Timeless Principles From Advertising Classic “Scientific Advertising” by C. Hopkins For Writing Great Emails

What I Learned From the Advertising Classic “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins for Successful Email Marketing

“Marvel the man who traces his results.”

Do you know where this quote comes from?

Which must-read book for all copywriters and online marketers is it from?

If you don’t know, it shows me, you haven’t read it.

That’s bad.

If you are serious about your online career, you must read the classic books.

Even if you’re cheap, you have to read them since they are available for free if you search places like libraries, etc.

The quote written above is from the book, “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins, published in 1923.

It’s an all-time classic.

And there’s much truth in the quote.

It sums up the thinking of Claude Hopkins:

Making money in marketing by having a scientific approach.

Or shorter.


There is no excuse for not testing headlines, opt-in forms, landing pages, product names, guest post approaches, etc.

And you can start on a tight budget.

Many email service companies like Aweber or my favorite, ConvertKit, allow you to split test Email subject lines.

That means you chose two subject lines and the system sends them both to your audience at the same time.

After a few hours, you can compare the results and see what works for YOUR audience.

Because every audience is different. I write about this in my newsletter in detail.

That’s why you can’t take testing results from other marketers. Mostly, they are useless to you.

Why is that so?

Well, let us ask ourselves what an audience is?

It’s not a mass of people like you have watching a concert, political rally or sports event.

There, the psychology of the masses kicks in. It can make people do the strangest things.

Read “The Crowd” by Gustave le Bon if you want to learn more about it.

But what about your case of distance email marketing where we don’t have a real crowd?

Although you have an audience, everyone receives your message independently.

Sometimes marketers try to get in some scarcity or social proof.

One example is an app showing you how many people have already registered for a webinar. It’s believable because it’s specific. You see their name, where they are from and when they have subscribed, and often their picture as well.

An example for scarcity is a limited amount of something and a counter showing the available pieces. Like it is often used in teleshopping to show how many pieces of a certain product have been sold and are still available. The time-limited offer has been overused in today’s email marketing.

It works to some extent, but the problem is that all these techniques can be easily faked by unscrupulous marketers.

Which makes people skeptical.

People are very skeptical online by nature.

If something can be manipulated a large part of them will assume it actually is just because the possibility exists.

That’s the bad news.

But the good news is:

You can very much track their behavior and thus their wishes, hopes and desires by their ACTIONS.

The greatest advantage you have online is that you can track almost everything.

Which makes marketing accountable.

There are still too many agencies (the large majority of them) selling fluff and guesswork.

Often, it’s the fault of the clients because they don’t demand specific reporting. But it’s also the fault of the agencies because they don’t offer it.

I believe this will change one day.

Marketing managers will want to know exactly how much revenue is coming from a specific source or campaign.

And people will realize that the money lies in testing, not in nice graphics, design or “looking pretty.”

It’s just a matter of time until they get it.

But you know what?

The great part about this is that you and I are already on the right side.

We have a head start.

And if you start early to test and design your campaigns and offers in a scientific manner, your results will be unbelievable.

It’s all about getting to know your audience.

Only then can you make the perfect offer to them.

Just look at this wonderful ad from the old ages as an example. Doesn’t it perfectly capture the frustration of an exhausted woman?

Earlier I said the testing results of someone else are to a large part useless to you.

Why is that so?

An audience is made up of individuals.

They don’t melt into a mass like in real gatherings.

So, they are still individuals, but have things in common at the same time.

Mostly, it’s their goals, wishes, desires, etc.

Which is necessary.

They must be somehow similar for you to reach them with a general offer.

Because after all, you can’t write a personal sales letter to each of your 20,000 subscribers.

Another concept Claude Hopkins repeats over and over in his book tells it like it is:

Ads are not created to entertain, amuse or please.

They must work.

Don‘t spend a lot of money on adventures like Hopkins calls them.

Invest in testing.

Of course, testing will also hurt you sometimes by reducing your conversion rate.

That’s part of the game.

Probably that’s why so few people do it on a constant basis.

They are afraid.

Afraid to fail.

But the ones with courage are rewarded.

And their results are all theirs.

No one can take them from them.

Think about it.

If you know that your audience prefers to read emails on Sunday mornings or likes offers that end with the number 7, this knowledge is useless to another marketer, but to you it’s gold.

The picture might be completely different for another audience.

It’s about knowing yours and optimizing it step by step.

You might say:

I want to test, but I don’t have enough traffic.

That’s a valid objection.

You need some form of traffic to test.

But you know what?

On the Internet you can buy traffic fairly cheap.

Just keep in mind that not all traffic is equal.

People coming to your offer from a Google search are different than those coming from Facebook ads.

But let us come back to the original question.

What is an audience?

For us it’s a list of individuals who have certain desires.

Your job is to find out how to approach them the best.

This is one of the main topic I write about in my email marketing newsletter. You can join here.

In his book, “Scientific Advertising,” Claude Hopkins gives a great example for the right mindset you can also apply to your email marketing.

Every woman wants to be beautiful.

That’s why there is a huge beauty & wellness industry.

Many advertisers like L’Oréal use beautiful women in their ads.

The message is clear:

You too, can look as beautiful as me.

Claude Hopkins - Scientific Advertising

Claude Hopkins goes a step further.

He writes about picturing a woman being admired by a man.

Do you see how that is instantly more powerful?

It might be her husband, a lover or the stranger she has yet to meet.

But that is the core value of beauty products.

Being admired for beauty.

Because beauty only makes sense if you are admired for it by others.

If you were alone on an island, you wouldn’t care.

But as soon as there’s a nice lady stranded on the island as well, you would start to shave and shower regularly, right?

In the words of Hopkins: “Women & men largely desire beauty because of the opposite sex.”

Think about this example when you write your next email, headline or sales letter.

And make sure you read the book I got these ideas from:

“Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins.

P.S. I actually didn’t read the book. I listened to the audiobook instead. Just do a Google search if you are interested since links change too often.