In the episode:
01:10- Get to know our guest
03:12 – Why a framework is important
04:21 – What “email alchemy” is and isn’t
09:51 – Thinking about your subject line
12:19 – The 3 things you should have
15:01 – It’s not about open rates
17:45 – The impact of those first few sentences
21:33 – Who’s your target?
23:38 – Take your reader somewhere else
28:05 – “Pitch” is not a dirty word
30:31 – Should you look out for unsubscribes?
32:23 – What you want your reader to do
36:48 – Inside a good call to action
40:20 – Summing it up
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James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today, we’re going to be delving into a copywriting topic, and that’s because when I survey my audience, a lot of people will say they need more traffic. But what they really need is the ability to sell better. It’s not something people self diagnose well. It’s something that everyone with a product or service needs to be able to do. Of course we’re still using email extensively. So I wanted to go specifically into email copywriting, and for that, I’ve brought along our special guest, Daniel Levis. Welcome to the call.
Daniel: Thanks for having me, James. Glad to be here.
James: So Daniel, you’ve been doing some copywriting behind the scenes for a long time for people who our audience would know like Jay Abraham and perhaps Yanik Silver, and you came up on Clayton Makepeace who many of the top copywriters regard as being a copywriter for copywriters. So you’ve had a really rich history in this craft.
A little background on Daniel
Daniel: Absolutely. I’ve been writing copy for, I’m going to say, 30 years. Part of that time, without actually knowing that I was doing copywriting but using it as a lead generation mechanism, I was in high-tech sales for many years, and I always preferred to have prospects coming to me rather than me going to them. So I was very early on adopting copywriting techniques for lead generation.
I guess it would have been 2005, I got in touch with Clayton Makepeace, and he was so impressed with what I was writing that he had me write a bunch of stuff for him, and I helped him to launch The Total Package. I basically studied under Clayton Makepeace if you look at it as, you want to call it, yeah, you’re a copywriter now. So learn from the best, right?
James: Right. So today we’re going to be covering a specific framework, I think you nicknamed this “email alchemy” but it’s your special formula for having powerful communication particularly using the email format.
What is email alchemy?
Daniel: Yeah. Email alchemy is a whole methodology. It’s quite an involved methodology. What I’ve given you there is the SOD PC formula for creating an email. This is a tiny little part of email alchemy but something that I live by.
James: As an Apple user, I can quite relate to that acronym. But I imagine it doesn’t stand for throw out the Windows computer. It probably means something else. Maybe we should go through that formula. But before we do that, let’s just think about why is it important that we would use a formula or a framework?
Why use a formula?
Daniel: Well it’s important because a formula and a framework hopefully has been tested in the real world, and when you’re writing emails, you want to get something in return from your audience, whether it’s sales, whether it’s leads, or whether it’s inquiries, or appointments, or strategy sessions, or whatever your goal is, what you’re trying to do if you have a framework and a formula that’s proven to perform, then naturally, you’re going to get much higher return on your efforts.
James: And where does this sit in relation to a campaign? A common thing that I’ve seen is people will feel this temptation to unload a virtual sales letter into an email and they’ll pretty much send it almost cold to a first-time responder or to a contact in their database. Do you have any philosophy around at the right point to be making the sales email? Is it somewhere in a sequence or is it straight out of the gate?
How email alchemy helps
Daniel: Well, it’s nothing to do with taking your sales letter and putting it in an email. I mean we used to do that back in, I don’t know when it was, we used to send like magalogues out in email, and our client would send that same magalogue out over, and over, and over again, and it worked really well for a short period of time.
I mean email alchemy has nothing to do with putting a sales letter in an email and sending it out. But to answer your question, most of the time, we’re working with some type of a lead generation magnet. So a lead generation magnet might be like a special report, or it might be a webinar, or it might be some type of free consultation that you would offer the prospect, and that would be kind of the first phase of an email alchemy campaign.
There are kind of like 12 different phases of an email alchemy campaign starting with what we call the inbox infiltration, which is kind of like warming up a new prospect, kind of orienting them to your world. And then we would get into something like propagation email. It’s designed to get people to consume a lead generation magnet. And typically, a lead generation magnet is a valuable piece of problem solving for the prospect, but it’s also a lead in or a pre sell to a sales page. The sale would be made on that salespage. Or the lead generation magnet might be an integrated effort.
