[Email of the Week #20]: Outlier

By Chris Orzechowski

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One of the things you learn if you’re an athlete or entrepreneur is that the fundamentals always win.

When I wrestled in college, we spent 90% of our time drilling the fundamentals. In fact, I don’t really remember learning a lot of “new moves.” Everything was basic: mat returns, single-leg takedowns, Stand-ups, shot defense, hand-fighting… that was the stuff that won matches. We weren’t drilling flying squirrels and belly-to-belly suplays.

Sure… those big flashy moves are fun. But they’re not what’s going to win matches consistently.

Fundamentals always win.

And when it comes to e-commerce email marketing, I think this holds true.

With any kind of advertisements… whether it’s an email or a space ad, there’s a finite amount of “angles” you can take.

There aren’t a billion different types of hooks like you might think. There are probably only about 20.

One of those angles that’s been proven to work for millions of companies is using testimonials.

It’s a basic email formula.

It’s one of the “bread & butter” angles you can keep going back to over and over again.

And while a testimonial email isn’t the “sexiest” copy hook you’ve ever seen… these kinds of emails are just damn effective.

That’s why when I saw an email from Outlier.org come into my inbox… I was thrilled to see them embracing the fundamentals of great salesmanship with their very own testimonial email.

I LOVE writing these for my own business (and for my clients)… because they’re tried and true. And… they’re damn easy to write.

If you’re ever struggling to figure out what to write in your emails, highlighting some testimonials is a great fall back option that will get you a lot of sales.

In this week’s edition of Email of the Week, we’ll explore why.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

This is the 20th installment of my Email of the Week series. (Catch up on previous episodes here.)

And in case you’re new around here, here’s how this all works…

The Rules For Email Of The Week

Each week, I go out into the wild to find a super-effective e-commerce marketing email… and I break down what made it work. My goal is for you to tune in each week, so I can teach you strategies and best practices YOU can use to make your own emails better.

I find these emails in my inbox, but I also accept suggestions from readers who have a remarkable email they’d like to share.

If you recently received an email that was so awesome it made your jaw drop, I wanna see it.

Forward it to me (chris at theemailcopywriter dot com) with a brief message about what you liked about it. If I choose to do a breakdown of the email you sent, I’ll give you a shout out and link to your site.

The only rule is… you can’t pick yourself.

Now then, without further ado, let’s check out the Email of the Week!

Outlier.org – The Future of Higher Education

I love cool, disruptive companies that solve major problems in society.

One of the biggest problems that’s on everyone’s mind is education.

Of course, politicians have been trying to “fix” education for about 100 years. I don’t understand how it’s still not ‘fixed.’ Like… what have you been doing for the past ten decades?

I’m not sure how many more trillions of dollars we’ll need to throw at the problem before it does in fact “get fixed.”

On the other hand…

The American Stock Market is the most powerful economic force the world has ever seen. Most of our workers went through our education system. So… maybe we’re actually doing OK? Maybe this issue is just a talking point?

I’m not sure.

Nevertheless, there is a problem of accessibility for higher education that transcends socioeconomic status, race, gender, religious background, geographical location, etc…

College is ridiculously expensive, for everyone.

And I personally think it’s expensive for no good reason.

I mean…

It’s not 1924 anymore.

You don’t need to pack up your bags and ship off to an Ivy League school to learn how the world works. The model is just kind of outdated.

Sure… there are some absolutely brilliant professors who are driving innovation around the world with the work they do. There are professors who can literally transform you into having super-human intelligence just by being around them for a few semesters.

But usually, they’re not the guys and gals teaching 100 level classes.

And if they are teaching those basic level classes… isn’t that dumb? Couldn’t their time be better spent?

Can’t we just create a master curriculum that covers all the basic knowledge for each field and record that? Or get the top 10 professors in the country to record it? That way we won’t need tens of thousands of professors teaching the same basic concepts… everyone could just watch a video of the BEST profs teaching it. I think THAT kind of model makes a LOT more sense.

It’s funny.

