Copywriter training: Why letters need a new identity
Anna, one of our letter-writers, taps into a gap in the market for getting more value from these essential customer communications.
When it comes to sharing positive news, letters often lose out to the younger sibling, email. That means letters are often reserved for the not-so-good news and the ‘boring’ bits. But that doesn’t have to be the way. Here are some of the topics we cover in our copywriter training on letters.
A gap for something new
One reason why letters are different from emails is their personal nature. They’re sent directly to someone’s home, and they’re a physical item to hold, read and keep. Where emails fly into an inbox and can be easily deleted or missed, letters are much more difficult to ignore. Perhaps that’s why they’re often saved for sharing important information.
But companies may be missing a trick on the more personal side of letters. By using approachable language and focusing on the customer, companies can share important information and build trust at the same time.
How were you taught to write a letter?
If your experience was anything like mine, you probably found out where to put your address, where to put their address, where the date goes. And then you were told to start it with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and to conclude with a classic ‘Yours sincerely’.
There’s every chance my memory is failing me – I probably was given a more in-depth education in letter writing. But I distinctly remember the lesson being about the standard structure, rather than words.
It’s nothing like how I write letters for our clients today. If it was, my job would be much easier.
How to build trust with letters
Letters shouldn’t be seen as a way for companies to tick the box saying they’ve let customers know something important. They’re a chance to show we’ve thought about how news will affect our customers and how we can make their lives easier.
Every letter should address customers’ concerns and clearly explain what to do next. It’s also important that they sound authentic, and that they read like they’re written by a person rather than a machine. We should avoid using too many letter-writing clichés and instead find words our customers will relate to. That way, we can make letters welcome post once again.
Five letter-writing myths to crush, once and for all
Not every letter needs to open with ‘Dear…’ – ‘Hello’ works well for most letters, especially if it’s just an update or good news. Even ‘Hi’ is fine, if it’s for a relaxed, consumer brand.
‘Important information’ doesn’t sound important anymore – Too many letters start like this, so it’s lost its significance. It’s much more effective (and quicker) to tell readers what the important information is (e.g. “Something’s missing from your application”).
‘Yours sincerely’ isn’t the only way to sign a letter – We’ve seen everything from ‘All the best’ to ‘Thanks’, and they can all work depending on the brand. Save ‘Yours sincerely’ for more formal brands or purposes.
‘We are writing to inform you…’ can delay your important message – Rather than say that you are writing to tell the reader something, just go ahead and say it. “We haven’t been able to set up your account yet, but we just need a bit more information from you” is a friendly way to open a letter and it gets straight to the point.
Legal wording is often necessary, but you should be able to work around it – By explaining what the legal wording means and how it affects the customer you can avoid the entire letter sounding like it was written by a robot.
Copywriter training for letters
Letter writing is often a company-wide task, which can make consistency another challenge. Lots of our clients turn to us for our copywriter training services to solve this issue. Speak to us about how we can get your entire team on board with writing letters in the same tone.
A note about the author
This piece was written by Anna, who is one of our team of talented (and often opinionated) writers. To meet some of our writers, take a look at our team page.
Content writing is in our DNA. We’re a copywriting company with a team of expert writers, content strategists and project managers. Get in touch for copywriting services that bring your brand and values to life.
Photos by Scott Graham on Unsplash and Roman Koval from Pexels