Which Copywriting Formulas Work Best in Email Marketing?

Which Copywriting Formulas Work Best in Email Marketing?

Email marketing still generates £29bn in sales every year.  But how can you ensure that you get the most from your email marketing?  Copywriting formulas can have a major part to play.

The blinking cursor in a blank document. It’s taunting you, isn’t it? Daring you to write a new email. Even though you embraced the power of segmentation, you still don’t know what to write for this sequence. What’s the use? No one reads emails anymore, do they?

Customers – your customers – both want and need your emails. You change your opinion of writing them. Sketching out a framework takes a matter of minutes. Filling in the gaps is a pleasure as you’re excited to talk to your customers. They reply and tell you how they use your product, teaching you things even you didn’t know.

The difference? Copywriting formulas. They’re a tried and tested way of getting your audience from their current state of mind to your preferred state of mind. With a specific framework to follow, they take the guesswork out of writing copy.

And the beauty of copywriting formulas is they work. Some of them derive from the golden era of advertising when people still read long-form adverts.

There are at least over 25 formulas in use in current marketing best practice. So, how do you know which formulas work best in emails? We’ll show you.

NES

No, not Nintendo Entertainment System. This refers to Nurture – Excite – Sell. You can drip it out across a series of emails or – if you’re brave – use it in the same message. It works well in onboarding sequences or a welcome series.

At first, you nurture your subscriber. Give them the content they signed up for. Entertain them, if it suits your audience. Get them used to clicking links in your emails. At no point do you ask them to buy anything. If this was dating, it would be the ‘getting to know each other’ phase.

Next, you excite them. Give them solutions to their problems. Prove you’re an authority on the topic. A curated newsletter is a great way to get them excited about your industry. If you’re in the tourism business, send them amazing images of the places they could see if they used your service. Think of this as the relationship.

Finally, you sell to them. Make your offer. You’ve gotten to know each other and shown why they can trust you. Because you know what you’re talking about. Making the sale is like popping the question. It’s asking them for a commitment.

The reason this formula works is that it moves a cold subscriber through the spectrum to a warm lead. You take time before you ask for the sale. The length of this sequence depends on your niche and why they signed up. It might take three emails across a week. Or it might need more emails throughout a trial period.

It also means you’re not stuck for what to write next. Draft the structure, outline the emails, automate, and away you go!

AIDA

Perhaps the most famous of the copywriting formulas, AIDA is the one we’ve mentioned most around here. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

First, you get the subscriber’s attention. Sometimes that’s getting them to sign up. In others, it’s snagging their attention in their inbox. That’s why email subject lines can be crucial.

Next, you earn their interest. Keep providing the content they need to keep them opening your emails. You need to be top of mind when they’re ready to buy.

Generate desire for your product through the email copy. Like the NES formula, you can drip this over a series of emails. Case studies or reviews are a great way to do this. Show them how your solution worked wonders for someone else.

Last, prompt them to take action. This is often a literal call-to-action button. If you can, make this the only thing they can click in your email. Give them too much to click on and they might never come back for the main link.

You can use this within one email too. Think of it as Subject Line – Introduction – Email Copy – Call to Action if you do.

PAS

This classic copywriting formula works well if you sell a product to solve a problem. But you can spin anything into a problem/solution if you’re creative enough. It stands for Problem – Agitate – Solve.

Define the problem the subscriber has. Paint a picture so they feel the frustration associated with the problem. Say you sell plant-based skincare. You’d start off by talking about the problems faced by those with skin complaints. Write them as if you suffer too.

Agitate by making it worse. What might happen if the subscriber does nothing about the problem? In the above example, you’d heap on all the extra problems faced when sufferers try too many ‘solutions’ at once. Or they waste money on things that don’t work and create further issues.

Finally, show why and how your product solves the problem. Maybe your skincare products don’t contain preservatives that irritate existing conditions. Or they’re chock full of the vitamins skin needs to thrive. Whatever it is, paint an even better picture of the solution.

This formula is ideal for a single email format. You don’t want to leave subscribers on a downer after the Problem and Agitate phases. Include Solve in the same message. Go out on a high note.

BAB

This stands for Before – After – Bridge. Start by describing a problem – the ‘Before’. Project management tool Asana could use workplaces where people miss tasks they didn’t realise needed doing.

Move onto the world where the problem no longer happens. That’s the ‘After’. For Asana, you’d describe productive workplaces where everyone is on the same page. People take responsibility for their tasks and tick them off when they’re done.

Finally, describe the bridge between the before and after. How can the subscriber get to this wonderful world without the problem?

This formula works well in single emails. It invites the subscriber to empathise through a shared problem. Then it lets them dream big of a world without that problem. Crucially, it provides a way for that world to happen.

You can boil it down to its essentials and use it on landing pages or even in sign-up widgets for your email list. Sprinkle it through your social media posts. Or use it in blog posts and adverts. Look at the introduction to this blog post. Sound familiar?

Think of them as content frameworks for your email marketing

You might baulk at using formulas in case your copy sounds trite or… well… formulaic. But these formulas have worked for decades because they play to human psychology. You’re in business to help people, and the best way to do that is to reach the part of them that will accept your help. Think of psychology as the bridge between their ‘before’ and your ‘after’.

Looking for a new email marketing partner to help you achieve these lofty goals? Then get in touch. We’ll get you set up with all the tools you need to send emails your customers will look forward to reading.

We’re standing by!


Also published on Medium.