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Tips to writing a good cold outreach email

5 Tips to Writing a Really Good Cold Outreach Email

Cold outreach, whether its cold calls or cold emails are one of the most difficult things to do. I think cold emailing is a little more difficult because you don’t receive any verbal feedback. A lot of the times, if the email isn’t good, the recipient will either delete it or unsubscribe without giving you any feedback so you don’t know how to improve it going forward.  

However, cold emails can work. I should clarify that I’m not referring to sending out mass cold sales emails that are typically sent to a bunch of people in bulk. I’m referring to creating a cold email to a specific person that you found or you think fits your niche. 

Over the past few years, we have been experimenting with making cold calls, sending cold emails and cold reach-outs on LinkedIn, which has resulted in very successful partnerships and clients that have scaled our business. So I thought I would share with you some of the components that I include in my cold emails.

  1. Personalize the message to the recipient.

This doesn’t mean just using a merge tag so that the email says “Hi Jessica!” I’m talking about actual research about the recipient to show that you have put thought into who the person is, what interests them and why they are doing what they do. 

I have received far too many emails where the person Googled my name and took the top article that popped up about me and mentioned that in the first line of the email and then went straight into their ask.

Here’s an example:

Hi Jessica!

That’s so exciting that TIEIT won Innovation of the Year. Congratulations!

We help business owners access over $100K in grants…

At first you start to think, oh wow, this person took the time to look me up. But then when you start to receive the 5th email with the same mention and then Google yourself one day, you quickly realize that you aren’t as special as you think you are.

Another example:

Hi Jessica!

Hope you are doing well and having a great day! I came across and found your professional experience quite impressive. Can you handle 25+ new customer calls per month? These customers will already be interested in your services.

Let’s jump on a quick 5 minute call if you’re interested.

First of all, what about my professional experience was impressive to you?

I know for a fact that my LinkedIn profile needs some work so it would be great to know what you found impressive. 

Personalizing a message means that you’ve put some thought into who this person is beyond a Google search. You’ve thought about who this person is, what interests them and what motivates them and then you try to discuss it in the email, not just one line at the start of the email before you get into your ask. 

It’s also important to make it clear why you are emailing that person, as opposed to someone else. It’s almost like you want to make that person feel like the hero in your story, so they are more likely to want to help you.

  1. Validate yourself.

When we get a call, text or email from a stranger, we want to know who that person is before we send a “new phone, who dis?!” message back. We want to know if this person is important to us and why they are contacting us.

In this case, you’re actually the stranger in this scenario. You did your research on the person, but they don’t know anything about you, which is why you need to show that you’re credible and that they can trust you.

Here are a few ways you can show credibility in a cold email:

  1. Knowing someone in common is one of the strongest forms of social proof. If you have a direct connection, make sure to mention that because having a mutual connection means you are not a stranger anymore.
  2. Display your authority. If you have any credibility or social status that you think will relate or be relevant to the person, then include that in the email. 
  3. Find a commonality through being part of the same group, same community or school, shared hobbies, etc. 

The main objective is to find a way to go from “stranger danger” to acquaintance with the person.

  1. Give the recipient something they want and/or need.

Everyone is busy in their day-to-day lives, so why should this person take time out of their schedule to read, let alone respond to your email?

Does your product or service alleviate a major pain point for the recipient? If yes, you want to make sure that you highlight that early on in the email to catch the recipient’s attention and to give them a reason to continue reading. 

And if you can’t solve their problem, do you have something they want instead? During your research, did you come across information that showed something they wanted or do you know someone that they would like an introduction to? It’s rare when someone will give before they ask for something. But remember, your give has to be appropriate, because at the end of the day, you are still a stranger to this person. For example, offering a Starbucks gift card is a little weird in my opinion (I say this because I’ve had many people send me one). Are you trying to guilt me into talking to you because you paid for my coffee this morning? Do you really want to start off a conversation over guilt? Probably not.

  1. KISS – Keep it Short & Simple

I’m sure what i’m about to say next is not new to you, but short emails are more likely to be read than long ones. In addition, emails that request a clear and specific action get a much higher response rate than long, rambling emails with no clear or concise call to action.

What I have found works well is to write the email, the way you’d talk. If you met someone at a cocktail party for the first time, you wouldn’t just walk up to them and start pitching your business for an hour. You would most likely introduce yourself, maybe say something nice or say something funny, connect with them over a shared interest or friend and then finally make your request. (If you are more of the “just walk up to them and start pitching your business” type of guest, this could be why you aren’t getting as many invitations lately…just saying).

One thing that I do is ask my colleagues for their opinion on the email before I send it. I make sure to send it to them first to make sure it sounds like me and it reads well. 

Adding a good “ask” in the email can sometimes be tricky as there is an art to it without being too vague and without sounding too pushy. 

Here are some examples below of good vs. bad “asks”:

Bad AsksGood Asks
Let me know if you want to meet up? I can meet on Tuesday or Wednesday any time between 9AM and 12PM at Starbucks on Steeles Ave. If those days/times don’t work for you, let me know what does and i’ll make it happen. 
Should we connect to discuss?I am free for a 10 mins call on Tuesday or Wednesday any time between 9AM and 12PM, where we can discuss XYZ.
Do you think you would be interested in our services? If you want to learn more about what i’ve mentioned above, then let’s jump on a quick 10 mins call to see if it’s a good fit for you. I am free for a call on Tuesday or Wednesday any time between 9AM and 12PM. If those days/times don’t work for you, let me know what does and i’ll make it happen. 
  1. Be vulnerable and thankful

People are far more likely to help others (especially strangers) when they are shown appreciation. By expressing gratitude and showing some vulnerability, you are giving the recipient the feeling that they are a good person, should they choose to help you. Remember, you are asking a complete stranger, someone who knows nothing about you for a favor. 

Even a simple “Thank you so much! I am very grateful for your time!” can increase the chances of getting a response to your email. 

And all of this may sound very obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people forget this part of the cold email and simply end it with a “Thanks.” 

Overall, there really is no one simple template to follow. Depending on your ask and who you’re reaching out to, it will require some research and personalization. Just make sure you are incorporating these principles into your cold email to increase your chances of getting a response. 

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