The average office worker receives 121 emails per day, so how do you write an email that’s interesting enough to be read, let alone responded to? Earlier this year I attended a brand copywriting workshop and it occurred to me that the skills for writing compelling copy apply when writing new business emails.
I’ve now sent out over eight hundred new business emails and I’ve learnt that the following techniques are essential when speculatively writing to C-Suite executives at brands for the purpose of business development. These are by no means groundbreaking concepts, but they are easy to forget when you’re trying to impress a new business contact.
Structure your email
Generally speaking, when writing to a new business prospect you should break your email up into three main paragraphs.
Why you’ve got in touch: have you seen any trade press about that brand that’s particularly interesting and relevant to your agency? Or has your agency worked on any projects recently that might be of interest to that brand?
Who you are: A quick explanation of what your agency specialises in, which brands you’ve worked with and what types of work you do.
Ask for a coffee or call: Make this as casual yet to the point as possible.
Bear in mind that if you’re able to capture someone’s interest on the first line, they’ll read the second. If you get them halfway they’re going to read the rest.
Keep it short
In a world where office workers are receiving upwards of one hundred emails a day, it’s essential to keep emails as short as possible. I don’t know about you but when I click on an email and am faced with a large block of text, I instantly tune out. Keep sentences concise and to the point. Cut out any words that don’t add anything and don’t use excessive jargon. It doesn’t make you look like you’re better informed if you write a longer email.
“We'd love to be able to meet you and the team to share some of our ideas over an introductory coffee if you're keen. Are you available to meet in the next couple of weeks? Let us know and we can get a date in the diary!”
Keep it friendly
Write like you’re writing to a friend or colleague and don’t use ultra-formal language. Depending on who you’re addressing, try to cut out as much jargon as much as possible. No one wants to read through their email multiple times in order to understand what’s being said.
Evaluate who you’re talking to
Having said this, it’s worth adjusting your writing style depending on who you’re speaking to. If you’re addressing someone who works at a traditional or corporate business it might be worth using slightly more formal language and vice versa for a younger, consumer-focussed brand. Take a look at their LinkedIn or Twitter profiles and try to gauge what kind of person they are.
Anticipate objections before they happen
Predict the types of objections people might give. i.e. they have an in-house team, or they are already working with an agency, and respond to these objections before they have a chance to. For example, ‘you’ve probably got an excellent in-house team, but we’d love to introduce ourselves’. When you ask for a meeting, make it as casual as possible.
When to send your email
If you’re contacting a new business prospect, be strategic about when your email is most likely to be read and responded to. People tend to have a look through their emails first thing in the morning, during lunch or at the end of the day on the commute home. Therefore, try to send your emails around these times.
- Keep sentences as short as possible;
- Keep to the point;
- Use everyday language and cut down on jargon;
- Adjust your writing style depending on the person you’re contacting;
- Think about when to you send your emails.
Freya Pickford is an account manager at The Future Factory