So the first half of it, and this is what we used to do in magalogues, we would create these things that looked like magazines, and the first half of the magazine was just like a magazine. It had this useful entertaining information, and then the second half of the magalogue would be the sales letter.
Email alchemy is in a way, the emails are kind of like that. They always come up with value to begin with, because the last thing you want to do is just pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, and do it like on the nose. Pitching on like in the world of theater or screenplays, we have like on the nose. You never do that in the movies. You never do that in entertainment. But we tend to do that as marketers all the time and it’s really just a way to burn out your list.
Only people that have no real savvy, or no real concern, or no real care for their followers or their list, who treat their list like a wallet are going to do that. So there’s really kind of a staged approach. But at the end of the day, I take a very sort of megaloguish approach to email marketing. I don’t believe in content over here and then pitch over here and never the twain shall meet. It’s not my philosophy.
My philosophy goes back to that magalogue format where every time we touch a customer, we want to deliver tremendous value. But at the same time, we want to give an outlet to that value and give them something to buy if they want. But at the end of the day, we never want them to feel alienated or to be pitched at. We want them to have something that they’ll take away from that email, even if it’s just entertainment, or encouragement, or inspiration. They can take that away, and if they’re not in the position to buy, they’re still going to get value from that email. Does that make sense?
James: It does. There’s a few good points there Daniel. I think, firstly, you described the large chunk of the internet marketing crowd there with the on-the-nose approach where they’re treating their email list as like opening their wallet, basically just put some cash in here please. When they start out, their whole premise for sending email is that they need to make a mortgage payment or they’d like to travel somewhere. So they just send out an email telling the customer to buy. That is on the nose.
You’ve really uncovered that next level of sophistication where you’re embedding entertainment, and encouragement, and story, and encapsulating that. I do like the magalogue idea. I actually picked up on that and used to produce magalogues when I was speaking at events that I could give out that had a beautiful printed, glossy version of what people had purchased and how they can utilize support, and how they can get started in the program, and it was a nice high-touch item. I can see how disguising sales as news has been effective for some of the greats in the advertising space.
James: So I like what you said that you combine value with an outlet. To a large extent, that’s how I utilize podcast actually. It’s massive value creation. Sometimes there’s an outlet where people can discover more. And sometimes, that will result in them being able to further solve their problem. As a marketer, I can also receive a reward for that.
So let’s get into the framework. So you said SOD PC. We might as well get started at the top shall we?
Daniel: Yeah, yeah. Nothing to do with turf, or twits, or virus-ridden PCs.
James: So what’s the S stand for?
What does SOD PC stand for?
S – Subject line
Daniel: The S stands for Subject line. I’m kind of antithetical when it comes to all of this stuff. I don’t believe in the kind of popular internet marketing subject lines like “Hey…,” and “Have you seen this yet?” Those subject lines do get opened. But we’re not taking open rates to the bank, and my approach is very much different. I like to look at the subject line as really having kind of three very, very important elements that should almost always be there.
“We’re not taking open rates to the bank.”
I look at it in this way: think about when you are in your inbox, and you’ve got a bunch of emails in there, and you’re dealing with all this, it’s not really the subject line that’s the most important thing. When you’re looking at your email box, you don’t even look at most of the subject lines.
What do you do? Your eyes scan the front line first. It’s not even going to look. You’re not even going to look at the subject line unless the last time James emailed me, he gave me something, a value. Whether it’s a smile on my face, or maybe it was a tip, or maybe he made me feel good about myself, or whatever it was. So I’m going to look for that. I’m going to look for your name or whatever your brand is that I have some type of a history with.
Only when I see that does my eye move over to the right to check up the subject line. So I’m not trying to minimize the importance of the subject line, but I just want to say that the most important thing is the front line. And the way you build brand equity and bonding in the front line is with the body copy of the email.
So all of these tricks and fancy stuff like crazy pattern interrupts in the front line, it’s not long term stuff. It’s not stuff that’s going to give you high, residual, lifetime subscriber value. So the way I look at it is the front line is sacrosanct. That’s the most important thing. You want your front line to be awesome. And the way you do that is with the body of the copy, and we’ll talk about that as we go through the framework. Once you got that, then the eye moves over to the right, and it looks to the subject line.
