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The Johnson Box

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday March 21, 2008 )

The Johnson Box, named after direct marketer Frank Johnson, is a tool you can use to help grab the attention of your newsletter readers.

With people receiving so much email these days, they tend to scan more than read. A few years back, using the preview pane in an email reader was no-go; due to viruses that could execute through the feature. As this is no longer such a problem, people are using the preview pane more often.

The preview pane only allows for (usually) the top few hundred pixels of your communication to be displayed. This means that in most newsletters, readers may only see the banner, intro and maybe a snippet of the first story. If that’s not of interest, they may not bother scrolling down to investigate further.

A Johnson box contains the key message of the communication, or might contain a summary of the items in the newsletter; like so:


In this week’s issue

-> Story 1
-> Story 2
-> Story 3
-> Story 4

… followed by the actual copy

… the idea is that if story 1 doesn’t grab the reader, 2,3 or 4 may be of interest; they’ll open the newsletter and then be exposed to other aspects; e.g. advertising. The strategy can also be used in general email marketing to lure a person to read the communication instead of delete.



Need Flombles? Have we got a deal for you

-> Free shipping
-> 20% discount
-> 100% satisfaction guarantee
-> Limited offer

… followed by the ad copy

I haven’t consciously used the Johnson Box strategy – so I couldn’t say it improves conversions by X percent – but it was drawn to my attention a short while back when an email I would likely have deleted contained a Johnson Box.. and it worked on me :)


Creating marketing copy
Email subject line tips


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