Writing Relatable Emails to Your List
Abbi Perets is a copywriter with 20 years of experience working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She’s passionate about writing email sequences and sales pages that help people get their courses, services, and products in front of the people who need them most. Abbi’s signature approach comes down to building powerful, long-lasting relationships with readers so that they open every email you send.
In today’s interview, I interview her about writing relatable emails to send to your email list subscribers.
Watch the video of my interview with Abbi or read the transcript below!
LinksSuccessful Freelance Mom “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan Deadline Funnel
Jack Born: Hey, everyone. This is Jack Born, founder of Deadline Funnel, and I’m here with a Deadline Funnel client who is gonna share some of the brilliance that she has that has to do with writing super persuasive emails. So I’m very excited to have Abbi Perets on the call. Let me tell you a little bit about Abbi, and then I’m gonna hand it over to her. So Abbi Perets is a copywriter with 20 years of experience working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She’s passionate about writing email sequences and sales pages that help people get their courses, services, and products in front of the people who need them most. Abbi’s signature approach comes down to building powerful, long-lasting relationships with readers so that they open every email you send. Abbi, great to have you here.
Abbi Perets: Thank you so much. I’m really excited.
Jack Born: So before we jump in, why don’t you give us the Cliff Notes version of where someone would be able to find you, the audience that you currently serve, and yeah, why don’t we start there?
Abbi Perets: Sure. So like you said, I’ve been a copywriter for 20 years, more than 20 years at this point. Wow. And writing is all I’ve ever known, and I’m all about relationships with people. So currently, I work with women who want to start, grow, and scale freelance writing businesses, and as I was building my own business, I stumbled on the fact that I really liked writing sales pages and email sequences. And I saw that other course creators who were not necessarily writers struggled with that piece. For me, that was a light bulb moment. I was like, “oh, look, this is easy and fun for me, and it is not easy and fun for other people.” So after being a freelance writer for many, many, many years, I finally figured out that you should actually niche down and specialize in one thing, and I began doing that. And once I began doing that, I, one, got really good at it, and two, got really known for it. So I’ve written funnels for, you know, Two Comma Club award winners and, and people who are big and famous in their spaces, and, and that’s been a lot of fun. I’m at successfulfreelancemom.com, and I’m very find-able online. I’m, like, the only Abbi Perets in the whole world, so if you Google me, you find me, and you can talk to me about your email and whatever. And I’m just crazy about building relationships through email. That’s, that’s my thing.
Jack Born: Yeah, let’s talk about that, so when you say building relationships through, through email, give me a, give me a sense of what we’re talking about.
Abbi Perets: Sure, I think of email as something that’s incredibly intimate because the vast majority of us read email on our phones. I don’t know about you, but I have five children, and my phone is full of pictures of them. So when you send me email and I’m reading that on my phone, you are now sharing space with my beautiful children, my wonderful husband, the people and things that I care most about. So I feel like it’s a really intimate relationship. You’re in the bathroom with me in the morning. You’re in my bed with me at night, right? So if you look at the relationship that way, every word that you’re writing, there’s gotta be a lot of care that goes into it, and you’ve gotta remember that there’s a real person on the other end of that email, and equally important, that it’s a single person who’s reading the email. Yes, you may have a list of thousands, and still, when you write an email, you don’t wanna say things like “you guys”. This is a very small example, right, but you wanna remember that you’re, this is being read by a single person who wants to feel unique, like an individual. And I think that that’s, that’s a really important starting point.
Jack Born: That’s, that’s a great tip. It’s one that it’s always good to, it’s good to have a checklist of things that you wanna, after you’ve written the email, I find that it’s useful to have these reminders to go back through because even after all these years of marketing and writing my own emails, sometimes I will find things like “you guys” and “you all” and things of that nature. So I totally agree. It needs to feel like a one-to-one communication to have the maximum impact in terms of relationship. What are some other things that you feel like you do especially well and that you teach people when it comes to writing better emails?