3 things you want in your subject line
You want to have three things in there most of the time. You do want to have a pattern interrupt of some kind. People are below the level of awareness. People are obsessed with sex and survival. I mean the subconscious mind is always scanning for things that stand out and because it might be a sexual opportunity or survival imperative. So things like intrigue, controversy, conspiracy, embarrassment, betrayal, depravity. All these things are primal sort of things that have inherent conflict. So you want something like that. Even if it’s just one word in the subject line. Tabloid-worthy stuff in other words.
Second thing you want in your subject line is curiosity. There has to be a need to know what’s inside of the email. So we want to get them to open it. So we have the pattern interrupt, that primal thing, the primal scream that gets them to stop, we want the curiosity that then gets them to open.
And we also want to have in there, most of the time, we want to have some sort of relevant benefit. And this is the part that the tricky internet marketing guys like to leave out. And they’re stupid for leaving that out. I mean maybe once in awhile, but most of the time, there should be a relevant benefit in that subject line so that when they open, they’re not just opening so that they can, “Oh, that’s what he meant.” And then they just, you know, on to the next thing.
James: Right. There’s a lot of bait and switch going on in the IM space for sure. I noticed the email that you opened up that I’d sent out and then you’d replied back to suggesting this podcast, I was just looking at it as you were describing that, and I noticed it had the word Counterintuitive SEO Experiments in it. I guess that would appeal to curiosity, and it could be beneficial to someone who has a website.
Daniel: Yeah. And you’re telling them what it is too.
James: I tend to give away the punch line a bit. But I do have a golden rule and that is that someone must be better off opening my emails. And you’re so right about seeing who the email is from. I’m going to react very differently to an email from somebody instead of a company for example. I can see here an email from WordPress or Intercom. It’s really not going to grab my attention as much as an email from Daniel, or Dave, or some of the people who I have a high level of interaction, like Ryan.
Don’t focus on open rates
Daniel: Yeah. And it’s not just about getting the email opened. It’s not. Open rate should not be a KPI when you’re… Mailing to mailing, it’s something I recommend you don’t even look at.
James: What should we be looking at?
Daniel: You should be looking at your final objective, whether it be sales, or whether it be leads, or whatever it is. Because if you obsess over open rates, I can guarantee you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
James: I think that’s consistent with the other research out there that shows people who get a higher optin rate from their website by having a squeeze page will sometimes not make the same yield where they could have a lower optin rate but a more of a relevant front end leading people to that opt-in. I also saw some research showing how we’re reacting to alerts and responding to things because we like to get this little dopamine release.
James: I guess what you’re saying is if we can create an email that helps people be better off, then they’re going to be encouraged to look for that next one because they know they’re going to have a pleasant feeling associated with opening that email up.
Daniel: Absolutely, yeah. If you look at most of the emails you get, they’re either like a bunch of content, they’re giving you tips, and giving you secrets, and giving you different ways to do this. It’s kind of like putting a blog post and an email kind of thing. And then the other kind of email you get is more like a notification, like on the nose, “This thing is awesome. It’s great. Go here.” Right?
Daniel: And I think neither of those are the optimal strategy. The optimal strategy, we’ll get into it when we look at the rest of the formula, but it’s back to that magalogue thing again where you’re giving people value. I tend to shy away from giving like hard teaching, like tips and things, but I always want to give people some type of value, and it’s typically more like a soft teaching, like the wisdom; not like tactical stuff but more mindset stuff, and big strategy stuff, and saving the tactical stuff for the sales page.
A quick recap
James: Great. So that’s good. So just a quick recap in our email alchemy formula. We’ve covered S – subject. You dropped a nice, big word there – antithetical. I think that means you’re opposed to right? The traditional way that people are using the subject lines.
Let’s move on to the O.
O – Opening
Daniel: Yeah. The O stands for Opening, and this is like those first few sentences that are so difficult to write usually and so important to getting that end result that you’re looking for whatever it might be.
You absolutely have to hook the reader. This is really about using very short, incomplete sentences to start out. So to give you an example, if we walk back to the subject line, I’ll give you a subject line that has those three elements, that pattern interrupt, the curiosity factor, and the relevant benefit. So the subject line is New, Real Facebook Fear – The Only Way To Avoid the Slap.
Now that’s a pretty long subject line. You kind of want to mix your subject lines up. You want some short ones and some long ones. But that one’s got all of the pieces right? The pattern interrupt is fear. The only way to avoid the slap – that’s a pattern interrupt. Fear is going to get people’s attention. Curiosity – well, what is the only way? And what’s the slap anyway? That sounds pretty bad. I better open this email. And obviously, we know what it’s about. So that’s the subject line.
