3 Copywriting Formulas to Help You Write Better Emails

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Do you want to know the number one secret copywriters would hate for you to know? Okay. Here it is...We cheat.

Yeah. It’s true. When it comes to writing extraordinary, high-converting copy, copywriters completely cheat the system. How so?


Okay, not really... but we do use copywriting formulas!

Instead of trying to be 100% creative with every piece of copy written, we apply these proven frameworks and their standing structure to all the copy we create so that we can flesh it out from there. Now, there are hundreds of copywriting formulas you can use. But I want to give you the top three most powerful and effective formulas around to help you quickly and easily write emails that convert better than before.

These are so effective that everyone from Apple to Zappos use them for their own copy. Do you want to learn more?

Then keep on reading!

Before writing any copy, you need this first

For copywriting formulas to work, the best place to start is to know the pain your customers are experiencing. What are they struggling with?

How big is this issue for them?

How are you going to make this pain and struggle go away? When you know the answers to questions like these, you can leverage that within your copy and your formulas will work that much better!

Now, let’s dive into the goods.

The 3 most powerful copywriting formulas


This is by far one the most commonly used formulas in copywriting today. Many of the other formulas created by copywriters and marketers use the core of this one to build on because of how effective it is. Let’s dive right into the breakdown of what AIDA stands for:

  • Attention - A headline or sentence that gets your reader to stop and pay attention.
  • Interest - Give them something that makes them want to know more.
  • Desire - Get their emotions involved in a way that makes them want what you’re offering.
  • Action - They want what you have. Tell them what they need to do to get it.

Now, even with a formula to go off of, when you’re new to copywriting moving forward can still feel a bit nerve wracking.

I know because I’ve been there.

What always helped me was to see examples of these formulas being used in the real world, and that’s what I want to do for you!

For AIDA, you don’t need to do as much as you think to make this formula effective. Just look at how Foundr uses this inside of their emails:

Since you know how AIDA is structured, you can see this copywriting formula at work:

  • Attention - The email subject line appeals to the people this email is going to. Foundr knows their customers well, so even though the subject line is just four words, it’s still enough to get the email opened.  
  • Interest - More money and less work. That’s the dream for us all, right? They don’t dance around that fact, but instead, they state it clear as day and get their readers nodding along.
  • Desire - They just talked about the dream of more sales and less work. Next, they say that this is possible and they have the answer to get you there. This subtle offering makes the reader want more.
  • Action - Right below that you see a call-to-action to grab the info Foundr is offering, that will help you get more sales on autopilot. This vital step gives the reader direction so they know exactly what to do next!

It’s also good to note how much copy is being used for this formula. There's not a whole lot to it.In this example, there's about 150 words or less - which is much shorter than your average blog post.

Every situation will call for a different approach as to whether you need to stretch or shrink your copy to fit into your needs. But, for simpler emails and landing pages, being more concise generally works to your advantage.

Now, before you run to a Google Doc and start banging out some new copy for your marketing materials, you should take a closer look at the next formula on the list.


Because it’s one of the best in the business.

2. The 4 Ps

P is for powerful, and The 4 Ps copywriting formula is one of the most powerful structures around. Even though AIDA is one of the more popular options, The 4 Ps does a better job of grabbing the heart and emotion of a reader because it usually weaves a story into the process. Stories sell products better than almost anything else, but only if you do it right.

And with the rinse-and-repeat formula that The 4 Ps has, you can do it right almost every time. Here is what each of the Ps stands for:

  1. Problem(s) - State your customer’s painful issue or phrase it in a question.
  2. Picture - You know their problem(s) which means you should know what the solution(s) looks like. Paint that picture of how their life would be better with that solution in full affect. Craft the story.
  3. Proof - By this point your reader is likely thinking “that sounds too good to be true.” Here is where you come in and show the evidence to back up what you’ve just talked about. Before and after photos, data, graphics, testimonials and third-party stats can be used in this section.
  4. Proposal - You’ve stated the problem. You’ve managed to paint the most amazing picture of life without this problem and likely hinted at your product/service as a solution. You’ve even handed the reader transparent and true evidence to back that up. Now your reader should be hungry for more. So, this last step is where you offer your service/product in an outstanding way so all they can say is yes.

