3 Ingredients You Need Before Testing Your Copy On Emailing Lists

When I was working with my friend Dom on our Glowing Youth project, we thought it would be a good idea to buy an emailing list to sell our products.

So that’s exactly what we did. He bought a random emailing list and I wrote a well-thought-out email that had the product’s page linked to the call-to-action.

The email was a giant FLOP!

Not only did we get ZERO sales. But only 5 people out of (I think it was 100) on the list opened my email in the first place!

For the life of us, we couldn’t figure out why our email failed at first. But as I began to study email marketing, I realized that Dom and I were doing it ALL wrong:

  • First, it was a RANDOM emailing list.
  • We had no idea who these people were.
  • These people had no idea who WE were.

We hadn’t built a relationship with these people whatsoever and were entering into a freezing cold email list!


While this lesson was a tough one to learn, I certainly learned a lot about emails, lists, and the type of copy you want to write.

I’ve written a few blogs about understanding how hot or cold your target audience. But in this blog, I’m going to share with you how to determine whether or not the list is worth testing your copy on!

Learn how to tell whether your audience is warm, hot, or cold in the blog: How To Determine (& Write To) Hot, Warm & Cold Traffic.

The 3 Ingredients You Need For A Responsive List

If I had read Gary Halbert’s “The Boron Letters,” before attempting to sell to a random emailing list, I probably wouldn’t have entertained the idea…

That is unless I was able to determine the potential response rate of the email list.

According to Halbert, all you need to know are 3 things: Recency, Frequency, and Unit of Sale.

Now, Halbert explains these 3 ingredients while referring to an actual mailing list. But if we were to adjust this same philosophy to email marketing, it may sound a little like this:

Recency – The more recently a person bought something (via email), and that product is similar to what you’re selling, the more receptive are to your offers. The more recent they’ve bought that similar product online (within 30 days – sometimes even 90 days), the better. In fact, Halbert ranks them as “hotline buyers.”

Frequency – The more often a person buys a specific item, the higher his desire for that specific type of production service. So if your promotion is on car stereos and the list is full of people who’ve bought a bunch of car stereos, chances are they’ll buy your stereo, too.

Unit of Sale – The more units a person buys a particular product similar to yours, the hotter prospect they are to buy your product.

Dom and I had NO IDEA how recent the list was, what product they were interested in (or whether they were interested in skin care AT ALL), and therefore had no clue if they were buying such products.

Basically, we were trying to fight an uphill battle with no weapons…or legs…

But if we had a list that contained all of these qualities, we could have split-tested and would have probably received great results!

Learn how to turn an audience from cold to hot on the blog: The Secret To Turning Cold Traffic Into HOT Traffic With Copywriting.

“Sell People What They Want To Buy” – Gary Halbert.

Moral of the story: DON’T buy random email lists. Know your target audience and what they want to buy. So when you’re ready to test your copy, you won’t make the same mistake me and my friend did.

For more copywriting tips and secrets, check out the blog at joshwrotethat.com.