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Business Emailing - 9 Tips on How to Write a Cold Email that Makes Potential Customers Reply

October 1, 2020

8 Min. Read

While email is by no means revolutionary, as it has been around for three decades already, it has one brilliant attribute; it’s lack of central control. From one email address, you can send any information to another. If you’re not breaking any rules, then there’s practically no limitations. In other words, with an email, you can open up conversations with anyone around the world. 

If you want to reach your product-market fit anytime soon, don’t wait for inbound leads, instead, reach out to people who you think will buy and use your product. Emailing is a great complementary activity to calling. Read our article on the topic of prospecting to understand how emailing falls into the complex prospecting strategy and discover the best practices behind a successful automated email campaign. Mostly, we pay attention to cold emails (where you’ve never been in touch with your prospect before), however, the email structure we show below is applicable to various types of emails. 

How to create a killer cold email structure:

People first skim, and then read, emails. They look for familiar words or phrases which help them understand the message. In doing this, they’re trying to ‘label’ the email, be it work, commercial, urgent, irrelevant, spam, or such. 

It is therefore important to compose eye-pleasing and easy-to-read emails by using:

  • paragraphs
  • bold text for important words and phrases
  • as few words as possible (just enough to make your point)

A golden rule for cold emails is to write it and then make it shorter. Once you reach the point of now knowing what information to omit, you’re halfway to the ideal length. 

We know you feel like you’ve got a lot to tell but stick to one relevant topic that holds true value for the customer. Introducing a complete portfolio is important, but not in the first email. 

To kickoff the conversation, a plain email, with no pictures and no attachments, works the best. Later on, if you keep it down to one attachment, adding a portfolio (PDF or link) is okay. Avoid adding multiple attachments, images or links however, in order to keep your spam score low. Whether you’re a fan of attachments or not but want the extra piece of mind, run your email through a spam score checker - you’ll find many online. A lower spam score means, you guessed it, fewer messages in the spam folders of your target prospects.

Cold email structure in greater detail: 

1. SUBJECT

An attention-catching subject makes people open your email. Avoid cliches such as “The most innovative…”, “The best tool for…”. Instead, go for roughly five-word texts containing direct questions, your and their company name, or even emojis - make them non-marketing email subjects.
Our open rates suggest that the ideal length of an email subject is between 4-7 words. Statistics say a little different: data from Marketo, 7 words (41 characters) seem to work the best in a subject line in 2019. 

However, research and statistics usually don’t distinguish between B2B or B2C, region, culture, industry, or all combined. So test several and see what works the best for you.


How do you know that your subjects are working?

When the open rate is more than 30%. We send over 35k emails to our customers, and here are the subjects that work for us:

Various email open rates in SALESDOCk

Anyway, your emails being opened is just half of the battle. For getting responses, the wording of your email is crucial. Let’s take a look at the other components of an email:

2. INTRODUCTION

It follows-up on the subject; it’s the reason you’re writing, and it should make you look trustworthy. And you can get some help by mentioning a relevant reference. 

Example:

“I understood that you’re the head of the HR department, and I am getting in touch regarding the onboarding of new employees in *the company name*.”

3. BODY

The body is your time to pitch. Show the problem you solve in one sentence and list the relevant benefits. You’re answering a question no one asked :), explaining how you can help. 

Use bullet points, paragraphs, bold text chunks for important information. After several emails, you’ll have your own style, though we suggest you try the FAB (feature, advantage, benefit - check Google) technique. 

How to know whether it looks good:

  • Read it out loud. If it sounds weird and like marketing speak, then it IS weird and like marketing speak. Make sure it sounds authentic.
  • Send it to yourself, and open it on the computer and your smartphone. Does it look good on both devices? (Note, ⅔ of emails are opened on smartphones first.)
  • Send it to your colleague and ask for feedback. Did the person understand what you wanted to say? 
  • At the beginning of emailing, do AB testing; Take a different subject or different body (you probably have more versions, right?), split a homogenous group of recipients in half, and send your sequence. The open/response rate may vary a little, let’s say 30% to 35%, however, this makes you 17% more effective, and that’s a considerable number. 

Example:

"How do you ensure that you have an overview of your users' privileges?

Share Point is a functional platform with certain limits. An example is the control of fragmented, unmanaged permissions. Access rights reporting can take hours. AD is the solution until the first user shares access right across teams and projects.

*Our Company name* adds functionality that SharePoint lacks in permission management. For example, you can report all objects under a given node, where you can see where a user has access.

*Company Name* usage:

- monitoring the permissions

- audit items

- real-time or snapshots overview

- transferring rights from one user to another

- visualization, management, and cleaning of user access and permissions

Our clients include companies such as *Nice Reference 1* and *Nice Reference 2*

Is streamlining your SharePoint permissions a topic we can discuss?"

4. CTA/NEXT STEPS

Suggest what should happen now when they read the email. Be specific - offer a time slot to discuss your solution. The worst thing possible is skipping this part altogether, or  not being clear and straightforward (Download demo here, sign up for the newsletter here, check this video here, and book a meeting with me). Lead the recipients, so they know what you expect them to do. You want a single thing from them. 

