Recently, I received an email from a complete stranger — a woman I’d never met or heard of before.
This isn’t unusual. I receive dozens and dozens of emails every day from companies with sales offers, plus many spam emails. You probably receive similar emails all the time.
But the email I received stood out from all the others in my inbox.
First, she started off in a friendly way. She said she saw a video of me talking about how I’m an avid cycler and that I often go for a ride in the middle of the day in order to clear my head and recharge my creative batteries.
Then, she introduced herself as a graphic designer and an avid cycler. She said that she also likes to take bike rides to clear her head.
And then in her email, she went on to say that she specializes in social media design doing Facebook and Twitter backgrounds.
She said she had written an article with tips on social media strategy and design and wanted to know if I would like a copy.
She understood that I was a copywriter and not a graphic designer, but she thought I’d be interested.
I replied and asked her to send me the article.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but what she was actually doing was prospecting.
She was hoping to connect with me, introduce herself and her services to me in a friendly, authentic, positive way so I would either refer some of my clients to her graphic design services or perhaps use her graphic design services myself.
It was a very good prospecting email because it was genuine, authentic, friendly, and short. It followed all the guidelines, and best practices of an effective email-prospecting piece.
And in this case, it worked for her. In fact, it worked so well that when I received her email, I never got a sense she was prospecting.
Instead, I felt like she was connecting and engaging with me. And that made all the difference.
Clearly, email prospecting works — when it’s done right.
So, I’d like to give you five tips and strategies for using email as a way to introduce yourself to brand-new prospects — what we call email prospecting.
This isn’t email marketing. That’s an important distinction. Let me explain the difference.
Email marketing is when you have a list of people who have signed up to receive emails from you.
They sign up for a special report and perhaps you’re sending them a series of pre-written follow-up emails. Or they’re on your list and you’re sending them a regular newsletter or some regular tips.
You’re writing one email and sending it to everybody on your list.
As a B2B writer or copywriter, you probably write these types of emails for your clients.
That is email marketing.
But that’s not what I’m talking about here. That’s not email prospecting.
I can’t emphasize this enough.
You are not writing one prospecting email and then sending that same email out to everybody. Or just lightly customizing, and sending the same email out to people who have not signed up to receive emails from you because that’s spam.
And it doesn’t work when it comes to email prospecting.
Remember what you’re doing here. When you are properly email prospecting, you are introducing yourself and your services to someone in the marketplace who may have an interest in working with you as a copywriter or a business writer. So you want to make sure you have a very personal, customized email to send to them.
Know your country’s email laws. There are very different rules in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere in the world when it comes to sending emails.
Make sure you’re not getting yourself into trouble by sending an email to a prospect — especially a prospect you don’t know and who hasn’t signed up for your email list. You want to make sure you do this right.
So familiarize yourself with the rules in your country and follow them.
Don’t sell. Email prospecting is not a sales email.
I know that may sound strange. I know you want to sell your services to potential clients. You want to motivate them and convince them you’re the best choice for their copywriting or B2B writing needs. That’s natural.
But the initial prospecting email is not the place for that. The purpose of a prospecting email is to introduce yourself.
A prospecting email is an introduction. It’s not a sale. So, don’t get into a pitch regarding your services. Instead, focus on making an introduction.
Of course, you can be very clear about what you do. You can tell them you’re a copywriter specializing in start-up software companies.
But don’t get into a list of features and benefits and try to sell them on your services. You’ll just turn them off and your email will feel like spam.
Your prospecting email should be focused on making an introduction, just like the graphic designer I told you about. She focused her email on making a friendly introduction of herself to me… and it worked!
She never got into the features and benefits of her services.
That may come later. I may contact her or inquire about her services. And then she might start to sell herself, which would be fine.
But the initial email you send to a new prospect isn’t the time to sell. Focus on making an introduction.
Keep it short.
I find more and more that when it comes to email prospecting, short emails are the best. And by short, I mean no more than half a page.
That’s about a couple of hundred words at most. It’s not a lot, I know. But remember, you’re focusing on making an introduction. You’re not trying to sell yourself.
If you were to meet someone at a networking event, for example, you wouldn’t walk up to them and start jabbering on for five minutes without giving them a chance to speak.
No, you would give them a short introduction first to try to get the conversation started. The same is true with email prospecting.
You want to keep that initial email short. Remember, it’s just an introduction. And it’s all just to get the conversation started.
This is a very important tip. Drop all attempts to create some kind of a template or a form email that you can cut and paste and send over and over and over again.
That just doesn’t work. Remember, this isn’t email marketing. This isn’t writing a carefully composed email and then blasting it out to a bunch of people. That’s not what email prospecting is.
Each email you send to a prospect should be highly customized and personal. Each email should be different because the prospects are different.
Have you ever received one of those emails that faked customization? I receive those all the time, usually from some SEO firm saying, “Hi, Steve. I went to your website and your website is so great. You have a lot of wonderful information. By the way, we’re an SEO firm. We can help you get to the top of Google.”
And you know darn well that they didn’t go to my website and read about me. They’re sending the same email to everybody and pretending to make it customized to me.
Each email should be specifically written to that one prospect. Focus on writing a unique message to each one of your prospects. Believe me, it works much better.
So those are five guidelines to help you be more successful with your email prospecting.
Remember that prospecting is an introduction. It’s not a sale. You want to keep your emails short, authentic, and friendly. And your email should be personalized for each prospect.
And if you do that, you’ll find that your email prospecting efforts will pay off. In fact, they may pay off big!
Editor’s Note: You can find five more email prospecting tips from Steve Slaunwhite here.