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Use this classic copywriting formula to get your emails read
👉 it's a "classic" for a reason: it works
Hi - Ian here.
One of the biggest challenges you face when writing emails is to get people to actually read your emails - not just open them.
And with inboxes these days becoming ever more crowded and focus being dragged away by social media, app notifications, the boss shouting and the dog barking, it’s become vital to master the art of getting and keeping attention.
The key to that is the first few sentences of your email. The “hook”.
And one of the very best email hooks is also one of the very simplest.
It’s the classic PAS formula. Problem. Agitation. Solution.
But you have to do it with a little twist. Let’s explore…
With a PAS hook you need to do 3 things in the first few sentences of your email:
Highlight a problem that will resonate with your readers. For example “Lead generation has always been the biggest challenge for most people in sales” or “Have you ever struggled to get your team on board and engaged with a new project?”.
The secret here is you have to pick a problem your readers will quickly recognise. Because if they don’t see the relevance instantly, they’ll stop reading and head back to their inbox.
Next, you need to raise the stakes. Show them it’s a bigger issue than they thought. For example “And today it’s even harder as people have less time to take our calls - and they have technology like call screening to make it easy to block those calls”.
Most people underestimate the challenges they face. But unless they realise just how big an issue this particular challenge is, they’re unlikely to be motivated enough to find out about the solution. So you need to lift the scales from their eyes by showing them why the issue is so important and urgent.
Finally, you need to hint at the solution. The key here is not to give away the punchline. Tell them there’s a solution. Give it a name. Tell them they’ll find out what it is if they read on.
But don’t give it all away in those initial sentences. To use PAS as a hook you need to introduce the Solution and get them excited enough and curious enough to read the full email to find out what it is. For example “Today I’m going to show you the ACE method that gets you more initial calls without being seen as annoying”.
The really nice thing about using PAS as a hook is…
…it’s not that difficult.
Chances are you’re pretty up to speed on what your client’s biggest challenges are. And that you also know which ones they tend to underestimate.
So all you need to do is identify a little bit of evidence for why this is a bigger issue than they might think. Maybe the impact is bigger. Or maybe it’s going to be harder to solve than they think. Or maybe technology or economic or social or other trends are making it worse.
Use that evidence in your hook to put a “so what” behind the issue that will get your readers thinking “ugh - this is a big problem for me. And I need a solution for it”.
Then simply tell them you have a solution and you’re about to reveal it.
Of course, you really do need to reveal the solution in the body of your email. You need to deliver on your promise.
Want an example?
Go back and read the first few sentences of this email to see PAS in action :)
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