Email is one of the best ways to reach out to new prospects. Stats from McKinsey & Company show that employees spend, on average, 13 hours a week in their email inbox, so if you’re able to catch their attention while they’re reading, you’ll have a good chance at opening the door to a sale.

However, using email as part of your sales outreach strategy isn’t without its pitfalls. Carefully crafted emails go unread, your list becomes stale and prospects dwindle.

So how can you have better success at reaching prospects via email? Consider following these 5 email best practices to improve engagement rates and find more sales success.

1. Send your email to the right prospects

If “know your audience” isn’t drilled into your head by now, it should be, and for good reason: the more personalized and relevant you can make any sales or marketing content, the better it will land.

The better targeted your prospects are, the more likely they will be to open, read, and interact with your sales emails. After all, you want to connect with someone who is interested in your product or service, who has a need for it, and who has the ability to make a purchase decision. This is the audience most likely to care about your sales outreach, and this is the audience you want to populate your prospect list.

2. Segment your list

Not all members of your prospect list are the same. In fact, you might be talking to multiple, diverse segments and not even know it.

If you’re selling accounting software, for example, you might have a list that includes in-house accountants at large companies, partners at mid-sized firms, and independent bookeepers. Each of these groups has different needs, budgets and pain points, and your sales copy should match.

Consider segmenting your email list into groups of prospects that match customer personas, and tailoring your message to each. For instance, you may want to send a message requesting testimonials and referrals from past clients, another providing a sales brochure to a group of prospects that you know engaged with at least two pieces of content on your website last week, and another with an offer for a demo to a group who has downloaded multiple whitepapers this month.

3. Write the perfect email

Read, and re-read, any sales email you send before actually clicking “Send.” You absolutely cannot afford to have any grammar or punctuation mistakes make their way into a prospect’s inbox.

You also want to ensure that your personalization matches the prospect (if Jane gets an email addressed to Bob, that won’t look great), and that the subject line is compelling enough to open and matches the content within.

4. Send your emails at the right time

We’ve written before about how timing your emails can be critical to whether they are opened or not, and it continues to hold true: If you send your emails when your prospects are more likely to be in their office, reading emails, they are more likely to be opened.

Be wary of relying too heavily on “industry statistics” when determining timing, as your own experience depends on your list – when are your prospects most likely to be engaged? You can look to past open rates to figure this out, or take an educated guess and begin to measure engagement rates to inform future outreach.

5. Test, measure and test some more

When reaching out to a large list, it pays to test what works and what doesn’t. Consider A/B, or split testing, where you send different emails to groups of recipients, each with one small change, to see which messaging resonates best. Using this method you can test the effectiveness of your subject line, any creative assets like images, how formal or informal your voice, the timing and scheduling of your emails and more.