Copy Observations From My Spam Folder…(What A Bitcoin Extortionist Taught Me About Writing Better Copy)

I check my Spam folder probably two times per day. I’d say probably 95% of the time, there’s nothing important in there, but every now and then I do see a time-sensitive email that was routed to spam for some reason. It takes five seconds to check my spam folder, and it’s worth it to not miss the occasional email that’s actually important.

But one of the funny and unintended consequences of checking your spam folder this regularly, is that every now and then you catch some pretty unique emails.

Case in point…

Probably the most interesting spam email I’ve gotten in the past few months was from someone trying to extort me for bitcoin.

It was pretty interesting actually…

The subject line was: Stefanpaulgeorgi@gmail.com, then one of my passwords.

Talk about attention getting, right?

Now fortunately the password that was included in the subject line was an older one that I don’t use anymore…

And I’m sure this spammer got the password from some data breach, or hacked some random website that I’d made an account on back in the day, and saw my email and password…

But I’ll be honest, it definitely did make me open the email and read it.

The crux of the email was that the hacker had been “inside” my computer for some time now. He’d been tracking and monitoring all of my activities and saw what I was doing. Specifically, he’d seen that I go to a bunch of nasty/weird pornography sites, and he’d taken screen captures of me visiting them and, presumably masturbating, through my webcam. “Boy, you’re into some pretty freaky stuff” the hacker said.

Fortunately, the hacker is a nice guy though. If I just send him $1,000 in BTC to the address provided, he’ll destroy all of the files. And he’ll even give me tips on how to be more secure in the future!

If not though, then he’ll have no choice but to release all this info to the public, email it to family and friends, etc.

Yikes!

Now fortunately I’m a smart enough guy to know this is a scam…

But I did google it to see if it was a pretty common thing.

The answer is “YES, it is”…

And what’s crazy is how many people had paid money.

On government forums, FBI forums, FTC forums, and just general forums…

You had people saying how they were having an affair, and had meant to tell their wife but hadn’t, so they paid the guy because they were so scared of their wife finding out.

You also had other people who were just embarrassed about whatever porn it is they watch, and didn’t want it to ruin their careers, so they sent the hacker some bitcoin to make it go away.

But the point is, like THOUSANDS of people have paid this ransom request.

So sure, this is pretty messed up. And the people having affairs are obviously assholes.

But there are some pretty interesting marketing lessons to be had from this spam/ransom attempt…

1. The subject line.

You want to get someone’s attention? Get personal. Probably don’t email them their password. But if you have a targeted list, or have appended your data, or you know something surprising about your recipient, using that in the subject line can be very effective.

The most common version of this is when someone puts the recipient’s name or business name into an email address. For me, I’m pretty immune to seeing my name. But when it’s a business name, it does usually catch my eye for whatever reason.

But I wonder what else we could include there?

For example if you know the city where someone lives (ie. It’s a buyer list and you have that data)…

That could be pretty effective and cool.

You see this with Display Ads already sometimes:

“People Living in Las Vegas Earn $72,898 Per Year By Getting An IT Degree. Click Here To Learn More”…

But I don’t see it in email subject lines very often, and it would be easy and interesting to test.

That’s just one example though, I wonder what other things we could do here to make subject lines more personal?

If you guys have ideas, would love to hear them.

2. Speaking To People’s Truest Human Nature Through Your Copy.

Obviously the bitcoin/extortion email I’m referencing is immoral and wrong. But I think the reason it’s been so effective is that it’s targeting this deep-seated, but unspoken fear that the target market really has.

Imagine the guy who is having an affair. He’s torn up inside, he’s anxious and nervous. He knows he should stop. He already has this voice inside telling him he’s a bad person. He’s paranoid that his wife already knows…

Then he gets this email threatening to expose him…

How is that guy NOT going to be flooded with anxiety. Does he really want to risk this being a scam? Is it worth ignoring the “offer” being made and possibly have his entire life come crashing down?

Probably not, so he pays.

Well this holds true for people with health concerns, financial concerns, self-esteem concerns, etc.

So the lesson on this one…

Ties-in to something Justin posted about a few weeks back in our FB Group

Which is that you need to get to the core of what your market really wants. Or what they’re really motivated by.

If you’re selling a dating program…

The guy you’re targeting probably wants to get laid, sure…

But his deeper, unspoken desire is for companionship, validation, fulfillment, love, happiness, etc.

So that needs to inform your copy.

It’s not just “Bang Girls Tonight, BRO!”

Sure, maybe you have that, depending on your market and your product…

But the most effective copy is probably also going to allude to the idea of fulfillment, of confidence, or being a more fully realized man…

It’s the same reason I’ve seen a lot of the “pick up” guys start moving to products about self-actualization vs “get laid tonight!”

They’ve started to realize that “day game” and “night game” and “whatever game” are fine…

But what most of these men really want is to be made whole.