I barely remember anything I learned in college.

I was usually sleeping through class. Or playing a game on my iPad. Or I would just skip class altogether and play NCAA Football 07 with my roommates. Or we’d head to Kelly’s Korner at 9:00 am on a Wednesday and drink Guinness and play darts.

Kind of a joke, the whole college thing.

Still graduated.

Still got my Masters degree.

Didn’t learn much tho.

And spent a whole lot of money for the privelage of being just about as smart as I was leaving as I was coming in.

Of course, I DID have to waste my time with classes like Dance Appreciation and Planet Earth, which was about rocks or geology or some shit like that? I think?

Because classes like that really helped me as a Sociology major (LOL – good life choices)… and they really came in handy when I became a math teacher… and they REALLY helped me when I quit my teaching job to start my marketing consulting & copywriting business.

Let me make this perfectly clear: I have nothing against the fields of Dance or Geology… but did I really HAVE to take them as a REQUIREMENT to graduate, especially considering I had no desire to enter either of those fields in my career?

Do you see how this whole college system doesn’t make a lot of sense?

I could keep going on and on… but ya get the point.

Sure, there are some pros to the whole college thing.

You’re essentially buying your way into a certain class in society. That’s why everyone wants to go. That’s really all this charade is. You get a piece of paper that says you can work at certain places… even IF you are a fucking moron, off paper.

Of course, I am grateful I got to go to college. I had an awesome time. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s just grossly overpriced and that financial burden is an incredible drain on society.

Also…

Some people nowadays want it to all be free. Or they want all their loans to be forgiven.

How about: fuck no!

We, as a society, are not doing that.

So please just STFU and drop it.

Come back to reality for a moment.

The answer, in my opinion, is never to make ‘everything free.’

We’re all going to pay for it one way or another if we go that route.

Plus… you don’t need to make everything free when you can instead make things so affordable you can give people opportunities with the ocean of money that’s already in the system.

We can just make everything so damn affordable, that everyone can have an opportunity.

Let’s think about this logically for a second…

There’s $2.9 billion in UNCLAIMED scholarship money each year.

That’s over 7.25 million Outlier.org classes ($400) that could be given to people who need them.

 

On top of that, with $46 billion on scholarship money, imagine if that money was given for online classes, instead of you spending $70,000/year to take 30 credits. That would be enough money for 115,000,000+ classes taken.

Do you really need to pay $40,000-$70,000 for a year or school to take classes like Music Appreciation, Planet Earth, Sociology 101 (as general “graduation requirements”)… if you’re going to major in something like business or engineering?

Personally, I’m very bullish on the idea that drives companies like Outlier.

Outlier is a company that offers college classes like Calculus 1 and Psychology 101 for just $400. And there’s a money-back guarantee if you don’t pass. Oh… and did I mention you can take these classes on your own schedule.

I love this company and I really hope they become a force in the market.

If we could eliminate a lot of the BS classes you’ll never need for real-life… AND make the important classes more affordable… AND save everyone a costly room and board bill, we might actually be able to give college educations to everyone on the planet – who wants one – at a perfectly affordable price. And if people can’t pay… there’d be more than enough money available in the system to pay ~$130/credit price for the people who need it vs the $400-$3,000/credit range you currently see at most major universities.

Anyway…

Before I dive into this email, I need you to understand the full context of why companies like Outlier are so important.

Even if they fail – which I don’t think will happen – someone else can pick up the torch and run with this idea and make it happen for all of mankind.

Now, then…

Let’s get into Outlier’s email game.

Outlier is actually VERY good at email.

I’m not sure how big their team is… but it seems like they have a lot of smart people working and backing them.

Like I said in the opener of this article, they seem to be a company who understand salesmanship… and they embrace the fundamentals.

Listen…

Online learning is still a really new concept.

People have a LOT of objections.

And any time you’re met with objections you have to address them if you’re going to win the sale.

Outlier has been sending me a series of short, simple emails that do a masterful job of overcoming objections while moving you closer to the sale.

