It's hard to get customers to pay any attention to an email newsletter. People are busy and their intrays are overflowing. But here's an opening line that grabbed my attention very effectively:

Letter from the Editor: Calling all usability participants

We're not interested in building software that you simply tolerate…or even kinda like. We want to flat-out delight you with tools that help you be awesome at what you do.

That was at the top of an email from TechSmith, a company whose software I've been trying out to capture screen shots when I'm doing reviews of Web sites.

What made me read on? … Was it the bold, punchy promise? No. My intray is full of bold promises to make me rich, successful, and attractive. I am pretty cynical about such promises. (Besides, I am all those things already …. ahem).

I think I read on because the email got several things right:

  • I was kind of expecting the email (I'd checked a box to allow them to send stuff)
  • The message was spot on for my role (it called out usability at the top)
  • There was a clear call for action (it asked me to complete a survey)
  • There was a clear reason for me to do that (to help the company make better tools for me)
  • It was signed by a real person (and her photo was on the letter too).

Take a look at the web version of the newsletter and let me know what you think.


I believe TechSmith is getting this right because they have a good idea of who their customers are and what they want. They can achieve this because they have a role-based focus. They're addressing usability professionals.

I predict that TechSmith will get a great response to this message. I'm pretty sure that many usability professionals will be turned on by the appeal to help TechSmith to help them…

As usability professionals, I know this is right up your alley…

That's no mistake.