Author: Chris Pearson, Partner & Email Marketing Specialist at 3BM
A couple years back when I was knee deep in Peaceful Profits with Mike Shreeve and his team, he introduce me to a guy name Bill Mueller.
Bill’s been around the block a few times when it comes to writing and writing copy.
He’s sold millions.
He’s a storyteller.
And he’s a standup guy.
So, when he launched his Story Sales Machine, I had to get it.
I love stories. It’s my favorite vehicle to learn from and help people through.
That’s why, today, I wanted to break down a “Waitlist” email from Bill that ecom brands could use to pre-launch new products.
Story Sales Machine by Bill Mueller
From Bill’s sales page:
“This digital course + email template pack shows you how to create your Story Sales Machine and start using power of story in your business. You’ll get email-by-email breakdowns, dozens of examples, templates, a 10-email welcome sequence, 212 subject lines, 141 story idea starters, and much more.”
And let me tell you, it delivers.
Let’s dive in.
Rules: The Email Muse
Each week, I venture through the marketing wilderness to find highly-effective ecommerce sales emails… and I shine a light on what made them work.
My goal with this weekly tangle with the email muse is to teach you strategies and tactics you can use with your emails.
Where do I find these magical electronic pieces of mail? My inbox, mostly, since I’m signed up to lists that I want to be on. I also take suggestions from readers who have a stellar email they’d like to share.
Did you get an email recently that made you smile, your eyes tear up, or flat out gut punched you? I want to see it.
Forward the email to me at (chris at threebeaconmarketing dot com) with a brief note about what you liked about it. If I choose to break it down, I’ll give you a shoutout and link back to your site.
And no forwarding me your own emails. That’s the only rule.
Let’s get started.
The Solo Subject Line Word
There are virtually no limits to what you can put in a subject line.
You can use a “how to”… a “promise”… or a “single word”…
As long as that subject line delivers in the email, you’re good to use it.
Click bait happens when you promise something in the subject line but do not deliver on it in the email. The betrayal people feel with “click bait” is more about not getting what you promised them then the words used.
Here, Bill uses a single word to elicit curiosity and pull you into his story.
We’ve all had choices to make, so what’s he talking about?
Two Lines to Open
What I appreciate about Bill’s emails?
He gets right to the point.
He sets the hook with two, short lines of copy that keep you reading down the page.
These two lines play on the subject line, which keeps us reading. Why? Because most people are going to read these two lines and nod their heads “yes,” that’s true.
This is how simple and straightforward your copy can be. It doesn’t have to clever or groundbreaking, if you know how human psychology works.
Bill gets it, and he keeps us reading down the page, because we want to know where this story will lead.
Set the Stage. Start the Story.
Once we’re “in” the copy, Bill dives right into his story.
He’s a storytelling machine (hence the name of his course).
99% of his emails are story-driven masterpieces that use a story to illustrate a point he wants to make before pitching an offer or asking for some kind of action.
Read the copy in the image above.
Again, this is a simple, yet relatable story most people get. They see this and say “yep, I’ve had a choice like that before, too.”
This is the magic of storytelling.
You can use a simple “T” in the road story to get attention, share your story, and earn trust with customers.
So many brands burn out their lists because they go straight for the customer’s wallet instead of letting them get to know the brand, first.
Granted, I get that brands need to “sell” in order to keep the doors open, but sticking with “sell, sell, and sell” for your emails puts you in a tough spot. Your list will churn more people than necessary, and you’ll rely on paid acquisition to keep the brand afloat.
Using what Ross O’Lochlainn coined an “Open Every Day” model is what businesses who stay open for decades use, not the “sales cycle” you see all over the internet.
Dig Into the Choice
The “moment of choice” is important.
If you don’t have this moment in your storytelling, it’s 1. Not a story and 2. A boring one at that.
Characters must make tough decisions, be challenged, and fail on their way to success.
If they don’t, again, you’ve got a stinker of a story.
In this story, Bill’s choice is to go left or right.
And he keeps it short, succinct, and to the point.
It’s a simple example of making a choice, and that’s where the power of story lies.
Your stories don’t have to be blockbuster record setters.
They can be simple, every-day stories that people relate to.
For example, I recently advised an email consulting client to start talking about one family outing or event per week in their emails… and link that back to why they started their alt. health supplement company.
They shared stories with me about their own and their children’s health complications–and how western medicine’s made things worse.
I told them, where they are willing, sharing those stories will resonate deeply with people because you’re sharing the story, not telling them about their pain. They get to relate to it instead of being told about their own problems.
This is where “story selling” magic happens.
The Lesson (aka The Point)
Telling a story for telling’s sake is bad form.
There must be a point, or the reader, whether they can define it or not, will feel like they wasted their time reading.
Value comes in many forms: entertainment, education, elevation, etc.
So, when you decide to tell stories, make sure they are examples of a point you want to make.
Telling a story that doesn’t make a point is like getting your dog all excited to go for a walk and then leaving them leashed up on the porch while you walk down the block.
The feeling of WTF is real at that moment, right?
(And no I’m not calling readers dogs).
What I am saying is…
Have something to say… and say it with a story.
Stand for something.
Make the damn point.
Bill does this in this section of the email.
He relates his road trip choice to choosing what to write in emails.
It’s a great “point” to make for his audience.
He also uses this point made as a transition into his offer.
Bill relates to the reader and then transitions into his offer.
He uses what’s called “reason why” copy.
He shares that the reason he’s preparing his offer is due to the pain and problems that the reader feels around not knowing “what to write” in emails.
Again, Bill is a master at this with how straightforward and clear his copy is.
He cuts all fluff and gets right to the point.
The beautiful part about this section is that he’s not even selling anything, yet.
He’s creating anticipation for the launch of this offer next week.
Brands can do this with promos, product launches, and anything else they want to sell or offer to their customers.
The “pre launch” anticipation builds interest and commitment BEFORE the product is available to purchase. It also gives your list time to get ready for the product and you time to “sell” it to them.
A lot of brands drop products, say they dropped it, and leave it at that.
There’s so much more you can do to prime your audience for the launch and get them excited about it.
Bill’s sign off is personal and personality filled.
It keeps things “real” with his readers.
The P.S. + Waitlist Offer
This is the waitlist CTA.
He doesn’t even include this in the main body copy. Why?
I’d guess his adamant readers and fans will read every single word, which means they’ll be primed to click this if it makes sense for them when they get to it.
Those who skim and read may click this CTA, but something else happens, here, too.
Those who do not read the email and skim to the bottom will get the urge to read the email. They get curious about “what to send and when to send it.” Their brains have to close this loop by reading the email.
In a way, this is a “reverse open loop,” creating a gap the reader has to fill in their minds with Bill’s email.
What You Learned
Here’s the tl;dr of what you learned today:
- There are virtually no limits to what you can put in a subject line… as long as you deliver on it in the email.
- Keep your copy simple and straightforward. Clever kills readership.
- Use a story to illustrate a point you want to make.
- Characters must make tough decisions, be challenged, and fail on their way to success… or else it’s not a story.
- Telling a story for telling’s sake is bad form.
- Value comes in many forms: entertainment, education, elevation, etc.
- Have something to say… and say it with a story.
- Use anticipation building to get your list excited for something to come later.
- Use a “reverse open loop” in your PS to get people back to the top of the email and read it instead of skimming to the bottom.