Abbi Perets: Yeah, so again, on the one person front, we spend a lot of time building out ideal client avatars. That’s something that’s taught in the, particularly in the online business world, and I don’t spend any time on that. I focus on real people instead. I think that it’s super important to have regular conversations with the people you’re serving, and then when you’re writing email, you are writing to a specific person, so I would literally, like, if you were having a conversation with several of your, you know, audience members, students, whatever you call them, and, and you’re talking to Jane and Susan and Phil, then I would sit down and I would write an email to Jane and an email to Susan and an email to Phil. And then afterwards, you can kind of come and tweak things as needed to make it more accessible, but if you start with writing to an actual human, a single, actual human who you’ve had this conversation with and who you might have the inside jokes with and the history and the backstory with, that’s gonna make your email way more real and effective. And on that, along that same line, I hate the word “I” in email and in sales pages, in general. Like, in marketing writing, like, it’s not about you, the writer. It’s- you wanna use the word “you”, meaning the reader, right? So you wanna draw them into the story and really make them the hero of the story. This is supposed to be about them, not about you. So whenever possible, I literally replace the word “I”. Sometimes it’s very simple. Like instead of “I’m gonna teach you”, like, “you’re gonna learn”, right? But that’s basic. It’s more like if you want to tell the story of, “oh my god, last week was the worst. I had the flu plus two of my long-term clients ditched me, and I never wanna get out of bed again.” So presumably, you don’t wanna send an email just to say “I’ve quit my business. Good luck, everybody, bye”, right? Like, you wanna teach something, like what you did to come out of that. So if instead of telling that story about you, if you frame it up as “hey, did you ever have a week where you get the flu and this other stuff happens and you feel like you just wanna die and you wanna crawl into bed and never get out again? And here’s what you can do.” So putting your reader right into that situation where they can, “oh my god, yes. Last week. Oh my god, it was the worst.” Like, rather than this happened to you, the writer, put them into that story and let them recognize themselves in it. I think that makes a massive difference in how connected you are to them.
Jack Born: It’s a really powerful tip, and I really, I really love the examples because you, you read my mind, I was, I was wondering how, if you ever tell stories about yourself, how do you do that without using the first person pronoun. But let me, let me push back a little bit more. Do you, in your emails, and maybe you don’t, but do you, in your emails, ever share a story of something that happened in your life in which you actually want to bring them into, like, “hey, this crazy thing happened, and then here’s the lesson for you.”
Abbi Perets: Yes, absolutely. I do think that being personal and- Like, I’m not saying never ever use the word “I”. So again, for example, I have five children, and in particular, one of my children is intellectually disabled, has significant special needs, and has to work harder than most of the people in the world. There are a lot of lessons for life and for business that come out of that, so I’ve told many times in email and in speaking and whatever the story of how my son learned to tie his shoes. And I liken this to when people say- Basically when it happened, and I was telling people that at the same time that he learned to tie his shoes, he also learned to text, send written texts. This was, like, a huge deal. Literally the first time I got a text from my son, I was on a walk in my neighborhood. I remember exactly where I was. I fell down in the street. I was, like, that bowled over by getting a written text from my son. It was powerful. And I tell that story, and I tell- When I started telling people, yeah, he learned to tie his shoes and he learned to text, they were like, “oh, wow, what happened that all of a sudden he did those things?” And I was like, “oh no, no, no, no, no, no. This was not all of a sudden. This was 14, 15 years of physical therapy and occupational therapy, speech therapy, developmental therapy. There was no-” And it’s the same thing that happens, you know, when somebody “makes it big” in the online business world. Like, “oh, what did you change?” It was, “what was the one thing?” There was no one thing. So when I tell that story, it’s certainly, you know, I’m talking about my particular son. I’m not, “hey, did you ever have a son with special needs who?” No, I’m not doing that. Like, I’m not crazy. So I tell that personal story. I tell that personal story. I just, what I don’t wanna do is to have all of my email all the time be about me. So I think that when there’s a story that, you know, is very personal, one, I’m a chronic oversharer. It doesn’t bother me to tell people, like, what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking. And I assume that people are fascinated by me and want to know all the things, and also, I remember that people do not always, do not always wanna know what’s happening in my world, in my mind. And they care about themselves, so when I do tell a story that is personal, there’s a reason. I’m not telling it just because I like attention, which I do, but I’m also telling it because I think there’s a benefit, and I’m gonna draw that line very clearly, what I think you can learn from this.
Jack Born: Yeah, that’s, that’s great. Do you pay attention to the, the verb tense that you use in your emails, and if so, are you, do you prefer past tense, present tense, or is it, does it depend on the situation? We’re going, we’re going super geeky here.
