Do you ever get a sales outreach email so bland and generic, you can’t help but think, “there’s no way this email ever works”?

Your sales process may be solid, but if you can’t capture your prospects’ attention via outreach emails, you could be leaving potential business on the table.

Email is still one of the most preferred ways prospects like to be approached. In fact, 72 percent of business professionals prefer email communication for back-and-forth interactions. If your sales outreach emails keep missing the mark, consider a few of the 13 methods below for improving your email open rates and responses.

1. Target the Right Leads

Great sales emails start with excellent prospecting, not purchasing mass email lists from agencies with iffy reputations.

Start by creating your ideal customer profile. What does your existing customer base look like? What future customers would you like to start attracting? What are some value propositions for approaching these prospects? The sooner you figure out these customer profiles; the more authentic your sales outreach emails will come across.

It’s also a good idea to cover your bases and do some extensive research on each prospect before reaching out. According to 43 percent of sales and marketing professionals, collecting enough data on leads is the biggest conversion barrier.

2. Avoid Bulk Sending Caps and Spam Filters

Some email service providers (ESPs) include tracking links and pixels into your email, which can flag your email address as spam and hurt deliverability. If you’re looking to avoid spam filters, keep an eye on your sending caps. Some programs will flag emails if you send too many per hour or day. ESPs can also limit your sending amounts too.

To keep your delivery rate healthy and avoid penalties, consider setting up a daily limit for new campaigns or use your ESP’s default limits.

3. Write an Intriguing Preview Message

You already know subject lines affect open rates, but email recipients also look at preview text when deciding whether or not to open an email. Preview text is typically the first few lines in your email. See the image below for what preview text would look like in Gmail:

The exact amount of text depends on the client, whether Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook, or something else. But keep it between 40-75 characters for maximum readability.

4. Write Fewer Than 200 Words

Great sales emails are much shorter than you probably think. Despite sales email templates that go on for multiple paragraphs, research shows the best length is 50-125 words. If you can get your idea down to even fewer words than that, go for it!

To practice writing shorter emails, consider some of these tips:

  • Use enough white space; this is the space in between paragraphs. Using white space effectively makes your writing look less cluttered and more appealing.
  • Use visuals when necessary. Visuals like images or video are a great way to convey your message without actually using up your word count.
  • Establish a beginning, middle, and end. When you take time to outline your emails, you’ll find that they’re more concise and to the point.

5. Personalize Your Emails

The internet is full of sales email templates, and while they’re great for inspiring your copy, you shouldn’t use them word-for-word. Taking the time to write more personalized emails will do wonders for your response rate.

Using custom variables is the standard way to approach personalization. You can pull these variables from your CRM database. This will allow you to insert the recipient’s name, company, role, and other pertinent data automatically.

For even greater personalization, you can reference data from your marketing automation software. This data will show you what pages your prospects viewed most, which content they downloaded, and how they interact with your site.

Aside from using tools to add personalization, take your own time to learn more about your prospects. For example, if the prospect you’re pitching to just had a recent promotion, reference that and congratulate them in the opening line. These small gestures will help your email stand out from the rest.

6. Add Value to Your Pitch

Whether you’re sending the first cold email or your last follow-up message, lead with value. Focus on how your offering can benefit the prospect instead of talking about yourself. Can what you’re offering help the prospect:

  • Deal with a pain point they’re facing?
  • Improve their revenue this year?
  • Help them cut wasted spending?
  • Drive more traffic to their website?
  • Make them look better to their boss?

Let’s be honest, if there’s nothing in it for them, why would they care about your product or service you’re reaching them with? Determining a value proposition and personalizing it ahead of time will make outreach much more painstaking.

7. Reference Your Competitors

You may think shedding light on your competitors is an odd move for a sales outreach email, but the reality is your prospects have likely already done their research, looked at ratings, and read user reviews ahead of time. In fact, 75 percent of B2B buyers said they research vendors and solutions far before buying.

Software buyers today are more informed, so don’t shy away from mentioning your competitors if the moment arises. In fact, you should be prepared to mention how your product or service differentiates from your competitors. Have some client case studies and data readily available.

8. Improve Your Subject Line

Your email outreach doesn’t matter if no one opens them, which is exactly why you need a strong email subject line. Below are a few quick tips for improving your email subject line:

  • Use the person’s first name. Example: Hey John, do you have a minute?
  • Ask a question. Example: Is this the right time to reach you?
  • Create a curiosity gap. Example: 3 things {company} customers care about
  • Start with a value proposition. Example: Your free report is attached here
  • Keep it short and simple, especially for mobile-friendliness.

Create a few different ideas and keep testing until you find a subject line that performs best.

9. Write a Strong Opening Line

Once your prospect opens the email, they’ll decide in the first line whether or not to keep reading. And if you’re not using a separate preview message, your first line is even more important since it’ll affect your email open rate.

Grab the prospect’s attention by focusing on what matters most to them. I recommend getting straight to the reason why you’re in the recipient’s inbox. Skip the formalities of “hope you and your team have been doing well!” This added text eats up your word count and detracts from your message.

10. Incorporate Engaging, Personalized Video Content

Video is quickly becoming a top outreach tool in email. In fact, outreach emails that promoted YouTube or Vimeo content saw open rates of 25 percent and 39 percent, respectively, versus 19 percent for emails without video.

Use the strategies you already know for great written emails, like focusing on pain points, needs, and how you can specifically help – and create video content for it. Below is a great example of how Genbook creates and incorporates personalized videos for its audience:

If you don’t have the bandwidth for video, images are a great substitute. For example, if your business conducted a research report, you can attach videos of important charts and data that the recipient would find relevant to them.

11. Close With a Question

A good salesperson knows that asking questions builds trust and more productive conversations. If you want better response rates for your outreach, you should ask open-ended questions that evoke a response. Some question examples include:

  • What hesitations do you have about our product?
  • What does {competitor’s} product do that ours can’t?
  • Is there anything I can do today to get a “yes” from you?

Asking open-ended questions is a great way to ensure you’re not letting prospects off the hook without getting more context.

12. Use Email Signatures the Right Way

The email signature is an opportunity sales professionals shouldn’t miss out on. Use this space as an opportunity to include sharing recent press articles, webinar recordings, case studies, or even the company’s newest YouTube videos.

In addition to adding content that’ll grab the recipient’s attention, you should have a virtual phone number in your email signature so a prospect can call you. Using a unified communications system, you’ll be able to receive calls on either your phone, mobile app, or desktop app – providing more flexibility for remote salespeople.

13. Run A/B Tests

It’s hard to tell what’s working and what’s not if you don’t test and examine the data. There are various email elements you should be testing to determine what works. For the best open and response rates, test different versions of the copy to see which performs best. Try experimenting with the subject line, preview text, copy, and call to action.

It’s a good idea only to test one variable at a time. As you go, you can refine and adjust based on the winning versions. 

Author Bio

Meenakshi Nautiyal, aka Meenz, is a Growth Marketer for Nextiva. She’s passionate about everything SaaS, Startups, and SEO. She has a successful track record of 10+ years scaling organic traffic and inbound leads for startups like Freshworks, VWO, and You can connect with her on LinkedIn.