Now, when you first read through that, it probably seems a bit overboard in terms of getting people to convert or buy.

What you may not realize, though, is that this formula is so widely used that you’ve been exposed to this type of marketing many times over. For instance, take a look at the health and fitness industry.

If you’ve ever watched an infomercial selling a weight loss supplement or program (we’ve all seen those a few hundred times, yeah?) then you’ve seen The 4 Ps in action.

Take a look at this email from well known fitness expert and online marketer, Chalene Johnson. This is from a sequence that Chalene sends during the launch of a new product.

What I love about this email is how Chalene cleverly uses The 4 Ps without being overbearing:

Instead of out right stating the issue her audience has, Chalene’s email draws attention to the problem in a roundabout way. Her readers lacks the level of health and happiness they desire and the the first headline says as much. The picture part of the formula is a bit more subtle but still powerful. Chalene uses a bulleted list to highlight all of the ways her approach is different than other diets. With this easy-to-absorb picture, her readers are likely to envision themselves as the thinner or healthier them... and thanks to Chalene's amazing solution, the results will come in just a few weeks and with less hassle and more freedom then with anything else they’ve tried.

The picture and the proof part of the email work well together in this email since an actual picture is used as proof to back up what she was stating earlier. The before and after photo is all that’s needed for proof here! Right after that, there’s the proposal - a CTA to join the program now. Even though the deal is mentioned before, the button link is the only place in the email that has the CTA and link to join. What’s great about this email, like the AIDA email example before, is that there isn’t too much to it as far as copy goes. It’s also good to point out that this formula isn’t industry specific. Many online entrepreneurs who make a living from their blog or who sell online courses have found this formula to be a great asset for generating more traffic to blog content or course/product sales. But if you’re pressed for time and want at least one formula you can start using without much practice, then this next one is your Holy Grail.

3. PAS

Finally, we have PAS - the simple and sweet formula you can whip out and use to your heart’s content. I have yet to find a copywriting hack as quick and easy as this one.

Truth be told, the PAS formula isn’t the easiest one to spot unless you’re really looking for it, but that doesn’t make it any less effective at moving people to action. Now, real quick—this is what PAS stands for:

  • Problem - You know the problem they have, so say it.
  • Agitate - Their problem reeeeally stinks, and you want them to remember just how much it does. Salt that wound a bit!
  • Solve - Present your solution.

If you’ve noticed that all of the formulas so far have started with addressing a problem, that’s no accident. All successful businesses are solving a major problem or issue. I mean think about it... Restaurants solve a customer’s hunger problem. Cell phones and phone services solve people’s communication problem. Cars solve a transportation problem. The list is endless. So by starting your copy with addressing their core issue—the very real problem your customer doesn’t want to deal with anymore—you are able to get to the root of their motivation and then move them into becoming a customer. Consider how cold email expert Heather Morgan at Salesfolk uses this formula:

When you know the way PAS is formulated, it’s easier to spot:

  • Problem - Your sales emails get opened but no one is responding. (two thumbs down!)
  • Agitate - You feel like you’re doing everything right until you realize you’ve forgotten a memorable CTA.
  • Solution - I have 3 tried and true tactics that really work. Check them out!

Even without a lot of research, you probably know at least one problem that your customer needs solved and how you can offer that solution.

And once again, there’s not a lot of copy in this email which means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time putting something together that is going to convert well.

Really, you could spend around 30 minutes or less writing out copy for your customer using the PAS formula and end up with 3 or 4 usable ideas.

Awesome, right? I think that’s worth a fist pump.

(Thank you, Kip.)

If you have an email list or landing pages for your business, why not give PAS a try and A/B test the results. You may be pleasantly surprised by what comes out of it.

Copywriting formulas wrap up

As stated before, to make copywriting formulas work to your advantage, you must first have a firm grasp of your customers and their pain points. If you don’t know the problems your audience has, then start doing your homework. Reach out to them for a quick call. Email out a survey that gathers this info. Post in a Facebook group with your audience and start a conversation about what pains them and what would make that pain go away. Once you have a good read on your audience, writing copy with these formulas becomes that much easier.

And your fancy new emails will have that magical conversion power you've always wanted!

So, are you ready to put these copywriting formulas to good use?

Let Sendlane help!

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