Abbi Perets: Yeah, we are. I love it. That is an excellent question. I have to say it’s not something that I’m typically consciously thinking about when I’m writing an email. That is definitely more of a thing that after I’ve written something and I let it sit for a few days and I come back to it, that’s, those are the kinds of things that I am looking for to tighten up. I definitely prefer, for the most part, I try to, for the most part, present tense. I wanna, you know, kind of put people there in the moment. If it’s a story where I am specifically trying to give distance, then the past tense works better. If I wanna show that, like, if I wanna show that I’m reflecting on something that happened, then yeah, I wanna, I wanna be using past tense. But for the most part, if I’m trying to drive urgency and to help people see where action is necessary, then I like present tense. Maybe it’s even present progressive. I’m not a great grammar person.
Jack Born: We don’t have to get that geeky. Okay. So something that I hear a lot of, a lot of our clients will say that they struggle with, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, ’cause, of course, I have mine, but I wanna hear yours. The thing that they struggle with sometimes is, whether it’s in a webinar or in an email series, but especially, let’s keep it to emails, they feel like, okay, there’s a few days of teaching and then I’m supposed to go into salesmanship mode, and so how do I make that transition? How many days? And so I’ve got, I’ve got my answer to that, but what is, what is yours? How do, how do you set up your process so that it’s not just that you’re making a connection for the sake of making connection, but also yes, you want the bond, but also you’re, these are business-related emails and, and you want to, you wanna, and it’s not just about making money for you. You’re having this incredible impact on your clients, and it helps to be able to bring them across the, you know, from looky-loo to someone who’s in and committed.
Abbi Perets: And that’s, I think that’s where I start. I start with I truly believe in what I’m selling and how it can help people. And I only work with clients when, I mean, I’m fortunate that I’m in a place in my business where I can be extremely selective and I only work with a handful of clients a year. And I only work with people if I truly believe that their course, product, service, whatever, is genuinely helping people and if they actually, as a human, are a decent human and care about other people. So it starts from there. Like, do you actually have a product or service that’s genuinely helping people, and then do you believe in it? Like, if you don’t believe in it, how are you ever going to get somebody else? And when I talk about my course, I’m like I would marry my course if I could. Like, it’s so awesome. It’s the greatest. I love it so much. And I really, like, I, you know, I sit up at night and think about my course, and I love it. And I love the impact that it has, so that’s a big piece right there. Second, I’m so into transparency and honesty and don’t lie. Like, seriously, don’t lie. Because the moment you lie to people, they’re gonna find out. You’re gonna lose their trust, and it’s dumb. So, so don’t do it. So from the beginning, let them know, “hey, I also have a thing, like, I’m gonna give you stuff here. And I’m here for a reason, and I’m not only after your money. And also, I have something that I’m going to show you that you have the opportunity to buy, purchase, enroll in,” however you wanna phrase that. So be clear about that and honest about that from the beginning. And it’s not so much like value, value, value, transition, sales. Like, it, it’s more of a jumble. It’s more of like even while you’re providing value and building connection, you also wanna be bringing in little things about the course, you know: “we go into more detail in this inside of my program”, or “my student so-and-so”, you know, or “this experience”. Like some of that storytelling should be things that have actually happened as a- This morning, this morning, I was checking my Facebook messages in bed, as I do, and, and this woman posted that we, you know, an automated post in my Facebook group, like what’s your biggest success of the year? And this one woman posted I took my business from 6,000 annually to 30,000 annually, and that’s all thanks to you. And I was like, “okay, that’s awesome, and also not all thanks to me. Like, you’re the person who showed up and did the work. Maybe I showed you the way, but you came in and did this.” And so talk about those kinds of things. Use those kinds of stories to show, yeah, when you are focused and all in, and, and you’re invested in this, and you’ve got skin in the game, you’re gonna do incredible things. You’re gonna change your life.
Jack Born: Yeah, that’s, I love your energy and your enthusiasm. I mean, your passion for what you do just absolutely shines through. But to your specific answer, that, that really is exactly my philosophy, which is that there is no, I avoid the question. Like I flip it around and just, just change the question. There is no day where you’re just pure teaching and then you transition to “okay, now it’s time to start selling.” Like, you’re actually selling while you’re teaching and teaching while you’re selling. Like it should be all combined together. So I 100% agree, and I think that’s an amazing answer. What are some other things that you see people struggle with when it comes to, to writing emails, particularly emails that are, you know, they’re, even if they’re not trying, they’re not putting the link for the, the purchase page in that email, it’s setting up, it’s leading towards an eventual sale. Do you see something that other, that a lot of people struggle with that, that you’ve figured out a way around?