But then, when they open the email up, to give you an example of an opening line, I like to use people’s names. So I’d typically put, “Hey James,” and the first line is simply this –
“The legend started years ago.” Period. That’s the whole paragraph. And because people are kind of conditioned to respond to stories, automatically when “The legend started years ago,” there’s a certain pull to that.
And then we use open loops like there are questions that are sort of implied in what we’re saying. When you say, “The legend started years ago,” that’s an open loop. Oh yeah? What is it? And then the next paragraph, “Now it’s like the word ‘watergate’. Where every slimy, political tricks, sports scandal or celebrity exposure is referred to as some kind of gate.” You see how I’m still not telling them what the heck it is. I’m talking about it without revealing it, right? And that pulls people in.
It carries on to say, “But this alert is about the same sort of thing online where the Google slap is now equated with the nastiest, profit-crushing, business-destroying consequences imaginable.” You see how you can’t read one of those paragraphs without being sucked into the next one. That’s what the opening is all about.
“Human attention is kind of like a locomotive.”
Human consciousness or human attention is kind of like a locomotive. It’s very difficult to get it, very difficult to get it started. But the more people attend to something, the more likely they are to continue attending to it to a certain point. So that’s the whole point.
I like commitment and consistency. If I get you to say yes James, are you more likely to say yes the next time I ask you something?
James: I’m not, but I’m aware of the encyclopedia close. You know it just sort of raised the question with me. Culturally, do you find that there’s push back in other markets? Like as an Australian or having visited the UK a lot, these over-the-top, hypey sort of statements are very repulsive to our market. The last few words that you said in that, that’s a close the email thing for me. But I’m not sure if you find that, it certainly won’t be a problem in North America, definitely not. But we’re sort of over that stuff here.
Know your target
Daniel: Well I mean, one of the most important things that you need to be doing is you need to be writing to a specific target, and you have to know what’s going to turn them on and what’s going to turn them off.
James: That’s the perfect answer. I mean you’ve presupposed with this entire framework that you must know the outcome that you’re looking for. That will be the measurement and to be able to determine if you’re being successful. And you absolutely must know your audience. So I think certainly anyone in the IM space who’s been there for a while, there’s been a lot of the skies-falling-in type stuff around slap this, slap that. So I guess we get our thick skin eventually and then it stops being effective. Like the old magalogues used to work and then they become dull. I guess there’s a timeline for when you can use these tactics or not.
Daniel: Yeah. I think it’s more important to think about who you’re writing to. Magalogues that are done expertly and targeted correctly are still working to this day.
James: Yeah. I believe people actually, they’ll buy cadillacs from direct response mail still.
Daniel: [laughs] I didn’t know that.
James: Yeah. That’s crazy. But you know, I think the important thing is, these frameworks and structures, we have to make sure that we’re giving good inputs and context. And then they’ll be very effective. So within our framework here, we’re definitely going to have on opening, and what you’ve described there is an opening that draws us in and wants us to find out what’s next. Is that right?
Daniel: Correct. Yeah. Basically to get the person reading. That’s the purpose of the opening.
James: In other marketing terms, they call that a greased pole or a bucket brigade.
Daniel: Yeah. The greased pole, I don’t know if I’ve heard a greased pole, a greased shoot maybe, yeah absolutely.
James: Yup. So basically we get started, and we can’t stop.
Daniel: That’s right. Well, I mean you’ve got to continue to grease the shoot but it gets easier. Once you get past those first few paragraphs, it gets easier.
James: Are we already at the D?
D – Deepening
Daniel: We’re at the D yeah. D stands for deepening. This might be something, I’m sure you’ve all heard of subject lines and opening lines. But deepening might be something new to you. Basically with a deepening, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to get the reader to withdraw from the sensory world. We’re trying to get them outside of the here and now.
You’re sitting there at your computer. You’re reading an email. That’s what’s the here and now. We want to take them somewhere else. And we want to take them into the past or into the future.
Go inside the world of their imagination, almost like a regression, so they become more suggestible and open minded to what we’re trying to say. If you are a student of storytelling, and typically the deepening is a story, we will say things like, it could be going back, which a lot of most stories except Science fictions are going into the past. But we can go easily into the future as well by using trigger words like “imagine,” or “picture yourself James.” And then we can actually make up the whole story. It doesn’t have to be factual.
