of your biggest jobs is to overcome buyer's remorse... before it happens.

REI, a retailer of outdoor products, offers an example of the ultimate guarantee. I bought a sleeping bag from REI that was rated at 30 degrees. About two years later, I had the opportunity to test the rating on a 30-degree night in the wilderness. I don't think I had ever been so cold, and I was wearing two layers of clothing inside that bag.

I returned the bag to REI, and the retailer gave me a complete refund without question. I know that I can buy anything from REI, at any time, and return it—even a couple years later—without any questions.

If you've got a good guarantee, by all means, flaunt it in your post script:

P.S. Follow the instructions we've laid out for you. If you don't at least double your investment in six weeks, we'll promptly reimburse you, no questions asked.

Post Script

P.S. I still haven't mentioned one use for a post script. You can use it the same way great novelists uses a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter. Let the bulk of your email draw readers into a story, and use the post script as the final "page turner" that forces them to click the link and keep reading.


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Sid Smith is lead copywriter and marketing automation specialist for Albertson Performance Group. Sid has written on topics ranging from flex circuits to motherhood, but gets a real kick out of putting together the puzzle pieces of complex marketing automation strategies. Reach him via sid.smith@apg7.com.

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  • by Denysedd Mon Apr 23, 2012 via web

    Love the article; you mention some good and relevant ideas for any business.
    Thanks Sid
    PS Wouldn't it have been better for REI to have kept their promise to you of 30 degrees comfort in the first place?! Would you really buy anything from them again and risk disappointment a second time?

  • by Sid Smith Mon Apr 23, 2012 via web

    @ Denysedd - I had to give REI some slack because ratings like this have to be averaged out, and I tend to get cold easily. The good news is that whether it's something they did or something I did (like inadvertently melting the rubber tube on my gas stove), they'll take it back. Can't beat that!

  • by Michelle Mon Apr 23, 2012 via web

    @Denysedd
    I tend to give people and companies the benefit of the doubt, so I'm thinking the failure was a fluke. At least I hope it was. I would have a few doubts, but I probably would ask the rep if they had frequent returns on that particular product and google some reviews to see what others have experienced with it.

  • by Denysedd Tue Apr 24, 2012 via web

    Of course Michelle, we should wherever possible.
    True that many of us search the web before buying so this probably was a fluke as you say.

  • by Stephan Wed Apr 25, 2012 via web

    I love the idea, but am concerned when you have those ultra-long email signatures that the PS will get buried/disregarded.

    Although not technically proper, when I use a PS it's before my signature (or I'll double-sign, like:

    Cheers, Stephan
    [PS]
    [regular signature block]

  • by Sid Smith Wed Apr 25, 2012 via web

    Stephan, great ideas. I like to include the bulk of the signature block in a footer, rather than mucking up the PS. I do it like you do, and depending on the message (and client I'm working with), I'll include a thumbnail photo of the sender to the left of the signature and PS.

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