What Is a Cold Email?
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for the ideal pitch-based email. Indeed, cold emails – messages sent to a large number of recipients without prior relationship or communication – are widely discouraged in the marketing industry. Additionally, if you send commercial emails to recipients in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that recipients opt in prior to receiving the message.
How to Write a Cold Email That Isn’t Actually Cold
Avoid the Classic Cold Email Subject Line
You could spend an entire day crafting the best email body copy known to man, but your efforts will be in vain if no one opens the email.
To avoid this, you’ll need a compelling subject line. While this advice may seem self-evident, there are still far too many poorly written subject lines. Simply open your inbox and count the number of emails you’ll never read. There are only so many subject lines that start with “The leading cloud-based software for hyper-local social media marketing.”
Thus, how do you craft an effective subject line? Determine what you are ultimately attempting to communicate and then reduce your request to five to seven words. Once you’ve arrived at those five to seven words, ensure that they speak to the recipient’s interests and clearly communicate what you want from the email exchange.
Make It Clear Why You’re Reaching Out to Them Specifically
The majority of cold email outreach takes the following form: Create a pitch, copy and paste it, send it, and repeat (and maybe change the greeting to really spice things up).
You may have received similar emails from sales representatives in the past; isn’t it annoying?
They have been delivered to your recipient as well. To avoid the common annoyances associated with cold email, you must make it clear why you are contacting them specifically. Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and author of Give and Take, discusses how when people feel they have nothing unique to offer, they feel little obligation to help.
Therefore, when writing a message for media relations or a similar endeavor, begin by warming it up so that it does not sound like an irritating cold email. Make it crystal clear why you’re contacting them — make it crystal clear why you’re contacting them. The most effective pitches emphasize what drew you to that particular person. Using the example of approaching a podcast producer: Include a sentence or two describing why that person’s work is a good fit for your audience.
Demonstrating that you did your homework is critical not only for staying relevant, but also for demonstrating that you took the time and effort to reach out. This is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate that your email is not just another canned message from a sales representative or public relations professional.
Use Social Proof and Point to Results
By including some social proof and high-level statistics in your pitch, you can elevate your assignment from a B- to the top of the class.
Include an interview with a colleague of your desired contact or a conversation with someone they know in your pitch (in sales, this could be a case study or a local customer reference). This also applies if you’ve conducted an interview with someone they consider a peer or competitor. Your chances of landing the CEO of Nike, for example, would skyrocket if you could inform their public relations team that you had just concluded an interview with the CEO of Adidas.
Include any numbers that support your pitch. Would you rather be on a podcast with 100 listeners or 100,000?
Keep It Short, Simple, and Written Like a Human
Everyone is pressed for time, and their inboxes are already overflowing. Make no attempt to exacerbate the situation. Keep your email brief, succinct, and to the point. This is even more critical in media relations, as you need to ensure your message stands out among the other press pitches they receive. Would you read a five-paragraph essay written by someone you’ve never met? Most likely not.
One of the most effective ways to keep things concise and succinct is to write as a human. If you encountered this person in public and needed to approach and say hello, how would you begin your conversation? You would not begin your pitch immediately. Most likely, you’d begin with something along the lines of “Hey Emily, my name is Dave.” I read your column every week and appreciate your emphasis on Boston startups. I desired to speak with you about my business because .” Writing your email as if you were speaking with a friend in person makes it far more approachable and relevant.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for writing an email to someone you’ve never met, but following the tips above can help you make a positive first impression and hopefully elicit a response from your recipient.