≡ Menu

Could this porn-scammer’s trick boost your sales 30%?

The other day I received one of the new porn-scam emails.

Supposedly, this individual hacked my computer while I was watching porn and caught me in a compromised position through the webcam. He promised the publish the “video” online, and mail it to my friends and family, unless I sent him $1000 of bitcoin.

Normally, I ignore these messages.

But this one did something very clever. It showed me an old password I had used years ago online.

That password triggered my brain – as if I had seen a sabre-toothed tiger hiding in the bushes.  It got my attention for sure.

And while I am not a man of great vice, I did give the message a second read.

It turns out these scammers have robots stealing data from companies with crappy security – which they then paste into their porn-threat emails. Just adding a tidbit of personal information has been hugely effective as an extortion tool.

Most people, wisely, still delete the message.

But a few actually send the bitcoin, desperate to stop their gran from seeing them grimacing on-screen.

How a decade-old password can help somebody hack your computer, I’ll never know. When you stop and think for a second, it seems pretty stupid. Nevertheless, it triggers the animal, lizard part of your brain where no conscious thinking takes place. It makes the threat more powerful.

Do this on a massive scale and you can make a lot of money.

One of the all-time copywriting greats was a man called Bill Jayme. He was, in his time, the world’s highest paid copywriter – and specialised in selling high-brow magazines to the rich.

Jayme never used personalisation in his copy. As he once said: “Do I really want for a customer some boob who’s attracted to his own name?”

Definitely, he had a point.

Then again, I think we are all that boob to some extent. In our agency, we’ve found adding any sort of personalisation can boost response 30%. That’s a pretty big jump for the sake of attracting a few boobs.

Our brains are always screaming for relevant details, alerting us to things that matter.

It’s a lesson in writing headlines also.

You must get YOUR prospect’s attention.

If you have a product that cures bladder weakness, get the words “BLADDER WEAKNESS” into your headline.

Woe betide you if you don’t.

Amazingly, you are actually BLIND to anything which your brain deems irrelevant. 

We assume that we see the world through our eyes, but that’s not entirely true.

The information which passes through your eyes is processed in the brain. Your brain then constructs the picture, showing you what’s relevant, and figuring out what’s different from any previous memories.

You may have already seen this video demonstrating the phenomenon. 

If you’ve haven’t seen this, watch it now – and follow along.

Don’t read another word until you’ve done this.

Okay, now…

…Did you count carefully?

Did you miss the gorilla – walking into the screen, plain as day, beating his chest?

Your brain chose not to reveal the gorilla, because it wasn’t important at the time. At any moment your brain might process 11 million separate pieces of information, but alert you to no more than 40.

If the gorilla isn’t relevant, you don’t see the gorilla.

It’s that simple.

Personalisation makes a message seem more relevant.

It’s just one reason the porn scammers are now cleaning up.

Should you use personalisation? 

I think that depends mostly on your cost of a customer.

Using personalisation might lower your cost of a customer, but increase your cost of a lead: you’ll want to watch the bottom-line. For email, I’ll admit, I rarely bother. Better to keep things simple.

You might also consider the type of product you’re selling, or person you’re writing to. Certain services are more personal, and so the personal touch makes a lot of sense.

As for me, what do I know?

I can only blurt out the same one-word advice on reflex – when I want to sound clever, but really don’t know for sure:

“Test!”