Here are 8 things that will help you increase your cold email response rate:
1. Help them kick ass. If you can help people kick more ass, they will reward you back.
This sentence DOESN’T help someone kick ass: “Our app uses WizzBang technology that integrates with your marketing automation platform.”
This sentence DOES help someone kick ass: “John, I noticed that your website isn’t mobile optimized, which might reduce the number of people that can opt into your list. Our app can take care of that. Is this of interest to you?”
(Hat tip to one of my favorite sales mentors, Jill Konrath, for this tip that has consistently helped me get meetings with C-level executives.)
2. Show you’ve done your homework. Mention something about your recipient, link to something on their site, reference an article that’s relevant to them, or show appreciation for something they’ve done. For example:
“I recently stumbled across your article on how you folks achieved parity without diversity – it was really inspiring. You’ve got me thinking about how to hire towards parity as we grow.”
3. Keep it short. 4 sentences, 3 paragraphs max. Many of your recipients will read your email on their mobile device.
4. Use plain text. HTML designed templates don’t feel as personal.
5. Use “you” phrasing. “You” is one of the most important words you can use in a cold email, because it focuses your message on the potential customer’s interest, not yours. Your “you to I” ratio should be 5:1. Five “you’s” to every one “I”.
6. Give people permission to say no. There’s research to support that giving people permission to say no increases response rates. The more you can signal that your recipient is in charge, the more influential you’ll be. For example:
“John, feel free to say no, but allow me to ask, is increasing opt-ins something that’s top of mind?” This phraseology can be used for cold calling as well.
7. Don’t assume people want to meet with you. Asking for a meeting out the gate is like proposing on a first date. Instead, gauge interest first and see if your recipient winks back. For example:
“John, if this sounds interesting we can figure out a time over the next couple of weeks.” This sentence has a minimal amount of friction because it’s a simple yes/no question as opposed to listing out times and assuming your recipient wants to meet. (Thanks for this tip Derek Halpern.)
Here’s another example:
“John, would you be open to me emailing you a 2 minute demo so you can determine if this looks interesting?”
8. Use a subject line that speaks to the interest of your recipient. For example:
“Subject: Your July 23rd post on Medium” speaks to an article my recipient wrote.
9. (BONUS) Provide a call to action that helps your prospect be more successful. “Beth, are you open to examining how this approach could help increase your conversion rates?” Notice that I didn’t say, “Can I have 30 minutes of your time.” There’s a big difference between the two asks. The context of the first one is that Beth can be more successful (which is more compelling). The context of the second one is that I want to take up her time.
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