Abbi Perets: I think that a lot of people don’t take advantage of what an email service provider can do and the information that it can give you. I think that segmenting your audience, that is separating them out. So if you have people who are, I have a client who teaches coding. I’m gonna get this wrong. It’s very, very technical coding stuff. He teaches Python to, and to a lot of different groups, right? So he teaches to university students. He teaches to professional developers, professors. He teaches to entrepreneurs, and he teaches to, there’s another one, researchers. And so he does a lot of segmentation so that when you are talking to people, the examples that you’re pulling are gonna be more related to them. So for, I mean, yes, it’s in, it shows up in little ways of personalization like if they’ve self-identified as a student or a researcher, we’re saying, you know, “researchers like you” or “students like you”. And then the, the examples that we’re bringing in, we’re showing them success stories from students like them or researchers like them based on that segmentation. So I think that taking advantage of the information that you can get when you are using automation tools is massively important and helps structure the story more effectively. If you know that your person is brand new to the world of online business and has never made that first $1,000, that’s a very different person to the six-figure slayer who’s out there, like, trying to grow to seven figures, right? Maybe you have something that serves both of them. You can’t talk to both of them in exactly the same way. They’re in a different place in the journey, and, and you’ve got to, if you, if you’re giving this brand new person examples of six figures scaling to seven, this was me in the beginning, not so long ago, right? Like 2017, I’d read these, I’d listen to podcasts, and I’d read blog posts. And they were all about, like, “I made $750,000 on my first launch and now I’m scaling and blah, blah, blah.” I was like, like, it’s so intimidating that I just wanna close the computer and go to bed. Like, I’m not going to do that. What is that? Like, what is that? So if you have people who can talk to you at the level that you’re at and you can achieve that with asking really simple questions in early emails, and they don’t- It doesn’t have to be the focus of the email. A “P.S.” in an email, like “hey, can you click the link that best describes who you are right now?” Or you don’t even have to be that, like, obvious about it. If you have links within your email that are talking about, you know, specific topics, and you just are recording where people are clicking and making tags based on that, “okay, well, you’re reading all the articles about how to get your first 1,000 subscribers. I can then assume that you are fairly new at this, and I can start targeting my content to you more specifically versus if you are not clicking on any of the stuff and you’re clicking on the scaling stuff, okay, now I know that you are in that space.” So it’s, it’s just using that information, being aware that that information is out there, using that information, and tailoring your content based on where somebody is in the journey. It’s, it makes such a difference in how they respond to you.
Jack Born: And this, and this is great because this really comes back to where we started with building relationships through email because if you’re, if the email feels generic, or even worse, if you’re talking to one type of person and giving examples that don’t really relate, you know, so for example, if you’re, to use your most recent example, if everything’s about, like, you’re at six figures trying to get to seven, like, the person who’s brand new, they’re gonna feel like this is not, this is not for me. And so yeah, being able to segment it really is gonna help build that relationship. Like, “okay, I’m in the right place. This is relevant to me. I wanna continue learning more, and this, this person obviously has helped a lot of other people like me.” And it helps to build that relationship, right?
Abbi Perets: Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s a big piece of it. So you’ve got to be constantly asking your people questions, right? You’re not gonna know about them unless you’re asking them questions. And a huge mistake that I see people making is they’ll say things like “hit reply and tell me”, and then they don’t do anything with those replies that people are sending in. Dude, if someone has taken the time to hit “reply” to your email and tell you something, one, the information is gold. Two, if you are in the beginning stages of your business, you are in a beautiful spot because you get to actually, on a day-to-day basis, engage with your audience. So you definitely wanna be making a personal reply to that, and you can do that several ways. I mean, one, you can just send an email back. I found that it is massively effective if you take three minutes and record a Loom video and send that back to your subscriber. Like, “hey, Jane, oh my gosh. I loved your replies”. And I’ll just have their reply right up there on the screen with my face down in the corner. And I’m like, “you know, I got your reply. I love what you said about this and that. Here’s what I did when I was in that situation. Let me know if that’s helpful.” They’re, like, floored. They’re like, “oh my god, you wrote to me.” And I mean, at this point in my business, I’m very fortunate I don’t have to handle the hello inbox on a day-to-day basis. I have someone who does that, and still, once a week, I do try to go in and do a couple of personal replies like that because it makes a massive difference in the way people perceive you. So, do not say “hit reply and tell me” in your email if you don’t intend to be replying and using that information in some way.
