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You may think that writing an introduction email is easy. But how many of your emails actually get a response?

A recent study by Radicati estimated that the average office worker receives around 90 emails a day and sends 40. That’s a lot to work through, regardless of how fast or efficient you are.

The simple truth is that few, if any of us, are able to respond to every email that lands in our inbox.

So how do you write persuasive, effective email introductions that get your recipients to reply? Consider the following tips:

A Compelling Subject Line

You could write the best email in the world, but you’re wasting your time if it goes unread. Instead, start with a subject line that your recipients won’t be able to resist clicking.

If you’re sending a cold email introduction, it’s likely that the recipient won’t know who you are. This makes your subject line even more important. Try piquing their interest by asking a question, or check out Robert Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion for more on the psychology of getting people to take the action you want.

A Tailored Greeting

This is simpler than it sounds.

Start by using your recipient’s name – either in the subject, the greeting, or both. This might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people overlook this fundamental part of an email.

Not sure whether you should use [first name] or [first name] [last name]? It’s standard across most industries now to use only first names in email greetings – [first name] [last name] comes across as old fashioned and insincere. Unless you have reason to believe you should adopt a more formal tone in an email, stick to first name only.

Another thing to remember is to always, always check that you’ve spelled the recipient’s name correctly (and that you haven’t accidentally switched the first and last names). It happens more often than you think.

The second part of the tailored greeting is the single word you place before the recipient’s first name.

Should it be Hi? Should it be Dear? Hello?

While there’s no real consensus on this, it’s important to consider who it is you’re emailing and the industry they work in. If they work in an industry like law, they might appreciate a more traditional greeting. If you’re emailing someone in the music or fashion industry, you may want to take a more relaxed approach.

Something formal may be:

  • I hope you’re doing well
  • Good afternoon
  • Dear [name]

Something more casual could be:

  • Hi
  • Hi there
  • Hello [name]

The Intro: Make It About Them

Remember, at this point, you’re still trying to pique your recipient’s interest. You can up your odds of succeeding by making the first line of the email body about them. Most emails start with an introduction along the lines of “My name is [first name], and I am reaching out about…”

That’s not about them. That’s about you.

And it’s boring.

Demonstrate that you know who they are and what they do. You might reference a blog post they’ve recently written, or talk about something they have achieved in the past.

Just stay away from boilerplate lines that make it obvious you’re referencing something that you’ve never seen or read. Most people will see straight through it.

Why are You Contacting Them?

So your subject line, greeting, and your opening has captured your recipient’s attention, and they’re still reading.

Now, tell them why you’re contacting them.

Do your best to convey that this recipient isn’t just one of a huge list of contacts. Try to connect the dots between you and them, and find common ground.

Provide Value

In his book Principles of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini references the principle of reciprocity:

“Simply put, people are obliged to give back to others the form of a behavior, gift, or service that they have received first.

If a friend invites you to their party, there’s an obligation for you to invite them to a future party you are hosting. If a colleague does you a favor, then you owe that colleague a favor. And in the context of a social obligation people are more likely to say yes to those who they owe.”

It’s key to provide value in your introduction emails, but you have to make sure that it’s sincere, it’s unexpected, and it’s personalized.

What Are You Asking For?

Don’t beat about the bush. Be direct and tell people what you want. They’ll appreciate the honesty.

Brevity and conciseness are key. Don’t use flowery language, or long, convoluted sentences. Keep it simple.

Tell them what you are asking for. And…

Include a Call to Action

Minimize friction, and you’re more likely to get the outcome that you want. What you want to happen next may seem obvious to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s obvious to your recipient.

Great calls to action tell people exactly what you want them to do. Look at the techniques used by the best email marketers – they can work just as well in one-to-one emails. Even if you have a different objective, the concept doesn’t change.

Spell it out for them.

Tell them what you want them to do, and make doing it as easy as possible.

How to Say Thanks

Finish your emails with a sincere thank you. A study by Boomerang cites these eight thank you sign-offs as being the best for upping response rates.

  • Thanks in advance
  • Thanks
  • Thank you
  • Cheers
  • Kind regards
  • Regards
  • Best regards
  • Best

It is, of course, vital that you match your sign off to the industry your recipient works in. Think again about whether you should make it formal, or keep it casual.

What About a Follow-Up?

What if you’ve heeded this advice, and you still don’t get a response? First of all, don’t worry. It happens to the best of us – and it happens a lot.

Don’t be afraid to send a friendly follow-up. Take the same techniques described above and adjust them slightly. Adapt your offering. Change the subject line. Take a slightly different approach.

Just don’t be pushy, and don’t follow up too many times. Three emails in all is a good rule of thumb for most industries.

Bonus Tips

  • Keep your introduction emails brief and to the point. Being concise is essential. Nobody wants a novel landing in their inbox.
  • Always check your spelling and grammar. Errors make you look unprofessional or, worse, like you don’t care about the recipient’s time or attention.
  • If you often send emails from your phone, make sure you’ve turned the “Sent from iPhone” (or similar) message off.
  • Don’t hedge with phrases like “I think we should.” These phrases undermine you. Be confident. Use this tool to help surface common hedge words.
  • Format your emails for readability. Use bullet points. Use bold and italics in the right places. Write like you’re writing for the web.

Ultimately, if you want to up your response rate when sending cold or outreach emails to introduce yourself, you need to stand out. That doesn’t mean you have to be entirely unique. A carefully crafted introduction email that shows value and respects the recipient can be the one that captures their attention and gets a response – even if it follows a template they might have seen before.

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