Writing great email copy can be challenging, yet it’s such a critical part of marketing success.

With Facebook continuing to limit how many people see your posts and Twitter click-through rates declining, email is becoming an even more important channel for your business.

So how can you ensure your email copy is working to get you the maximum amount of clicks and conversions possible?

In this post, we’ll teach you the 4 P’s copywriting technique to help you write amazing email copy that gets results.

What is the 4 P’s technique?

The 4 P’s technique provides a framework for writing email copy that appeals to your customer’s desires. 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 technique has four parts to it, including:

1. Promise

You start by making a short, punchy promise to your readers. The key to this part of the technique is to make sure your promise speaks directly to the desires of your target market.

Here’s how we might do this if we were writing an email promoting the Campaign Monitor product:

Your email campaigns can be so great people that people can’t help but click-through to your website.

Our own research has shown us that the number one thing marketers care about when it comes to email is improving their open and click-through rates, so we’ve structured our promise to appeal directly to the things they care about.

2. Paint

Next, you need to paint a picture of what their world would look like after you’ve delivered on your promise. Again, the key to being successful with this is truly understanding what the ideal world looks like for your target customers and speaking directly to it.

Continuing our example from above, here’s how we might do this if we were writing an email promoting the Campaign Monitor product:

With those extra clicks comes extra visitors, and those extra visitors will convert into more sales and revenue.

Although our research shows improving open and click-through rates was the most important thing to marketers, we know the main reason they want to do that is because it results in more sales and revenue.

Given that is at the core of what they are trying to achieve, we talk directly to it to paint a picture of what their world would look like after we’ve delivered on our promise.

3. Proof

Now that you have made a bold promise and painted a picture of what their world looks like after you’ve delivered it, you need to give them proof that you can.

People are skeptical these days and don’t always believe the promises marketers make, so the key here is to show results that independent organisations have achieved using your product or service.

Here’s how we’d do this for Campaign Monitor:

In fact, when ConversionLab used Campaign Monitor to send a series of automated email campaigns, they were able to drive an extra $120,000 in revenue for their business.

Because we know increasing sales & revenue is what our target audience ultimately cares about, we used a story from one of our customers that specifically states the amount of extra revenue they were able to generate using Campaign Monitor.

This appeals to the target audience’s core desires and offers proof that the product can deliver on the promise being made earlier.

4. Push

Finally, with readers excited about your product, it’s time to push them to take action.

The key here is to relate your call to action back to the ideal world you painted for your readers earlier, as this reinforces the fact that your product is the path towards that ideal world.

Finishing up our example from before, here’s how we’d do this for the Campaign Monitor product:

So create your free account and start driving extra revenue for your business today!

As you can see, rather just going with a generic ‘Create your free account’ we tied it back to the picture we’d painted earlier, reinforcing that creating a free Campaign Monitor account is the path towards driving extra revenue for their business.

An example of the 4 P’s technique in action

To help show you how the 4 P’s formula can be put to use in email marketing campaigns, I quickly created two fictitious campaigns promoting the Campaign Monitor product. In one campaign I used the 4 P’s formula and in another I didn’t.

Without using the 4 P’s technique

Using the 4 P’s technique

As you can see in the first email (without the 4 P’s technique), the copy doesn’t speak to the desires and goals of the target audience and instead focuses on the product’s features and support.

The second email, however, is completely focused on the customer. It makes a direct promise that appeals to the target market’s desires and goals and then backs it up with proof. It finishes up by positioning the Campaign Monitor product as the path to their desired world.

What’s missing from this technique?

One of the things you may have noticed that’s missing from the 4 P’s technique is any information about your product. Nowhere does it encourage you to mention price, features, support, or really anything about the product itself.

This is because when you have only a few lines of text to work with, these kind of details aren’t important. The only thing you want to be telling your readers is how your product or service will help them achieve the things they care about.

Once you’ve got them interested and clicking through to your website, then you can give them the further information they need to make a purchase. But when you only have a few lines to work with in your emails, you need to make them count.

In conclusion

Using the 4 P’s technique is another great way to create email copy that improves your click-through rate.

The key to success with it is truly understanding the world your reader’s desire and then using that knowledge to paint a picture of how your product can help them get there.

So give the 4 P’s technique a try in your next email campaign and let us know how it goes for you!

Your turn: How do you feel about using copywriting techniques & formulas in your emails? We use them often and think they’re an easy way to write great email copy without spending hours on it, but we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • Jaina

    Really like the idea of this technique. It’s a great starting point if you’re struggling for copy to write and don’t know where to begin – breaking it down like this is a big help.

  • John Woodman

    I think having a methodology like this could help a lot of people. I find that clients I deal with don’t struggle with content themes. They also don’t struggle with writing nicely flowing content as they know their source material and are passionate about what they do. What they struggle with is the layout and process behind organising the content. This could be very useful as a reference tool.

  • Mary

    Having a clear structure guide when writing content definitely helps, but I fond the biggest battle can be to edit down the content into manageable amounts. as well as following a clear structure, I think that the editing process needs to be very strict, people will skip over your email if it looks too word heavy! We created our own tips for our clients here: http://www.friday.ie/journal/writing-great-content-online/

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