The A2E Formula for Email Courses That Convert

“You’re FIRED!”

That was the subject line of one of my favorite marketing emails I’ve ever written.

The email falls on Day 1 of the “5 Learning Mistakes Software Developers Make” email course I wrote with my business partner, John Sonmez from Simple Programmer.

And it’s a great example of my “A2E Formula” for email courses:

– Educate
– Entertain
– Agitate

In a sec I’ll show how that formula plays out, but first here’s the gist of the email:

I open with the story of how John bluffed his way through a job interview by, ahem, exaggerating his prowess as a C++ developer.

He’s shocked when he actually gets the job, and at $75 an hour too!

He tries to give himself a crash course in C++ by reading a 3-pound, 1000+ page book from cover to cover.

He finishes the book, but instead of becoming a crack C++ developer, he realizes he’s learned almost nothing and that he’s just wasted all that effort.

And when the bossman finally catches on that John can’t program his way out of a paper bag, our “hero” gets the old heave-ho.

Here’s how the A2E Formula applies:

– The first E—Pure entertainment value. This is one of those classic “train wreck” stories. You’re rooting for John, but you also kinda know how the story ends, and in the meantime it’s hard to look away.

– The second E—education by (bad) example.

– And the A—And it agitates at every step, first by describing a nightmare scenario of getting a job you’re not qualified for… Then relating a shared common experience of cramming to pass a “test”… And finally by raising the stakes on the importance of having an efficient way to master new skills (which was the topic of the paid course we are selling here).

Are you starting to see how this three-part formula of educate, entertain and agitate works?

I’ve given a valuable piece of information—that reading a programming book cover to cover is a waste of time.

I’ve shown John being put through the wringer, so to speak, which is entertaining (in a painful “ouch I’ve been there too” way) while also building a sense of empathy in the reader.

And finally I’ve “twisted the knife” a bit by showing the reader how the consequences of learning “the wrong way” are higher than he might have realized.

I use this three-part formula everywhere in my email courses—on both on the micro level (individual emails) and at the macro scale (how I structure the course itself).

Tomorrow I’ll show a way to use this formula to start ratcheting up the desire for your product from the word GO.