How To Write Cold Emails That Get Responses

You have 2.7 Seconds to get to the F#cking Point with your emails.

There’s not much that can be accomplished in under three seconds. A spoken sentence, a sneeze, maybe even reaching in your back pocket to grab your phone.

Yet according to email provider ExactTarget, people only take 2.7 seconds to decide if they will read, forward or delete a message. It’s a product of both efficiency and short attention span. In fact, by now you’ve probably already decided whether this blog post is worth your time.

From your standpoint, 2.7 seconds has two implications:

  1. Your prospect’s time, like life itself, is short. Skip the BS and get right to the point with your email.
  2. A hasty decision plays right into your selling wheelhouse.
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2.7 seconds to decide if your email gets deleted.

If you’re like most people, chances are you start each morning by sifting through emails on your phone (possibly with coffee in hand), getting caught up on what you missed overnight. 2.7 seconds multiplied by the number of unread emails gives you that first hit of dopamine in the morning and a sense of accomplishment before you’ve even stepped foot in the office.

Creating your sales playbook (or just stealing ours – this is link to ebook) starts with recognizing cold emailing as your ally. Cold emails let you reach anyone, are easy to set up and cost you almost no time or money. They become even easier over time with templates and automation. When done correctly, this method identifies people who are truly interested in your value proposition.

Within 2.7 seconds, your email reader’s mind is likely made up. You’ll learn in short order whether you have a legitimate prospect or whether you should move on to the next opportunity. No maybes or beating around the bush. Now that’s time well spent.

Did you know cold emails can even trump warm referrals? Check out SellHack’s eBook to learn why cold emailing is the key to increasing your sales pipeline. Believe me, we’ll get right to the f#cking point.

Write Emails Than Don’t Suck

You were taught many valuable lessons in school. But the ability to craft incredibly effective emails wasn’t one of them. Some of the best cold emailers I know learned their craft out of necessity. You can’t always buy your way out of a problem, especially when it comes to growing your business. Whether it’s you vs. an incumbent or you vs. other sales reps in your company, know one thing…become an effective emailer and your odds of success will go up.

Since the art of cold emailing isn’t a course offered by any formal schools (at least that I know of) we’re forced to master this ever-important skill while on the job through trial-and-error. Yet, many sales emails prove to be too long and off point, leaving prospects to assume that’s what the salesperson-customer relationship will be like if they decide to engage in a follow-up or actually doing business with you.

Thankfully, SellHack is here to help. The following fundamentals of a sales email are battle-tested and ready to be put to use for contacting your prospects:

Good Cold Email Example

 

5 Tips You Can Implement Today To Increase Response Rate

  • Make your email less than 90 words: Don’t forget the 2.7-second rule — the length of time it takes for a recipient to decide the fate of an email. Brevity rules the day with sales emails. Address the prospect’s pain points, explain your value proposition and press send.
  • Use two-sentence paragraphs so your email can be scanned: While lengthy paragraphs are appropriate for some types of writing, keep email paragraphs concise. This helps ensure the content will actually be consumed rather than glossed over.
  • Never include more than one link or attachment: While a hyperlink and supporting attachment can serve a purpose, moderation is key. Don’t let your email’s content appear cluttered and distracting.
  • Write like you talk – skip the sales jargon: A conversational tone will put your recipient at ease. Don’t use jargon that could intimidate or confuse, and don’t talk down to your email audience.
  • Proofread before you send: Double check all prospect names and company names. This will save you from embarrassment and prevent you from emailing in vain.

Looking for more advice for improving your email writing skills? You’ve come to the right place.The remainder of SellHack’s cold email essential tips are available here in our eBook.

5 Tips You Can Implement Today To Increase Response Rate. Click To Tweet

Create a Pitch Worth Giving

A literal elevator pitch is crowded, uncomfortable and cluttered with noise…usually it’s you rambling about how great you are. In other words, it’s the polar opposite of your effective email pitch.  Don’t be that person. Get out of the elevator pith mentality.

You’ve committed to growing your business through email. So what happens next?

Admit it: We’ve all shot down numerous pitches in our day, pressing the delete button without hesitation. You’ve likely said “no” to someone personally within the last day or week. Just yesterday, I hit delete on what could possibly be one of the worst emails I ever received. I recovered it from my spam folder and redacted the sender’s information.

Deleted Email Example

Sending emails like this demonstrates three things to the reader:

1) You haven’t taken the time to learn how to write effective email copy.

2) You’re probably a spammer because the sheer volume of emails you have to send to get a response signals you’ve done no research or personalization.

3) Since the email lacks obvious attention to detail, how could I ever trust you or pay you to be responsible for a component of my business?

In order to succeed with your pitch — email or otherwise — you need a unique selling proposition that positions your company’s offering and benefits in a concise, understandable way.

It’s brainstorming time. Write down the No. 1 way you help customers, what problem you solve for them and what outcome you can help them achieve. Hone your valuation proposition such that it’s more specific to a particular prospect.

