The average person gets over 140 emails per day. No wonder they scan! And you never know which part of your email they'll read. Oh, wait! There is one...
It's the P.S. in your emails.
P.S. lines are a powerful yet undervalued section of your email that you can use to get your message across.
In the same way subject lines and preheaders motivate people to open your email, the P.S. encourages them to respond and act. It's a unique element in your marketing copy that people find hard to resist.
What makes P.S. statements so compelling?
Let’s explore why people read them and learn how you can write P.S. lines in your newsletters to get the maximum benefits.
P.S. stands for Postscript. It’s the abbreviation from the Latin postscriptum, which literally means "written after."
Most of you have heard of P.S. I Love You, a 2007 American romantic drama film based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Cecelia Ahern.
If not, you might have listened to Paul McCartney singing, "P.S. I love you" back in 1963 on The Beatles' album, Please Please Me.
Or, what about John Lennon's famous letter to a groupie who dissed Yoko?
If none of these examples ring a bell, you will surely have seen P.S. lines in your personal or formal emails, sales pages, or newsletters.
P.S. was a pretty helpful instrument in the days of handwritten letters as it served as an addendum.
While today’s numerous writing apps help to easily go back and edit your email text before sending, adding a P.S. used to save authors and writers from the need to rewrite an entire message if they forgot to include something.
Long story short, P.S. lines could add an afterthought or emphasize a certain piece of information.
And you know what?
Over 90% of people read the P.S. before the email message!
A pretty legit reason to consider using this seemingly outdated and cliché copywriting trick for your emails, huh?
Let’s find out why P.S. lines are so effective—and how you can get the most out of them in your marketing emails.
Remember When Harry Met Sally? (Yes, your humble narrator is a huge movie fan!)
There's an episode where the protagonist explains why he enjoys reading the 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."
The Dark Side (any Star Wars fans?) is all about breaking the rules!
In emails, this means jumping straight to the end of the message to find out what it’s all about. The P.S. line plays with our human psychology and instincts, in the same way that we can be tempted to check the last page of a book.
Now for the bright side, here are the four main reasons why most people read P.S. in writings.
In today's world of information overload and short attention spans, people try to keep online reading to a minimum. They scroll rather than read content in search of helpful information. A P.S. line stands out in the email body, giving it a visual advantage.
It makes the eyes settle, giving the reader a clearly defined item that stands out.
That's precisely how people process new information. When scrolling, they remember three parts: the first part, the unusual part, and the last part. In emails, the first part in the body is your headline; the unusual part can be an interactive email element; and the last part... yes, it's your P.S. line.
After opening your email, subscribers will almost certainly read your P.S. line. To keep this "almost" to a minimum, think of ways to highlight your P.S. when optimizing your email, such as by making your P.S. text bold or italic, or by using a different color.
In the example below, Lesley (that’s me) chooses to make her P.S. bold so it’s more visible for her readers to notice. They'll see why it's worth giving her pitch a chance.
You can go even further and format your email P.S. as a separate information box or make it a button.
Let’s face it: people are busy. We’re bombarded with new information from everywhere, and we don't have time to read content word-by-word. In fact, only 16% of people read a web page all the way through. And when it comes to emails, the number is even lower.
It's easier to skim an email with a P.S. line that highlights the gist of the message.
People scroll and read P.S. to get an idea if the email is worth spending time on it. If yes, they can go back to the main body for a more precise reading.
What does this mean for you as a marketer?
If your newsletter or sales email offers discounts, freebies, or any other added value to your subscribers, do your best to mention them in your P.S. so that people notice it at once.
The Zeigarnik Effect applies to how people mentally process tasks.
The human mind treats complete and incomplete tasks differently. Those incomplete tasks create tension, keeping them prominent in our thinking, while complete ones are dismissed quickly.
How is this related to emails?
Once opened, an email becomes a task for a person to complete. From there, there are two steps follow:
A user starts reading your email from P.S. because they subconsciously hurry up to complete this action.
Your P.S. (depending on how it's written) prompts them to go back and read the whole email to defuse the tension.
People may read postscripts by force of habit.
Some start reading newspapers from the last page, expecting the most exciting stuff to be there (quizzes, anecdotes, promos, etc.). Some prefer eating a dessert first. It can also show strategic thinking.
For example, King George VI received a batch of documents to review every morning, and he would read the papers at the bottom of the pile first.
Similarly, people may start from the P.S. line of your emails, simply by habit.
Author Shaun Usher describes the postscript like this:
The P.S. is the most charming part of a letter. It's the wink you give as you walk away.
These words precisely reflect the role of the P.S. in newsletters. It's an opportunity to stand out, communicate your brand identity, stick in your subscribers’ memory and evoke their emotions.
