Email marketing might seem a bit old fashioned when compared to new methods like Facebook Live or 360 video. However, the fact remains that it is still one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to connect with your target audience, build trust, and make sales.
The key to using email marketing effectively is to hold your audience’s interest. You have to make them eager to open your next email. But how do you do that in an age where attention spans are short and the options seem endless?
One option is to create a soap opera sequence. We’re not talking about giving your company an evil twin or staging a kidnapping. Rather, a soap opera sequence is a way of adding a bit of drama and suspense to your emails. Here’s how to do it.
What is a Soap Opera Sequence?
The first thing you need to know is what a soap opera sequence is.
Simply put, it is a sequence of five emails that are intended to create drama, build suspense and anticipation, and ultimately, to entice recipients to take action.
Here’s how the emails break down.
Email 1: Setting the Stage
The first email in the sequence is the introduction. It lets the audience know what to expect in upcoming emails.
One of the most effective ways to build anticipation is to start your first email by promising to tell your audience a secret. It’s important to convey what the secret did for you and why you’re eager to share it.
You should always end the first email with a teaser telling people to be on the lookout for your next email.
Email 2: Drama and Backstory
The second email in the sequence has to include a lot of drama to hook the reader. Many companies use this email to talk about a time when they were in trouble. Perhaps the market hit an all-time low and they thought that their company would fail.
The end of the second email should hint at what’s to come. In other words, it should let your audience know that you figured it out and saved your company – and you’re reading to tell them how you did it… next time.
Email 3: Epiphany
The third email in a soap opera sequence is where you reveal the secret you discovered – the one that changed everything.
It might seem early to reveal the secret, but the trick here is not to be coy. You can reveal it, but you’ll also draw it out by letting them know that in your next email, you’ll share even more helpful information.
Email 4: Hidden Benefits
The fourth email in the sequence should be focused on the hidden benefits of your product or service – the one that came to you when you had your epiphany.
The trick here is to make these hidden benefits truly hidden. They shouldn’t be things that your readers figured out as soon as they heard your epiphany. You have to spin them in such a way that this email feels like a revelation.
Email 5: Urgency and Call to Action
The final email in a soap opera sequence is where you hit your readers with a strong, direct sales pitch. Every email in the sequence will include a call to action, but this email should entice them to act immediately.
This is also a good place to introduce a sense of urgency – something we’ll talk more about a little later on.
When Is a Soap Opera Sequence Appropriate?
Soap opera sequences are effective, but they’re not always appropriate. Here are some tips to help you decide when to use them.
Launching a New Product
One of the most compelling ways to launch a new product is using a soap opera sequence. It works best if you (or someone at your company) really did have an epiphany about it. You can use the soap opera sequence to tell the story.
This method works equally as well for new services. It allows you to create a backstory around your product which you can also use in future marketing.
Another effective use of a soap opera sequence is to relate a client testimonial. Telling your audience how you helped someone like them is powerful. It allows them to put themselves into the story and relate to it.
Here, the epiphany should be the moment when you realized how to help the client. The entire focus of the sequence should be on your client and how your product or service changed their fortunes.
While product launches and testimonials are the two most common uses for a soap opera sequence, there are other opportunities for using them. Here are some examples.
1. To share your company’s backstory. It’s not uncommon for companies to tell their story using this type of sequence. It’s a good way to build an emotional connection with your audience.
2. To announce big, exciting company news. If you’ve recently acquired a new company or opened a new office, you might be able to craft a soap opera sequence to share the news.
If you decide to use a soap opera sequence for a non-traditional reason, make sure that you don’t alienate your readers. You may want to segment your list and direct the sequence to new subscribers to minimize the chances of that happening.
Tips for Writing Effective Soap Opera Sequences
Now let’s talk about some tips for writing effective soap opera sequences. It’s important to strike the right tone – and include the right elements – if you want your sequence to have the effect you intend.
The three elements you need to get right are the tone of your email sequence, the cliffhangers and teasers you use, and the sense of urgency you convey.
The Soap Opera Tone
One of the most important things to get right in your soap opera sequence is the tone you use. You want your tone to be strong, dramatic, and compelling – but without going overboard.
Soap operas often veer into melodrama, but you cannot afford to do that – not if you want your readers to trust you.
One way to get the tone right is to use short sentences. A lot of soap opera sequences put just a few words on a line.
They might tell use an ellipsis to build suspense for the next sentence. You don’t want to overuse this technique, but a little bit of it can be very effective.
Cliffhangers and Teasers
One of the hallmarks of soap operas is the endless use of cliffhangers and teasers. The people who write soap operas and serial dramas want their viewers to be salivating at the thought of what might be coming next.
It’s very common for soap opera sequences to end just before revealing a big secret or epiphany. If you tease a big reveal at the end of an email, then you’ll increase the chances that your audience will be ready and eager to read the next email in your sequence.
One way to tease your upcoming communication is to include a postscript or PS in your email. For example:
PS: Keep an eye out for our next email. In it, we’ll share the ONE BIG SECRET that changed everything for us!
It’s easy to imagine a recipient of that email looking forward to the next one. What is the one big secret? They’ll be eager to know.
How to Add Urgency
The purpose of a soap opera sequence is to drive sales and conversions – and to do it now, not later. For that reason, adding a hint of urgency to your sequence is essential.
Here are some tricks you can use to make readers want to take action immediately.
1. Make a limited time offer. Even if you’re introducing a new product that will be available for years, you can still offer a freebie or a discounted price to spur readers to buy now.
2. Hint that there are dangers associated with delaying. For example, you might say something like, “Can you really afford to wait another day?” This type of language taps into readers’ fears without being obvious about it.
3. Hint that you don’t have an endless supply of your product (or endless time and availability if you’re offering a service.) This triggers the fear of missing out and can compel people to respond to your call to action.
These are just a few suggestions. The key is to make your audience feel that waiting to take action is not a good idea.
If you use it properly, a well-written soap opera sequence can bring new life and vitality to your mailing list. It can engage with both new and existing subscribers and give them a taste of drama and excitement.
At the same time, these sequences can give your sales a boost and help you grow your company. The best part is, they don’t take long to write – so why not create one today?