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Hemingway Corner: The Good, the Bad, & the Spammy of a Real Cold Email

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Hemingway Corner

When it comes to cold outreach, it’s not a question of if subject lines can make or break a campaign. They will

Subject lines forge a reader’s first impression of your email.

When they’re good, you get more opens, which can lead to more clicks and responses.

But when they’re bad… you get the picture.

There are many elements of a good subject line:

  • Short
  • Personalized
  • Relevant
  • Self-evident
  • Attention-grabbing
  • Able to pique curiosity
  • Able to establish a connection

It’s worth mentioning that the length can’t be overemphasized. Reading emails via phone is the norm now, which means your subject line has to be short enough to fit on a mobile screen.

In this Hemingway Corner, we’ll be revealing the good, the bad, and the spammy of one email whose subject line did almost everything wrong. Except the length.

Cold email example

This is an actual cold email we received in our inbox just over a week ago:

Greetings to you business builder.

I’m an Online Reputation Manager, I boost businesses’ online reputation with authentic, positive reviews on platforms like Trustpilot. 

Let’s discuss how I can promote your business websites with my unique ratings.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

The Good

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the email has much good going for it. But a second glance reveals that this email tries to follow some of the rules of a good cold email:

  • Polite tone – The writer establishes a friendly tone with the expression “Greetings to you”, and it ends with a few respectful phrases like “Thank you” and “Looking forward to hearing from you.”
  • Clear offer – The writer specifies what they service they would provide to the reader should they accept the offer.
  • Call to action – The offer also has a call to action that invites the recipient to discuss the possibility of working together. As a result, the reader knows what the next step is.

The Bad

Although the email has some positives to it, the cons outweigh the pros as a whole:

  • Zero personalization – The writer clearly used a generic one-size-fits-all approach. Instead of referring to the recipient by name, they called the recipient “business builder”. This implies they didn’t do any research about the recipient’s name, business, or position.
  • Lack of credibility – The sender claims to be an online reputation manager, but they don’t provide any credentials, social proof, portfolio, or even name to prove their expertise.
  • Vague offer – While the offer is clear in terms of the service provided, the email doesn’t give any details of what the service would entail. Will they manage social media accounts? Will they reach out to past and present customers for reviews? This email doesn’t explain.

The Spammy

There are also a couple of aspects to this email that could (and probably should) cause this email to go directly to spam instead of landing in your inbox:

  • Subject line – No personalization? Spam. Vague subject line? Spam. Subject line in all caps? Spam. Spam filters rely on pattern recognition, and this email fills many criteria for spam.
  • Generic language – Generic terms like “business builder” and “Let’s discuss” are likely to trigger spam if there’s insufficient context or personalization.

How to fix the email

Here is one possible approach to fixing the bad and the spammy of this email. Placeholders have been inserted in areas where it makes sense to either personalize the message or add in some unique info to build the case:

Subject line: [Recipient’s name], improve [Recipient’s company]’s online reputation?

Hi [Recipient’s name],

I saw that [Recipient’s company] is working on its online presence. I help companies like yours grow their reputation.

Last year, I helped [example company] get more reviews on G2 and Capterra, which allowed them to gain credibility, leading to more business. 

I’d love to discuss working together. Let’s set up a call?

[Sender’s name]

See how AiSDR can run your outreach

Overall, this email was a step in the right direction. It was short, concise, and to the point.

However, the lack of personalization, in combination with the fact the sender never gave their name or business, would likely end up causing this email to land in spam.

In contrast, every email by AiSDR is personalized using a lead’s most recent LinkedIn activity and your HubSpot data. This goes a long way in making sure your outreach reaches a person’s inbox.

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