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Click send, make sales

By Nancy Drexler and Sam Neuman

E-mail can and should be a reliable way to win new merchants. It's fast, effective and inexpensive enough to deliver a very high return on investment. It's also the preferred form of communication for many businesspeople who relish its efficiency and convenience. Unfortunately, as more businesses send more e-mails to more customers, it's becoming exceedingly difficult for honest ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) to create stand-out messages.

The challenge of e-mail overload

The number of companies trying to make a quick buck by sending bulk e-mail offers to hundreds of thousands of randomly chosen e-mail addresses is escalating rapidly. Even worse, Internet hackers, pornographers and identity thieves send millions of unwanted messages daily to unsuspecting consumers.

Add to this the fact that a busy merchant might only check e-mail once or twice a day, and you can see the challenge: Your message only has a few seconds to get a merchant's attention, or it will likely be deleted or ignored. So, how can you make sure that your messages receive the attention they deserve?

Here are some e-mail tips and tricks that will guarantee the messages get read and generate sales instead of spam reports.

Get your message opened

As the saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." That's also true of marketing via e-mail. Merchants immediately notice two things about messages that pop into their inboxes: the sender and the subject. If both of these are impressive, merchants will open the messages; if not, they'll reach for the delete key.

What's in a name?

The sender of a message is typically identified to the left of the subject line in a user's inbox. For example, this area (called a field) could show "John Jones," "Cynergy Data," "Credit Card Processing Offers," or simply an e-mail address. To get your message read, avoid using a person's name to identify the sender unless you're fairly certain recipients will recognize it.

According to traditional marketing logic, using a first and last name adds a welcome personal touch; unfortunately, countless spammers use random combinations of first and last names when sending messages, making many users wary of messages from unknown names. The result: A message from Mary Smith will get deleted before a message from Cynergy Data.

The all-important subject

When crafting a subject line, make sure to include your company name to catch the reader's eye and add credibility to the message. Also, make sure the subject line is compelling and offers merchants a good reason to read the e-mail. "Credit Card Processing Updates" sounds dry and procedural; "Make Money Fast" sounds like a scam. Find a happy medium by being as specific as possible about the benefits contained in your e-mail: "Save $500 in four weeks by processing with Cynergy Data." Get your message read

Now you can get your recipients to open your e-mail, but there's still one challenge left: getting them to actually read it.

Make it short and snappy

No one wants to feel that they've been assigned homework, so keep messages succinct. If you have a lot of material to cover, break up paragraphs and thoughts frequently, and use concise, catchy headlines and subheads to catch the reader's eye. (Studies show that most e-mail users scan messages for relevant content, rather than read every word.) Include a quick list of contents at the top of the e-mail so readers can tell, at a glance, if anything in the message is of interest.

Use space wisely

Another point to remember: Many e-mail users choose to preview messages in a small box, or preview pane, that displays only the first few inches of each new message. Keep this in mind, and use the space at the top of your e-mails wisely. If something in the preview pane gets merchants' attention, they'll be much more likely to open the full message or scroll down to read the rest of the content.

Provide value

When creating content, remember that people tend to be skeptical of e-mail messages that have an aggressive "salesy" tone. Overcome this by combining sales messages with service pieces: tips and tricks to help your readers save money, grow their businesses or work more efficiently. Readers will be much more receptive to your sales pitches if you've given them something useful and enjoyable to read before moving in for the close.

Dazzle with design

An eye-catching, professional-looking design can also make your e-mails easier on the eyes and therefore more likely to be read. If you're not much of a designer, the following are easy-to-use e-mail services that can help you develop and send great-looking messages.

Low-cost e-mail marketing services

  • Siebel ( This site offers a variety of e-mail packages that will store contacts, assist with message design, and track click-throughs, open rates and deliverability rates. Rates vary.
  • Constant Contact ( You can simply add your messages to one of a variety of professionally designed, easy to modify templates this site offers. In addition, the system will manage contacts and provide some tracking on messages. A free 60-day trial and low monthly subscription packages are available.
  • ( This company provides salespeople from a variety of industries with tools to help maximize customer retention and conversion efforts. Packages range from e-mail only to full customer service and support.

Free e-mail marketing resources

  • SiteSell ( Once you've created a message, upload it here to get a free evaluation of elements in your e-mail that may set off spam warnings.
  • ( If too many recipients have reported messages from your company or e-mail provider as spam, you may end up on a blacklist, which will make it extremely difficult to get your messages out. Check here to see if you're on a list, and if so, find out how to clear your name.
  • W3C ( If your messages use a lot of HTML, there's a chance they will not display properly in every e-mail program. Check here for potential red flags before you send messages out.

Our next column will discuss more ways to drive business and win new clients through the Web.

Nancy Drexler is the Marketing Director and Sam Neuman is the Communications Specialist of Cynergy Data, a merchant acquirer that distinguishes itself by relying on creativity and technology to maximize service. Cynergy offers its ISOs: VIMAS, a cutting edge back-office management software; Vimas Tracking, a ticketing system that makes responses to customers fast, accurate and efficient; Brand Central Station, a Web site of free marketing tools; plus state-of-the-art training, products, services and value-added programs, all designed to take its ISO partners from where they are to where they want to be. For more information on Cynergy e-mail Nancy Drexler at

Article published in issue number 060301

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
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