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How to write to busy people and make sure they open your e-mails? 

I will start with three convincing WHY-statements. 

Why do you even need to learn to write better e-mails in English? 

1. If you want to get in touch with busy English-speaking people, you must know how to avoid wasting their time. This means your language (your English language) must be concise, precise and professional. 

2. Business today still gets done over email, not through tweets or text messages. Therefore, writing good emails is a skill worth polishing up. 

3. You might get the wrong message across in your e-mails if you simply translate what you’d normally say in Russian without developing cultural awareness. The best you can do to succeed with e-mails to English-speaking business professionals is learn their expectations, which go beyond word positioning and punctuation. Don’t just change your vocabulary. Change your business paradigm, and write accordingly. 

Now, let’s get into specifics. 

Most articles on effective Business Writing you find online today focus on improving the body of the e-mail. Today I would like to go one step back and talk about getting your emails opened in the first place.

Especially if you’re writing a cold email in English.  Especially if you’re trying to reach really busy people. 

Cold emails are usually sent to: 

- potential partners 

- potential clients 

- potential employers 

- potential investors 

- people who can give you more information on something 

Here is what you need to keep in mind when you write a cold email if you want to avoid the trash bin: 

1. Busy people value their time. 

And those, who receive more than 100 emails a day, see any e-mail as a task. They want to get in and out as quickly as possible. When deciding whether to read or delete an email, their brains go through this common evaluation process: 

•Who is emailing me (and is this spam)? 

•What do they want? 

•How long will this take? 

How long do YOU want to spend on one e-mail? I personally like when it takes me less than a minute to understand what a person wants from me in a business e-mail. Therefore, your e-mails have high chances of landing in a trash bin if they are long, unclear and too complicated. 

2. This is what goes straight to trash: 

•Unknown senders 

•Non-compelling subject lines 

•The recipient’s name spelled wrong 

•Boring first sentence (you can see it in gmail without ever opening the email) 

•Any combination of the above 

3. Even if your email gets opened, there’s a 50/50 chance it will be deleted without being read (or replied to). Here’s why: 

•You wrote something untrue about the recipient in an effort to connect (i.e. «Congrats on the new job!» What new job?) 

•Your email is too long 

•Your email isn’t relevant to what the person deals with 

4. Do not send mass e-mails to pitch multiple people and bcc everyone you know! 

Don’t do this. If you want someone to spend time Don’t do this. If you want someone to spend time on you, spend time on them. Find the recipient on Twitter and read something they’ve tweeted recently. Use LinkedIn to find out where they went to school and see if you have things in common. Don’t go on and on about what you know about them. One line is fine. 

5. Keep it short and avoid buzz words

Don’t waste your time writing lengthy emails because busy people don’t have time to read them. Be succinct. Also, don’t use buzz words to describe your company, such as: «We’re the Groupon for luxury» or «We’re the Foursquare for websites.» Write what’s unique about your product or your offer, not how you’re similar to one that’s already dominating a category. 

6. Good subject lines are intriguing 

These are real examples of good subject lines: 

•«Possible VC Scoop for You» 

•«Former Google/Ning Engineers To Launch Digital Billboard Tool — Brief?» 


•«Y Combinator alum preps to launch redesign» 

Note: They include well-known brands (Jenn Sterger, Google, Y Combinator) and exclusivity (scoop, relaunch) 

7. Bad subject lines are broad, irrelevant, and boring 

These are real examples of emails that get deleted instantly: 

•«Influence in the digital age» 

•«Tim Ferris Recommends…» first line: «Hello friend!» 

•«DailyGobble Partners with Givology for Make Your Mark» 

•«Peggy Olson Died For Your Sins» (yes, that’s a real headline) 

•«Startup wonderMode.com for Emerging Designers» 

Note: The first is too broad and boring, the second is a mass email, the third and fifth have no notable brands, and the fourth is just strange. 

8. Do not give a false sense of urgency. 

It is fine to follow up but don’t be annoying. Someone once sent me two emails, called the office twice, and left cell phone messages all in one day. Although the pitch was mildly intriguing, his pushiness got him (and his client) ignored. It’s also bad to create a false sense of urgency. Emails flagged as urgent when they’re not or claiming a pitch is life or death when it isn’t will make a person avoid you in the future. If something really is urgent, by all means, label it that way. But if it’s your first or second interaction with a person, you probably don’t have anything urgent to share. 

Here’s an example of an excellent pitch: 

Subject: Possible VC Scoop For You 

Hi Alyson, Wanted to let you know that a start-up BI has written about in the past is seeking between [X] million and [Y] million in Series A funding. 

The company’s founder has received inquiries from a number of VC firms and is now in California meeting with possible investors. Thought this might be a decent piece of news for you. Let me know if you have any questions or want to speak with the founder. Here’s a video of him recently on Fox. [X] 

As an aside, my brother went to Syracuse. I sent him your website in case he wants to get a t-shirt for his girlfriend 

Thanks, X 

Why this is excellent: 

- It has «scoop» in the headline 

- It is short and quickly explains the idea 

- It’s relevant; we’ve covered the company before 

- The final line is personal. 

Do you have examples of well-written e-mails or tips how to remove «the cold» from a cold e-mail? Leave your thoughts, examples and questions in the comments below! Looking forward to reading them all! And remember to sign up for the Effective Business Writing course if you want to learn more and make writing excellent emails your most remarkable business skill! 

Yours sincerely, 


This article is based on these awesome and helpful posts: http://www.businessinsider.com/10-secrets-to-pitching-reporters-when-no-one-knows-who-the-hell-you-are-2011-6?op=1#ixzz3RRMX5tpc http://www.sparringmind.com/perfect-email/  

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