Is it possible to use personalized email that gets a response, and ultimately, new clients, from those in your network?
I’m not talking about mass direct emails, but sending individual emails to people in one’s network, LinkedIn connections, past clients, etc. for the purpose of generating enough interest to get a conversation with that person.
For a full year I conducted a Marketing Action Group program to teach and support participants to use direct, personalized emails to get new business.
In this article I want to share the results with you and also best practices for emails that get the most response.
Many of the participants got very good results and ultimately attracted enough clients to fill their practices. Of course, some were less successful.
What are the things that made the biggest difference between those who got great results and those who didn’t?
Quality of the contacts and relationships
This may have been the most significant factor of all. If you are contacting people you have more of a relationship with you are much more likely to get a positive response.
One of the most successful participants was a career coach who worked with doctors and had also been a practicing doctor herself. She contacted past colleagues by email and phone and was successful in doubling her practice in about three months.
The fact that she was highly intelligent and had excellent writing and conversational skills obviously also made a difference.
Another participant, a leadership consultant, also had great success despite a fair amount of reluctance and resistance to the process. But her very authentic and personal writing style got a very favorable response from her recipients. By the end of the course, her practice was full.
So, a good network with quality contacts, plus being a good communicator was the biggest predictor of success. Interestingly, these often go hand-in-hand.
The style of the emails sent
Based on a lot of research and my own personal experience, I developed a number of email templates that were proven to get a relatively high response from recipients.
When people used those templates and customized them for their recipients, they generally got excellent response.
Upon starting this program, I thought this would be the easy part. It wasn’t. Many people insisted on using their own templates purely based on guesswork. And most of them were completely ineffective.
These emails didn’t communicate effectively and failed to break through. After all, we all get dozens of emails every day and it’s harder and harder to get attention. Simple is better.
I’ll outline the most effective email template in the second part of this article, but next, the final element that increased the chances of email success:
Persistence and consistency in sending emails
I asked participants to make a simple promise: Send out a minimum of one email each weekday to prospective clients.
Many stuck to that plan, and because they were composing, fine-tuning, and testing emails consistently, their results improved over time.
But many struggled to send out emails consistently or would avoid it altogether. After all, it can be discouraging to send emails day after day that don’t get much response.
Those who persisted and studied what others were doing, gradually started getting better results, and buoyed by that success went on to get more responses, meetings and new clients.
The first of these success factors depends on your current network and depth or relationship. If you don’t know a lot of people, this process will be much more challenging.
The second success factor is the one you have the most control over – sending emails based on a proven template and style.
The third success factor depends greatly on the first two. You’re more likely to persist if you have a good network and are sending good emails. But I also noticed improved response from anyone who stuck with the process, determined to get results.
The email template that works the best
The most effective emails are personal, relevant, simple, and short, with a clear call to action.
Subject lines that were not hypey or salesey, but articulated a clear benefit, worked the best:
“David, some management ideas that may interest you”
“John, a question about your current compensation plan”
“Sarah, a new productivity process I’ve been testing”
Nothing over-the-top. No best, greatest, or amazing. All of those alert the recipient that they are about to be slimed.
Find a way to authentically acknowledge or praise your recipient. Remember, these emails are sent individually, not as a mass mailing, so personalization makes all the difference. Of course, the closer the relationship, the better. Always start with “Dear Name” or Hi Name.”
“I remember in college how you were always the one to ace the science exams! It’s no surprise to me that you’re now the manager of research at Breakthrough Life Sciences. Congratulations for making your dream real.”
How could someone resist an opening like that? Sincere praise works wonders. But fake praise is a complete turnoff.
Reason for email and mention of outcomes
The second paragraph (or section) talks about what you are up to and mentions outcomes. This should correspond to the first paragraph in the email. Then, suggest a reason for getting together or having a conversation.
“These days I’m up to some exciting things. Recently worked with a client who is getting more productivity from his high-level teams than ever before.
“I thought about you and would love to share some ideas related to team productivity that you might find useful.”
There’s no direct sales pitch here, just the request to have a conversation about how to increase team productivity. I always like the offer of “sharing some ideas.” It’s beneficial but not pushy.
Suggest a Time for a Meeting or next step
I don’t know about you, but it irritates me when someone connects and then puts the ball in my court to set up a time to meet. You can save an email and some aggravation if you suggest some appointment times yourself.
“I have time open all next week after 12 noon, except on Thursday. Let me know what might work for a short conversation.”
But you don’t want to be too assumptive, which I see in some emails: “I’ve put a time on my calendar for 4:00pm on Tuesday, the 12th to meet regarding my proposal.”
That’s it. This simple template was the most effective in getting response from prospective clients. Longer, more complex emails were always less effective. And ones that were vague, manipulative or not relevant to the recipient usually got no response at all.
This email approach can be very effective if you have a good network and professional services that may be of real value to those you contact.
I recommend that you start by compiling a list of everyone you know in your business network (including past clients), then using this template, customize you own emails and start sending them out. Remember, one at a time, not massively to your list.
The worst that can happen is nothing, but that’s what’s happening already if you’re not currently connecting with these prospects.