This guest post is by Robert D. Smith of TheRobertD.com
Remember the last time that you sent out a guest post request, suggestion of a joint venture, interview invitation, or some other important message … and waited … and waited … and waited…?
And then nothing happened. You got no response whatsoever. Not even a “No”! They couldn’t even take the time to just say “No”! How dare them, right? What a bunch of jerks!
Or maybe you’re the jerk. Ever think about that?
The list of reasons why people don’t respond to email is long, so I’ll abbreviate it slightly by focusing on the main ones below:
- Your email wasn’t clear.
- Your email didn’t sound sincere.
- Your email only talked about you.
- Your email didn’t leave them with an action or logical next step.
- Your email was full of typos and grammar errors that conveyed an amateurish sloppiness.
- Your email was fantastic, but they’re just a jerk and didn’t respond.
Out of all of those, which do you think is the most unlikely scenario? In all likelihood, it’s not them; it’s you. Now, let me explain why that is great news—if the problem lies with you, then that means you have the power to fix it. So let’s get to it!
5 Ways to fix your bad emails
Now that we’ve listed out the most common problems, let’s list out some solutions.
1. Be yourself
Whether you’re requesting to write a guest blog, sending out a press release, or just sending someone a friendly hello, it’s so easy to forget that there’s actually a real, live person on the other end.
Like you and me, they prefer communicating with other real, live people. They just want to see your personality, some signs of life! Don’t be dry and boring—just be yourself.
2. Write from a good place
This is the key to letting your personality shine through your email. Your mind needs to be in a positive, confident space. When you write with positivity and confidence, personality just seems to seep in effortlessly. And that’s when personality is most genuine: when it isn’t forced.
Of course, the problem with this tip is that we’re not always in a good mood. With some emails, we may be a little nervous or intimidated by the outcome. Here are a few things I do to combat those negative emotions:
- Write standing up. There’s something about standing up that just gives you a little more confidence. It might sound a little silly, but I urge you to give it a try. I bought an adjustable desk that I can raise to standing height almost solely for this purpose.
- Turn on some upbeat music. Play something that you love, something that’s your favorite. Our favorite music is directly connected to our personality, so this tip can really get you going. Since you’re already standing up, you can even throw a little dancing in the mix!
3. Read your email out loud before you hit Send
If any part of the email feels weird coming out of your mouth, change it. I don’t think anyone particularly likes reading their own writing out loud, but this is a very simple practice that will work wonders for you.
4. Establish an emotional connection
Here’s an example of an email with no emotional connection:
I like your blog a lot and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind helping me spread the word about my latest self-published venture, “Emails Form Hell: A Journey Deep Inside My Outbox.” I will eagerly await your response. Thanks.
I see emails like this all the time, not just in my own inbox, but in the inboxes of everyone I know who has a platform of some kind. Emails like this are popular because they’re very easy to replicate. You can send it out to 300 different people and all you have to do is change the first name at the beginning. Unfortunately, 300 different people will also ignore it.
If you want a response from someone, it is essential to connect emotionally. If they’re a blogger, for instance, don’t just tell them you like their blog. Tell them about the specific post they wrote that kicked you in the rear and caused you to go do something awesome! And if they’ve never written a post that made you react that way, don’t pretend you love their blog. It’s not that difficult to tell what’s genuine and what’s not when you’re on the receiving end.
5. Don’t use a dumb email address
I almost didn’t include this point because it seems like it’s already been said enough. Apparently, however, it has not, as I continue to regularly receive emails from AOL addresses. So one more reminder: if you have your own website, use an email address associated with it. If you don’t, use a gmail address that contains something as close to your full name as you can get.
Getting people to respond to your emails really comes down to one all-encompassing thing—coming across like a real person who cares. Practice the above tips on a regular basis and you will be shocked by how much more effective your online voice and persona become. Get ready for an inbox full of replies.
What was the last email you sent that’s overdue for a reply? Tell us in the comments.
Robert D. Smith is the author of 20,000 Days and Counting and a consultant to numerous best-selling authors, speakers, and entertainers. Grab his free eBook, Battle-Tested Branding, here.
Thanks Robert, great post. Lately I have been wanting to “tighten” up my email marketing campaigns, always felt like they were a little too loose. Over the last 6 months I have been using my latest posts as a message to them. My biggest problem is getting more than 10-14% to open them, there are over 40K. Reading this piece gave me a few good ideas actually, and some tips so thank you very much and Merry Christmas….you too Darren.
40k is a great-sized list to have, Darren. I’m VERY confident you can exceed 10-14%…keep tweaking, keep fine-tuning. Eventually you’ll figure out the right formula for your list. In fact, you’re probably just a couple degrees away!
and use a Good and catchy Subject. As subject is the first thing you see after NAME ofcourse but a catchy subject will just multiply the responses you are getting now.
Hey Robert, what an excellent post man. As a graphic designer I have been into the situation you referred above in your article. Like they (clients) sometimes doesn’t respond. Not coz they are dumb but I’m that so lazy that I sometimes feels why writing in such an honor every time. I’m also a human I also get tired.
But, doing business online we should focus on credibility and not let our tiredness comes over on us.
I really like what you said in your paragraph read your mail loud before hitting SEND. I do in each of my emails. Thank you!
About a month ago, I emailed 3 of my minimalist blogging idols about finding my own blogging voice: Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, and Joshua Fields Millburn.
