One of the most powerful boosters of response in an email or direct mail letter is the superscript.
Simply put, a superscript is placement of powerful direct response copy in the area above the salutation. It’s an incredible way to hook the reader and create a compelling interest to read the entire letter.
Before I elaborate, let’s look at an example of a superscript my agency, Creative Direct Marketing Group, created for The Weather Channel:
As you can see, a superscript teases your reader’s interest before the letter even begins. It also immediately draws the eye with large and dynamic type. It truly begs to be read.
Some of the things you can do with the superscript are:

  • Tease the premium
  • Tell a story that motivates your reader to act now
  • Describe mouthwatering offers your prospect can’t resist.
  • Present a crisis or a major problem your prospect is facing and tease the solution
  • In a longer letter, you can use it to draw the reader in and send them further into the letter

The singular goal of the superscript is to get inside the mind of your prospect and motivate them to read the letter. It’s an effective tool.
A variation on the superscript is the Johnson Box. Created by veteran copywriter Frank Johnson, it’s a superscript with a dotted box or border around it.
Used correctly, superscripts and Johnson Boxes are capable of increasing the profits of a campaign by a full 25%.
However, if either the superscript or Johnson Box are used incorrectly, they can decrease response by the same 25%.
Be careful of telling too much or failing to create curiosity, drama or interest. You must make an emotional connection to your prospect.
Show your prospect that it’s in his or her self-interest to act and you’ll find the superscript is a highly successful direct marketing tool.
If you need help creating a superscript or Johnson Box for a direct mail or email campaign, call me at (310) 212-5727 or email me at I can help you put together a direct mail or email letter that gets top-notch response.