How to write emails your prospects will actually read

Editor’s note: This post is adapted from a video from our partner, Winning by Design. You can find the full video at the bottom of this post.

If your approach to email marketing is to send out a generic blanket email to everyone on your client list, you’re bound to be disappointed with the results. The reality is that executives in North America receive a ton of email — about 173 messages a day on average. To get them to take the time to actually read yours, rather than automatically file it in their trash bin — you’ve got to give them a good reason to open and engage with your content.

To create emails that actually cut through the noise and that your prospects will actually read, keep these three points in mind.

1. Relevance

The best way to stand out from the crowd is by making sure that you start your email with something that the person cares about and that’s relevant to them. But take note, relevance and personalization are not the same thing. Personalization is using a person’s name, her position, and the company she works for. Starting an email with something like “Hey Samantha, I notice you run training at X company” may be nice and personal, but the fact is that it’s not relevant and doesn’t give Samantha a reason to keep reading.

Instead, you want to show that you’ve done your research. Identify a product or a solution that you know will be relevant to the recipient based on what you know about him or her. For example, you might say “Hey Samantha, because you went to training by X company, here’s a YouTube video that could be really useful to you.” Demonstrating you know more than just the person’s name and where they work is critical. You also want to approach them with something tailored to their interests to help you stand out and make a connection.

2. Reward

The most important part of any communication is providing a reward. This can be a video, a blog article, a case study, or anything else that delivers value. To be clear, pitching your product is not a reward.

Putting in a reward forces you to really think about who the recipient is and why they should be interested in what you’re offering. It’s important to maximize clients’ time, so cut straight to something that they would actually care about. For example, if you’re sending over a blog post, let them know that paragraph five contains the information most relevant to them. If it’s a video, maybe they should fast forward and start five minutes in. 

The type of reward you choose should depend on the type of customer. The key is making sure that it’s relevant to the person and has value. Even if the timing isn’t quite right, they’ll be more likely to remember you if you do. That’s important because when you follow up with a future email, they will already have had a positive experience with you.

3. Request

Finally, make sure to include a request. This should be a single action item, rather than asking for five things all at the same time. Asking a person to return a call, send a text, check out a website, and download a free trial is way too much. If you do, chances are your prospect won’t actually wind up doing anything at all. 

Another common mistake is requesting a 15-minute meeting. There could be dozens of other sales people reaching out to your prospect, each of which are asking “do you have 15 minutes to connect?” or “Do you have some time next week to chat?”

If all you’re doing is asking for time, it’s easy to write the email off as being just like everyone else’s. Instead, make your request stronger by not only asking for time, but also if they’d like to learn more about the topic, if the issue you’re addressing is a top priority for them, or if it will help them solve a problem. 

Supercharge your emails

Once you master incorporating relevance, rewards, and requests into your emails, your prospects and customers will start replying to you with positive requests for a meeting. By providing relevant, valuable content that people actually want to read, and identifying a simple next step for them to take, you’ll be able to break through a crowded inbox and win more people over.

To learn more, watch the full video from Winning by Design.