Email as an art (and science)

Jaap Vergote
Apr 2, 2019 · 3 min read

Writing good emails is a valuable skill. Yet, many people just send out stuff that gets lost in trash or gets archived immediately.

So I wanted to share what I’ve learned from writing many, many emails (like ‘12,000 cold emails’ many) as an SDR and in my personal life. I’m definitely not an expert, but have found a couple of simple methods that are quite effective.

1. Have a clear reason for why you’re reaching out

You need to have a clear and simple reason when you reach out to people with cold emails. You need to make their time valuable if you want to receive some of it. Always have a reason and a simple ask. For the example I’m using here, I’m reaching out as I’m doing some work for a company that built a FinTech SaaS platform to manage model risk for large financial institutions and want to set up a meeting.

2. The subject line

The only goal of the subject line is to make people click on your email and read what you have to say. What has worked best for me is using the …/…/… method where you mention three items you talk about in your email.

So let’s say you’re writing an email to this person:

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using Aruna as an example here, as I actually sent her a cold email a couple of weeks ago and got a reply within a matter of minutes

Her Linkedin has her work history, her education, but most importantly: some golden nuggets. She published a book on Model Risk Management. BINGO. When you Google the book, you can find it on Amazon and read the first couple of pages for free.

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I read an interesting quote in her book and my goal here is to get a call with her. In a minute I’ll talk about the structure of the email and you’ll see the link with the content of the email.

My subject line will look like this: your book/quote/call?

I tend to never use capitalized letters in subject lines as it makes them stand out among the rest of their inbox.

Finding golden nuggets in Linkedin, Twitter or personal websites is what allows you to send a hyper personalized email and create a subject line people want to click on. Look for them!

3. Structure of the email

If I’m reaching out cold I tend to use the following structure: RRiR

Research: show that you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about

Reference: make it clear that whatever you’re talking about applies to them

Insight: share something of value to them (a blog post, article, video, whitepaper,…)

Request: have a clear call to action

My email to Aruna went like this:

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RRiR - 11:52AM

It shows I’ve done my research and this is a highly targeted email. I show that I understand what’s going on in the industry and that it applies to her. I share some value with a highly relevant whitepaper. I close with a clear request: a call.

Something else to consider is to minimize the use of ‘I’ and maximize the use of ‘you’. Again, it’s about them, not you. I try to start every email with: Name — you(r) …

Most people read email on mobile these days. The first 35 characters of the body of your email will show up and you want to make sure the recipient wants to read on.

Her reply came within 5 minutes:

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Reply at 11:57AM

These three strategies can greatly improve your response rate.

  1. Have a clear ask/request
  2. Subject line is key
  3. Use the RRiR framework

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