Only the two Joshua’s were kind enough to answer, and they answered both in less than 24 hours. I was amazed at how they both are so sincere and willing to help. I’m their fan and friend for life. :)
Great tips Robert! What I’ve found to be most important is to show exactly how they will benefit from what I present. Don’t talk about how they can help you but vice versa. I’ve written emails saying “what can I help you with” or just asking about what they’re working on. Who does t like receiving those. Let them talk about themselves!
Greeaaaat point, Joe! And something that is often overlooked. It’s very rare that you can’t find SOME angle to make the email about them, and not yourself. Thanks!
This article has some great tips however I have never liked using “Dear” in anything. When standing face to face with someone we do not start our conversation with “Dear” so it seems unnecessary to do so in a written format.
That is is a good/funny point. It seems to span from old letter writing days. “My dearest Miss. Christina, oh how I have missed thee…” When communication is less of a novality now, maybe it should be lessened. I can see using it when it is someone that you have not talked to in a long time or where you want to either physically hand write a letter. Thinking about it, it can come across as manically. Now that names can be auto inserted in an email easily, emails need to be sincere. As Robert pointed out, think about the reader.
I have written so many times generic emails that I bet were not probably opened.
The emails from now on have to have my personality in it.
Thanks for the reminder!
No problem, Samuel. Thanks for reading! Once you’ve mastered personality in an email, great things can happen.
— Your Email Was Too Long. If an email is part of an action thread of emails, skip the niceties. Email isn’t a business letter and should be short and informative. For example, if it’s the third email of the week to Marty, you don’t need to write, “Dear Martin, Thank you for sending me the specifications sheet on the Norton project yesterday. Upon review, I was reminded that we had discussed a potential revision of the section, Business Model and Future Intentionality. Shall we discuss ways in which I might revise that point? I hope your holidays are progressing apace and that your mother is well. Best wishes, Stuart.”
Instead, make it functional: “I got the specs; did you want me to revise that second point?” Your recipient now has leeway to make his or her return email also short and sweet, increasing the likelihood that they’ll answer immediately, “Yes, thanks.”
— Your Spammer Company is Not Helping Your Sales. If you have a company handling”marketing” or “promotion” for you, have them include you on their recipient list so you know what they’re doing with your name. [I work in a bookstore and decide on which self-published, local author titles to carry. Many vanity press publishers pitch their packages with the guarantee that they will send out 5,000 emails to targeted bookstores. One author told me later that in great annoyance that this email blitz resulted in the sale of exactly ONE of one of his titles, and NONE of the others. I trash amateur emails with subject lines like “NEW HISTORICAL FICTION BY TENNESSEE AUTHOR JOAN LINCOLN!” without opening them but have ordered books for stock when I got a personal phone call, IF the book was available through one of the standard book distributors we use.]
Curiosity kills the cat, my subject reads: “Do not read this email!”
Ha, that’s a great one, Ngan! I also recently read that “Hey…” is one of the most effective subject lines out there. Going to have to try both of those soon.
Well, Many Times i don’t even open my mails, just mark them as read and than forget them,
I think giving an attractive subject is a Must :D
I always make sure that I read my email out loud before sending it. I catch a lot of errors and poorly structured sentences this way. Also it is easy for me to write emails as I talk to my subscribers if I read my emails before sending them.
I’ve often not replied to emails simply because they were too long to read. Emails that go on and on and don’t get to the point just drive me insane. If anyone calls me on it after and complains that I never replied, I just tell them that I didn’t get it and it must have landed in my spam. ;)
Ha! I’ll have to add that excuse to my arsenal, Christine. Thanks!
Gotta call you on that one. Honesty matters. Anything else WILL find you out!
Email is one of the most popular tool used on the Internet and it is also one of the most abused. One should use his/her common sense before assuming any message is valid.
Excellent advice, the truth is that I always read my emails out loud to make sure not to have errors.
Anyway thanks for the tips I’ll have very intoaccount.
I use to think that just only attractive Email get attention of Customer but now I understand that I was totally wrong. I understand & appreciate point “Be yourself” Its really effective step. Be yourself always impress a person or customer
Disha, I think personality is probably the most important thing. It takes awhile to master, but it is well worth the effort!
Another important factor is to keep it to a decent length. If you can get your message across in a paragraph there is no need to make it longer.
Absolutely, Shireen! Nothing worse than getting a long email that could have been said in a single paragraph…unless of course it’s one looooooong paragraph. Those are the worst.
These are great tips, Robert.
Keeping it short, to the point, and sounding like a human being (instead of a robot or mass email) make such a difference in whether I take time to reply to an email or engage further with the sender.
I’d also add that it’s important to know who you’re emailing. I’ve lost count of how many emails I’ve got that were promoting a book, offering a blog posts, etc that were not even close to a fit for my blog and if the sender had taken two seconds to check me out first, they would have known that and not wasted their time, or they could have come up with a better angle to approach me. :)
Excellent article, Robert!
Great point about not using unprofessional email addresses; I’ve seen former CEO’s sending out resumes using AOL as their main contact info.
Thank you Robert.
I will start reading mine out loud. After receiving some badly written emails, as in negative/blaming, I starting really watching my emails. I write a few good senstences out, but if I still have to put a smiley face or “ha” next to them I normally delete them. If they can be taken out of context I do not want to put that out there. As I have heard, Seth Godin tries to keep his responses to three sentences. Aiming for this is something that works for me as far as the body. It allows an answer and a follow up question and keeps me from adding something that could be more harm than good.
Remembering to have our voice shine is a good point, I want my words to reflective of me.
A simple thanks at the end and sometimes a specific thanks is something I like to add.