WHAT happens at the end of a show like Breaking Bad? Something BIG happens, that’s what. Something that makes us go, “Holy smokes, I wonder what happens next??!”
And we are hooked. We can’t wait to see the next episode. If we’re watching TV, we wait an entire week to see what happens. If we’re binge watching on Netflix, we immediately start watching the next episode, even if it’s 1:00 in the morning and we need to go to work in a few hours.
How do they hook us like that?
With something called an open loop. We humans like our stories to be neat and tidy. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. But when we only get the beginning and middle but no end, it drives us crazy. We have to know what happens next. And that’s why we tune in again.
In the very next episode, they resolve what happened in the previous episode. Then they go on telling the story, and we’re fine again until all of a sudden, WHAM! Something else BIG happens and now the show is over and we are again salivating for the next episode.
NOW imagine you get a new subscriber on your list who doesn’t know you from Adam. How are you going to hook him forever? By using open loops, of course.
Your first step is not to start at the beginning of your story. Nope. Beginnings are boring. They set up all the stuff we need to know and…. snore.
Instead, we’re going to start in the MIDDLE of the story and fill in the back story as we go. This immediately hooks your new subscriber into reading your first email to the end.
Write a 4 to 5 day long email sequence that introduces you to your new subscribers, along with your product and service. Tell the story of how you were struggling to do “X” and how you eventually found the solution or answer.
And start that story at a high point, or perhaps the low point – wherever the action is just before you have your significant breakthrough. It’s the part after all the introductions where there is high drama and a situation that looks just bad. This will hook your subscribers into reading your email. Fill in your back story as you go.
Your new subscribers need to be able to relate to you and understand what you went through is the same thing they’re going through now. You’ll show them via your story that you came out the other side because you found the solution and you’re willing to share it with them.
In telling your story, you should notice several places that are perfect for cliffhangers. Maybe you were so broke you realized you were about to become homeless. Or you were so sick you thought you were dying, or failing school, or losing the love of your life… you get the idea.
You’re telling them how terrible things were for you and what you went through, yet here you are. Maybe you had a breakthrough idea… you’ll tell them what it is tomorrow. Or you met a mysterious stranger… you’ll tell them who it was tomorrow.
Continue to do this every day, overlapping your emails so they unfold into one complete story.
You’re walking your subscribers through your own story so they can relate to you and want to listen to you. Because most marketers completely fail to do this, they lose a wonderful opportunity to connect with their new subscribers.
At the end of your email sequence, offer the solution to their problem, which is your product or service. Build it up and get them excited about it, and then make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Storytelling with cliffhangers conditions your audience to look forward to your emails, open and read them and click your links. They feel they know you and can trust you.
Beginning your relationship with your new subscribers in this manner can make a tremendous difference in the lifetime value of your customers.
Footnote: Condition Your Subscribers To Click Your Links
Can you train subscribers to click the links in your emails?
Instead of writing and sending long emails, write the first few sentences in your email, end on a cliffhanger and direct the reader with these words…
“…Click here to keep reading.”
Then send them to your blog to read the rest of the story.
It will take a few weeks to condition your readers, but after a while they will generally click any link you send them without hesitation.