Maybe you’re looking to cultivate media connections or create new partnerships in your industry.
Or you are using email marketing to build your pipeline.
You keep trying and trying, but you’re coming up empty.
Making a good first impression is crucial in business, as in life. If your email pitch doesn’t capture someone’s attention and compel them to reply, you’re wasting your time.
People spend around 13 hours a week reading and responding to email, according to McKinsey.
If you want to add your correspondence to that pile, you’d better make it worth their time.
An email marketing campaign that merits a reply is something of an art. One which requires tweaking your message for every situation and every recipient.
There are general rules to follow when writing an email which can help increase the chances of getting a conversation going. Let’s review.
Your Email is Too Long
Brevity is the golden rule for all kinds of communication, particularly writing.
That email you wrote? It’s too long.
Composing an email to ask the recipient to do something for you should be no longer than a couple of paragraphs.
Anything more than that and you’re getting into novella territory, by email marketing standards.
Research shows people only spend about 15-20 seconds reading an email.
Be direct and get to the point. Otherwise, you’ll lose them.
Your Email is Not Pretty
A piece of writing is more than just what words you use. It’s how those words look on the page, how they flow together.
Don’t bunch all of your words into a single paragraph. It’s not only aesthetically unpleasant but difficult for the reader to parse what you’re trying to say.
As plainlanguage.gov puts it, “Long paragraphs discourage users from even trying to understand your material.”
There’s No Pressure to Respond
Sending your email to more than one person increases the chances of opening.
Mentioning specific people by name makes them more likely to respond to you.
Why is this? Simple: peer pressure.
When no one is around to (silently or otherwise) shame someone into responding to you, they’ll be less likely to do so.
If the reader feels all eyes are on them, they’ll be more likely to answer back.
Your Email Lacks a Clear Ask
Have a specific goal in mind—a time and place you want to meet, a topic you want to discuss, a link to a story you want them to read—when you write your email.
If someone takes out their phone on the bus, sees your email, and can’t understand what you need from them by the time the bus gets to the next stop, you’ve screwed it up.
Your Email Feels Fake or Generic
When reaching out to several different people, you’re probably using the “copy + paste” function quite a bit.
It’s understandable—writing essentially the same email over and over feels like a waste of time. Why not take the best bits and recycle them in each message?
Well, this can work as long as you don’t make the email too boilerplate or generic.
Be sure to include specific details about the recipient. Don’t just say things like “your publication,” “your company,” or “your city.”
Using a recipient’s name will activate some unique brain engagement and pique their interest.
Your Email Subject Line is Lacking
No one likes writing subject lines, but you must put something eye-catching in that line.
Even before people open your email, they’ll be swayed to open or delete based on how compelling you make your subject line.
And don’t even get started on weird email addresses.
Anything too generic or passive—”Hey,” or “Just checking in,” or “Help me,” won’t get the job done.
Make your subject line catchy or intriguing, and your email is less likely to be deleted right away.
Your Email is Passive-Aggressive
Lots of follow-up emails have this problem.
You send the first in your email marketing campaign—a perfectly crafted message, great subject line, pithy, to the point.
You don’t receive a response, so you send a follow-up.
And because you’re a little frustrated, you say something like “I take it you’re not interested, but just wanted to double check…”
Being passive-aggressive or showing frustration at not getting a response is a surefire way to land yourself on someone’s bad side.
Humans suffer from “attribution bias,” where our faults and mistakes are explained away by circumstances, but we tend to blame others personally when they mess up.
Have you sent a prompt response to every email? If not, why should you expect the same from others?
Your Email is Impolite or Disrespectful
Remember, the people you’re emailing have no obligation to respond to you.
If you enter the exchange acting as though this person owes you a response, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Always make sure your entire email marketing campaign is polite, respectful, and understanding.
Understand that by reading your email, these people are taking time out of their day to listen to you.
In a world where attention spans are short, and there’s little free time anymore, having and expressing appreciation goes a long way.
Your Email Creates More Work
Your should build your email around a specific goal or ask.
Whether it involves writing a letter, reading an article, or setting up a phone call, give the recipient all the information they need.
Make it easy for them to click a link or pick up the phone and get ahold of you directly.
And if you are following up, be sure to include pertinent information from your original message, so they don’t have to dig through old emails to know what you’re talking about.
A brief reminder of the previous conversation will help them to remember and respond immediately.
Effective Email Marketing
We all want effective email marketing campaigns—ones that get read and receive a response.
And, by using the tips above, you can create better emails which recipients look forward to opening and reading.