Another bite of the apple: Postcripts for the electronic age

Out in the real world where sales people send physical letters it’s common practice to use a postscript, or P.S. at the foot of a letter or proposal. It increases engagement with the item, and gives you a little extra punt at the end of your message.

Truth be known you’ll probably find that a percentage of people read the postscript first as it stands out at the bottom of the page. This is by design with companies deliberately folding material into the envelope so the order of viewing is letterhead, footer and finally the body of the text.

It works either way around; If you see it first it distracts you from all the fine print in the body, or if you do read it last it’ll help to seal the deal with a cherry on the bottom. Either way, it’s a powerful addition to the letter when used with care.

Next time you get one of those annoying Readers Digest sweepstake mailers because your cousin signed you up, don’t throw it out.

Open it up slowly and think about what you see first, they spend a great deal more energy and money on designing their mail outs than most other companies and have been known to abuse the awesome destructive power of a P.S. more than once per mail-out.

So, how to get the same little kick in the tail for your emailed sales pitch?

The nature of email is that you see the header and then scroll down a bit, maybe. A foot note in the electronic age is going to viewed last, if at all.

Without any research done I’m willing to bet that a huge percentage of emails get skimmed and you have maybe the first ten lines of text to deliver a message before the reader falls asleep, or hits delete.

You can’t hide your laurels at the bottom of an email in the same way. Special offers need to be up front and above the fold to ensure you engage the customer before your 20 seconds are up and your hopes of early retirement evaporate into the recycle bin.

What you really need is a second bite of the apple, and you need to grab a bit more precious engagement time to harness P.S. goodness and avoid being part of the mindless information consumption culture.

So why not just grab the fruit and chomp away? Send a second email a short time after the main pitch. Keep it light, a few quick lines to say “Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you about…”

Make sure the whole thing fits on the screen without scrolling to increase the chances of it getting read. Go as far as dropping your ten line signature file, disclaimer and silly environmental message.

Saying ‘Cheers’ is more than enough thank you very much.

The funny thing is that most people read their newest emails first. So for a lot of people your stealthy double send has the same effect as the cleverly folded parchment lovingly slipped into an envelope.

You can take this a wee bit further and learn from some often quoted thinking in the customer service industry. The theory goes that if you make a minor error and correct it quickly and efficiently you’ll see better conversion and retention of customers than if you just mechanically roll out ‘good’ service.

So: By all means send out your emailed proposal in a form email with terms and conditions, formal quotation and twenty five reasons why your widget or service is better than Joe Bloggs. The thing you also need to do is forget the attachment. That’s right, forget it.

Follow up 5 minutes later with a very quick email, 3 or 4 lines tops. “Sorry, I forgot the attachment..” Now you’ve got your foot note in, you’ve corrected an error and you got a chance to prove you’re human all in one shot.

P.S. If you read this far, my entire premise is probably flawed.

P.P.S. Would a third email be too much? I think so.

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