Writing Awesome Cold Emails

I said yesterday that when I started out I didn’t end the day until I sent out at least 10 contacts for new work. While I did a good job with my habit, the fact is, I did a bad job writing emails someone would actually read.

I also had a terrible site, so even if a prospect read the email and checked out my site there was little to indicate to them I was a provider worth hiring.

Today we’ll talk about effective cold emails, and later this week we’ll talk about building a website that would actually interest a client.

No ‘Hey’

We all get these terrible cold emails that don’t even have our name in them, right? If you’re like most people, the first thing you do is delete the email since it’s probably just spam anyway.

Don’t be the person who sends those kinds of emails. Take some time to research the person you’re emailing and always address them by name in the email. You’re not just emailing a faceless company, you’re emailing a specific person at that company.

One great way to do this is to use Rapportive. Plug in the email address you’re using and see what other information comes up. Maybe you’ll find a Twitter profile and can track through that to get their name.

Mention relevant content you liked

Although this is a cold email, it doesn’t mean you can’t build some connection right away. During your research with Rapportive maybe you came across a blog that the person you want to email writes. Was there a recent post you really liked?

How about you mention that?

Maybe they mentioned a link on Twitter to something you found interesting. Mention it and include a sentence or two about why you liked it.

This is about showing you aren’t just firing an email blind, but that you’re real person who put some work into making the contact meaningful.

The best thing you can do is follow the prospect on Twitter and spend a week or two interacting before you send the email. Sure, you’re still sending a cold/unsolicited message, but they’re now more likely to recognize your name and thus respond to your email.

More research

Do you have a mutual connection that can make an introduction for you, to change your totally cold email into a lukewarm email? I’ve found that the best tool for this strategy is LinkedIn.

Yes, I know lots of people rag on LinkedIn and it does feel silly to me when my mom endorses me for a skill which she has no way to evaluate me on, but it’s still a very useful site.

If you can get some sort of warm introduction, or even get permission to mention your mutual contact’s name in the email, then you’re way more likely to get a response on your cold email.

Keep it short

The only thing worse than getting a cold email that doesn’t address the recipient by name and was clearly based on no research, is one that is also 900 words long. It’s worse because you’ve potentially suckered the prospect into reading way too much (and possibly wasting more time) before your service/project/idea is rejected.

If you’re going to send cold emails keep your message to 100 words at the most.

The format

Of course the first thing you’re going to say is ‘Hey $name’ (or ‘Hello $name’), but what about the rest of the email?

Here’s the format I use for any cold email to a company I want to work with.

Section 1

This is where you start with the person’s name and any relevant content they had (blog posts, tweets, mutual friend) to establish a bit of a rapport.

Put in that sentence or two about an article they wrote and a link to another one they might find interesting. It’s even better if the article is related to the request you’re about to make. The point is to be helpful to the person you’re emailing.

Section 2

This is the beginning of the meat of the email. Tell them why you’re writing to them. Maybe say that your mutual friend mentioned that they’d likely be interested.

Maybe you see 3 problems with their site that you have a track record of solving. Tell them WHY you’re emailing them now.

Section 3

Now is the time to ask for what you want from your potential client. Maybe you just want to talk more about their business to see if you could help (which is a great tactic since it helps build the relationship and isn’t asking for money).

Maybe you want them to hire you for a site rebuild or conversion work and you’re going to ask them to spend money with you right away.

Whatever it is, now is the time to ask.

Section 4

Finally, sign off politely. Don’t put in 42 affiliate links to everything you could possible sell them. Put in your name, company name, your site and your phone number.

Follow up

Now just because you sent one email, you’re not done yet. When I was starting I followed up with each prospect at least twice, even if they never emailed me back. I’d simply ask if they’d had time to read my email and if they were interested in what I was offering.

If they said no, I’d thank them for their time and move on to the next person on my list.

With cold emails, you’re going to hear NO plenty of times, so just expect it. Don’t get discouraged. The whole point is to get enough work coming in that you can still run your business, so buckle down and do the work.

photo credit: julochka cc

2 thoughts on “Writing Awesome Cold Emails

  1. I’ve had a lot of success with cold emails that end with a call to action that can be responded to with a simple Yes/No. Sometimes I’ll only get that answer but most of the time I’ll get an answer and a way to move the conversation forward.

    “Would you be interested in hearing more about this?”

    “I’ll be in town next week, can we meet for some coffee?”

    “Does this approach sound like what you had in mind?”

    1. That’s a great tip Eric. Some clear direction on how to respond. Make it easy for them.

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