It can share bonus information, create FOMO (fear of missing out), reiterate a call to action (CTA), or summarize the main email message.
In marketing emails, the P.S. line can explore:
Your prospect's pain point: What they stand to lose.
The solution: What they stand to gain.
The urgency factor: Motivation to act right away (a deadline, a limited number of items you sell, and so on).
And now, let’s explore five ways you can use the P.S. line in your email.
Given that including a P.S. in your email has a visual advantage and can share something you forgot to mention earlier, you can consider writing an additional thought that helps communicate your central message.
For example, this P.S. from Aaron Orendorff, Marketing VP at Common Thread Collective and Forbes’ Top 10 B2B Content Marketer, provides a recap of what he’s been up to. It also includes some quick links to his latest published works. While it doesn't entirely relate to Aaron's central message, it serves as an opportunity to promote his articles.
You could also use the P.S. line to let your audience know what they’ll miss if they don't embrace your offer. To motivate them, you can refer to competitors, time saved, or financial incentives.
P.S. Oh, and while you're thinking it over, remember that it delivers an ROI of 20%!
This P.S. line uses a financial incentive as motivation for the reader to seize the opportunity.
Your P.S. in email can also be a funny thought, a clever joke, or a humorous quote if your brand voice allows it. Such a P.S. is a chance to make your message stand out from other business emails in an inbox and help prospects remember you.
Using P.S. in emails helps people to see whether it's worth spending time reading the whole text. Use it to share additional tips, discounts, freebies, testimonials, reviews, and any other added value to answer your subscribers' WIIFM ("What's in it for me?").
The above P.S. from Aaron Orendorff explains why you need to open the doc he shares in the email body: you'll get something valuable to use in your work further.
He also adds a backlink to an insightful and actionable content piece, leaving people wondering, "Hmm, with so much value already in this P.S., what magical gems will I find in the email itself?"
And indeed, the email itself shared a step-by-step guide to B2B content marketing, with comments from experts and the invitation for receivers to add suggestions and highlight the gaps to make the guide even more valuable.
Consider revising and changing your P.S. every now and then, especially if you send emails to large groups of people using an email marketing service like MailerLite. Keep it different and fresh.
Including a P.S. also allows you to promote limited-time offers, cover various segments of your audience and test which bonuses your prospects love more.
In the below example, Henneke Duistermaat, a copywriting expert and author, nails it by providing a particular segment of her audience with a practical bonus to praise their support.
Given the Zeigarnik effect, your email's P.S. seems like an ideal place to add a CTA and invite prospects to take action. It will only spell good news for your email click-through rates!
Look at how Neil Patel has optimized his P.S. so it has a clear CTA link.
Moreover, you can use P.S. in your emails to share links to your free trials, landing pages, sales pitch videos, or whatever you have. Just make sure you focus on your audience’s pain point and the solution you’re offering.
Inserting a P.S. line after your email sign-off is your last chance to share important links and information. Use this opportunity to say something that adds value to your audience.
In one of their weekly newsletter below, MailerLite invited their audience to check out MailerCheck, with its brand new feature. The P.S. line above was clicked on by 108 subscribers. You can see the use of P.S. in their newsletters pretty often because they found out it generates surprisingly high click rates.
Remember, many subscribers will go to your email's P.S. first. (After the subject line, of course.) So this is the space to make some noise!
Try creating urgency in your P.S. line to motivate your subscribers to act.
There are two types of urgency:
1) Time urgency. This sets a deadline to take action.
For example: "A 30% discount is waiting for you if buying the tickets before April 25". Or “This offer will be available for the first 30 people that sign up” like in the example below, which shows that time is running out fast.
2) Product urgency. This creates a sense of scarcity. Whether you offer a product or service, make it limited and use a P.S. like: "We have only 10 tickets left, so don't miss the chance to get yours!"
If your email campaigns are more focused on brand awareness rather than sales, you can use the P.S. line for networking.
For example, encourage people to follow you elsewhere, invite them to join your community, add links to your social media channels, motivate them to subscribe to your side-content, and so on.
Take this chance to make real connections and grow your network online.
In the example below, Customer Success Growth Expert and Consultant Lincoln Murphy shares upcoming online events where he’ll be a speaker. This offers people the opportunity to register in advance.
The P.S. line is a perfect email element to add a personal touch to your messages and build stronger relationships. Use it to deliver the right message to different segments of your target audience, boost their trust and build loyalty to your brand.
You can take it a step further and call a subscriber by name in your P.S. for even more authenticity and personalization. Using a P.S. in your email will make your marketing message sound more human and inspire your subscribers to take action!
Lesley is a savvy writer and content strategist. Currently blogging at Bid4Papers website, she also contributes to publications on digital marketing and sales copywriting. Her background helps writers develop the confidence and skills for better content creation and promotion.