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As a marketer, you probably write a lot of copy.

However, it can often be difficult to know what to say, and how to say it, in order to appeal to your audience and get them to click-through.

But imagine if you could write email copy that was so compelling people just couldn’t resist clicking your emails and taking you up on your offers?

In this post, you’ll learn a copywriting technique known as the BAB formula that you can use to write better email copy and improve your email click-through rate.

What is the BAB formula?

BAB is an acronym for “Before – After – Bridge” and the formula is a framework you can use to structure the copy in your email marketing campaigns. It is a conversion-oriented formula designed to make a particular offer (like a product, event or content piece) appeal to the wants and needs of your reader.

The formula has three parts to it. When followed correctly, it makes it easy to write great copy that compels your readers to take action.

1. Show the readers their world before your solution.

You start by painting a picture of the reader’s world before your solution. The key to this part of the formula is to get your readers to identify themselves in the picture and to realize the problem you are presenting is happening to them.

For example:

With so many other emails competing for attention in the inbox, it can be incredibly difficult to get your readers to open and click-through on your email marketing campaigns.

2. Show your readers what the world would be like after your solution.

Next, you need to show readers how the world would be different after using your solution. The key to this part of the formula is focusing on a benefit the reader really cares about, such as attaining customers or increasing revenue.

For example:

But imagine if you could leverage a simple formula that gets people to click-through from your emails and become paying customers, increasing sales and driving new revenue for your business.

3. Bridge the two worlds together with your solution.

Now that you’ve made the reader realize the problem and shown them how good life would be if the problem were solved, it’s time to present your solution as a bridge between the two worlds.

For example:

You can use the BAB formula in your next email campaign to show people exactly how your solution will benefit them and convert them into paying, loyal customers that drive revenue for your business.

An example of the BAB formula in action

To help show you how the BAB formula can be put to use in your campaigns, I created an example email for a fictitious new product aimed at real estate agents then completely overhauled the copy using the BAB formula.

Before BAB

After BAB

In the revised email where the BAB formula is applied, you can see:

  • Before: The email painted a picture of a problem all real estate agents experience: increasing competition for a limited number of buyers. This helps them to identify the problem in their own lives and makes them realize it is something they need a solution for.
  • After: The email then painted a picture of a utopian world that every real estate agency would want: one where they can sell properties at record prices in short periods of time. This creates desire amongst readers and warms them up perfectly for the introduction of your product.
  • Bridge: The email wraps up by presenting the product as the bridge between the existing world where it’s difficult to sell houses and the utopian world where it’s easy to sell properties at record prices. This shifts the desire created in the previous paragraph onto the product and compels them to take action.

Why does the BAB formula work?

According to behavioural psychologist Adam Ferrier, humans are motivated to take action by two things: pleasure and pain. We either chase pleasure or we avoid pain. Sigmund Freud also called this the Pleasure Principle.

The formula works because it prevents you from focusing your copy on things like features and tools, and instead forces you to present your product in the context of how it will help improve your readers lives.

In conclusion

The key to success with the BAB formula is truly understanding the pleasures your customers strive for and the pains they wish to alleviate.

If you know that, then you can use the BAB formula in your next email marketing campaign to ditch the product-focused copy and start writing benefit-focused copy that converts.

  • Jaina

    This is definitely something that’s probably more applicable to a certain type of email. How would it work in emails from retailers, where you’re showcasing products? I think good copywriting is just as important in those sorts of emails, to be able to sell your wares to your customers while not being too “salesy”.

  • Aaron Beashel

    Hey Jaina

    I think it’s a great point you’ve raised.

    The formula is very conversion focused and probably not as relevant to news or feedback type campaigns.

    That said, that doesn’t mean it’s only applicable to sales or product related emails.

    For instance, we used it in the email campaign announcing this blog post and it worked great because at the end of the day we’re trying to ‘sell’ the benefits of reading the post. Although people aren’t giving money to read the post, they are giving up their time and we need to convince them of the benefits of that.

    So I’d say it’s probably applicable to any email where you have a specific conversion goal in mind, be that around a product, a piece of content or something completely different.

    Would you agree?


  • mik pam

    I like it. Picked up a trick I can use on the next email blast. Here at our agency we use C-A-B (Characteristic , Attribute , Benefit ) but it is getting really stale, definitely will try this out. Thanks for the insight .

  • Stacie Walker

    Fantastic content, Aaron. The BAB formula is simple to remember and it doesn’t take a genius to implement it right away.

    I have been going through my autoresponder to reviewtmy current messages. I have revised several email messages to make sure that I have implemented the BAB formula.

    I look forward to reading more of your content because you are an excellent teacher:)

    Keep up the great work.

    Stacie Walker

  • Aaron Beashel

    @Mik – Really glad to hear you picked up something you can use in your next email blast. I agree these kind of copywriting formulas do get a little stale so I’ll do my best to keep new one’s coming your way!

    @Stacie – Thanks so much for the kind words. There’s nothing I like hearing more than when people are able to immediately put into action something they learnt from a post on the blog, so I’m genuinely really happy to hear you were able to revise some of the copy in your autoresponders with the BAB formula!

    Let us know how the revised emails go for you as well!

  • Roy Moss

    Awesome! I will definitely try this out on some of the emails in my funnels.

    Great article as always!

  • Adam

    This sounds great, but I was just wondering if there are any stats to back it up?

  • Jacob Eeckhout

    Thank you for this formula, simple but effective. Can you also apply this concept to long reads? If yes, do you need to add ingredients?

  • Stephan Hovnanian

    Nice spin on PAS (problem, agitate, solve), I thought that’s where this was going until the example. Definitely going to use this, thanks!

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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