Saturday, September 23, 2006

Is This The Ultimate Lowlife In Email Marketing Scams?

It's been a while since I've received any generous offers of wealth creation from friendly strangers in West Africa. Then this email arrived yesterday.

Obviously the conversion rates on the original sales letters have declined, so the parasites are now working on readers heartstrings as well as our lust for the riches of deposed leaders of third world countries.

"So what", you say, "using emotional triggers in slaes letters is nothing new". I agree, but when scam artists start using real deaths and tragedy to prop up their fiction, you have to wonder what's next.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nominee for Email Marketing Scam Scum 2006.

My Dear,

I crave your indulgence at this mail coming from somebody you have not known before. I decided to do this after praying over the situation. You should please consider the transaction on its content and not the fact that you have not known me before. I need not dwell on how I came by your contact information because there are many such possibilities these days.

My name is Mrs Andrea Thomas a nationality of New Zealand. I am married to late Dr. Evans Thomas who worked with one of the New Zealand High Commissioners in Africa for nine years before he died in a plane crash in the year 2003. We were married for twenty years with no child. He died along with the Lebanese plane that crashed near the Atlantic Ocean.

When my late husband was alive we deposited the sum of usd$4.2Million (Four Million Two hundred Thousand U.S Dollars) with one of good banks here in Cotonou Benin Republic. Presently, this money is still with the bank. But recently my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next three months due to my cancer problem, though what disturbs me most is my stroke. Having known my condition, I decided to donate this fund to a credible person, either a New Zealand/Australian national, or better an American Citizen that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in. I am writing from my sick bed.

I have willingly decided to take this initiative looking for an honest person to whom I will pass the right of next of kin. I do not want a situation where my family hard earned money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision. You will apply to the bank and request for the transfer of the fund to your bank account after I must have authoritatively issued the order. This is on the condition that you will keep 25% of the fund for yourself, 5%
used for any expenses, while the remaining 70% will be utilised for the welfare of the less privileged people in the society. This is in fulfilment of the last request of my husband that a substantial part of the fund be used to carter for the less privileged.

If this condition is acceptable to you, you should contact me immediately with your full names and contact information so that I will ask my lawyer to prepare the authorization that will give you the right of next of kin to the account in the bank

I cannot predict what will be my fate by the time the fund will be transferred into your account, but you should please ensure that the fund is used as I have described above. You can have a close look at me as I attached my picture with my doctor to this mail.

I look forward to your early responds.

My regard to you and your family,

Mrs Andrea Evans Thomas.

Ok, maybe I'm being to harsh on Andrea. After all, it's not easy writing an email sales letter any time, let alone lying in bed suffering from cancer and a stroke, while trying to come up with an opening gem like "My Dear, I crave your indulgence...".

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Copywriting for Business Websites - Personality Counts

People often talk about the importance of using a friendly tone in blog posts. This doesn't necessarily mean you transform into some stuffy 19th century English professor when writing for your business website.

If your online business doesn’t have a physical shop front, then your website copy is the best sales rep you have. It needs to introduce your company, make visitors feel welcome, show them your products or services, explain their benefits, and ultimately, sell them your offer.

Without an engaging personality, you're audience is likely to say "No thanks, I'm just browsing" before making a quick click for the door.

Here are just a few tips to help that irresistable personality shine through in your business website copy:

Make sure your copy flows
Reading online is straining enough. Using jargon, formal language and trying to impress your audience with self-important words they need a dictionary to translate will only make them irritated and frustrated. They will soon be thinking about places, or sites, they’d rather be.

Remember the old adage Keep It Simple Stupid? Don’t patronise your audience, but don’t assume they know anything about your business or what you do. They have arrived laden with burning questions, “What are you selling?” “Why should I choose you?” “Where are you?” “How can I get some of this?” “How much is it?” Make it easy for them to find the answers.

One easy way to tell if your website copy isn't doing the job is to read the questions that visitors send you. If something stands out, maybe you need to reword that section of your site.

Appropriately tempt your audience
A lot of hot and personal activity goes down online, but it isn't the technology itself that causes monitors to fog up. The content is what makes things exciting. The Internet itself is just an impersonal two-dimensional screen. Good copywriting might not always be intended to get the heart racing, but it must connect with your intended audience to break through this impersonal barrier. Maybe your copy needs a little humour, sophistication, authority, personal touch, or yes, even something racy.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Beginner Web Copy Tips - Where To Start

Ready to unleash your amazing website idea? Then it's time to think about writing some copy that does it justice.

By now you should know who your target audience is, what gets them excited and the keywords they type in to search for products or services like yours. If not. Don't you dare start writing yet! Go back and find out or you are wasting your time.

On the other hand if you've done all your gruntwork here are a few tips to get you started on a basic page of web copy.

Brain dump features and benefits
Write down the features of your business and match them with the benefits you offer your customers. Include keywords where possible. Then build your copy around that.

Snatch your reader’s attention from the first line
Most visitors spent less than 30 seconds summing up a website before they decide whether to stay or go.

There is no time for waffling paragraphs about who you are, where you live, and how your wife makes the best apple pie. You have to get to the point as fast as you can.

If you don’t convey your key message in the first few lines, don’t expect many people to be around to read them further on down the page.

Keep your paragraphs short and sweet
Forget trying to win over your audience with long descriptive, romantic prose about the salubrious ambience of your pulchritudinous offer. They will only think you are stercorous (take my word for it, you really don’t want to be).

Short paragraphs and subheads are really effective on the web because they can be differentiated and skimmed at a glance.

But first...

Don't try this at home until you have read Why Knockout Headlines Are So Important

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