In one of my recent posts, I promised to deliver classic email writing formulas and techniques.
The formulas I’m about to give you are classic. We already know they work. Some have been around since before email even existed. And they’ve been proven with both paper and digital mailings.
Please note: it’s not plug and chug like your 10th-grade Algebra II class. However, while simply dropping text into these writing formulas won’t work, they are powerful and proven. These structures can help make your copy sing – like a siren – to captivate your best prospects.
Save time and get better response rates when you put them into practice.
1 – PAS: Problem-Agitate-Solve
The Problem-Agitate-Solve formula goes something like this …
Let’s say you are an investment advisor and your clients are getting on in years. You want to keep those huge family estates under your belt, but don’t have time to come up with a solution.
Your reader could lose billions of estate dollars lost from your client portfolio. And they’re not likely to meet their clients’ kids until the funeral.
Recent statistics show generational loyalty crumbling among millennials
You offer a private concierge service that goes to extremes to provide the nearly-impossible for weddings and other major life events. You can also swing luxury yacht weekends, appraisals, and fine-art auction purchases.
2 – AIDA: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action
(in four acts – just like the opera, but without tragic death in a stone vault)
I’m explaining this one with examples …
Attention: “An astonishing amount of mental dementia and heart failure can be attributed to sleep apnea.”
Interest: “Many people don’t even know they have the condition until it’s too late. Others think it’s no big deal because they’ve been snoring the same way for years. After finding and solving the problem, many experience more restful sleep than they thought possible. Many of our customers report that they suddenly feel 10 years younger.”
Desire: “What if you could never have that problem again? You can be among those who have discovered a solution. This works even better than those horrible plastic masks and hoses you desperately want to avoid … the ones that make you sound and feel like Darth Vader.”
Action: “Get a free ebook now to learn about the simple, affordable solution that European doctors have recommended for years.”
3 – The 4 P’s
The 4 P formula is a foundational element of AWAI’s highly-acclaimed Accelerated Copywriting program. [Note: Don’t get this confused with Professor E. Jerome McCarthy’s 1960 version of the 4 P’s derived from James Culliton’s “Marketing Mix” of the 1940’s (product, pricing, place, promotion).]
In emails, the promise begins with the subject line. Your readers are looking for something. You want to catch their attention and let them know they’ve come to the right place.
With a curated prospect list, you already know you can deliver a product or service your readers want. Depending on the purpose of each email, you’re going to show them how you can deliver on that and help them along the way. The result? Loyalty.
Add helpful links, cheat sheets, informative blog posts, and event announcements. Find ways to help your readers save time, relieve pain and frustration, or make life easier in general.
Let’s say your prospect has tried and failed to stick to multiple diets and just downloaded the opt-in on your health website. You might want to promise the following:
- A way to sign up for a three-day juicing boot camp
- A proven method for getting more sleep
- A recipe for a green smoothie that will keep her going for 6 hours
- A way to satisfy chocolate cravings without blowing your diet or going crazy
- An opportunity for a health coaching interview
- An inspirational video
Tell the story of someone who overcame great odds with the help of your service or product. Create a portrait of what it would be like to already have what you promise. Do it as part of a longer email or dedicate the entire email to the picture as a standalone part of a sequence.
Do you have strong testimonials? Did your coaching client make 29K on her very first course launch? Say so. This can be the shortest part of a longer email or it can serve as the main body of an email in a sequence.
Include a strong Call to Action (as in “Click here now to schedule your FREE 30-minute discovery call”). Be obvious about what to do and where to do it. And avoid making your readers choose among multiple CTAs unless you’re segmenting your list. That can cause confusion and squelch action.
Remember … the CTA is a terrific place for split testing. Switch out the button color, make it first person, or amp up the urgency and see what happens.
4 – Tell me a Story
Stories are powerful. Fiction works. Real is better.
Draw your reader into a hero’s tale in which the main character overcomes incredible odds to get what she wants. Finish the story on your site.
Are you raising money for a homeless ministry? Describe how someone’s life was transformed by transitional housing and job training. Are you selling a back pain product? Show how the mom who used to suffer from back pain can swing her children in circles and carry them to bed again. Are you selling an online course for financial education? Tell the story about that 16-year-old that went through the program, started his own business, and paid his own college tuition.
Inspire. Teach. Then link to the conclusion on your website.
5 – The 4 U’s
The 4 U’s make up the proven headline formula that skyrocketed response for Agora under Michael Masterson (Mark Ford). Because many emails are like mini-sales letters or sales letters portioned up into sequences, this is good news for you.
Here’s a brief summary.
You want to offer content your readers are hungry for. This could mean many things. You may simply appeal to vanity or help satisfy an itch. At other times, you might offer a solution to relieve lifelong crushing pain. It depends. Whatever you do, be helpful with things your prospect cares about and lead with the benefits.
Example: 11 quick smoothies for all-day energy
What do you have to offer that sets you apart from your competition? Your unique experiences, talents, employees, services- and even personality – can keep your prospects clicking. Or can you present something old in a new way?
Have an online language school? Maybe you’ve …
- Traveled the world teaching and studying language
- Worked in Asian corporate culture. You know what to do and what not to do at a business lunch in Singapore … like where to put your chopsticks when you’re drinking your tea
- Written the best conversation and travel survival book ever
Or can you say this:
- You have an unbeatable guarantee.
- Each of your employees is certified and has over 10 years of teaching experience.
- You offer week-long summer boot camps with 4 hours of one-on-one tutoring per day at an unbeatable price.
Readers need direction … and often a little nudge. Don’t just tell them to take a look. Tell them to take a look now
Don’t stop at telling them they can have more energy, a better sex life, and youthful skin that glows. Say they can be on their way to having all of that today.
Is your promotion special ending Friday? Tell them to visit your site before midnight if they want to have the whole shebang at an unbeatable price that will never be offered again.
Finally, tell your prospect exactly what you have to offer. Be specific. Give facts and figures. Show how you are unique. Vague is boring.
Now put these writing formulas to work and get writing …
… or if you want to find out how I can help you save time AND get more leads and sales, schedule your free discovery call today!
xx Judy Olbrych