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Copywriting: The 4 U’s by Michael Masterson

It was copywriting guru Michael Masterson who came up with the “4 U’s” formula for writing good copy. He contended that the most powerful advertising messages are the ones that are useful, unique, ultra-specific and urgent.

The 4 U’s apply even more strongly to e-mail communications. Anyone who has encountered dozens of e-mails in their in-box knows how easy it is to deep-six most of them after just a quick glance at the subject lines.  

As an advertiser, if you can make it past the customer’s split-second decision whether to open or trash an e-mail, you’re one step closer to meeting your objectives.

Help things along with an effective subject line that passes the 4 U’s test:

  • A useful subject line is benefit-oriented and appeals to the reader’s self-interest.
  • Powerful subject lines say something unique, or at least say it in a fresh way.
  • The more specifically your subject line defines the content of your e-mail, the better qualified and interested readers will be when they open it.
  • An urgent subject line gives readers a reason to act now, instead of later … or never.

Take another look at the most recent e-mail marketing initiatives you’ve carried out. Ask yourself how you could improve their effectiveness by applying the 4 U’s test. Chances are, you’ll come up with several new ideas.


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