You’ve probably received one or two prospecting emails over the past week. But the question is: have you opened them or sent them directly to your trash? Only 62% of people say they will possibly open an email and marketers are trying to figure out how to be one of the lucky few.

Mike Conley, Former CIO Optim, currently CTO United Health Group, discusses the ways to get potential customers to open the emails and how to maintain those relationships once you have them.

Prospecting email mistakes

You’re probably already aware of the most common mistakes marketers make when sending a prospecting email through your personal experience: The content doesn’t relate to your interests or it’s the same email for the fifth time in a row.

For example, the odds of a vegetarian subscribing to a meat-based dinner magazine is incredibly low. So, then, how do you get customers to open and engage with an email? Follow the inverse of the mistake — relevance and credibility.

“It really has to be a sort of Goldilocks email that was just right for what I was concerned about at that point in time,” Mike explains.

How to stay informed

Staying relevant and credible can be difficult to navigate — Mike shares how to stay on someone’s radar without ending up on the blocked list:

  • Keep your distance & make educated guesses: Try to make as many informed guesses about your customer’s relevant material. Try to look at what they’re publicly focused on.
  • Don’t quote the obvious as a catch: If a customer you’re trying to reach out to had a security breach, don’t lead with that information. It will be viewed as a point of contention and isn’t adding any value to the conversation.
  • Just ask: If you have content that might be relevant to a customer but you’re not sure, ask them. If they say no, you’ve avoided repetitious emails that they don’t care about.
  • Do your homework: If a customer goes by Mike, your email shouldn’t be addressed to Michael. People have caught on to the bare minimum personalization tactics — try to differentiate yourself.

”If it looks like it’s personal for me, but it’s actually fake, it’s probably going to fail.” — Mike Conley

Focusing on the wins

With only 62% of people opening emails with the possibility of engaging, it’s important to understand the reality of the situation. There will never be a time when you’re engaging with 100% or close to 100% of your target market.

You must do your best to personalize emails; but, at the end of the day, every individual is different. There are some people that will open every email and forward them onto other interested parties. There are others that block the email immediately. Understanding this reality can help you assess the level of risk you take with any sent email.

“If you’re going to tell me that I have a larger list of known vulnerabilities than I’m likely to get to this week, I think I already know that,” Mike states.

Finding the right tone

How you approach a question or presenting information can make or break a conversation. Imagine telling an auto mechanic they don’t know how to change a tire the right way — you won’t get very far. You have to present the information in a way that peaks their interest without pressuring them. According to Mike, you have to make it easy for them to say no if you want to get a yes.

”There’s a difference between telling someone: this is what you should think about and asking them to spend more time if this is relevant to them.” — Mike Conley

Asking for permission

Your email communication is the same as your LinkedIn communication, right? Not exactly. Beyond relevance and credibility, you have to look at why email is losing its popularity. With email, everyone has to have one.

Think of email like the front door of a home. Yes, you can approach the front door as a marketer and try to sell to the homeowner, but that conversation will be strained because it’s not the most appropriate way to approach the customer.

If you called that homeowner at their place of work, explained what you’re selling, and whether they’d be interested, you’re meeting the individual on a more appropriate ground where they expect to be approached. That’s how LinkedIn differs — the individual expects to be approached there.

A key takeaway

While email communication may not be the most effective mode of communication as a marketer, it’s still relevant enough to put effort into as long as you’re delivering relevant and credible content. If you can find a way to balance that effort with customer engagement, email prospecting can continue to serve its purpose.