James: Right. Is this the copywriting or sales philosophy of suspending disbelief? Just basically removing someone from where they make it all logical and analyzing it too closely.
Daniel: Yeah. When you tell a story, people tend to suspend their critical faculty. Critical faculty is where you’re trying to take things apart to see if they add up, to see if they work, where a story, you’re kind of suspending that because you’re creating this world outside of the here and now.
And that’s the reason that we do this, almost like a daydream or a trance that you can put the person in. If you look at them, their eyes are like saucers and they’re not really paying attention to their environment. The wheels are spinning inside of their head. And people love that. People love that.
“There’s a reason that that person is reading your emails.”
I call this whole thing of giving value in the email, I call it secondary reward. There’s a reason that that person is reading your emails. There’s a reason that you have a special brand in the front line is because you’re giving these people a reward. You’re giving them entertainment, you’re giving them encouragement, inspiration, you’re putting them in suspense, you’re surprising them, there’s just a joy in reading the email.
The other thing about the deepening segment and telling a story is you’re empowering the person to figure out what’s the meaning of this. The idea or the definition of on the nose is I’m going to tell you, James, what to think. But when you tell a story or you do this kind of deepening, you’re letting the person figure out what’s right on their own.
James: Right. That’s one of the keys to cult persuasion is to let people form their own, like to join the dots themselves is far more powerful than for you to hold their hand and draw it with them to actually let them fill in the dots. It’s more powerful.
Daniel: Yeah. And if you’re running a screenplay, or you’re writing a novel, the cardinal sin is to tell people at the end what the subtext was.
James: It’s like all those sites where you have to go onto Google after a movie to figure out what actually just happened.
Daniel: Now the difference here is that once I give them this kind of subliminal message that’s buried inside of the story or the deepening, I do come out, and I just tell them very directly what it was about and what the meaning was. So it’s different in that sense. It’s not a classical storytelling approach. Yes, it takes advantage of storytelling, but we come at the end, and we spell it out for them at the end.
But that’s not in the deepening. That’s in the next section.
James: So basically at this stage, and if we draw back on history, like from when this was first coined in the early 1800’s, it’s about putting the burden on the reader.
Daniel: Uh-hum. Yeah, but not leaving it there.
James: Yes. Now, you’re going to take the burden back as the writer. So that leads us to P, right?
Daniel: That leads us to P, yeah absolutely.
P – Pitch
P stands for pitch. Pitch in my book is not a dirty word at all. It certainly can be a dirty word if that’s all you do. But if you have this idea of secondary reward and you give the person something before you pitch them, then I think you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t bring the meaning and the message into very clear and direct terms and spell it out for them in the pitch. So I don’t think pitch is a dirty word at all.
James: Is it interchangeable with other words like offer?
Daniel: Yeah, although with email alchemy, we don’t always trot the whole offer out. We talk about the benefits of this thing and why you would want it. And sometimes we do trot the offer out. But it gets boring if you do that too much. If you send a lot of emails, I’m a big believer in sending a lot of emails, if you can put together emails in this SOD PC fashion, you earn the right to send far more emails about a particular topic because you keep coming at the topic from all kinds of different directions.
You’re telling all kinds of different stories. You’re using all kinds of different, magnetic ideas. I mentioned some of them before, like intrigue, or embarrassment, and every time you’re telling a story, people are getting some sort of entertainment, some sort of reward out of it, so you’ve just earned the right to send a lot more messages.
James: Well I think the overview here is that you now stopped becoming a push marketer, and you’re now a storyteller. Someone who’s a fan of an author is going to be keen to get lots and lots of stories. It’s like stories on tap from this person. They already get the benefit of the story by the time they’re getting to the pitch parts. So they’ll forgive you for that, or you’ve earned it.
Daniel: Yeah. That’s exactly right. You’ve earned it. And if they don’t have the money, or they’re not in the position to buy, at least they’re learning something. They’re getting some type of value out of it even if it’s not the tactical “do this,” “do that” that they would get if they were to buy. They’re getting something out of it.
James: And I just want to anticipate a possible question here. You mentioned that open rates aren’t necessarily your metric. But would unsubscribes be something we want to pay attention to?
Do you need to look out for unsubscribes?
Daniel: I don’t pay any attention to unsubscribes. I don’t get a lot of unsubscribes. But it doesn’t bother me at all when people unsubscribe. There will be people that unsubscribe.
