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How to Use Direct Response Email for Your Company’s Next Event

September 25, 2019

Hosting an event is difficult. Hosting your first-ever conference and convincing people to attend it is substantially more difficult.

When we first conceived Reach, we knew it would be an ambitious undertaking. Not only would Reach be our inaugural conference, but it would set the bar for future large-scale G2 events. It had to be memorable for everyone involved, and it had to translate our brand well.

But before ideas hit the drawing board, our team had to figure out one of the most important elements of any conference – filling the room with engaged attendees.

We devised a few solutions to this task, such as contacting our immediate networks, blasting on social media, and blogging several reasons to attend Reach. But in this article, we’re going to discuss how we also leveraged direct response email to grow our attendee list.

See how we used direct response emails for Reach 2019.

What is a direct response email?

Direct response email takes elements from direct response copywriting and applies them to email marketing. The goal of this outreach is to inspire the recipient to take action. This action could be hopping on an introductory call, trying out a product demo, signing up for a newsletter, and more. For us, this action was to show people that Reach was such a valuable conference, that it shouldn’t be missed.

This is part of Reach: In Retrospect.
See more highlights from Reach 2019 →

How to write a direct response email that works

So, how do you prompt an email recipient to take action? Your email should contain the five key direct response copywriting elements. Each element serves its purpose and is meant to move the recipient further down the email, and it all starts with the “from” line.

The “from” line

The “from” line is one of the first things a recipient will see when your email reaches their inbox. Its purpose is to create trust between the sender and recipient.

Be detailed in the “from” line. For example, John Doe is ok, but when revised to John from Company A, it becomes more personal and transparent.

When the recipient has trust in the sender, they should trust that the content of the email will be of some value to them. With trust established, they’ll be more likely to open your email or move on to the next element.

The email subject line

After the “from” line comes the email subject line. Its purpose is to compel the recipient to open the email. After all, the email content won’t matter if you can’t convince someone to open it.

Be descriptive in the subject line and show some sense of urgency. Here’s an example:

  • Want to set up a call? – This subject line creates no sense of urgency and is a carbon copy of most marketing and sales emails you’ll receive.
  • I have something important to ask you and need a response by EOD – This subject line is unique and actionable, but also, it creates urgency and curiosity. The recipient will feel more compelled to open the email to discover what could be so important and why it needs to be answered so soon.

Remember, email subject lines are something that should be tested, especially when it comes to direct response emailing. Testing the subject line will provide you with hard metrics on what works and what needs tweaking.

The “hook” copy

The “hook” is the first thing a recipient will see when your email is opened. Its purpose is to create interest and keep recipients from exiting the email immediately.

Be daring, unpredictable, and willing to experiment with your hook copy. Refrain from template-like, “how is your day going” type of hooks. These don’t generate interest, nor do they provide value to the recipient.

Instead, ask yourself “what will intrigue the recipient enough to read the rest of this email? What will create inertia? What will have them wanting more?” One of the most popular methods in copywriting is by asking a question.

Our brains enjoy questions because they also enjoy answers. With a hook like “What if you had access to 28 pages of exclusive data that could help you close more deals?” you’re more likely to maintain interest and keep the recipient curious. This should move them down to the bread-and-butter of your outreach email.

The “body” copy

After the “hook” comes the “body” copy of an email. Its purpose is to transform interest into desire.

Like the email subject line, you’ll want to be descriptive in the body as well. The more specific your copy, the clearer understanding the recipient will have of what exactly you’re offering to them.

Specificity is compelling to readers, and when done correctly, it drives desire. An example of specificity using our previous hook could look like “In just two weeks since compiling and packaging our data, businesses using it have closed 153 more deals than average, and 22 percent of those businesses have already surpassed their quarterly sales goals.”

If you received this email, wouldn’t you, at the very least, like to hear more about the offer? How about this follow-up line of text: “That said, we can only extend this offer to 50 more prospects – and we’ll reach that limit by the end of this week.”

This copywriting tactic creates something called scarcity, which reinforces urgency and the pain of missing an opportunity that could benefit your business.

The “CTA” copy

At this point in the email, there are either two options for the recipient: Opt-in to your offer or exit the message. Having a solid call-to-action (CTA) could be the difference between the two.

The best CTAs are compelling and help visualize what success looks like for the recipient if they buy into your offer. One way to do this in copywriting is through the use of “future pacing.”

Using our hook and body copy, we can apply future pacing to the CTA. This may read like “Imagine meeting your sales numbers faster and more efficiently this quarter by simply using our data.” The word “imagine” paints a picture of a brighter future for the email recipient.

The closing end of the CTA should imply that although your offer is great, there is no pressure to buy-in. Using a phrase like “feel free to look over this carefully before getting back to me” reminds the reader that the ball is in their court; that the action is their choice. No one likes to be sold to, and your CTA should be anything but a hard sales push.

The postscript

The cherry on top of any CTA is a good postscript, also known as the P.S. For cold emailing, the postscript could be a friendly reminder to the recipient of who you are and which company you’re coming from.

It’s even advised to summarize your offer, value prop, and CTA in the postscript in about one or two sentences. This way, if the recipient scrolls down the email without reading it, they’ll at least see your purpose of contacting them.

Using direct response email for your next event

Now that you know how to write a direct response email that is urgent, compelling, and sparks curiosity, you can apply the same formula for outreach for your next event. Here’s how we did it.

Our first example utilizes the jumbling of words in the email subject line as a curiosity gap. We know this works because a Cambridge University study found that the brain processes words as a whole instead of individual letters. However, the recipient would be enticed to open the email due to the misspelling and sense of urgency.

Direct response email for Reach 2019

Our second example also creates a sense of urgency in the subject line, but this time, the recipient feels they may have been “too late.” Knowing the human desire to avoid missing a great opportunity, the recipient would be enticed to open the email. Of course, upon opening the email and reading the message, they know this is one of their last opportunities to capitalize on the offer.

How to use direct response email

Following the five elements of direct response copywriting and applying them to your email strategy should drive more opens, responses, and engaged recipients.

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