Increasing the Likelihood Your Prospects Will Open Your Email

While I’ve talked about how great cold calling is, let’s face it, sending an email is just safer for many of us. And that’s fine! While cold calling certainly has its benefits, so does emailing and marketing through the mail. But if you’re sending an email, much of the time your prospect will simply open it and delete it. Or not open it at all. So how do you get people to open your awesome email so they can learn about how much they need your writing services? Well, there area  few ways to increase the likelihood that your email won’t be deleted or go to spam. Follow these quick tips and see if the open rate of your emails doesn’t improve. 

Subject Line

Your subject line should be honest, but not obviously promotional. For instance, “20% OFF CONTENT!” is not going to help you. That email is going to get deleted immediately. Wouldn’t you delete it? Exactly. People are more or less tired of being bombarded by salesy language. So when you send an email, write it as you would the title or headline of an article. After all – the point of a headline is to get people to click on the article (if it’s web copy), right? The point of a subject line is to get people to open your email – click on it. So try something like a question. I once sent an email blast out that said simply “Have you considered content marketing?” I actually got quite a few people who replied and said they were bookmarking me or would consider me for future work. Something like, “Are you looking for a freelance writer?” could work, too. 

Some people will argue and say “No, no, it’s too specific, if they don’t want a writer they won’t open it.” 

Precisely. If they aren’t looking for a writer, why would I want to waste their time? Traditional salespeople are trained to believe that everyone wants their product, it’s just a matter of tricking someone long enough that they’ll sit through a spiel or open an email. I used to be in sales, and I got really tired of pulling the wool over people’s eyes. This is what I’m offering – content – if they don’t need it, fine. I think people know what they need, and if they aren’t sure, they’ll probably be curious enough from the question to open my email.

The Takeaway: Subject lines are article titles; write them accordingly. 

Don’t Include Links That Can’t Be Copied

Anyone who knows anything about web security and doesn’t want to expose their computer to a virus will not click on a link in an email from someone they don’t know. If you embed a link in text, like “Click here to see my blog about jewelry,” nobody in their right mind will click on it.  But if you say, “You can see examples of my jewelry-related writing on my blog by visiting,” then people can copy and paste that into their browser. It’s a much safer way to go about it. I wouldn’t even link it, because sometimes emails with links are automatically seen as spam and sent to a spam folder. 

The Takeaway: Don’t include embedded links; write them out. 

Understand the Point

I love it when people ask me to review their sales emails and it looks like a life history of their business. The point of an email is not to give the prospect all the information that exists on your business. Instead, the point is to get them to your website or blog. Let me repeat that. The point of a marketing email is to get the prospect to your website or blog. If you try to summarize your website in the body of an email, you will quickly lose the prospect’s interest. Instead, give them just enough information to want to visit your site. The reason for this is that your site is, hopefully, set up to provide information and make conversions. They can bookmark your site for later if they don’t have time, or they can read every page in detail right then. Whatever the case, it’s more likely they’ll go back to a bookmarked website than it is they’ll go back to an email. 

The Takeaway: The point of your email is to get the prospect to your website or blog, not to give them a history of your life and business.

Attachments = Spam

Don’t ever include attachments in an email to someone you don’t know. The only exception to this is if you’re prospecting, say, an online publication, and it says specifically in the writer’s guidelines to include an attachment. But most of the time, this is not the case. Attachments are seen as spam, and most of the time will be sent to the spam folder before it ever gets to your prospect. Additionally, for the same reason people won’t click on a link from someone they don’t know, they probably won’t open an attachment from someone they don’t know, either. It’s always best to direct people to your website, online writing samples, and blog via a fully written out link than it is to include attachments of your work. 

The Takeaway: Include the web addresses where your prospects can find your work online, but don’t include attachments. 

Don’t Be Salesy

I’m sorry, but if your email sounds like a used car salesman’s beckoning that you “Hurry down today for the BEST deals in TOWN!”, well, chances are your email will fall on deaf…eyes? You get the point. People hate being hustled, and in a world where advertising lingo is thrown at people from all directions, you will stand out by being – you know – respectful, kind, and human. Who knew? I’m much more willing to read an email from someone who says “I saw your site online and thought you might be interested in our marketing services,” than someone who writes to me and says “20% OFF marketing for YOUR business!” 

The Takeaway: If it sounds like a sales pitch more than it does a recommendation, don’t say it. Go for consultative, not confrontational or promotional. 

Make it Personal

The more personal you can make an email the better. Anyone can use someone’s first name in an email, and that’s great. But if you take the time to hunt down some highly qualified candidates, you can spend more time on each email. Include as much information about the company, their website, how you think you can help them, and so on. I would be super impressed if someone trying to sell me marketing services (which happens pretty frequently) wrote to me and said “Hey, we noticed on your website that you are reaching out to x,y, and z markets, and we have experience targeting that market.” Wow! The more personal you make it, the more you show you really care about that customer’s success in their business and aren’t just blasting an email with [recipient name] and [recipient website] fields in your mail merge. 

The Takeaway: Personalize, personalize, personalize. 

Offer a Solution

This is the number one thing I wish more people would do when they sent out prospecting emails, because it really makes a difference. It plays in a bit to the above idea of personalizing your emails, but on a deeper level. If your’e just blasting emails out to every business in a 20 mile radius, you’re wasting your time. You might get some hits, but probably not from qualified candidates. Instead, narrow down the top 20 or 10 companies you think could really use your services. For instance, if they’re on page 20 of Google searches, they need your help. If you notice they sell small business insurance but they have zero information that would be helpful to their prospects and clients, suggest in your email that adding some content could increase their conversion rate and bring in new business. But then go the extra mile: include a sample article, give statistics about companies in their area that have benefited from adding content marketing, and tell them how you’ll help them solve their problem of not having enough content. It might seem like a lot of work up front, and it is, but your job is to offer them solutions to their business, and the more of a solution you can offer them up front, the more they realize you’ve really looked at their site and they’re not just a name on an email list to you, the more of a favorable response you’ll get. 

The Takeaway: Offer a personalized solution in your emails so your prospects know you’ve paid attention to them and haven’t just blasted an email to them and 5,000 other people. Prove you can offer a solution up front, and you’ll be more likely to get a response. 

I treat every email to a corporate client as I would a query to a magazine, because it’s really very similar. Corporate clients can end up being your bread and butter, so take time in your prospecting emails. Act as though every email you send out is a proposal for a $2,000 or $3,000 project, because you never know – it just might be. If you wouldn’t blast email magazine editors a flat pitch that isn’t customized to them (please gasp and say “No, never!”…thank you) ,then don’t do it for your corporate clients. 

Hopefully this has been helpful to some of you who are going the email marketing route. I definitely work corporate email proposals into my  marketing efforts on a weekly or daily basis. I keep a file for all of my prospects, and then transfer them over to my “Client” folder when they commit to a sale. I send less than 10 emails a day to corporate prospects, but it’s enough to get a pipeline going, and it’s enough to ensure that if someone calls me, I remember them instead of trying to figure out which one of 1,000 email recipients they were. 

Do you have email or prospecting tips we could all benefit from? Let us know in the comments! 

Until next time, happy writing!


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