You’ve probably noticed “P.S.” at the end of many marketing materials. Is it a cliché? An old-fashioned writing habit? A tactic to improve your results?
How about all of the above?
The term P.S. is an abbreviation for “postscript”, which derives from the Latin term for “written after” – “post scriptum.” When letters were handwritten “P.S.” was used to add additional information without having to rewrite the entire letter. When paper was expensive or rare, that was important.
Even after typewriters were invented, P.S. remained a staple of letter writing. As with writing by hand, making an addition meant either retyping everything or just tacking it onto the end under a postscript. In the age of computers and word processing, making an addition is easy so the use of a postscript has largely fallen by the wayside – except for email marketing.
Why Is a P.S. Important for Email Marketing?
Adding a P.S. provides a few benefits:
- Adds a sense of urgency.
- Allows you to emphasize a point.
- Can lighten a serious topic at the end.
- Provides space for a final slogan, tagline, or clever remark.
- Can be a final call to action.
Adding a P.S. is the email equivalent of turning around and saying “one more thing” before you actually leave the room. If you are familiar with Columbo then you know how effectively the TV detective used that phrase.
A postscript can also be useful when you want to tease a new offer (P.S. Wait till you see what we’re announcing next week!). It can also bridge the gap between something you’re promoting and a new goal you’re announcing.
Does Using P.S. in Email Marketing Really Work?
In email marketing, a P.S. works for a few reasons. The first relates to how people remember and process new information. Copyblogger illustrates this point with an exercise. To summarize, when presented a chunk of information quickly, people tend to remember the first, the last, and the unusual. By adding a P.S., you tap into that tendency by giving them a clearly defined last item that sands out.
Which ties into the second reason – people are busy. Information comes at them quickly and everyone wrestles with an overloaded inbox. Research from the Nielsen Norman Group showed that 79% of people scan webpages with only 16% reading a webpage completely. Further research showed that the same principle applies to emails… which means recipients are unlikely to read them word for word. It’s easier to skim an email with a P.S. for the final point.
Lastly, the Zeigarnik Effect also applies to how people read and mentally process emails. Named after the psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, it refers the fact that complete and incomplete tasks are treated differently by the human mind. Incomplete tasks create tension – which keeps them prominent in one’s thinking. A completed task is quickly dismissed.
The theory began when Zeigarnik noticed that waiters remember every aspect of an order and customer requests until the ticket was closed, and they were given a check. Then if they were asked any questions about the closed order, they couldn’t remember it.
A P.S. in email marketing leverages the Zeigarnik Effect to make the reader feel incomplete. The P.S. (depending upon how it’s written) prompts them to go back and read the email more thoroughly or be on the lookout for your next one.
Why Do Marketers Use P.S. in Emails?
Professor Siegfried Vögele, author of Handbook of Direct Mail: The Dialogue Method of Direct Communication, has found that more than 90% of recipients actually read the P.S. first. That makes a compelling P.S. crucial for the results and conversions you want. Think of it as both a hook for their attention and a way to get your foot in the door.
What Should the P.S. Contain in Marketing Emails?
While the evidence for why you should use a P.S. in your email marketing is clear and significant, exactly what to say is more complex. If simply because the purpose behind a given email can vary so widely, a single answer does not exist. However, good postscripts have some things in common.
Three Components of an Effective Email P.S.:
- The reader’s pain point (What the reader could lose or suffer if they don’t act).
- The benefits to the reader if they accept your offer.
- A sense of urgency or scarcity.
The last point is key. That is exactly why you see so many “limited time offers” or “only 20 left” or “we’re closing our doors on this offer January 1.”
How to Use a P.S. in Marketing Emails
The most common ways to use an email marketing P.S. are:
- Reiterating a Call to Action (CTA), like booking an appointment.
- Creating a fear of missing out (FOMO).
- Promote a seasonal or time-sensitive offer.
- Creating “added value” with bonus information, tools, or helpful links.
- Sharing a testimonial.
Now you see why including a P.S. is essential for an effective email marketing campaign. If you want to launch or improve your email marketing campaign, contact us at Efferent Media.
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