Reaching out cold to a CEO can be an exciting but nerve-racking task – and having the skill set to compose an email that will actually be opened, read and replied to is a true art form. Of the 121 emails the average business person receives each day, only one-third are actually opened. To ensure your place in this top third, you need to know how to stand out setting yourself apart from the average Joe.
The following are a few tried-and-true tips for crafting the perfect email that any CEO will want to receive.
Write A Good Subject Headline
The subject line is the first thing your recipient is going to see and often determines whether or not your email is going to inspire an open. It may seem like a trivial aspect of your broader message, but remember it’s one of the most influential components that sets the tone for the rest of your note. Just like a hashtag is used to categorize a discussion on social media, a subject line is there to summarize the reason for your outreach. Consider using language that instills urgency or excitement and don’t be afraid to add a bit of spice. Most important, however, is conciseness. The average inbox shows about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while a mobile device displays only 25 to 30, so keep it short and to the point.
Avoid the Dreaded Spam Filter
Nothing is worse than taking the time to craft the perfect email just to have it sent straight to the spam folder.
To improve your odds of making it to the top of your recipient’s inbox, you’ll want to steer clear of a subject line that uses words, characters and/or text styles often employed by spammers. This includes words like “free”, “winner” and “100%”; emojis and special characters; as well as using ALL CAPS or different colored fonts.
You’ll want to make sure you have a clear and trustworthy sender address (what appears in the “From” field when someone looks at your email) that includes your name and company, if applicable. Try to avoid using an address that you created in jr high, i.e. [email protected]; this not only appears unprofessional, but also masks any name recognition that comes with a person or company that the recipient may know. People are busy, and most individuals aren’t going to waste valuable time opening an email from an unknown source with an untrustworthy handle.
Now that you’ve got their attention and passed the first hurdle of securing that open, be respectful of the recipient’s time. Similar to your subject line, keep the content of your message short and concise. Boomerang, a Gmail productivity tool, found the optimal email length is 125-200 words, with response rates typically plummeting to zero once reaching 2,000 words.
More often than not, you are using email as a tool to inspire further engagement and dialogue on a topic. Include just enough info to pique their interest, but not so much that they nod off. CEOs are often between meetings and balancing a hectic schedule on the go – the probability of them reading your email on a mobile device is high. Keep the scrolling to a minimum and craft a note that can be read and digested in 60 seconds or less.
Dazzle with Your Writing Skills
First impressions are everything. Your first email to any CEO is an opportunity to highlight your professionalism and written communication skills to the most influential person at the company. Double check your writing for any spelling or grammar errors. You don’t want your email to be pushed aside because you didn’t take the time to review before sending. Use spell check, Grammarly and even ask Siri to read the message back you; sometimes you hear mistakes that your eyes missed.
Finish with a Clear Call to Action
Make the goal of your email obvious. Are you reaching out to this CEO for a job, funding or a mentorship? If you have a well-written email with an unclear goal, nothing will be accomplished. You are far more likely to get an email response asking for something of the CEO versus. sending them an informative email. The worst they can say is “no.”
While there is no guarantee your email will be opened, read or replied to by a top decision maker, applying these tips will dramatically increase your chances of getting noticed. If you don’t get a response immediately, don’t fret, it doesn’t necessarily mean the recipient isn’t interested. Following up is key, and as a general rule, two or three days is a good amount of time to wait before sending that first follow up. Anything sooner can come off as pushy and off-putting. Include a reference to the previous note and a quick explanation of the reason for your follow up. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!