How to Write Emails that Engage Like Gangbusters

How to Write Emails that Engage Like Gangbusters

Many moons ago I worked as a pastry chef. I studied under two world-renowned (and eccentric) masters and even owned a bakery back in the 80s. 

(Ask me about the wedding cake that nearly collapsed at the Hilton, or the one that ended up smooshed in the backseat of a car. Ah… memories.)

I bring this up because copywriting is a lot like baking. 

There are rules you need to follow if you want a successful product. 

You can’t swap out baking soda for baking powder, for example. Unless you want your cake to taste like soap. 

And you can’t stop short at a red light with a cake in your backseat.

But with both copywriting and baking, once you know the foundations you can branch out creatively… and avoid scraping frosting off the back of a passenger seat.

In either case, testing is key.

Some important rules apply, however. 

How you address your readers depends on several factors, but one in particular.

Can you guess it?

If you said the reader’s stage of awareness, give yourself a gold star and take the rest of the day off.

If not, no worries. The cake isn’t in the oven yet. So we’re good.

A quick review…

Your reader’s stage of awareness tells you where they are in their decision making process.

It’s key in order to speak and write in a way that connects. Engages.

Jumping too far ahead too fast is like asking someone to marry you on a first date.

Let’s review the stages…


They do not feel they have a problem.

Example: If you’re a copywriter, this is a person who thinks their website is fine as it is. 

If you run a fitness site, an unaware person is not interested in getting in shape and does not want an exercise program.

These potential customers are hardest to reach and least likely to move forward.

Pain aware

The pain aware person knows they have a problem but don’t know what to do about it.

Example: A person who is frustrated at the lack of sales or opt-ins on their site but has no idea what’s wrong. 

Or, for the fitness example, a pain aware person is tired of struggling  to get fit but doesn’t know where to start.

NOTE: This is the stage most people will be in when they visit your website or sign up for your offer. 

Are they coming to you from a Facebook ad (likely where you found me), where they’ve read the ad, maybe opted in to one of your freebies, or otherwise had a “taste” of what you offer?

In that case, you can start your emails at the Pain Aware level to engage them.

Solution aware 

At this stage they know a solution for their pain exists, but they’re not sure which option is best for them.

Example: They decide they need a copywriter. Or they start looking     for a fitness program.

Product aware

They know your product exists but are not sure it’s the best one for them.

Example: In both examples, they’re shopping and comparing, preparing to make a decision.

Most aware

Your prospect is aware of your product and simply needs to know how it works — “the deal.”

The purpose of an email series or sales page is to move people from their current stage of awareness to one closer to the final stage. 

In other words, each stage they rise up through brings them one step closer to buying.

Most importantly, you cannot skip a stage. 

Each email then builds on that stage – they won’t engage with you until they realize your offer is what they need to become a better version of themselves.

Here’s how that email may look…

The PAS formula – problem / agitation / solution – works well here.

Here’s a template you can use which is similar to one I wrote recently for a coaching client.

Hi [name],

[Describe the situation they face that challenges them. Jump right in without warm-up copy.]


It happened again. You had great ideas during today’s Zoom meeting. You waited for the others to stop talking over each other but could never get a word in. 

All the extroverts chimed in but when your boss asked if anyone had any other thoughts on [project]. Even when you finally had your chance… you froze. You had plenty to say. And you were left staring at an empty Zoom room as everyone filed out one by one.


Maybe next time.

Only this same process repeats itself every week. 

You have good ideas, damnit! But no one ever knows. Worse yet, others get credit for your work. 

In fact, you’re afraid you’ll lose your job unless you find a way to contribute. And fast.

[drag this out in detail… really dig into the pain they’re feeling]


As a business coach who regularly works with introverted content managers, I know how it feels. [your story here and how you resolved it]… etc.

If, on the other hand, the person is solution aware, you can start with the product info. But they must be at that stage. If they’re not ready yet, they’ll bail. 

They don’t want to marry you on the first date.

The key is meeting them where they are when they get to your page or when they receive your email.

Other posts you may find helpful:

5 Writing Tips to Instantly Improve Your Copy

A Bundle of Email Ideas For Any Occasion

How to Write Ridiculously Captivating Headlines

Please be sure to share this on social! Your friends will love you for it.


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