The Art of Outreach: How to Get People to Actually Read and React to Your Emails

Aug 11, 2011, by Margaux Guyonneau, Community Manager

How frustrating is it to send someone an email, only to find out that five days later, there’s no response, no action, and no help? While you can’t actually make other people read their emails, there are a few tricks that can help you be more effective when reaching out, especially to people you don’t know.

Don’t Blindly Reach Out (if you can avoid it)

By far, the easiest way to get someone to read your email is to get in contact with them through an introduction. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but with the power of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you might be more closely connected than you think. Take five minutes to quickly scan social networks and see if anyone you know can provide an introduction.

Re: The Subject Line

Make the subject of your email catchy, honest, and informative. If at all possible, provide a relevant point of reference for the recipient, like “Jane Smith suggested I contact you,” or “Thanks for your blog post on best practices for outreach!” Focus on crafting a subject line that makes someone want to open your email. As Jared Goralnick said: “Sound interesting, but be honest and get the gist across in your subject.”

Create Value

So your email is in the inbox, complete with a strong subject line. Now what? You want the recipient of your email to just. keep. reading. You already know what you want, you need to make it clear why your reader wants the same thing. By focusing on how your message will benefit the other person, you’ll get much better results. As for the length, Jared Goralnick suggests keeping it under 250 words. That’s a good benchmark, but if you have to make it longer, try to break up the email into multiple short paragraphs so it’s not visually daunting.

Ask for something – specifically

The key to getting what you want is knowing what to ask for.  You’ll never get help or feedback if you don’t ask. As Kiss Metrics’ Cindy Alvarez says, “limit yourself to one “ask” and make the commitment level clear.” The ideal ask identifies what actions will provide you with the maximum benefit, but requires minimal effort from the other person. Of course, it never hurts if coffee is included! If you get nervous asking someone for help, just remember that as long as you’re polite and considerate, the worst thing they’re going to say is no.

Don’t attach, and other common courtesies

You’re presumably sending an unsolicited email, so be consider and don’t clutter someone else’s inbox with attachments. Send the email at a time you think will be good for the other person. Alex Taub wrote a post indicating that the best time to reach out is on Sunday, but that may be different if you know the specifics of someone’s work schedule. As always – remember please and thank you… especially if the person politely declines to help. There’s no sense in burning bridges, after all.

Tired of wondering whether your emails have been opened?

It’s hugely valuable to know whether your email has been opened, clicked through or left unopened in outer space. The way you would follow up to all three of those situations is completely different. Want to know who’s reading what you write? Try Toutapp.

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email  facebook  linkedin  outreach 


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