"A postscript is the second title," they say.
"Don't forget to add postscripts to your marketing emails," they say.
"People read postscripts first," they say.
You read tons of such statements and think: 1) who are 'they,' and 2) can they explain what's so magical about postscripts for you to consider writing them in marketing emails?
First question first:
"Ninety percent of readers read the PS before the letter."
Many marketing specialists describe the influence of postscripts on readers. Let's refer to Dan Kennedy, author of The Ultimate Sales Letter, for example:
"Yes, many people skip to the end of the letter first. Some want to look at the signature, to try to identify who is writing to them. Others are just perverse – they also read the end of a mystery novel before buying it, and they eat their dessert first. Their perversity is your opportunity! By properly summarizing the offer/promise in your PS, you can inspire the recipient to dig in and read the entire letter, or simply add an extra incentive to respond."
Or, that's what Mal Warwick (How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters) says:
"Use the PS instead to disclose some benefit or intriguing fact…that’s not discussed in the body copy. Make the PS irresistibly interesting."
Siegfried Vogele, author of Handbook Of Direct Mail: The Dialogue Method Of Direct Communication, is the one who makes an appeal to numbers:
"Over 90% of readers read the PS before the letter. It is the first paragraph, not the last."
That's all well and fine, but none of the experts explains what makes postscripts so attractive. Why do people pay so much attention to them? The answer to this question might help to understand whether you need to write P.S. in marketing emails and, if so, how to craft it the right way.
Here go four reasons why so many people love postscripts:
1) Visual advantage
In today digital world of content shock and post-truth, people are tired of plagiarized and paraphrased writings they find online. So they try to keep its consumption to a minimum, scrolling rather than reading content in search of useful information.
Did you know that only 16% of users read your content word-by-word? Others scan it, trying to select the point; and thanks to the fact a postscript is visually appealing in a text, it's the second most readable passage in your text. After a headline, of course: numbers have it, 59% of users share content on social media without even getting past the headlines.
2) Summary advantage
Users see a postscript as a short summary of what they would find in your marketing email. They scroll to P.S. in order to understand if it's worth spending time on it. So, if you write emails to offer discounts, previews, and other surplus values to consumers, make sure to mention them in a postscript for people to notice at once.
That's how Aaron Orendorff (iconiContent) does it:
3) Zeigarnik effect
Back in 1920's, psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik had a dinner in a cafe where noticed a waiter who remembered all details of still unpaid orders but forgot them once they had been paid. She concluded that a human brain took completed and uncompleted actions differently.
Later, this phenomenon was scientifically proven and called Zeigarnik effect: uncompleted tasks establish a kind of tension making people remember and keep coming back to them till the completion.
Willing to defuse this tension, users start reading your marketing emails from P.S. because they subconsciously hurry up to complete this action.
4) Just a habit
It may happen that people read postscripts by force of habit. (Yeah, far from everything needs scientific explanation in our brave new world.)
I bet some of you start reading magazines or newspapers from the last page. It's like a dessert: the last page is often about entertaining content – quizzes, anecdotes, promos, and other kinds of so-called 'light' reading. And this habit of eating a dessert first makes people start reading your marketing emails from P.S.
Sure thing, they won't find horoscopes or anecdotes there.
How to use P.S. in marketing emails
Postscript craft is a copywriting tactic to reinforce your marketing message and generate its value. To make this tactic work, consider proven ways of using P.S. for enhancing your marketing efforts.
The recipes for using P.S. in marketing emails are many. For example, you can repeat CTA, summarize your sales messages, add new ideas, or create an extra emotion in your postscript for a dramatic impact. (As we marketers know, people decisions are emotional rather than rational after all.)
The trick is to incorporate lessons from a postscript into the body if your marketing email: recipients need to find answers to the questions they might have after reading the last paragraph of your message.
Remember the When Harry Met Sally... movie? The one where its protagonist explains why he reads last pages of new books first:
"When I buy a new book, I read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side."
Dark sides attract us with their permissiveness. They are about rule breaking, sense of liberty, and swim against the stream – feelings most people subconsciously experience when reading postscripts. So why not kill two birds with one stone: give them what they want and satisfy your marketing needs at the same time?