James: I think that’s what stops most people sending an email is that fear of rejection that someone would go off their list is like a slap in the face. What would you say to that person?
Daniel: I would say that if you’re sending them these kind of emails, they probably have some sort of mental problem, or they’re just not interested in the topic whatsoever. So why should they be there?
James: Got it. So basically, don’t let that be a reason to hold you back.
Daniel: No. Not at all.
James: So how do we structure our pitch? You’ve alluded to a couple of a couple of different ways. It’s not necessarily trotting out the offer. It could be an overview of the product or some benefits I think you mentioned. Can we round this topic out?
Structuring your pitch
Daniel: Yeah, very often the pitch is not involved or lengthy in any way. It’s really just taking the subtext of the deepening, of the story, and spelling it out, and saying, “And here’s how you can get it,” or “Here’s how you can take it to the next step,” or “Here’s where you can find out more about that.” And then maybe I’ll talk about some of the value add that they’ll find when they actually read the LGM that they requested, Lead Generation Magnet, or when they actually watch the replay of the webinar that they said that they wanted to watch. That kind of thing.
James: So it sounds like we’re bumping up pretty close to the C here in the formula. The last piece.
C – Call to action
Daniel: Yeah. The C is the call to action. The thing about a call to action is it’s gotta be super clear, and super concise what you want them to do. Ideally, you want just one call to action. Although there are times when you might have a couple of different call to actions, but there’s a circuitous route to the same place regardless of where they go. You never want to be like, giving people two completely different things to do.
James: Gotcha. So an example is there is one of the emails that go out each week for my business would be a weekly news roundup where we would have multiple links in that email, but they all go back to the same community.
Daniel: Yeah. That’s a bit of a different animal I think, a news roundup. Yeah, you’re talking to the same community, but you might be giving them four or five different topics to peruse, correct?
James: Yes. I call it longline fishing. The goal is to be able to provide value to a member. Just one of those topics should be of interest to them. And if they can click on that and derive more value, then that helps them get a performance result from their subscription, which means that they retain as a customer.
James: But thinking about this formula, there’s no reason I couldn’t have an opening or a deepening and then move into the multiple links.
Daniel: No, no. We call that a stick sequence.
James: I’m all about stick sequence because I am all about subscriptions. Focusing on keeping customers is the name of the game for my business rather than always looking for new ones.
Daniel: Yeah, yeah. Well inside of the, I don’t want to turn this into a sales pitch or anything, but inside of the Email Alchemy membership, we have these 12 different types of, 12 different function of emails, and one of them is exactly that. It’s a retention sequence. And the SOD PC formula applies to all 12 of the different types of series that you would launch.
James: Right. Well that’s the main point I was wanting to get at, that this formula could be used for different purposes. It’s a good baseline framework.
Daniel: Yeah absolutely. In terms of the call to action, super clear, super concise. What I meant by two different links, I didn’t really look at it as a news roundup but for example, let’s say you wanted people to sign up for a webinar, and your ultimate goal was to get them to buy at the end of the webinar, what you might do is you might have another link, and it would go to a testimonial page, and it will just be like testimonial, after testimonial, after testimonial. And then you could have a button to go to the sales letter. And that’s the same end result that you had in mind when you want them to come to the webinar.
James: Right. So we call that a fast path. It’s a way people can bypass having to go through that whole webinar sequence, and they can get to the part where they can buy as long as they get warmed up with something on the way through.
Daniel: Yeah. And typically that would be the case. I mean a typical email alchemy campaign is like 15 days or something like that. It’s not like that would be the first thing you do.
James: Quite a lot of people coming to my membership have never actually seen the sales page because they join a webinar waiting list and then they actually get follow up sequences with a direct link to the checkout and they actually can skip the whole pitch, which is fascinating. But some people are in a hurry and I don’t want to hold them back.
Daniel: Yeah. And then that’s true of email alchemy too. If you send out 15, 20, 25, 30 emails, you don’t need a sales page that’s 18 miles long. You can get away with a very basic sort of order page. It just gets to the point of what do I get when I sign up for this membership. You don’t need those long sales letters that are trying to tell the story, and then this, and that, and the other thing.
James: Yeah. So that’s like talking past the sale.
Daniel: Yeah exactly. That’s exactly what it is.
James: So just to round up, is there anything more in call to action, or should we focus on summarizing the formula now?
