Writing an email to a friend is easy. But writing to a stranger? That’s an entirely different story. Someone who doesn’t know you has no incentive to pay attention to your email. That means you need a strategy to entice them to open, read, and reply to it.
Fortunately, there are tried and tested tricks that can help you. Let’s take a look at the elements of the perfect introduction email.
Craft a Killer Subject Line
According to Business2Community, 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone. Therefore, your subject line must be interesting enough to compel the recipient to open it.
There are several ways to do this. One of the most effective is to include the recipient’s first name. According to Oberlo, personalizing in this way boosts open rates by up to 50%.
Another useful strategy is to draw the recipient in with a bit of mystery. Try asking a question that will leave them unable to resist opening the email to find out the answer.
Another option is to spell out the value you’re going to offer in your subject line. The recipient then has to open the email to find out how to get their hands on what you’ve promised. Here are a couple of great examples:
- No such thing as a free lunch… until now
- 40% growth in 3 months? Wow!
Take your time to craft the perfect subject line, and don’t be afraid to get creative. Ensure you add email tracking to your emails so that you can monitor your open rate. This will help you assess whether the subject lines you pick are working. If not, you can try a different strategy with your next email.
Make It About Them
Your email recipient is busy. They also don’t know you. Therefore, they are unlikely to be interested in an email that’s all about you. Instead, make it about them. As a rule of thumb, I aim to use the word “you” around twice as much as I use the word “I” in an introductory email.
Instead of “I’m [Name], and I’m writing to you because I would like to…,” you might write “I just saw your post on [Topic] and what you said was so helpful!” If your email is all about you, they probably won’t even read to the end. Talk about them, though, and you’ll have them hooked.
Explain Why You Are Writing
Congratulations! You’ve convinced the recipient to open your email and read it. Now it’s time to say why you’re reaching out.
Make sure you personalize this section and make it relevant to them. Ideally, use their name or the name of their company.
Here are some examples:
- I work for [SEO company], and we help improve traffic in sites of small businesses like [recipient’s company].
- I admired your work on [project.] I’ve just started in [field], and I would love to buy you a coffee and pick your brains if you had an hour to spare.
The trick is to be engaging and to make the recipient feel special. If the email is generic or could have been sent to almost anyone, they’ll probably ignore it. If you show you’ve done your homework and know something about them, your chances of a response increase dramatically.
Remember: this person is a stranger. Therefore, they’re under no obligation to do you a favor. They might, of course, if they’re feeling nice. But your chances of getting what you want increase enormously if you can demonstrate the value it will give to them.
Therefore, in this section, you should explain what the recipient will get out of what you are proposing. Good relationships, both personal and professional, are all about give and take. It is essential to show what you can bring to the table as well as what you would like from them.
If you’re looking to meet up for networking, you can offer to introduce them to useful contacts in your field. If you want the recipient to take up your offer of a sales call, you can explain how you’ve helped other companies like theirs boost web traffic and that you would like to do the same for them.
This is what’s known as Social Exchange Theory. The relationship between two people is an exchange process. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
End With a Clear CTA
The call to action (CTA) is where you tell your recipient what you want them to do. If your instruction is unclear or too hard to do, they may not act on it even if they otherwise would have.
Here are some examples of a CTA:
- Give me a call if you’re interested!
- Take a look at the attached and let me know what you think.
Your job is to make it as easy as possible for the recipient to do what you’re asking. If you’re asking them to call you, include your phone number so they don’t have to hunt for it. If you would like them to take a look at a document, attach it as a PDF that they can download in seconds. If you’d like to meet, it’s a good idea to include some suggested times and places (while making it clear that you will accommodate their schedule if they propose an alternative.)
Add Finishing Touches
Your email should be short and to-the-point without being brusque. No-one likes to read excessively long emails. Say what you want to say in as few words as possible. If your email is very wordy or appears as a “wall of text,” the odds increase that your recipient will delete it unread.
Your tone should be professional, yet friendly and polite. “Hey, [First Name]. I hope you’re doing well” is almost always a great opening. End the email by thanking them for their time and reiterate that you hope to hear from them.
Reread your email before you send it and, if in doubt, ask a colleague to check it over and let you know how it comes across. It’s also a good idea to run your email through a spelling and grammar checker before you hit the “send” button. Misspellings and grammatical errors make you look less professional. Grammarly is a great paid tool, but there are also several free Grammarly alternatives available.
Once you’ve sent your email, be patient. You can’t expect an immediate reply. If the recipient hasn’t replied in a week or so, it’s fine to send a polite follow-up. In many cases, this will be enough to nudge them to get back to you.
If you still don’t hear back, assume that the lack of response is a no and move on. Nobody likes people who are overly pushy, and continuing to pester someone might result in them blacklisting you entirely!
Never use an irritated, impatient, or demanding tone in your follow-up email. Politeness and assuming good intentions are much more likely to get you the result you want.
Here are some examples of phrasing you can use:
- Hey [Name,] just wanted to touch base on this…
- Hi [Name,] I was wondering if you’d had a chance to consider my proposal…
Acknowledge that you know they’re busy and are grateful for the time they’ve taken to read your email.
A great follow-up email can make all the difference when it comes to making a connection with a stranger.
Now that we’ve looked at all the elements of a perfect introductory email, here’s an example you can use. Feel free to adapt this template for your needs.
Here’s an email I might send if I was looking for a networking meeting with a prominent person in my industry:
Subject line: No such thing as free coffee, until now!
I’m inspired by your work as a digital marketer, and after I saw your work on [project], I just had to reach out. I’m new to the field, and I would love to buy you coffee and have a chat about your experience and how you got to where you are. I could bring along [Name of person recipient would be interested in knowing] too since he’s also a fan.
I’m entirely free on Wednesday – Friday this week, so I could work around your schedule. Do drop me a line if you’re interested.
Thanks for your time and I hope to meet you soon,
Notice how the email is personalized, I start by talking about the fact that I admire this person’s work, and the value to them is clear (the opportunity to meet a valuable contact, plus free coffee!) I’ve ended with a simple CTA and a thank you for their time.
The Perfect Intro Email
Reaching out to strangers by email can seem daunting, but if you follow the simple rules I’ve outlined here, you’ll maximize your chances of a response. Writing (and righting) a successful cold email requires enticing the recipient to open and read the email, offering value in exchange for whatever you’re asking for, and striking the right tone.
Do your homework and implement these strategies. The more cold emails you write, the easier it will become. Before long, you’ll be a pro at turning strangers into valuable contacts!
Nico is an online marketer and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies develop their digital marketing strategies. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to startups helping them develop content marketing strategies that align with their business goals. Follow him on Twitter @nhdprins.