A cold email might sound ridiculous and even more confusing than a cold call (it can be), but it’s a free way to contact people you would otherwise never get to speak to on the phone. But just like cold calling, there is a definite art – you might even say method – to perfecting the cold email so that you make an irresistible impression.
Following is a step-by-step guide to drafting a wisely crafted cold email. It takes a little work, but if that deters you, then you probably shouldn’t be employed. If you decide to take these new skills to your email marketing, check out this top-rated course on the easiest, friendliest, most fun email marketing training.
Strength In Numbers
The first thing to remember is that cold emailing is, in fact, similar to cold calling: you won’t get a response every time. But the difference with a cold email is that you can get your ideas and media in front of someone’s face – this will happen whether or not they respond to it.
Still, there is strength in numbers. If you don’t get a response from the first few emails you send, don’t worry about it. You will constantly tweak your cold emails. I was a sales executive in New York City at one point in my life and cold emailing was my bread and butter; fire off twenty or thirty a day and you’d be surprised who gets back to you a month (or six) later. You can’t rely on it single-handedly, but if you constantly revise your approach, you’ll get a lot of people’s attention.
I know we’re just talking preliminaries here (if you’re already a pro at tracking down email addresses, skip ahead a few steps for the good stuff), but finding emails is crucial. How else are you going to contact the CFO? The Creative Director? Media Director? Production Director? Get ideas from this great course on how to build an email marketing list fast.
But first of all, the internet is your best friend, as is social media. You should always check the company’s website first (Contact Us, About Us, Meet The Team, etc.). Then find them – or, better yet, the exact name of the person you’re looking for – on LinkedIn. Getting an account on LinkedIn will be the best decision of your life. You can find all kinds of information on there: where people used to work, where they’re from, who they’ve connected with, etc. All things that will make interpersonal relations with them easier.
If you can’t find their email, calling the company is still a good option. You might as well try to get the person on the phone at that point, but if not (the likely scenario) just ask for the email and say you’ve got some promotional stuff you’d like to send over. And if you can find just one person’s email (the secretary’s), them you know the company’s template: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; etc. Then, as long as you know your dream contact’s name, you’re good to go.
Writing The Email Part 1: The Template
While the template is extremely important, it’s nothing compared to the ideas we’ll talk about next. Still, you need a clean and concise look for what you’re going to say. No paragraph writing allowed. This about saying the most in the least amount of words:
- After your “Hi Mr. Creative Director,” you should include the following: your name (“I’m Will”). Don’t wait until the end of the email to introduce yourself. Avoid stating where you’re from (“I’m Will from Marketing, Inc.”). Other people will tell you otherwise, but this immediately reveals your purposes, i.e. business.
- Instead, the second thing you should state is your interest in your contact’s company: “I’m Will. I’m a big fan of Creative Agency’s [insert project you find interesting and relevant].” You can find information about their recent work on their website or social media; I guarantee it.
- If you work with or are familiar with their partners, don’t hesitate to mention it. But again, one line or less.
- Now make your pitch. If your work is similar to a recent project, ask if they would be interested in doing something similar or starting a conversation about it. If you have samples of your work, send along one or two of the best examples; if you can whip something up specially for them without spending too much time, that’s your best case scenario. Learn more writing tips from this awesome class on writing effective business emails.
- End on a question. Leave the ball in their court; don’t just let the email trickle off in a way that makes it easy for them to ignore. “Would you be interested in something like this?” is great, or, “What do you think of the work we do?” (if you sent them a sample, obviously).
- You don’t need to be overly formal unless you suspect your contact would prefer that. Just your name or something casual (Cheers, Thanks, etc.). I tend to avoid “Best” just because it’s so prolific these days. A hyphen and your name is better than “Best.”
Pick up some free writing advice with this post on ten ways to improve your business writing skills.
Part 2: Know Your Contact
Know your contact. Know his or her company. Read their blog. Visit their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Get to know them so that you have details to work with. Best of all though, try to find contacts from company’s you truly know. If you’ve been following Mashable since the beginning and they’re a potential client, send them an email and let them know you’re an orginial fan. If you have an account with a company that has a website, they’ll be able to see if you’re being honest or not. They’ll know if you’ve been around since the beginning, and if you have, you’re golden.
Part 3: Know Your Contact
That’s right, Part 2 and 3 have the same title. The difference is how you write the email. Ideally you will save a variety of email templates so that you can quickly modify them. But you should have emails that are formal, casual and everywhere in between. If you are, in fact, emailing Mashable, don’t sound like a corporate banker. Be casual. Write like you’re one of them (but don’t get carried away and sound ingenuous).
Just remember: anything cookie-cutter stands out like a sore thumb. No B.S. Write like you would want to be written to.
Part 4: Email Is Unique
Email is unique. You just have to take advantage of what it can do. For example, you can’t send media over the phone; you can’t literally put something in front of someone’s face over the phone. But in emailing you’re just a click away. Use media to your benefit. Show your technical proficiency. If you can send samples of your work, don’t waste that opportunity.
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Part 5: Partners And Their Short-Falls
If you truly know your contact, then you’ll know who their partners are and what their company needs. You don’t have to get into a war with their partners; just the opposite. If you’re in the same line of business, you’re probably a fan of some of their work. Hint at this briefly but don’t waste time on another company.
You should also know what their partners can’t provide: social media marketing? professional content? video? You’ll get someone’s attention if you can provide something they truly need; they’ll be on the lookout for you.
Part 6: Short And Sweet
I realize I’ve used about 1000 words telling you how to write an email, but yours should be extremely short and to the point. Doing all of this and maintaining the right tone isn’t easy. You shouldn’t use more than 10 lines for the entire email, and even less than that if possible. Also, don’t lump it all into one paragraph. Separate every unique thought: who you are, what work of theirs you like, which partners you like, samples of your work, your final question, etc. This will make the email appear shorter and more aesthetically pleasing, especially if you’re including links.
Part 7: Above And Beyond
The more work you put into it, the better your results will be. If you have someone you would really, really love to form a partnership with, emailing is still a good way to go; just make sure you do something unique for them. Create their own custom sample, show them what you can do for them, take a month and follow them and their partners: they aren’t going anywhere, and neither are you.
Now all you need is to write some captivating email content. Get an advantage on the competition with this Writing With Flair workshop on how to become an exceptional writer.