Email is an effective way to make contact, if you do your homework before hitting “send.”
September 14, 2018 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Imagine someone receiving a cold email from you. Why would she open it? She has no idea who you are, what you do or why she should care about what you’re offering. Can she even trust that you’re legit and not a scammer?
This doesn’t mean you should completely forget about emailing prospective customers. Email remains one of the best ways to communicate and interact with your audience. It’s just that the days of spray-and-pray email are over. Instead, you need to update your approach to cold emailing — and converting — by taking the following steps.
Identify the ideal prospect.
This is obvious: If you manufactured pizza ovens, you’d want to connect with restaurants and pizzerias, not landscapers or physicians. In other words, only target the individuals or organizations that could benefit from what you’re selling. Take into consideration factors like location, demographics and interests. Think about the brands, style and tone of the customers you’d like to work with. If they don’t resonate with you, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Once you’ve narrowed your audience, find the right person within the organization to contact. Ideally, this is the person who will make the decision on whether to use your product or service. If you can’t connect with her, at least make an initial and genuine connection with someone within the organization who can introduce you to the main decision maker.
The good news is that tools like LinkedIn have made this more convenient — just search for the job title you’re looking for within an organization to locate the relevant person you need to contact.
Map out what your prospects care about.
After you have identified your ideal prospect and know who to contact, think about what keeps her up at night and how you can help her solve this pain point. For example, if you’re an attorney specializing in small business and you just read in the local paper that a small business is being sued by a customer, that’s a problem you could help with. If you offer cybersecurity services, think about the repercussions virus-infected businesses face and how you can prevent them.
Get their email address.
Now you need to go out and get those email addresses. Start by installing the free Sales Navigator for Gmail extension from LinkedIn. It provides a sidebar inside your Gmail account so you can see a person’s LinkedIn profile data, as well as icebreakers like connections and interests.
If, for some reason, a person’s email address isn’t connected to her LinkedIn profile or she’s not on LinkedIn, look for other social profiles or the company’s website to find contact information.
Hook her with an eye-catching subject line.
Did you know that 35 percent of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone? Subject lines are important.
Rose Leadem suggests that your subject lines need to be clear and concise and “include exactly what your email is about.” Rose adds that your subject line should be fairly short so it reads well on mobile, and an email should never be sent without a subject — these often don’t get opened.
Your subject line should be targeted at your prospect’s needs and present your solution. For example, if you were a pizza oven manufacturer, your subject line could be something like “Joe, are you tired of soggy pizzas?”
Cut to the chase.
“People don’t have all day to read your email. In most scenarios, they’ll only have a few minutes — or less. So in order to get what you want out of an email, “be brief, direct and to-the-point,” writes Rose. “In fact, after reading the first few sentences of your email, the recipient should already have a general understanding of its purpose.”
This means avoiding phrases like “How are you doing?” and “I hope this email finds you well.” Your prospect doesn’t care. She wants to know why you’re emailing her and how she can benefit.
Creating a bullet point list to showcase your benefits, tailored to her, is a quick and effective way to achieve this. If you have it, don’t be afraid to throw in some proof that you’re the real deal. If a pizzeria increased sales by 10 percent because of your amazing oven, include that in your email.
Make it personal.
Start with the basics, such as the person’s name and company name. Then, get more advanced. This indicates that you did some research and are reaching out to her instead of sending a mass email. Did she just receive a promotion, win an award or have a recent product launch? If so, congratulate her.
Stick to just one call to action.
If you really want to increase your chances of conversion, you need to have a clear call to action. In other words, what steps do you want someone to take after reading your email? Visit your homepage? Sign up for a demo? Schedule a discovery phone call?
Don’t overwhelm the person. Stick to just one CTA. You should also use a calendar tool to eliminate back-and-forth emails to find the best meeting times — and you can insert the scheduling link within your email.
Don’t forget to follow up.
It’s not uncommon for people to read an email and forget to respond — and emails are notorious for getting lost in spam. So it won’t hurt to follow up if you haven’t heard back in about a week. In fact, most people don’t mind a gentle reminder.
Remember to not be intrusive. If you haven’t heard back after two or three attempts, she’s probably not interested.
Still not getting a response after you’ve sent an important email? Here is my number one email to get a response if you’ve been going back and forth: “Have you given up on this?” – They will surely respond to this. If they don’t, you know they are not interested.
Test and measure.
Email is an ongoing process. That means you’ll need to test and refine your messaging. Doing so will improve your cold emailing efforts going forward.
Test the subject line that’s opened the most, as well as the email copy with the most engagement, the email with the best homepage click-through rate and the best day and time to send emails. By tweaking your cold emails, you can boost their effectiveness, ensuring you save time and energy and see better ROI. Cold emails aren’t a waste — they just need to be thoughtful and tailored to hit their mark.