Finding yourself sending emails and never hearing back? Chances are you’re approaching your outreach in the wrong way and writing ineffective messages. Luckily, there are quick and practical ways you can improve your email outreach, and it’s all about figuring out where your current tactics go wrong and how you can improve on them.

Check out these practical tips for writing better, more effective, and higher-response-rate emails.

1. A/B test outreach

Especially important if you’re sending emails for business development, sales, or job search purposes, A/B testing, or comparing the success rates of two or more different versions of an email, will help you find the best way to write your outreach messages. As a job seeker, for example, you can A/B test outreach in your industry by sending emails with different subject lines or different hooks to get your reader interested. As a bizdev professional, you can try reaching out to target companies with data and case studies, or with an analysis of their business and how your product or service can fit their needs.

The importance of testing your outreach is that you’ll be able to iterate on your work and constantly improve your email tactics. Find that one subject line vastly outperforms another in terms of response rate? Focus on it more heavily, and get rid of the underperforming one. Find that reaching out to companies in a specific industry with less formal, more casual tone works better? Continue using that tactic for other companies in that industry. As you do this, you’ll keep learning and developing best practices that will make your emails shine.

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2. Ditch the template

The email template has become the lazy person’s way of blasting out hundreds of emails and expecting a reply. Someone on your team might be sending updates to you in the same way every week and boring you every time. Some salespeople, for example, reach out to every company with the same exact set of bullet points about their business. Job seekers often copy-paste the same exact cover letter for every job they apply to. But using a generic template can only get your email sent to the trash more quickly. The reality is that no matter how great you think your template is, people can easily see through it. If you couldn’t be bothered to put in a bit of extra effort to write out a better-catered email, why should they be bothered to pay attention to what you’re saying?

That’s not to say email templates are useless in all cases. Sometimes, you just can’t get enough emailing done for a project if you don’t take advantage of templates. But that doesn’t mean that you should be generic about it. Each template you make should leave a decent-sized chunk of the email open for you to add highly catered and specific information for your reader. Furthermore, your email should always be addressed to an individual, rather than a “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Your best method of making your email read as natural and custom-written is to actually custom-write a good chunk of it.

3. Be direct

“I was wondering if you might be interested in hearing more about our product and what it could do for your company.” That’s a roundabout and bland way of saying something that should be a whole lot more direct. Instead, go for “I think our product would be of great help to your team, and I’d love to tell you about it.” This is a much more effective and impactful way of saying that you have something important your reader should be considering.

Change the way you approach emails to focus on a more direct approach to your statements. It’s not being overly aggressive - it’s being confident in what you’re offering and showing that confidence. Make the reader imagine what you can offer them. Make them desire to hear more about it. Going at it in a roundabout way won’t get you there. Get rid of “Just wanted to xyz” or “Was wondering if you abc” from your email vernacular. It just shows uncertainty.

4. Shorter is better

A shorter email is almost always better. Too many professionals have begun to take writing emails as an opportunity to lay every thought they have out in a single message. Doing so has two negative effects. First, it muddles your message and makes your email seem all over the place and difficult to read. Second, it frustrates your reader, who likely just wants to quickly read, understand, and respond to it. Avoid these pitfalls by keeping your email messages shorter.

Simplify your sentences, get rid of unnecessary words, and stick to a single overall message with a call to action. For example, if you’re writing a sales email, you don’t have to spec out your entire product in your first message. Simply including two or three key points about your product that are highly relevant to your reader will work. From there, they should be interested enough to follow your call to action, which is a request for a phone call or in-person meeting to learn more.

At the end of the day, your emails should rarely be more than a quick intro to the topic, one short paragraph, and a call to action at their longest. Whether you’re doing outreach for your company, writing an email to connect with another professional, or communicating with your team, shorter emails will get your point across better.

5. Do your research

Finally, no email is effective without a bit of research ahead of time. First, it’s important that you’re emailing the right contact. Take it from the perspective of a PR or media outreach professional. If they reach out to the wrong journalists with the wrong messaging, they’ll never get coverage for their company or client. If they’re working for a company in the field of biotech, reaching out to a journalist that focuses on real estate would get them nowhere. Similarly, if you’re selling recruiting software for enterprise-level businesses, you shouldn’t be reaching out to the marketing director.

Proper research isn’t just about finding the right person to contact, however. It’s about understanding that person and talking to them on their level. These days, it’s easier than ever to find out about the people you’re looking to email. Take the media outreach example again - not only can the PR professional read through past articles of a journalist to figure out their interests and writing style, but they can also find them on social media to get even more info about what they’re talking about right now.

Use that same principle to relate on a higher level to the people you’re emailing. You can reference recent Tweets or send articles that correspond to something they’ve had a discussion about. This should all be done in an effort to tie back into your value proposition, whether it’s you as a potential employee or your product as a potential use case for their company. This personalization will not only give your reader something to reply to, but will help you stand out in the sea of other spammy templated emails they get on an hourly basis.

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