Using the Sideways Sales Letter Email Series to Increase Conversion Rates

What is a sideways sales letter?

Created by Jeff Walker, the sideways sales letter is a communication strategy designed to attract keen interest, develop brand awareness and convert prospects. The twist on the commonly used sales letter is that in a sideways letter, prospects are converted in short emails, bursting with compelling content.

The strategy is ideal for email marketing, including Welcome Emails and Product Launches. Not coincidentally, the Sideways Sales Email Series aligns perfectly with the Inbound philosophy.


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The Sideways Sales Letter

The Sideways Sales Letter Email Series is designed to warm up prospects to the point where they're ready to purchase. Why does it work so well? It closely mirrors the concepts of the buyer's journey, from decision to awareness. It flips the long email from vertical to horizontal and breaks it into sections, like rungs on a ladder, over a period of about 10 days.

Think of those credit card offers that show up frequently in the mailbox. What happens? They get trashed. Here's why old-fashioned sales letter don't work.

  • Too long & too many words
  • Overwhelms the customer
  • Too sales-pitchy (hard sell)
  • Zero brand development
  • Doesn't build a relationship

The classic sales letter can be delivered via email, too. Ever get an email with a catchy subject line to that demands an open? Then you're hit with paragraph after paragraph after paragraph....Delete.

What makes the Sideways Sales Letter Email Series so successful?

A. Great Content

B. Mental Triggers


Mental triggers are the genesis of action.

What are some mental triggers to include? Take a look.

  1. Authority - Position yourself as an authority in your field. Use your position as an expert to persuade prospects that they can not only learn/grow/succeed with your product, but you can show them exactly how.
  2. Sense of Community - Offer real content that includes the subscriber personally. Include a video that encourages comments. Make them feel like they are already succeeding just because they've joined your brand community. Include links to social media where other community members gather and act as brand ambassadors, showing prospects exactly how they can achieve the same success.
  3. Reciprocity - Give them real content they need and want. Go ahead and show them step by step how to re-create a secret recipe, conduct a class, complete a work out. The mental trigger of reciprocity will cause them to act with a reciprocal action.
  4. Anticipation - Something even better is just about to arrive. Let prospects know they have an opportunity to increase their sense of community and join the club. Apple is a great example of this. The sense of anticipation in Apple devotees increases community and drives sales.
  5. Scarcity - "But it's a limited release...." Limit the quantity or time period your offer is available. In terms of a mental trigger that drives action, this is one of the most compelling and should be used to help complete the Buyer's Journey. We will cover how to incorporate each of these in your pre-launch emails below.

By including these mental triggers in your pre-launch emails, a relationship is built with your subscribers. It also takes hope out of the equation. What is "hope" marketing? Sending out one long email and hoping someone clicks on the call to action way down at bottom. The Sideways Sales Email series increases trust, builds your brand and increases conversions. Next, lets outline how to build the perfect email series.

How To Build the Sideways Sales Letter Email Series

Plan 3-4 pre-launch emails that will be delivered prior to the final "offer" email. Fill them with great, amazing, compelling content that immerses them in your brand, delivers real value and showcases the opportunity your product presents. Below is a breakdown of a typical series.

  1. Email #1 Mental Trigger: Authority – It all starts with awareness. Compose a fascinating headline and follow up with a punch. Introduce yourself an an expert and present your brand as the by-product of your authority. Tell your story and offer a carrot that will come in the next email. Give them something that triggers a reason to trust your brand in the form of a irresistible content piece.
  2. Email #2 Mental Trigger: Opportunity - Subscribers have gotten a taste of the new brand and are beginning to realize they've got a problem similar to the story they heard in email #1. In email #2, you want to communicate the opportunity to solve their problem. Give them a juicy piece of content to start moving them along the Buyer's Journey. This is the point in the process where mental triggers of of community and reciprocity begin to build. Invite them to social pages, or to comment on a video. Reciprocity kicks in when they realize the value of the "free" content that's included.
  3. Email #3 Mental Trigger: Anticipation You've already given them content with immediate benefits, a piece of content that built both community and reciprocity. In this email, the sense of becoming part of the community increases and the subscriber is ready to give back. It's time to introduce the mental trigger of anticipation. Bullet point how "They can solve this for me!" By the close of email #3, prospects should be solution aware AND anticipating how your product will rock their world.
  4. Email #4 Mental Trigger: Scarcity In this final email, open the cart. "We sell that solution." And mix in a little scarcity. Consider a limited time offer, community VIP status, additional add on's at no cost or special pricing for the first 500 purchasers.

Final Step? Watch the conversions roll in.

Flip the sales letter 180 degrees and you'll see measurable results. Remember, great content, relationship building and trust is paramount to making the most of the Sideways Sales Email Series. Follow these guidelines and include the mental triggers we outlined above and enjoy the results.

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