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Don’t Write This in a “Cold” Email

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I just received this “cold” email and wanted to share it (along with some pointers) with you. This is a great example of what not to write in an email. The sender claims to be a “digital marketing expert.” Would you buy from him? FYI I changed his name, company and city to protect him from his boss.

Here is his full email:

Sender – John Smith; Sent to – John Smith

Subject: Tell me more about your services

I’m John Smith, the VP of XYZ Digital, right here in downtown St. Paul. I was referred to inquire about your business through a mutual contact and wanted to see if we could send you a proposal on how we can increase your company’s revenue through digital marketing. We’re experts at this. Would you be open to me sending you a proposal?

Ouch! But first, the email wasn’t all bad. I actually liked his subject line: “Tell me more about your services.” It obviously caught my attention because I opened his email. I thought he was interested in my services.

Now, let’s get to the issues.

Issue #1: “I’m John Smith, the VP of XYZ Digital, right here in downtown St. Paul.”

“Right here in downtown St. Paul” means nothing to me as I live in Northern Virginia. Either he thought St. Paul would impress me as a mecca for digital marketing or he thought I was from St. Paul too and that would be a good way to form a connection with me. He could have connected with me in other ways, though, by including something he found on my website or LinkedIn profile.

Issue #2: “I was referred to inquire about your business through a mutual contact…”

A general reference to a mutual contact sounds like BS to me. Naming the mutual contact and sharing how my name came up would add credibility to his reason for contacting me. I would also be more likely to schedule an introductory call or at least respond a polite “no thank you” if a trusted colleague really connected us.

Issue #3: “…and wanted to see if we could send you a proposal on how we can increase your company’s revenue through digital marketing.”

Related: A Pop Quiz on Why Email Marketing Is Good for You

Slow down buddy. Ask me to schedule a time to talk so you could ask me some questions. Offer me a demo. Share a case study. Encourage me to sign up for your newsletter. But don’t send me a proposal without knowing anything about my firm or what my needs are.

Issue #4: “We’re experts at this.”

Add a support point such as a news article you are in, a white paper showing insight, a client testimonial, or award he won to add credibility to his expertise. Plus, if you have to say you are an expert, you probably are not.

Issue #5: Sender – John Smith; Sent to – John Smith

When the “sender” is the same as the “Sent to,” he likely used his corporate email to send a blast email to a list. At least he blind copied me or I would be able to his entire email list. As a digital marketing expert, I would have expected him to use sales enablement software to simplify the process to semi-tailor emails for the masses or send emails one at a time so the email would appear just for me.

What bad emails have you received? How can you improve your own emails or those of your sales team to yield stronger results?

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