Can you remember why you responded to the last email in your inbox? It might’ve been because of its subject line, the person who emailed it to you, or the first sentence. It may sound simple, but writing an email that gets a response is not so straightforward — it’s an art.
As someone who manages local partnerships and influencer marketing, I communicate with people in different cities, job levels, and industries every single day. Over the years, and especially because of my start in public relations 15 years ago, I’ve learned how important a single email can be, and how it can set you up for a long, happy, mutually beneficial relationship — regardless of whether you’re in sales, marketing, or customer success.
Want to establish meaningful new relationships for your small business with the help of a simple email? Whether you’re pitching new business, sourcing a speaker, or looking to gain press, here are five steps to perfect your email pitch.
1. Do your research
Before you even start typing, you need to scour the grounds. Who are you trying to reach? What interests them? What are their hobbies? How can their day-to-day work or life help you with your goal?
Without knowing exactly who you’re reaching out to, you won’t know how to get them engaged, and you certainly won’t know how to talk to them like an individual. So get your Google search on and learn more about the person on the other side of the screen.
Pro tip: Social media platforms can give you more info on your email recipient and their most recent achievements. Did they win an award? Are they speaking at a conference? Check out their LinkedIn or Twitter to find out. You’ll see how this info helps you in Step #3.
2. Captivate with your subject line
Your email subject line is your readers’ first taste of the content — it’s a teaser to your email. It should be short, engaging, to the point, but specific enough to understand the purpose.
Since the subject line creates the first impression, the goal is to pique your recipient’s interest and get that email open. That’s why it’s important to make sure it doesn’t look like spam. Even if you’re excited about the email you’re about to send, don’t use exclamation points or all caps. Instead, get straight to the point about your outreach; posing a question in the subject line can be an effective way to do this, for example: “Speak at Dreamforce?”
Got a reason to honor or congratulate the person you’re emailing? You could include that in the subject line as an alternative. Ensure you make the person on the other end feel appreciated, acknowledged, and recognized. For example, if they’re in your organization’s list of most innovative customers, you could reach out with: “Congrats — You’re on our list of top innovators.”
3. Establish common ground
When cold pitching via email, it’s important to use anything you have in common with your audience to begin the first sentence. You don’t have time for general filler and small talk, especially when the global attention span is narrowing.
Here’s where research comes in handy. If you saw that person speak at an event or have a common connection with them on LinkedIn, mention that in the first sentence. Research shows that emails with personalized messages have a 32.7% better response rate.
4. Frame the benefit
In general, most people won’t answer an email — let alone read it — if there’s nothing in it for them. That doesn’t mean your email has to be all flattery, but it should be mindful of the recipient’s time — so only email them if it is in their best interest.
If you invite that person to an event, let them know why it’s important for them. You could also mention names of other notable attendees so that they can help their networks and companies grow. If you pitch a product, mention facts on how exactly it can help them and their company, or share success stories of how it has helped other people like them — this is especially useful if you mention someone influential or someone they know personally.
5. Make a clear ask
The last thing you want your reader to feel is confused about why the email was sent. From the get-go, you need to be clear about why you’re emailing. But you also don’t want to go into too much detail. (Most people skim emails, after all.) So when you outline your specific ask — and assuring you get a response — make sure you:
Keep the ask short
Put the ask at the end of your email, but above your signature
Format it as a question
Put it on a single line
Include additional details below your signature
The whole purpose of your email is to receive a response, so make sure you end on a question that prompts one. If you’d like to include additional details about your ask, only give the bare minimum of background or logistics. You can always go into more detail in a follow-up email.
Pro tip: Don’t bore your reader! Convey basic logistics (date and time in a one-liner context) below your signature so they can scroll down if they want to learn more.
Ready to conquer your email pitch? Use these tips to make sure you get a response from your next prospect, customer, or guest speaker.
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