Let’s take a look at how Outlier.org did this so effectively…

 

Ok let’s start with the subject line.

Is this the sexiest subject line you’ve ever seen?

No.

But ya know what?

I LOVE it.

Ya know why?

It answers a question that’s on everyone’s mind. It offers a hint of social proof waiting for you inside. And it removes that objection that “you’re going to be the one idiot out of everyone you know that gives this company money and has a bad experience.”

It doesn’t matter WHAT the product is… EVERYONE has this feeling of doubt in their mind.

Outlier took a very straightforward approach… and they tell you exactly what’s waiting for you in the email.

Sometimes copywriters try to go overboard with their subject lines. But most of the time clarity trumps persuasion.

Great job on the clarity here, Outlier.

Let’s continue…

 

Here, we have a picture of… some lady!

Do I know who she is?

Nope.

Is she a student? Is she the founder of the company? Is she a professor?

I literally have no fucking idea.

But, they felt like it was important to put a YUGE picture of this woman above the fold in the email.

I’ll give them points for adding a “human” element… but I’m subtracting points for not providing more context.

Let’s get into the copy…

What you see here is a great example of pacing and leading.

You might be wondering X, so let us give you an answer to your question…

This is textbook “entering the conversation in your prospects mind.

Also, I love the handoff.

“Of course we’re legit. But don’t just take our word for it…”

Obviously every company is going to say their product is the best. That’s to be expected. But what do customers actually say?

THAT is what’s on every prospect’s mind.

Look at how simple, tight and pithy this copy is. Not a word wasted.

They just get right down to the point. No throat clearing here.

 

Here’s what’s really cool about this email.

Whenever you are selecting testimonials, your goals should be to highlight specific benefits.

You don’t want people to just say “It’s great – buy it!”… because that doesn’t give you much to go off, as a consumer.

Outlier probably has tons of testimonials from happy students. But they chose three powerful ones that reflect different advantages of their product.

  1. Convenience
  2. Multiple formats that appeal to different learning styles (I didn’t actually know they did this… but it’s super cool)
  3. Community (<<<a big thing people feel like they miss out on if they don’t go to a traditional college)

With these three testimonials, they overcome some HUGE objections. And they shift your mindset into thinking: “You know what… maybe this IS right for me.”

And that’s all they need to do.

Now, once they’ve shifted your mindset, they ask for the sale…

 

You’ll notice there’s some implied urgency in this copy. And, it continues to handle objections by showing your credits come from a ‘real’ college.

They add the deadline and the links.

And there ya go!

Almost forgot, one last part…

 

If you still have questions (objections)… they have someone you can talk to to learn more about the program to see if it’s right for you.

How cool is this?

With one simple little email, they overcome a MOUNTAIN of objections and put your mind totally at ease that investing in their courses is a smart decision.

I love this email.

I love Outlier’s approach to marketing.

And I love this company and really hope it succeeds.

Great job Outlier, keep up the good work.

Big Takeaways From Outlier.org’s Objection-Handling, Testimonial Email

  1. Sometimes a straightforward subject line works best
  2. Nobody wants to look like an idiot when it comes to making a buying decision.
  3. Pace, then lead.
  4. Enter the conversation in your prospect’s mind.
  5. Choose testimonials based on the objections they handle.
  6. Imply urgency whenever possible.
  7. Remind people about important deadlines.
  8. Say what you need to say, not a word more.
  9. Add context if you’re going to use images.
  10. Dialgoue makes your copy more human… and fun to read.

What You Should Do Next

  1. Subscribe to my email list so you can get ALL of the Emails of the Week delivered straight to your inbox, automatically.
  2. Leave a comment for me below and let me know what you liked about this email.
  3. Send this breakdown to someone you know who has a physical product business. You might help them overcome their customers’ objections so they can close more sales
  4. Tell everyone you know about Outlier.org. Hell, take a class! It looks like this company could be the solution to a lot of problems in higher education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. William Metzger on January 11, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    I think a screenshot of the whole email, either beginning or end of the analysis, would be helpful

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