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You’ll kick yourself for getting these wrong
Every week I receive pitch emails and queries from strangers that start, “Hi!”
I hate that.
- What’s the exclamation mark for?
- Where’s my name? Are they talking to me? My VA? My dog?
Perhaps I should get over myself. It’s a different generation and maybe exclamation-marking everything will work on my neurons and make me young again. I could even throw in some heart emojis for extra-awesomeness.
I actually don’t mind the emojis.
It’s the name thing that gets me. After all, if they came to my website to get my email address, why not take an extra second to get my name too.
Seriously, my name is everywhere.
- It’s on top of every page because it’s a part of my logo
- It’s on every blog post
- My About page hasn’t kept it a secret either. There’s even a picture there, well a drawing anyway. Which reminds me — I know we’re all gender-liberated now, but to the person who keeps addressing me as “Sir,” please know I’m still a gal. Truth.
Let’s move on. Here’s what to do for the best chance of getting a reply to your cold pitches and queries.
1) Address people by name in your pitch emails
Yes, if their name is on the website, please use it.
- It’s the polite thing to do
- People like hearing their own name — it’s a small psychological advantage, but an advantage nevertheless
If the name isn’t on the website and you can’t track it down another way, “Hi” is okay. I’d drop the exclamation mark though, especially if you have a track record of never getting a response when you use one.
2) Start pitch emails and queries from a blank template
Nothing says “ghost me” louder than leaving someone else’s details in an email.
- Don’t forward a pitch you’ve just sent to someone else. Sending out bulk queries is boring and at some point you’re going to forget to customise one of the fields. You might even leave the “FW” in the subject line.
- Create simple templates for your pitch emails that don’t need too much customisation. Give yourself two (max three) fields to personalise. I’d pick the name and the reason they caught my eye. If I had a third, it’d be more about why they caught my eye.
- Try not to include links to their website or the recent article you loved so much — from the pitch emails I receive, it seems these are the easiest fields to make mistakes on. And let’s be honest, you didn’t read it anyway, did you?
Starting each query from a blank template means you’re protecting yourself from privacy-policy violations too. I’ve lost count of the emails I receive where the sender has forgotten to remove or replace sensitive information about a previous prospect.
3) Avoid sending bulk pitch emails through your email client
Bulk queries are rarely a good idea but if you simply must send something that needs minimal personalisation, use a mailing service (like MailerLite) rather than your email client.
You can personalise mailing service send-outs with a person’s name, and you can add other fields depending on the service you’re using and your technical confidence.
- You eliminate the risk of revealing everyone’s email addresses by inadvertantly CC’ing instead of BCC’ing
- You eliminate offending the receiver — pitch emails sent to groups using the BCC field through an email client like Outlook leave the “To” field empty which screams “bulk email.”
IMPORTANT: You need to comply with GDPR rules with your mailings so remember not to treat people like they opted-in to a newsletter.
4) Don’t let your pitch emails push people into unsubscribing
Sometimes you send your pitch emails and queries and get to try again another day. Other times the pitches are so bad you’re never going to get a response.
To explain this, I’ll use two people who are currently sending me pitch emails. Let me talk you through my impressions and you’ll see what recipients see.
His first email two weeks ago addressed me as “Hey @wednesdaygenius!”
Does that tickle your fancy? Looks like spam to me.
I skim the page and it’s 7–8 paragraphs of sales pitch. Someone wants me to book a demo.
I’ll discuss the content and structure of that email another time, but for now, here’s the PPS he added:
PPS — You can inform me if you’re not the right individual to contact about this. I will discontinue further correspondence. Should you prefer I not follow-up with you, you can let me know that too!
By the time I’ve skimmed to the PPS (one or two seconds) I’m still not over the “Hey @wednesdaygenius!” so I ignore the email and carry on with my day.
His follow-up arrived earlier this week. It’s much much shorter (yay!) and starts, “Hello again.” His PS says:
PS — Please let me know if you are not interested and if I am starting to bother you, I will stop reaching out to you.
Honestly, I think this guy has his heart in the right place, both of the PS’s are considerate and show he respects my time.
He’s written his email in a natural style that reflects his personality, but what’s not clear is if his style suits the demographic he’s targetting and if he’s just targetted me by mistake. See section 3 on this post.
I’m over the greeting by now and I’m thinking maybe I’ll keep this email just in case I ever want to consider a product like this.
But he’s a stranger. I’m not interested in the service at the moment and more importantly. I’m busy. I’m reading the email on my phone standing out in the cold (thanks social-distancing) waiting for the dentist to call me in. There’s no relationship and I don’t feel compelled to reply.
That’s MY problem, not his. If I lose out on something amazing because I’m too distracted, that’s my business mindset letting me down.
Still, I’m hoping he doesn’t contact me again to push for a reply because I’ll just feel cornered into saying no.
A more creative route would be to follow me on Instagram (which is where he found me) and keep an eye out for a post that would perfectly fit into a demo opportunity. That way he’ll catch me with a ready-made example, and on Instagram, I won’t mind if he calls me @wednesdaygenius!
People are busy and distracted. It’s definitely frustrating for the sender, especially if your product is great and your intentions are sincere.
But don’t fight it. It is what it is and nobody gets a 100% response rate. Stick with the data — are you getting enough responses to prove your method works? Do you need to improve your copy, or perhaps try a different marketing technique?
This one sent me a “Hi!” last week. The subject line started with “RE:” and referred to an email he’d sent a few weeks ago.
I checked and there was no email. This guy has obviously got his databases mixed up.
I’m about to hit delete when I see he’s gushing about this fabulous article I wrote and he’s linked to it too! Except the article is written by someone else and is on someone else’s website…
Today, I get a follow-up which is just as bad.
But to my relief, he’s sent it from a mailing service and there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Now hopefully he won’t make an appearance back into my inbox.
If you’ve sent a cold-query, people don’t feel obligated to respond, and nor should they. Follow up once to give a busy person a chance to have a second go, and then step back to evaluate.
- Work out if your response rate is too low or average
- Check your copy and your processes for what might be getting in the way
- Try to find ways to pitch warm — find people on platforms where it’s easier to build a relationship with them
Choose this third way and it won’t matter so much if you open an email with a “Hi!”