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Tips to Write an Effective Cold E-mail

Most freelancers start their journey to build clientele by sending a cold e-mail to each prospective client. Sales reps and brand marketers also use this medium for lead generation. The thing about cold emails though is that they can go terribly wrong, or amazingly right, it depends on how you do it. Cold emailing is harder because you have no prior relationship with your prospective client and are essentially just winging it. Out of a hundred sent cold emails, only ten may generate leads that will yield conversions – maybe none at all if you send them without proper guidance. To get the desired effect from your cold emailing, here’s what you have to do:

1. Conduct Proper Research Beforehand and make your Cold E-mail Tailor-made

Every cold email that you draft should be upfront and personal. Statistics show that people are most likely to give an audience to something related to them than not. An opening line as generic as “hello, I saw your page on a website and I think our latest product (XYZ) will be a great fit” does not cut it. Dig deep and find out information about the prospect that is relevant to your proposition. When you find this information, use it to frame your entire email.

A tailor-made cold e-mail aims to convince the prospect that it is them and not anyone else that is the most suitable for your offer. People like to win, and if they are convinced that they were uniquely chosen from a qualified crowd because of a particular trait, you have a higher chance of making that client a paying customer (think of it like a raffle draw). Make the email about them and their brand, not you or your offer.

2. Find Common Ground

You know the stranger danger warning that comes with cyber security tips right? It is easy to dismiss it when you are now the stranger, however, the fear of phishing e-mails is very much valid. When you have done a ton of research about the prospect and tailored your cold e-mail perfectly, you should also give some insight about yourself, or you run the risk of common across as creepy. Attest to your credibility by highlighting your achievements. The more valuable you appear, the sooner you are likely to win the prospect’s trust. If you are a newbie, feel free to mention a mutual connection that you have with the prospect in the introduction.

Finding common ground moves you out of the stranger zone into the “friend of a friend” corner. Supposing you didn’t get the contact from a network and the prospect is in fact a total stranger with an impressive track record that caught your eye, try citing a common hobby, similar belief or experience, whatever. Bonds are formed based on similarities, and you want to form some kind of bond with the prospect so you can go from a stranger to an acquaintance at least.

3. Highlight What your Prospect Stands to Gain

When approached for a new business deal or an exciting collaboration offer, it’s in human nature to wonder, “what’s in it for me?”. Your prospect is human also, don’t let them ask (they won’t even, your mail will just get sent straight to spam) show them how the offer can be beneficial to their brand. When conducting your research pay attention to the pain point of the prospect and frame your offer to alleviate that. For example, for a brand whose website is their biggest platform for lead generation, your pitch as a content writer for their blog posts should highlight the use of SEO content to drive more traffic to their website. If you tell people what they want to hear, and show them how you can help them achieve it, they would give you their money without a second thought.

4. Follow Proper E-mail Etiquette

Proper e-mail etiquette promotes effective communication, even with cold e-mails. Use white line spacing when you write and be as brief as possible – a lengthy e-mail from an unfamiliar address will only set alarm bells off in your prospect’s mind. Try to stick to the standard fonts and refrain from sarcastic remarks. When you employ sarcasm in your e-mail, you run the risk of offending your prospect and ruining your chances. For more insight into e-mail etiquette rules, click here and read the article.

5. Let them have the Upperhand

People like the feeling that comes with being of help, it makes them feel powerful. If the offer sounds like the prospect will be doing you a favor, you are more likely to get positive feedback. By requesting help, you make them feel good about themselves. This is not in any way encouraging you to sell yourself short, but it is okay to be a little vulnerable.

Feel free to say things like “thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to read through this email, I understand if you don’t have the time to go through the offer now, but here’s the link so you can do so in your free time”. Expressing gratitude is key to getting feedback, and even if you do not get a positive one, you are sure to get a polite one and a possible referral.

PS: If you include a link to subscribe to your newsletter for more updates, add a link to unsubscribe as well, so they always feel in charge.

6. Close with a clear Call To Action

You have delivered a convincing pitch, had your prospect hooked the whole time, and now he is interested – where does he go from here? Closing a cold e-mail without a clear call to action is like advertising a brand with just a logo and a slogan. Tell your prospect the next step to take in clear and compelling terms, and keep it short. If you include a link, tell them what the link is for and how it functions as the way forward. A call to action that says click here to learn more is short but vague, and presents the next step as time-consuming. Try being more specific and say something like, the link below gives you access to a free trial, tap on it to secure your spot immediately.  

7. Be Authentic, don’t use templates.

A template is designed to function as a one-size-fits-all, which ruins the whole “tailor-made offer for you” vibe that you want your prospect to get. Use a template as a guide to draft an original personalized cold e-mail for your prospect, instead of filling in the blanks. You can also create your private template and tweak it for each prospective client.

What you shouldn’t do when writing a Cold E-mail

1. Be vague

When finding a common ground with your prospect, be specific. Vague references like, “I was referred to you by a mutual connection” or I heard about your brand from an event I attended” sound suspicious and will not build any trust. In your introduction as well, be more particular about what you (or your company) do, explicitly stating your unique selling proposition. Statements like “we are a tech company in the business of growing brands” should be replaced with “we are a team of web developers committed to building optimized websites for brands” instead.

2. Make any Assumptions

When you write a cold e-mail, do not assume that the prospect will jump on the offer by the first interaction. Always be prepared to write a follow-up e-mail and get on a call if necessary. Your subject line for the e-mail shouldn’t be boisterous. A subject line that says “business deal” or “jump on this offer” will only get your prospect irritated. Use a title that gives a hint of your unique selling proposition instead.

3. Demand to have a Call

As part of your closing, you may want to include a request for a call, do so respectfully. Sentences like “let me know when you are free so I can get on a call with you” sound obnoxious and demanding. Remember that you are not entitled to their time or feedback. When you request for a call, be polite. For example, you can say, “I am free on Fridays and Saturdays between 8 am and 9 pm for a call, please let me know which of these times work best for you if you’d like us to discuss further.”

Pro Tips for an Effective Cold E-mail

  1. Sprinkle a bit of light humor in your opening and closing line. Statistics show that emails that have a casual and friendly tone have more chances of sparking curiosity.
  2. Remember that your cold email is just to ignite interest, prepare a follow-up mail for interested prospects.
  3. Don’t make tall promises to sound more compelling, offer a specific value that is relevant to your prospect and attainable instead.

Sending a cold email, you run the chance of being seen as a bother – most people just ignore them or send them straight to spam. However, when used correctly, cold emails can generate some of the best leads you will ever have. Study this guide and practice writing a few rough sketches so you can bring your A-game to the next e-mail.

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