What’s the number one goal when writing an email? You got it: getting people to read it! This process begins with the subject line. A compelling subject line prompts the reader to continue to the introduction, the email body, and the call to action below.
The soft scientists we call “copywriters” have been perfecting this process for years. Nowadays,
drawing people into your emails is remarkably easy if you’ve got a handle on the proven,
guiding principles of email outreach. That’s exactly what we’re going to dive into today. We’re going to discuss, in-depth, the entire process of crafting emails that just refuse to stay unread.
#1 Subject Line
This your first chance to make a strong impression on the reader, to communicate something
worthy of clicking on. In an email, your subject is like your headline.
You’ll want to craft something creative and informationpacked since emails go to the graveyard
unopened when they bear a mundane subject line. Here are the five components of a great
1) Shorter is better.
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader: lots of unread emails, lots of words in subject lines. The
one that stands out is sparse in its language. It fits nicely in the box and speaks quickly.
2) Ask questions.
Intriguing the reader is a great strategy. For example, ‘Do you make these mistakes?’ is more
enticing than ‘Mistakes Most People Make’.
3) Use upper and lower case.
ALL CAPS ARE HARD TO READ. They also scream “salesy!”
4) Write like you’re writing just to them.
We humans like to feel like we’re special, like we’re important. Respect goes a long way
towards getting an email opened and responded to. Avoid sending emails that read like they’re
addressed to thousands of others.
A poor example would be: “Email Mistakes We All Make.” A better way to do it would be like
this: “How You Can Avoid Common Email Mistakes.”
Better yet, pose a question, like this: “Are You Making Any Of These Common Email Mistakes?”
5) Treat it like a headline.
Buzzfeed revolutionized how we understand headlines. The popmag made those numerous
headers instantly recognizable and for good reason. They work. Putting a number at the front
of a headline is shown to improve open rates up to 25%, and headlines with numbers generated
73% more shares. This is effective because numbers are “like candy to our brain,” giving us an
instant framework and finite boundary to sort information within.
Guess what? Odd numbers are opened 20% more than even numbers. Why? Even numbers
are seen as “inauthentic.”
There are five elements that make to an irresistible subject line, as seen below:
There are certain power words that tap directly into the human brain, providing inevitable results. Using these impactful words to evoke an emotional response within readers is the surefire way to ensure your email gets read. To name a few significant words:
– Secret (implies something worth knowing)
– Proven (guarantees the reader results)
– Easy (promises that it won’t take too much time – we humans are quite mentally lazy)
– Amazing (suggests the fantastic, extraordinary)
– The (lets the reader know the topic is definitive, as in “the” one solution)
– You (talking to the reader includes them and drives interest)
The secret to headlines is: be as explicit as possible about what your email will cover. A great way to describe this is by using words like:
These are deeply ingrained signifiers that not only piece together language but are great first words for a gripping introduction.
#2 Keep it Short
Shorter than you might think. The principle of Occam’s Razor applies to emails: just enough to be polite, interesting, and communicate your message. Nothing more, because no one is going waste time reading something from a stranger.
Limit yourself to two sentences per paragraph, and four to five sentences in total.
After you provide a nice hook, move directly into the body. Here’s a basic email paragraph structure:
– Subject line: Casual, short, catchy.
– Greeting and intro/hook: Say hello and start with a relatable piece of information.
– Transition/1st paragraph: Move from relatable information to your main point. Explain the reason for your email.
– Snapshot/2nd paragraph: Provide a brief overview of your company and provide a short elevator pitch that focuses on the pain that you can solve for the reader or their company.
– 3rd paragraph: Suggest a good time to talk more or schedule a call. Be very specific about what your goal is.
#3 Personalize the Message
As we know, email has grown up, and mass emails aren’t effective anymore, so striking a balance between generalized information and personalization for the reader can be hard. Remember to fall back on your buyer persona for this phase.
For large-scale emails, this won’t involve much. Referencing the company name or the industry will be specific enough if you’re shelling out a large block of emails. Showing the reader that you’ve done your research (however you can) will go a long way to getting a response.
Another important rapport-building technique is to find common ground, such as a current city, work history, school or university, or mutual connections. People trust the references of those they know more than anything.
Do your best to include a tweet, a link, news about your company – something substantive, of interest, and validating in the body. Here, the law of reciprocity comes into effect: if you give me something (like some information) and ask for a response back, I am biologically inclined to return the favor. As long as the rest of your email follows best practices (INSERT LINK WHAT NOT TO DO EMAIL POST), you’ll see response rates soar.
For example, at IKO System we curate and send automated email scenarios that are absolutely faithful to target buyer personas and human psychology. This way, our outreach emails get through-the-roof response rates and find the decision makers we all want to reach. By sending hyper-targeted Smart Engagement sequences, we trigger sales meetings at rates much higher than the industry average.
#4 Send at the Right Time
What is the best time to send an email? Morning or evening? Weekends or weekdays? Well, that depends upon who you’re trying to reach.
Here are a few tips that can help you start testing email timing:
– Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are poor choices for obvious reasons
– Early morning and late night catch a lot of people relaxed or unwinding
– Tuesdays and Wednesdays are full work days
– Sunday afternoons might work – some people are getting ready for the coming week
You can always do a little snooping on social to see when your audience is active. Here are a few additional insights from Experian and Mailchimp.
Some also like to go against the grain, sending emails on Saturdays and Sundays during times that are unconventional. If you’re testing out a particularly feisty subject line, click through rates could spike when the normal readers are not online.
Buffer’s Kevan Lee recommends you try the infomercial effect. Schedule your message for quieter, off-peak times because people will have less choice to overload them. “When there’s nothing else on, you’re more likely to watch an infomercial.”
#5 The Signature
The email signature helps the reader take the next step. It’s also a primary reference to your personal character as an unknown mailer.
Email signatures with lots of links and images are annoying and decrease credibility. Email is a streamlined channel for communication, not Facebook. Keep it simple with these necessary basics:
– Your name
– Company name
– Company website
– Company blog (optional)
– Your LinkedIn profile
– Your Twitter profile (optional)
– Your phone number
Be sure Include your business address in your signature (it’s a legal requirement). A phone number is recommended because it helps build further credibility with the person you’re emailing.
P.S. – Include a P.S.
This is essential when trying to reach decision makers in larger organizations with complicated internal hierarchies. The proven tactic is to ask the reader if you should speak with someone else. This also fulfills the required opt-out responsibility of your email while keeping it personal.
Close with a Question
Asking a question before saying goodbye is a great way to prompt a response. The question starts a dialogue, potentially leading to the next step in the sales process. Once they’ve responded for more information, you can get them on the phone… Make sense?
When sending out cold emails, remember these 5 easy guidelines. By catering your message to your readers, you set yourself upon for high open, click through, and response rates. When making a subject line, be short, snappy, and intriguing. Likewise, the overall body of your email should be short, polite, and to the point, showing that you respect the reader’s time. Be sure to sign off in a professional manner while providing all crucial information needed to establish credibility and further contact.
Finally, remember that automated email engagement solutions can relieve much of the hassle of crafting and sending emails to your target audience. By engaging middle and bottom-of-funnel leads along buyer behaviors and lead scores, automated and customizable engagement scenarios trigger sales meetings with those most responsive to your product or service. This means less time sending emails and more sales reps selling.