Jack Born: That’s, that’s a great tip. Yeah, I’ve found that, at least for me, I haven’t gotten a barrage of, you know, like, replies back. So, you know, you might get 1 or 2% of people actually hitting reply. I guess it depends on where you’re asking them to hit reply, but you’re right, the information that comes back, sometimes you’ll get a 300 word essay just chock full of really useful information. And I love the idea with, with the Loom video. So before we go, I wanted, I wanted to come back to, circle back to something that you brought up before. We’re going through a client avatar, ideal client avatar exercise right now, and so I get your point about thinking about a specific person. And we do a lot of client interviews. I get on Zooms with, with clients, and my team does as well. And they share those recordings. So we do a lot of these, these interviews. So it’s certainly there are people that we could, we could think about that we’re specifically writing to, I like that idea. So when you’re writing your email, do you have, I really wanna get into the nitty-gritty, do you have like a, sort of a profile of the, like an image of the person and their name and some of the details, or do you just do this based on, based on memory? Like you’re constantly writing to the same three people. I’m curious.
Abbi Perets: Yeah, so for me, for when I’m writing for my, my own emails, it is mostly based on memory. it’s mostly based on extensive conversations that I’ve had with these people and, and that kind of thing. When I’m doing this for clients, so I know their audiences less intimately than I know my own, let’s say, so there, I do have, it’s not so much, it’s not like the classic, you know, put up the picture, “this is Jane. She’s 43. Her favorite drink at Starbucks is a caramel macchiato.” Like, I don’t care. So, so it’s more like I’ll watch a lot of their videos. I’ll watch a lot of the interviews that they’ve done. I’ll read the information, and I’ll go over everything that the client has told me about their own customers. And I might have some notes written down, but I tend to be more of a, I wanna base it on real interactions, so it is more coming from memory. I think that we run into trouble when we try to, to have those, like, pictures up on the wall, like, “well, I wanna remember my customers all the time.” Well, you should remember them because you’ve interacted with them is my opinion, and that probably doesn’t work, you know, for the Coca-Cola Company, at scale. And I might change my thinking as my own business grows and scales, but for now, I’m good with really basing things on genuine interaction. I think that it, I just think it’s better.
Jack Born: So, so when you, when you write the email, let’s say you’re writing to Jane, and Jane is a real person that you’ve interacted with, are you, are you starting off, “hey, Jane”? Teah. – You’re Jane, and I’m referencing, like, “oh my gosh, that story you told me about the guy in the bar who kept putting his hand on your knee” and what, like, okay, that’s a weird story. I don’t know where that came from, but, (Jack and Abbi laughing) but yeah, like, I will literally reference those inside things and, and real conversations, and then, again, I try to, another, by the way, reason that I love automation is I don’t like to do things last minute. I’m not a, like, please don’t call me at 10 o’clock, like, “I need an email to go out in an hour!” I’m not your person, right? So, so I work with clients who are, you know, doing these evergreen programs and that kind of thing. So I will write email and let it sit for a few days and then come back to it and say, “okay, well, this is a little bit too personal”, not in the sense that it’s revealing too much; in the sense that nobody else will understand it. So we have to, we have to take a step back. But it’s usually not that far back that you have to go. We’re looking for relatable, universal experiences, and you know, one of the ways that I explain this is one of my favorite books, high school, college, was “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan. Amy Tan writes about the relationships between Chinese mothers and Chinese-American daughters. And the specificity of the relationship, like the specific food and the expressions and the decorations in the home, the specificity there is what makes it universally applicable. Like as a Jewish-American-whatever, when I read that, I was like, “oh my god, that’s just like when my grandmother does X, Y, Z.” Like, because of the specificity of the situation, I could take it and extrapolate it to my own universal experience, right? So I really do think that when you get into those very specific stories with very specific people, it allows the rest of us to see ourselves in that story.
Abbi Perets: That’s great. Great tips. So, let’s, let’s leave it there. If someone wants to, wants to find out more about you, I know that you already mentioned your URL one time, but why don’t you go ahead and mention your URL where people can find you.
Jack Born: Sure, come and visit me at successfulfreelancemom.com. I am incredibly Google-able and find-able, and I do answer a lot of my own email in an almost timely fashion, so there you go.
Abbi Perets: That’s great. Well, I really, really enjoyed geeking out with you about email and storytelling, so I look forward to our next conversation on the topic. So thank you so much.
Jack Born: Absolutely. Thank you.