Marketing My Business: Cold Emailing Tactics

I’m starting a business, so one big thing I need to succeed is clients. How on earth am I going to get them?

Well, there’s the obvious ways for starters, like knocking on doors, cold calls, cold emails, advertising, etc.

So I started by making some cold calls. Not too many, just a handful – which, as you might expect, didn’t get me much of anywhere.

One business I called told me that for my type of call, they prefer to receive emails instead, and she gave me an address to write to. So I wrote up what I thought was a good email pitch and sent it off to that business and a few others while I was at it.

Then I ran across some blog posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) about how to do that very thing better and realized I had room for improvement, so I am summarizing them here for myself and anyone else who finds this useful. I’ve put them in a relative order that they should be considered.

  1. Make sure you’re using an email address with your domain in it, not some free service. This establishes your authenticity and helps your email to get opened in the first place. And by all means, use your real name – no nicknames or anything like it.
  2. Clarify for yourself what your goal is for the email and how each word contributes to accomplishing it.
  3. Make sure you’re emailing the one person who would be the most receptive to your proposition. You want to be talking to the decision maker. Be sure to mention how you got to know them and their email address to help them not block or ignore you.
  4. Craft a compelling subject line. Don’t forget to test different versions to see what performs best!
    • Make it truthful, informative, useful, and relevant to the email’s content, but also tempting.
    • The best subject lines tell what’s inside, not sell what’s inside.
    • Use sparingly:
      • ALL CAPS to highlight occasional words ONLY.
      • The word FREE (but sparingly, as this could make it look like spam)
      • An exclamation point!
    • Use geolocation to make it feel more personalized.
    • Frame it as a question and make it targeted to what they need answered.
    • Keep it short. The best open rate is for 4-15 characters, but the CTR increases up to its max at the 28-39 character range, where the open rate is not quite as good but still decent.
    • Don’t use:
      • Repetitive characters (such as “!!!!”)
      • Symbols/special characters
      • “Fw:” at the beginning if it would be a lie
      • Numbers too much, as in details of your special offers (like “50% off”), because it makes you look more sales-y
      • The recipient’s first name too often, because it actually can reduce open rates, especially if it looks auto-generated
    • Identify yourself by either mentioning your most identifiable brand product or prefixing the subject with a consistent identifier.
    • Be visually different – try brackets, phone numbers, or quotes.
    • Use timely topics (with urgency, if relevant).
    • Consider a play on the negative (like “Find Out Why You Can’t Afford Not To…” or “Learn What Not To Do When…”).
  5. Address the recipient by name. They want to feel like it’s directed at them personally and not just some mass message generalized to fit 20 different clients. But avoid using their first name if you aren’t personally familiar with them, as it may come off as too familiar. You know the nature of your relationship with the person, so make your words fit it.
  6. Make it interesting. Otherwise, they’ll link that uninteresting first impression to every subsequent impression you give them. Strategies for this include:
    • Solve a problem
    • Save them money
    • Make them smarter
    • Entertain them
  7. Get to the point quickly. Grab their attention in the first one or two sentences.
  8. Keep your tone relatively familiar. Overly formal wording will be off-putting, but do still check your spelling, facts, and such. Be human, because your clients are too.
  9. Be confident, but not cocky or rude. You are bringing them something worthwhile and you deserve to be working with them.
  10. Don’t make it look like a mail merge. Make absolutely sure the info in your message fits the intended recipient. In other words, don’t get sloppy with your copy/paste finger.
  11. Interest them using your expertise and dedication. Maybe give some brief feedback about what you’ve noticed in their business that could use improvement – or, briefly outline specifically how you would improve their sales, using what tools/processes. Give a value proposition that sets you apart from the competition. Do your research, and don’t rely too much on graphics or charts, but do use them if they would really help drive home your pitch.
  12. End it with a non-commanding call-to-action – an engaging hook. Be congenial and deferential. “Let me know if I can be of help to you” isn’t going to cut it, though – what kind of value can you offer them that would make them hit Reply? For example, if your goal were to send a white paper, book, or sample, you might close by asking for a mailing address to send your materials to. Keep it simple – no long, open-ended questions.
  13. Consider including links to your social media accounts so they can better ascertain what you do, enhancing your professionalism in their eyes.
  14. Send it between 8-9am or 3-4pm. This is when they’ll likely be checking their email anyway, and stats show that the best chance for getting your email opened is within the hour after it is received. You might also consider 8-9pm as a third option if you know the recipient might check their work email after hours (assuming that’s where you’re trying to reach them).
  15. Follow up. This sets you apart from the rest of the emailers they’re receiving stuff from, and it may often net you a client, after the second or even third email, that you wouldn’t have gotten if not for your persistence. Keep it to three emails at the most to keep them from feeling harassed.

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