Why are you so frustrated by sending cold outreach emails? “Because it’s really hard!”, you protest.
There are a great many variables and uncertainties that are involved with creating and sending a worthwhile email message: how to structure a message, how to talk to the reader, how to prompt a response, how to be interesting – these are all factors that need addressing.
Fortunately, we’re going to address how to write the perfect outreach email. And we’re going to do this by addressing the 15 problem areas most of us encounter. Mistakes are common with outreach emails, but once you’ve finished reading this you’ll know exactly how to avoid them and create masterful messages worth responding to!
#1 Write a Better Subject Line
Subject lines are the headline of your email. They’re the first opportunity to make an impression and bring readers into the body of your email. Think about it: how many emails do most people receive in a day? The way to get your email read is to follow a few simple rules:
Remember: Less text stands out more – a full subject line is overwhelming.
– Keep it short: less text stands out more – a full subject line is overwhelming
– Ask questions: intriguing a reader is a great way to lead them to your point
– Use upper and lowercase: all caps are both hard to read and appear “salesy”
– Write like you’re only talking to them: readers want to feel unique, so write to them like they’re the only person in the world
– Act like it’s a headline: be as clear and communicative as you can be in the subject line – this way readers know what exactly to expect and why to click
#2 Forgo the Introduction
There’s plenty of time to introduce yourself and your company in the signature. A reader doesn’t know you yet and doesn’t care when they start in on your email.
When and if they want to know more about you, they can check your URL.
Many people will see emails on their phone or preview pane. If your first line is wasted with an introduction, you’ll be easily ignored.
#3 Write a Shorter Email
Who wants to sit through a long, drawn-out story? No one, that’s who. Same idea applies to emails. You want to be the person who says the one smart thing during the conversation and gets a nod or a laugh – not the person who bores everyone to tears with a never-ending story.
Make the email about the reader, not about you or your company. Offer them something to solve a problem or address a pain point.
Keep your emails short, 4-5 sentences at most. Be sure to break up paragraphs into two-sentence blocks and insert a space between them for easy reading. Emails that get responses are quick-click tidbits of relevant information that will be pursued later.
#4 Stay on Message
Develop one clear, strong message with a clear CTA and your response rates will increase. Removing all ambiguity and simplifying the engagement process for readers is essential.
#5 Personalize It
Any way you can inject some personal flavor into the email is fantastic. Give readers something they can relate to, such as:
– News about your company
– Reference something unique to their company
– Reference current events
– Link to a tweet
– Link to your blog post
Ultimately, you want to quickly convey that you’re sending a personalized, uncanned email.
#6 Change Your Tone
Your email should read (like all copywriting) in a light, conversational tone. Speak in the affirmative as much as you can, keeping the subject interesting. People want to read things from someone who seems to know them.
That said, don’t overstep your boundaries. Obnoxious is a no-go, and overly familiar comes off as “salesy”. Be a familiar acquaintance; nothing more, nothing less.
Don’t write in formal or defensive language, either. Phrases like “thanks for taking the time to consider” or “looking forward to your positive answer” demonstrate a lack of confidence.
#7 Go for Great Layout
This is another way of saying not to look Spammy. Online users have become very savvy at recognizing stylistic subtleties and aesthetics that convey authority and credibility. Anything unpolished is now questionable. Thank social media and minimal blog designs for this. A few layout tips:
– Use a default type, color, and size
– Use plenty of line breaks and short sentences to make the email scannable (we don’t read online content – we scan)
– Don’t attach any documents
– Don’t include any pictures
#8 Pull Me Instead of Push Me
Credibility, great copy, a friendly tone, and a valuable call to action speak for you. The last thing you want to sound like is a used-car salesman, someone pushy.
…Intrigue, entice, convince…
Outreach email is difficult by nature. Being abrasive signals immediate disrespect and doesn’t bode well for the evolving relationship.
The first email should simply establish your credibility and get a positive response from the reader.
#9 Show Some Credibility
When you’ve finished writing an outreach email, pause for a second and ask yourself: “What reason have I given this email recipient to trust me?”
If you can’t come up with something, go back for a rewrite. Here are a few good ways to develop trust:
– Mention some of your current, recognizable clients (companies in a similar space, competitor, etc.)
– Mention some of your previous achievements or clients
– Drop the names of your investors
#10 Be Persistent
Sales is about persistence. And we’re all very busy people who are by nature selfish with our limited time. So don’t be afraid to follow up – once, twice, three times.
The best pitch in the world won’t matter if you don’t catch the reader at the right moment.
Entrepreneur Neal Taparia found his email reach was increased by almost 55 percent by resending the exact same email to recipients who had not opened the original message.
Marketing expert Noah Kagan switched this up, changing the subject line and emailing recipients one week later, increasing the open rate for these emails by 30 percent.
#11 Shorten Up That Signature
The bottom of your email shouldn’t look like the United States Constitution. Cut the irrelevant info, pictures, links, press releases, etc. This is an annoying way to try and build credibility.
An outreach email is not a website, it’s a communication channel.
Include the necessary stuff:
– Your name
– Company name
– Company website
– Your LinkedIn profile
– Company blog (optional)
– Twitter profile (optional)
– Phone number (great for credibility)
#12 Ask for a Referral
If you’re angling to talk to someone higher up the ladder in a large organization, you’ll likely have to ask to get there. Don’t assume that the initial reader of your email is the person you want to reach.
The easy way to get around the hurdle? Simply ask the person you’re emailing whether they’re the right person to talk to, and if they’re not, ask if they can refer you to the one responsible. Here’s an example of how to do this in a friendly way:
‘P.S. – If you’re not the person to speak with about this, could you please refer me to who is? Thanks!’
You can also aim your email higher in the company hierarchy, if possible. The boss will often forward the email to the lower-level employee. This increases pressure and awareness of a meeting possibility in the company.
#13 Fix Your Website
All the hard work to write outreach emails is wasted if you drive readers back to an unappealing website. If your email offer is interesting, readers will want to check you out further. Be sure to greet them with a well-designed, relevant, and informative site.
#14 Email at the Right Times
Emailing when your audience is in front of their computers is good. Emailing them when they’re swamped with work is not so good. Sadly, no simple answer exists to the question of when the right time is to click send.
A few tips:
– Check out social to see when your readers are active – they might also be checking emails during this time
– Many people unwind with emails at the end of the day – and some like to start fresh with them in the early morning
– Friday afternoons and Monday morning are typically not great because people’s minds are elsewhere
– Sunday afternoons can catch many people preparing for the upcoming week
#15 Test Your Messages
A/B testing your subject lines is highly recommended. Don’t just send the same emails time and time again if it’s not working. Measure three factors when determining the success of an email:
– Open rate – this will tell you if your subject line is working
– Response rate – this will tell you if your message is hitting the mark with your audience
– Sales generated – typically, this is higher than the open or response rates. If you’ve made tweaks to the first two and the needle isn’t moving, your messaging is likely improperly aligned with your offer
You’ll need to send at least 200-300 emails before you can begin to measure and make adjustments to emails.
Email has come a long way, and best practices are constantly evolving. By following the basic principles of good copywriting, many of these common outreach email problems can be avoided. Remember, it’s crucial to keep the messaging brief, polite, value-laden, and focused upon the benefit to the reader. Follow these 15 guidelines and you’ll see open rates and response rates skyrocket!