Example:

"I’d like to share the results we reached, and discuss whether it resonates with the challenges you’re facing at the moment.

Would you like to have a call on Monday, 14/9 afternoon?

Have a great day, Martin"

Tools and Best Practices in Business Emailing

  1. Preparation

If you don’t want your email prospecting to be a nightmare, check these off your list:

  • A lead list uploaded to your CRM (yes, you should have a CRM roughly around having/targeting 10 customers) 
  • A CRM that can send email sequences and tracks emails
  • A set of email sequence templates (at least 3 email touches)
  1. Use templated email sequences

Sequences are great for quality and productivity. You don’t have to remember as much as if you were sending everything out manually. 

Pick the most relevant contact in every company you're targeting and send the 1st email to them in bigger bulk. If you don’t receive a response, the 2nd touch should follow a few days later. Altogether we usually aim for 3 - 4 email touches max, with a 3-day interval between each. Don’t overdo it though, making 8 touches, for example, will simply annoy everyone. However, always DO follow up! Our CRM numbers tell us that 40% of conversations start with the 1st email, the rest with the follow-ups. So, don’t miss half of the potential prospects. 

Now to what the individual emails are roughly about. Take the email structure into consideration and focus on these areas:

1st email - the value proposition and benefits of your solution (not features) specifically for the recipient

2nd email - the same value proposition, reminding them why you’re writing again, benefits, CTA - this time stronger: suggesting a call tomorrow. This email is even shorter than the first one.

3rd email - again reminding them of everything, understanding that they haven’t responded, setting up steps to make happen - suggest them to pick from numbers where each has its own meaning next to it: 

"1 - You have everything under control, and I should stop contacting you.

2 - You are interested but need more time to respond.

3 - You’re not interested now, and I should try texting you in a month."


Add these 3 lines at the bottom of your email. By doing so, you’ll make responding quicker and easier. 

  1. Measure your success - the open and reply rate

You know your subject works if the open rate is at least 30%. The reply rate should be at least 30% as well (of the open emails). If it’s not, do some fine-tuning. (Or send it to us and we’ll check it for you). Always make it short, clear, understandable, and don’t attach a combo of links, videos, one-pagers, etc. It’s not only unappealing, but it also gives it a higher chance of ending up in the SPAM folder. 

  1. Send out a reasonable number of emails every day.

Do not send all the emails out at once. Again, it could result in an increased SPAM score. Instead, do it in batches of 30 - 50 a day. Email automation tools are quite intelligent; they will distribute the sending times throughout the day to avoid worsening your SPAM score.
The number of emails going out is not the only factor influencing their deliverability. Email providers also check your behavior; as to whether you are sending many emails to addresses you have never talked to before. 

  1. Implement (automation) tools.

CRM tools with advanced automation features will email for you. You can try Close, Pipedrive, Hubspot, Salesforce… If you don’t have any CRM, try external platforms like reply.io. Avoid primarily marketing email tools like Mailchimp - you can’t track your activities as effectively as in a CRM. A footer with the company logo (if you stick to a free plan) reveals that you’re not using a personalized outreach. 

Test adding a Calendly link in the CTA - where people can simply make a reservation in your calendar. It’s a great timesaver and gives a better base for the first call (everyone expects this call to happen, no surprises). An alternative to Calendly is Meetingbird.

Hunter.io - Search for concrete people’s email addresses or, if they can’t be found, deduct them by the company email structure - hunter.io will almost always show you several examples. 

  1. Personalize as much as possible, do not make the emails marketing-y.

People need to think that the emails were meant for them only. Email personalization also matters, especially if you have only a few, concentrated market segments (banking, insurance, etc.). 

  1. Do not get discouraged by “not interested”.

Start with the highest-ranked person in the company. If this person doesn’t reject you or reply at all, continue down the hierarchy. If a contact replies stating they won’t cooperate and there are still more interesting leads in the company to reach out to, do so. The core of the message can stay the same, but you might need to adjust some of the information to make it more relevant. If an entire company (or the highest-ranking guy) tells you a definite “no”, try to reach out again in 6 months as the situation might be different then. If they just bought from the competition, do not contact them again any time soon.

  1. Email like a boss!

We ran into this instruction years ago, but these tips are still very up to date: 

We need to add that you should never overly flatter the recipients, “If you could find a time slot, I would send you some information to read first, and then we would meet and discuss how we could help you.” Be direct and confident. After all, you’re selling something great, aren’t you?

  1. Do not make people think too much.

The less your recipients need to think about what you’re saying, the higher the chance of them finishing reading your email. Write like a 6th grader. Copy the text of your email and insert it here: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/. It tells you how difficult your email is to read.

Wrapping it up:

Check how cold emailing falls into your prospecting strategy here.

The list above shows that there's a lot of work to be done before you even send your first email. But trust us, it pays off big time.

Keep all the customer conversations transparent and your CRM clear - this will save you a lot of time. Don't leave anything to your "gut feeling", numbers (conversion rates in your CRM) tells you whether you're well on your way to becoming an emailing expert or not.

Use Grammarly ;)

If you're still struggling, let us know, we'll be happy to help.

By

Jana Michelová | Project Manager

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