Email Design Tips from the Good Ol’ Fashioned Letter

Postal mail isn’t doing so hot these days. Handwritten letters are becoming a thing of the past.

But does that mean features of a physical letter should be discarded as well? For example, the Johnson Box that Frank Johnson created in 1941, which is a brief synopsis of what to expect in the letter. And what about the postscript?

Just because physical mail is being replaced doesn’t mean the tactics should be. We’ll take a look at the Johnson box and postscript in action, studies on how they’ve performed and what you should try with your email.

The Johnson Box

The Johnson Box appears at the top of a letter (or email) and gives the reader a quick description of the contents they’re about to read. The idea is to get them excited enough to keep reading.

If you’re interested, click here to see how it looks on a postal letter!

Take a look at the Apple Castle’s Johnson box:

Apple Castle talks about the product they’ll be promoting, ordering information and the reader can find out why this business was in the news.

One study found that including the Johnson Box yielded a 220 percent lift in the number of leads than the control version.

Tips for creating a Johnson Box:

  • Keep the text short, less than 200 characters
  • Communicate your purpose without being redundant
  • To have the text appear in the snippet, leave out the box outline

The Postscript

On the opposite end of the email, we find the postscript. The P.S. can be anything: a reminder, a kind thought, a request, etc.

Here are a few examples:

Sesame Street invites kids to their site to play games:

Indigo Wild teases readers about their upcoming catalog:

Habitually Chic makes connects with their readers by making it more personal:

In MarketingSherpa’s case study “12 Top Email Copywriting Tips to Raise Funds,” it talks about how putting a ‘p.s.’ at the end along with a call to donate is a smart move.

P.S. Here are some tips for you to try:

  • Attach a link to your site; they might want to visit while you’re fresh on their mind
  • Emphasize your main point one last time
  • Create a sense of urgency so the reader is compelled to take action immediately

Johnson Box in the Postscript?

Now it’s time to run a split test. We know that both the Johnson Box and P.S. can drive more engagement, so what about combining them?

What if at the end of your message, you include a P.S. that explains what to expect in the NEXT email? Set up a split test and try it! Let us know your results!

Have you tried using a postscript or Johnson box in your emails? Do you think they’re effective?