A spot-on pitch will evoke a perception of value from your email recipient, thereby eliciting a response and the start of what you hope is a productive sales process. It will address your prospect’s pain point while offering a call to action designed to kill the pain.

cold email funnel

The perfect pitch will leave your prospect thinking, “This might be the person who can help me with my problem. I should find out more.”

If your emails are written in a way that can elicit this single thought in your prospect’s mind, you’re on the right path…a digital route that steers clear of claustrophobic elevators.

 

Ask Yourself: “Would I Reply To This Cold Email?”

When I sit down to write a cold email campaign, I like to write emails that I would respond to. A key component to convey if you want to get me to reply is that ‘there’s no better time than right now.’ Maybe prices are going up significantly or the opportunity cost of my non-action is costing me more money than what I’d be paying for a product or service you offer.

When you prepare to craft your first-point-of-contact email to a prospect. Instill a sense of urgency.

It’s no secret that urgency makes people act. So what is it about the offering you’re going to make to your prospect that will make them act? It might be a temporary pricing discount, it might be the ability to work with you now will put them ahead of their competition, it might be the ability to get exclusivity with you. Whatever your offering is, figure out why your prospect can’t afford to buy it six months from now instead of now.

Your urgency should be matched by your persistence. How often do you intend to email or otherwise reach out to an unresponsive prospect before giving up? Most email marketers wave the white flag too soon, as research indicates many people don’t respond until the sixth time they’re contacted.

Even if your individual email response rate suffers due to persistent efforts, it’s worth it to ensure an eventual close. Response rates for each email in a campaign is a vanity metric. It may help you gauge whether the A/B variant is better, or if the email should be moved up or back in your campaign, but for the most part it means nothing.   Look at your response rate in aggregate. Meaning, evaluate the number of responses you received over the lifetime of the campaign compared to the number of prospects you contacted.   Most of us give up to early, expecting a prospect to reply after the first attempt. But, as more and more professionals adopt a cold emailing strategy, the bar is going to get raised if you want to be effective.

 

drip cadence email

 

If you made it this far, we have a special offer for you.  Get more traits of an effective sales pitch, as well as analysis of the various audiences you may encounter for pitching, read on within SellHack’s eBook.

sales prospecting ebook linkedin leads

Great Email For Pruning Your List

We all want to have healthy and robust subscriber lists for newsletters or other content nurturing programs. For some, sending an email blast can be like going to the ATM especially when there is an offer to buy something enclosed. For others, email can be a form of passive lead nurturing on the path to moving the recipient one step closer to engagement or conversion.

As a student and practicer of online marketing, I’m always on the lookout for new resources. In fact, I sign up for so many newsletters that I have a hard time keeping track of them. (ps – if you have a solution for this, please let me know!)

The number of subscribers you have is a vanity metric. The response or engagement rate your subscribers have per communication attempt is a much more telling metric. The numbers vary by industry but a 20% open rate and 3% click rate is a good benchmark.

An email from Social Fresh caught my attention last week and I wanted to share if here. These guys share content and provide insights on leveraging social media to improve your business. I’ve been a ‘long time listener’ without being a ‘first time caller.’ Here’s the email:

So, now what
Why I opened this email:
1) It was in my primary inbox, not promotions or social.
2) The subject line was ‘real quick…’ It’s a subject line I use and allowed me to quickly apply my FARD filter. (forward, archive, reply, delete…more on this later).
3) The reply address was the CEO/sender’s email not ‘do_not_reply@xyzbigcompany.com’ (I hate that)

Why I forwarded the email from my catch-all email address to my primary inbox?
1) I’m an email geek!
2) This is the first time I’ve been asked to unsubscribe from a list. Most of us are too nervous about upsetting a subscriber and losing more folks than gaining for every email sent. You are probably thinking: ‘who cares, they may convert at some point in the future, why ask them to leave now?’ There are a few psychological tactics in use here including reverse psychology.
3) Curiosity – why would a company want to ask customers or prospective customers to remove themselves? My mind started racing. Maybe they are segmenting their subscribers and want to know which segment is most engaged with the content so they know what topics could yield the highest engagement rates. (say what?) Maybe they want to drop into a cheaper tier for their eMail provider. Maybe they wanted to see if a big ask would impact open and click rates. We’ll save the analysis paralysis for another post, but suffice to say one, some, all or other factors could be at play.

This tees up a question I often ask of folks who hire us to consult: ‘if you owned an auto-repair company, would you rather have 100 leads who owned cars or 10 leads who are stranded on the side of the road?’

Ok. Enough speculating on my part. I sent an email to their CEO Jason Keath asking for him to comment. Here’s what we got:

“Once a year we clean up our email list for several reasons. It gives us a chance to reengage some of our audience that may have forgotten about our emails or have our newsletter going into a folder they do not check anymore. Also, if someone is just no longer interested in our emails, it is better than we remove them for our list. It means we won’t annoy them moving forward AND we prevent a possible spam complaint. It is better to be proactive and constantly cut your list down to who is truly listening and engaging with your content.

