You've got a great product or service that you know people would love if you could just get the word out. And what better way to spread the word than via an e-mail blast? It's cost-effective; it reaches everybody; you could probably write it yourself. But in this spam-filled digital age, you need to make sure your message isn't tossed out with the rest of the trash.
If you're finding that you're getting no love back from your e-mail pitches, it's probably not your service or product (because it's awesome, right?). It's more likely your delivery. As a small business owner myself, I get hundreds of solicitations from other business owners asking me to "check out this service." Unfortunately, I often end up clicking the "delete" (or worse, the "report spam") button, even though I know there must be a few gems in there.
These are the seven most common mistakes I see from those trying to reach out.
You are sending it to the wrong person
It should be obvious, but you must do your research before you send your pitch. Just because an e-mail is easy to send, doesn't mean you shouldn't take the time to do it right. Find the right person and tailor your message to that person's needs.
An e-mail sent to email@example.com will most likely end up in the black hole of e-mails. What did it matter that it took you very little time to send it? You've still wasted your time. If your pitches aren't landing in the right person's mailbox, then your e-mail won't be useful, period, no matter how well-written it is.
You are not offering a clear benefit
The most annoying e-mail that I get goes something like, "Please check out my website and let me know what you think!" Who are you and why should I spend my time doing you a favor? Entice me. Give me a reason why you're going to make my life better (but do it quickly and concisely). Tell me why your product is groundbreaking and offer me a sneak peak or free trial. And more importantly, make me like you enough that I would even want to "check out" what you have to offer.
You are writing too much
No one is going to take the time to read through a long e-mail from someone she doesn't know. Introduce yourself (briefly) and get to the point. Be specific and clear. Break down your message to its key elements—think "elevator pitch." You only have a small window of time to catch someone's interest. There are hundreds of other e-mails waiting in line.
You are not asking for a specific action
If you've gone through the process of explaining your company, but have left no specific call to action, it's likely that you won't get any response, even if the recipient is interested. What are the next steps? Sign up for an account online? Arrange a meeting? Don't expect the other person to take the initiative. Tell them what they should do next.
You are being mysterious
This is another type of e-mail that I never respond to: "I have an exciting opportunity for you. Please call me to discuss it further." It tells me that you've got nothing interesting to offer me, and worse, that you've got no respect for my time. The Mr. Vague approach won't pique anyone's interest and it won't inspire follow-up. If you want me to be interested, be direct and tell me what you're offering.
You are being too pushy
It's fine to follow up, but you aren't entitled to a response. If you haven't gotten a response, you can assume that the other party isn't interested. Never send out a follow-up message that simply says, "I haven't heard back from you about the message I sent last week. Please respond as soon as you can." Instead, try a different tactic. Look at your last e-mail and see if you could frame your message better. Was it too long? Did you not include a strong benefit? Try again with a shorter, smarter pitch. But stop after two attempts. You can try sending it to another person in that organization, but at some point you have to let it go.
You are expecting too much
Telling someone that you did something for them ("I linked to you in my blogroll!") and then asking for the same in return is simply bad form. If you are interested in a true partnership, the relationship has to be mutually beneficial and the terms agreed upon up front. You can send a note that explains that because you are a big fan of the site, you've added it to your blogroll, but don't expect anything in return (except a warm thanks).
Sending out a "cold e-mail" may not be as difficult as cold calling on the phone, but it's just as important to get the pitch right. Otherwise you're wasting everyone's time.