I am notorious for having an incredibly low tolerance for poor communication (read: easy spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and weird email formatting). It's a strength that has proved well in sussing out who I trust, but a weakness that makes me extremely impatient. Regardless, I know that when it comes to strangers, I have to assume they have a low tolerance, too.
Let me explain.
First impressions are everything. If you don't leave a good impression, how can you expect your potential lead to care? In a day and age where email is a popular medium to reach out to cold prospects, you have to put your best foot forward. You have to assume that they are unbelievably busy. You have to assume that they only want to work with the best of the best.
Therefore, you have to assume that you have exactly .05 seconds to prove you are worth of their next 5 seconds.
Before you write that next email, incorporating this email etiquette will help increase the chances of a response.
1. If you have to, only provide .pdf or Google Drive attachments.
Gone are the days of .doc as they are more prone to viruses and incompatibility on other desktops. If you're sending a text attachment, a .pdf is safe and easy to open, but a Google Drive document is even better so you can edit your content if you catch a last-minute mistake.
2. Refrain from using crazy special fonts or colors.
True story: I once had a loan representative from the bank send me a pitch using Comic Sans in at least four different colors and several font sizes. Maybe it's the design freak in me, but this screamed "untrustworthy" so I never wrote back. Although you may think it's attention-grabbing, I assure you that it grabs in the wrong way.
3. Don't undermine your clients in the subject line.
The one email subject line that single-handedly upsets me every single time sounds something like this: "We Understand That You Don't Want a Better X" or "We Haven't Heard From You In a While, So You Must Not Be Improving Your X". No. Just stop. Getting a decent and honest lead never started by making them feel bad about themselves.
4. The maximum amount of times to email a cold lead? Two.
Everyone has a different magic number, but mine is two. Sending one email without a response can mean they got busy, read it and forgot about it, or any other crazy reason you can think up. A second email is okay - it's a gentle nudge that you still exist. If there's no response to this one, find a new way to reach out.
5. Find a way to be personal.
Make sure they know you're not copying and pasting pitches (even if you are). Research who you're writing to and include one personal line in there so they know that you care. Things like, "How's San Francisco? I used to live in the Inner Richmond!" or "Congratulations on your engagement - it looked so magical," are an easy but relatable icebreaker.
6. Have an enticing subject line
A subject line is like the exterior of a restaurant. If it doesn't make sense, no one will even take a second look to walk in. You want your subject line to pull people in by being one of the following: ask a question, have a surprise factor, tease a benefit (coupon, deal, free), remind recipient of who you are, or just state exactly what the contents hold. These have the best click-through rates.
7. Provide benefit and action.
What's the point of your email? What do you want them to do about it? Make it clear as soon as possible (aka - don't squeeze it in as an afterthought at the end).
My favorite trick is to make it as easy as possible for the recipient to follow up. Provide days and time frames that you're open and ask them if any of those times work for them. Instead of asking them when they are free, it's a small thing that you can do that eases their workload.