This most recent series of emails was sent to everyone on our list who has not opened an email or clicked on an email in the last 120 days. About 30% of our list fell into that category. Of those that manually chose to opt-in or opt-out, 40% stayed on the list and 60% chose to leave. Those that do not select either option will be automatically opted out.”

I love Jason’s rationale for why a startup would ever want to prune their list. Whether or not you agree with this approach, I’d love your feedback. quick question – are you sending enough emails to your prospects?

Cheers,
Ryan
Growth Dude at SellHack

Asking For an Email Introduction

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I get asked by lots of folks to make intros to others in my network.  With more connections to nurture than physically possible, I actually enjoy making intros.  Why?

  1. Introductions give me an opportunity to check in with a connection without sending a weak ‘just checking in’ email that wastes everyone’s time.
  2. Introductions give me a chance to position myself to either party as a benefactor.  Unquantified reciprocity is the new quid pro quo.
  3. Introductions are a way to demonstrate my understanding of a potential market/opportunity/problem for the recipient solved by something the requestor is bringing to the table.

On a daily basis, my inboxes fill up, and while I try to get back to every email within 24 hours, there are some that get parked for later.  Introductions can sometimes fall into this category especially when (respectfully):

  1. We haven’t talked in a while (or ever) and I can’t remember what it is you actually do.
  2. You don’t have any social capital built up with me and I don’t want to risk a losing social capital with the person you are requesting an intro to.
  3. I’m busy and don’t want to stop what I am doing to research you, your company, or try to remember how we actually met and what I thought of you or your company.
  4. Timing isn’t right.  For example: if you want an intro to an investor and I’m raising money from them, your ‘new and great’ opportunity could get in the way of mine.  Same is true for a biz dev deal where a partnering company only has bandwidth to engage with one or two new projects/startups in the next 3-6 months.
  5. This is the most selfish reason and one I wouldn’t suggest, but it can happen.  Did you ever ignore or refuse an introduction that I asked for?  Maybe I’ll use this as an opportunity to see if there is anyone you are connected with that I could benefit from meeting.  

Depending on how well I know the person you are trying to meet, I may ask for permission to make the intro before actually making it.  Save me a step, when you ask for the intro, make it forwardable.

So, how do you actually compose the best forwardable email intro?  I’ve broken down the optimal structure (from my experience).

Subject Line: Intro Request: Jeff Lebowski

Intro or Introduction doesn’t really matter here, but I take into consideration the character length limitations for a mobile email client and usually go with Intro.  

First Line of Email:  Hi Ryan, I can’t believe it’s been two years since we sat across from each other at WeWork.  I hope you, Corrie and Jack are enjoying your new home in Cleveland.

Whether I want to admit it or not, the face that you remembered personal details about my family indicates that you a) know me well b) are thorough and detail oriented and/or c) interested enough in the intro to track down the information you think may sway my judgement or time to respond.  You can sweeten this intro with something like, “I have Cavs season tickets and I’d love for you to be my guest at the home opener.”

Next Line: MyCompanyName (http://mycompany.com) works with widget makers like Widget Express and Widget Emporium to automatically scan for defects.  We just did something great and our new product (http://linktonewproduct) is driving some tangible metric that will agitate or excite the intro recipient.

Play to the intro recipient’s interests or motivational points:

  • We work with Competitor A, Competitor B, & Competitor C.
  • We’ve helped a company in this space increase some metric by x% or better yet x dollars.
  • Some other tangible or vanity metric that is going to make your prospect look like a rock star for ‘discovering’ you or at least like a super connected and relevant person for someone to have brought him/her your introduction request.

I see on LinkedIn that you are connected to Jeff Lebowski, VP Operations at WidgetsRUs (http://linktosocialprofile).  Would you please connect us via email?

I like asking for an email intro because, in my experience, automated intros via other ‘social networks’ tend to get lost in the shuffle, ignored, or responded to much later than email.  When I get asked for intros, often they are to people I don’t know incredibly well or haven’t worked with in a while, and I may need to do a quick refresher on how I know that person. I like to include the link to the person’s network profile, so, if the person is like me and wants to do quick research, they have a link at their fingertips.

Cheers/Best/Regards,

 Ryan O’Donnell                                                                

Growth at SellHack.com                                                                        

Rest of Contact Info

I prefer not using ‘Thanks in Advance’ as it’s an assumptive close and runs the risk of being negatively perceived.  Your personality can really be summed up in the words you choose in the sign off.  I don’t read a ton into it but some folks do.

Ultimately, know who you are reaching out to for an intro and who the end recipient is.  You are a person, not a robot.  People buy from and invest capital in people they know like and trust (capital comes in many forms – time, money, attention).  

The last intro I requested was blocked when the recipient declined an intro.  It happens and I have thick skin.  I also hack SellHack to get his email address, so there will be a politely persistent follow-up a few weeks from now to the gentlemen with a better approach and value proposition.  

*This post has no scientific basis other than my own personal experience.  Please share your tips, tricks, advice and hacks in the comments.

Cheers,

Ryan (& the SellHack Team)