What’s a good call to action?
Daniel: I like to say that a good call to action is kind of like an embedded command. Like when I say, I was talking about this fear-based sort of approach to writing an email, and we have metaphors. What’s a metaphor for fear is like a nightmare, right? So a call to action might go like this, “The real nightmare would be missing out on James Schramko’s SuperFastBusiness podcast or to not get Daniel’s free special report called 147 Opening Line Idea Starters for Email Marketing on Fire.” Now you see how I marked that out in my speech?
James: Yeah well, now you’ve done that, we probably should give that away. Is that an actual report?
Daniel: It is an actual report.
James: Right. Stick a page on your site. Give it away. That’ll be cool. We’ll put a link in the show notes at SuperFastBusiness.com where this email alchemy podcast is. What a lovely gift.
Daniel: Great. But back to the call to action. This is the actual link, right? So we have the call to action, but the link itself is a verb. Get Daniel’s special report. That will be the link.
James: Yup. So very, very clear, and you know exactly what’s happening.
Daniel: Yeah. And that’s how you want to do your call to action and email, like hyperlink the part of the sentence that is the command. It doesn’t look overbearing, like you see people that put like a whole paragraph as a link. I just hate that. It’s so…
James: It’s too much. We, quite often, we’ll just hyperlink “Click Here.”
Daniel: Yeah, click here. That’s a command, isn’t it?
James: It’s very clear. Because we had a website development business, we focused a lot on usability, and also, we had an SEO business, so we understood anchor text. If you combine those two elements, often you’ll get to the point. We find our clickthrough rates are good, people are doing what we’d like them to do, all of course in the interest of them being better off for doing so. That’s a great tip with the call to action.
I think I’ve heard Gary Halbert used to really clarify this, especially in the Boron Letters, that you really have to spell it out for people in the clearest possible way what they’re supposed to do now because any ambiguity will result in less action than what you might expect.
Daniel: Yeah. And if the link is too long, there’s a certain blindness that goes there. Like when you look at something, if it’s just a few words, you can’t look at it without reading it.
James: It’s quite often, we just hyperlink the “here” part and we put it in caps. It is very literal.
Daniel: Yeah. Here.
James: It’s like Click HERE. And then only the HERE is underlined. That is actually often carried in our PS. That’s our number one lead generator. In fact, we sell all our live event tickets from a PS from a six-month long campaign. We sell the other half of the tickets, about 140 tickets, from a PS signature link over five or six months. It’s phenomenally powerful.
Daniel: Yeah, yeah. It’s beautiful.
James: Right. So Daniel, we’re going to sew this all up together. I already filled a page with notes from our call already. Firstly, I want to say thank you for coming along to the show. You actually responded to one of my emails. So I’m thankful that you didn’t delete it. You actually opened it, so I must be doing something right. The endorsements you’ve had from other people you’ve worked with are phenomenal. I saw a few on your site. Lots of names that the people in our space recognize. So you’re doing something right.
The formula you shared with us is the email alchemy formula. It’s SOD PC. We covered subject, opening, deepening (that was a new one for us), pitch, and call to action. It works for many different types of applications. Importantly, you’re always giving value to your customer, and you’re becoming a proper storyteller, and you’re not just a push marketer treating your customer like a cash machine.
If we can make our world a more sophisticated place when it comes to sending emails, I think we’d be a better place for it. And you’ve kindly offered to give us 147 opening line ideas, and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. Daniel, thank you so much for sharing.
Daniel: Yeah. Thank you James. If you nail this thing, if you nail all these five elements of the persuasive email, you really get, I like to think of it as two fundamental advantages. You get to mail your list more than everybody else because your emails are inherently rewarding not in the sense of giving away hard content necessarily but they bring a smile to the person’s face, or they reveal some kind of useful wisdom or insight.
And secondly, your conversion rate, we didn’t really talk about this, but your conversion rate on the landing page is going to go sky high because you’re thoroughly pre selling people before you ask them to click. And getting away with that, with repeatedly doing that, because you’re never failing to bring value.
James: Fantastic. Alright, well I hope we get to catch up again. We may have some questions underneath this episode at SuperFastBusiness.com. If you got a question for Daniel, go ahead and ask it. I’ll let him know that there’s a question there. Check out his website, Daniellevis.com, and I’m sure you’ll find some great resources.
Daniel: Alright. Well thanks very much James. I enjoyed it.
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