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[Hemingway Corner] Changes We’d Make to a Cold Email Follow-Up

Reading time 5m 14s
Hemingway Corner

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” (Ernest Hemingway)

As one of America’s most famous writers, Hemingway was known for a lot of things: his sense of adventure, his work as a journalist covering the Spanish Civil War and World War II, and – above all else – his concise, understated writing style in his novels.

If he was responsible for creating cold outreach emails today, we’re pretty sure he’d excel. After all, his use of language was crisp, concise, and to the point, which are all qualities expected of good outreach.

And just like his quote, some days his emails would have flowed effortlessly from his pen (er… Gmail account?), while other times his emails would crash and burn. But at the end of the day, he’d persevere, and his clarity and authenticity would help him build relationships with prospects and potential customers. 

With his writing philosophy as well as cold outbound best practices, we’re going to dive deep into real examples of cold emails that we received. Each blog post in this series will share what went right, what went wrong, and how to fix the outbound email.

Cold email example

The example above is an actual cold email that landed in our inboxes last month. For your reading convenience, we’ve written it out here as well:

Hi Dear,

I hope this message finds you well

I see that you have read my emails, this also proves that you have also visited my website. If so why didn’t you reply me? Don’t like my website? Or are you looking for a website that isn’t listed here? If so, let me know what kind of website you’re looking for and I’ll send you the website. And if any of my websites meet your needs or you like, let me know and I will cooperate with you, but don’t ignore my emails like this. Awaiting your reply.

Kind Regards

The Good

From a “big picture” point of view, there isn’t a lot of good about this follow-up email. But in the interest of fairness, there are a few good tactics:

  • Greeting – “Hi” is a good way to open. It’s not too formal, and it’s not too informal. It also ends with a comma instead of an exclamation mark, which might be too conversational for cold outreach.
  • Sign-off – There’s nothing wrong with ending with “Kind regards”. It’s professional, it shows respect, and it doesn’t imply some previous interaction nor promise future communication (i.e. “Talk to you soon!”).
  • Behavioral personalization –  A lot of first-touch and follow-up emails skip using behavioral personalization and other email metrics. On the one hand, it’s the most advanced form of personalization, but it’s also the most difficult and time-consuming type to set up. When done right, using behavioral triggers will make back-and-forth emails seem like a natural conversation. 

The Bad

This follow-up cold email has plenty of issues. That said, we’ll focus on a couple of the most glaring problems:

  • Tone – The email’s tone unfairly applies a lot of pressure on the reader. Phrases like Don’t like my website?, Why didn’t you reply?, and Don’t ignore my emails seem accusatory. The first two even seem like they’re guilt-tripping the reader into responding. On top of that, a phrase like Awaiting your reply is overly assuming, if not desperate at trying to get the reader to convert.
  • Overuse of questions and requests – The email contains 3 questions and 3 requests for the user to take action. This causes the email to sound demanding and interrogative. Cold email follow-ups should ask no more than 1 question.
  • Personalization – While this email receives props for its use of behavioral triggers, the other uses of personalization (e.g. “Hi Dear”) are generic and impersonal.

As a special mention, let’s be honest for a second. In no world does the phrase “I see that you have read my emails” not sound creepy 🙃

So please don’t ever use it in your email follow-ups 🙏

The Spammy

Considering how the email is currently written, most readers will likely mark it as spam. There are some other elements that may cause it to trigger an email service provider’s spam filter:

  • Lack of personal information – This cold email follow-up uses “Dear” instead of the recipient’s name. There’s also no name for the sender. Generally, emails that lack identifying data are more likely to be flagged as spam.
  • Too many questions – There’s nothing wrong with questions, but too many questions combined with characteristics like no personalization can set off the spam filter.
  • Unspecified cooperation – The promise of cooperation without clearly stating the terms of the deal or clear explanation about what will be provided can also seem suspicious to spam detectors.

How to fix the email

Fixing this follow-up doesn’t require a full rewrite (although it might not be a bad idea). At minimum, it will require a significant cut-down in the amount of text, as well as more personalization and social proof.

Here’s an example of a potential follow-up that avoids seeming creepy or demanding:

Hi [Recipient’s name],

Just touching base to see what you thought about my earlier email. We previously helped [company] do [activity] for their website, leading to [example of good result].

Would love to have a call and chat about how we can help you.

Best regards,

[Your name]

All you need to do is fill in the placeholders [ ] with relevant data, and voila! You’ve got a decent follow-up.

Find out what’s under the hood of AiSDR

Every email created by AiSDR is 100% unique, hyper-personalized, and contextualized so that it sounds like you wrote it. We go beyond basic personalization by tailoring the message according to a prospect’s recent LinkedIn activity, buyer intent, and current stage in their customer journey.

Other functions AiSDR carries out in the background like bounce checks and automatic warm-up help ensure your outreach lands in your lead’s inbox, not spam.

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