Trying to figure out how to get someone to respond to you through email usually goes something like this: you see a potential hot lead, you write an email asking to meet up, then you wait. And wait. And wait some more.
Much of the time they never respond.
The truth is, even inbound leads often require more than one email before they’ll take action -- or even respond. So, it's up to you to figure out a way to contact them multiple times without being obnoxious. Here are three tips to creating an email process that may help get you the results you want.
Tip #1: Make a Good First Impression
Your mother was right when she said first impressions are important. In the context of email outreach, that means subject lines are important. You might have the solution your prospect has been searching for, but if your subject line doesn’t make them want to open the email, they’ll never see what's inside.
Here are some stats:
- 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone. 69% of email recipients report email as spam based on subject line alone (Convinceandconvert).
- 40% of emails are opened on mobile first, and the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words of the subject line (Contact Monkey).
- Subject lines with 30 or fewer character have an above average open rate (Adestra).
Think about your prospect and the problem you’re helping them solve. Now, figure out a way to express that problem in 1-3 words. Once you’ve done that, your subject line can be as simple as, “Question about [1-3 word description]?” Questions about hiring, questions about payroll, questions about online rental payments--whatever it is you help them do, get that into the subject line in as few words as possible.
If a particular subject line isn’t getting opened, it’s probably time to try something new.
But getting your prospect to open the email doesn’t guarantee anything. If you don’t offer them value and context immediately, there’s no reason they’ll keep reading. So forget starting with your name or your job title--all of that is in your signature anyway. Start with the context of your outreach and immediately move to the value you’re offering.
Context (first sentence of email):
- I saw that [company name] recently [news event].
- [Mutual connection] told me [situation].
- I liked your recent [post/tweet/article/etc.] about [topic].
- Congratulations on [promotion/acquisition/award/etc.].
Value (second and third sentences of email):
- I have an idea about [insightful pain-point]. I'd love to set up some time to chat about [solution].
- Here's [link to helpful content]. If you'd like to talk about about this, let me know.
- I recently helped another company [positive outcome]. Is that something that would be helpful for [company name]?
Get to the point quickly and keep it focused on your prospect and their needs.
Tip #2: Always Be Helping
To paraphrase Alec Baldwin's character in the movie Glengary Glen Ross, "ABC. Always Be Closing," And to help close a lead, "Always be helping."
If you want to get any traction in the sales process, you need to be sure every email you send offers some value to your contact. If you just say you’re “checking in” or “following up,” they won't see any reason to respond.
If you’re stumped as to what else to say, think about what need you’re trying to address. If you have actionable advice about resolving that need, put it in one of your follow-up emails. If you have a how-to guide or similar piece of helpful content, that would make another good email. Look around on your favorite blogs and social media sites to find a relevant article, and send that in another email. And if your prospect has an online presence, make sure you’re watching them so you can respond to the things they post.
In the end, sending one follow-up email may not be enough. So, send a few more filled with some of the helpful items mentioned above.
Tip #3: Know When to Back Off
There are two reasons to make your fifth email your last one. For one thing, there’s no benefit to spending time and effort on someone who isn’t engaged. Badgering an unresponsive person won’t make them want to talk to you--in fact, it might turn them off from ever wanting to talk to you. Continuing to reach out after your fifth attempt isn’t helpful to your prospect and doesn’t do you any good, either.
But there’s an even better reason to cut things off, and that’s the power of what Blair Enns calls “Closing the Loop.” Essentially, you tell the person that you aren’t going to reach out to them anymore. Enns recommends being as emotionlessly matter-of-fact as possible. Here’s the template he uses:
Subject: Closing The Loop
I haven't heard back from you on [project/opportunity] so I'm going to assume you've gone in a different direction or your priorities have changed.
Please let me know if we can be of assistance in the future.
If the person you’re emailing really isn’t interested, they either won’t respond or will send a quick thank-you note to confirm that they won’t be moving forward with you. But if they are interested, even just a little bit, then this email will spur them to action, and they’ll at least tell you when a better time would be to reach out.
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