3 Ways to Start your Emails Professionally (and 2 Ways to Avoid)
Steven Lu — Sep 3, 2018
Not enough positive responses to your emails?
Professional emails need to start on the right note for you to get more replies.
Getting a response from prospects is no longer just a matter of landing in their inbox. That’s nearly certain, considering there are tools like Interseller that can find anyone’s email in a matter of minutes. Most people get dozens of emails a day, and standing out in their inbox isn’t easy.
How can you ensure your email gets noticed?
By getting these three things right:
The subject line
The opening sentence
In this article, we will focus on crafting powerful opening sentences that stand out.
First, be aware that in most email services, clients and apps, the subject line, the greeting and the first sentence can be seen as part of a preview in a recipient’s inbox.
These words and sentences usually determine whether your email gets opened or trashed. So you need to invest time in constructing your subject line, greeting as well as the opening line.
While your subject line can hook the recipient into opening the email, your first one or two sentences set the tone and determine whether the recipient will continue reading the email or not.
How you begin an email also shapes the recipient’s initial perception of you. This becomes critical in different formal scenarios like sending cold email pitches, introduction emails or even outreach emails for recruiting passive candidates.
When it comes to the greeting or opening word, there are only a handful of formal styles that you can use when sending professional emails. These include Hi, Hello, and Dear - all followed by the first name of your prospect.
For instance: Hi John or Hello Peter.
If you have not done your research and do not know the first name of the person you are trying to send a professional email to, you should just forget sending the email at all. It will not get a response. Rather, most people will mark you as spam.
This basic personalization is a no-brainer.
Now let’s move on to the other essential aspect. What do you write in that first sentence while starting an email professionally?
It’s not just about the first line. Every sentence in your email should serve a purpose. Superfluous words that don’t provide any useful information or play a role in convincing the reader to take action should be removed.
Here are 3 ways to start an email professionally so that it doesn’t get relegated to trash (or worse, spam):
Hi Steve, I noticed that your article [insert the headline] is stuck at position 5 of Google.
Hi Harvey, Been following [Company name] for a while. I just love the concept as well as the scale you have achieved since your launch at the [X] event.
Why this works:
Starting with in-depth personalization hits all the right spots with your prospect.
Personalizing the first paragraph to make it super-relevant assures the recipient that you’re not a random stranger, but someone who has taken the trouble to get to know them well. A brownie point towards getting them to open and read your email.
It will also trigger their curiosity about whether you have something really useful to contribute and entice them to open and read your email.
You don’t have to personalize each email manually. Use Interseller to customize messages as needed for each contact while still taking advantage of automatic follow-ups. Take personalization a step further by sending a customized sequence of emails to a list of contacts using Interseller’s Sequences function.
Dear Zane, I was wondering if I could introduce you to Roberto, he’s the CEO of PinkPanther, a powerful outreach tool that I use.
Hi Peter, Was just reading your article [insert name] and thought if you would be interested in collaborating with me on a similar piece for Forbes?
Why this works
This opening sentence seeks permission directly and straightforwardly. It gets right to the point by asking a question or presenting a unique idea which could benefit the reader.
In the first example, the starting line allows each individual to decide if they are ready to get acquainted with another member of your inner circle. By stating why you think the introduction is relevant to both the parties in the initial statement, you are indicating that you know both individuals well enough to make relevant introductions. This works well for your image.
Note that this is not even a cold email. But even if you know the recipient well, getting down to business in the first sentence will ensure that you get a quicker reply. Otherwise, people just might decide to read your email later and forget all about it.
In the second example, the recipient knows exactly which subject matter you want to collaborate on. And if they are passionate about that topic, they would be more than happy to open and respond to your email.
The idea in both emails is to respect people’s time and specify what the email is about right away. Any recipient who is important enough is extremely busy, and they will appreciate that you are not wasting a second of their time.
Hi John, Loved your recent podcast episode about [Insert Name].
Dear Jessica, Congratulations to you and your team on the launch of [Product Name].
Why this works:
Flattery, when done well, can open almost any door. Even highly successful entrepreneurs and CXOs of Fortune 500 companies appreciate genuine compliments about things that they are passionate about.
To do this right, make sure that the second and third sentences mention what you specifically liked. If those specifics are missing, any smart person will recognize it as an insincere attempt at flattery and will immediately form a negative impression of you.
While this is a smart strategy as a starting line to get them to open your email, your subsequent sentences in the email should mention a sufficiently compelling benefit to elicit a response.
There are a few opening lines that never work when you are writing a professional email. You can reserve these for your regular golf buddies, but even then if you know that the email will be circulated with other executives, keep the tone semi-formal.
Here are two ways you must never start your professional emails:
Dear X, Hope you are doing well.
Hello Y, How are you?
Familiar starting sentences in cold emails, or with people who you know too little are unnecessary and sound pretentious. This is an excellent example of flattery done wrong.
These opening lines also don’t add to building any rapport. Rather, in cold emails, these opening lines will prompt recipients to delete your email even without opening it. Even if they do open the email, it may cause your prospects to raise their barriers and hamper your chances of getting a response.
If you absolutely must use a familiar starting sentence, use the ‘Compliment your prospect’ approach I mentioned above.
However, if the recipient knows you well enough, you can start by asking them how they are!
Dear John, My name is Sarah from PinkPather, a leading SEO company.
Hi Sid, Let me introduce myself.
Starting the email copy with your name, your company’s name and what is it that you do is a very common mistake and should be avoided entirely.
Your prospect may be interested in those details at a later stage, but that is not the primary reason for him or her to read your email. He will open your email and read it only if he feels that you will provide some value.
If you meet someone face-to-face at a business meeting or professional setting, do you start by handing over your card? This opening sentence is similar to that.
Establish a rapport with your prospect and provide him with some value before sharing who you are. Those details should only be placed in the middle or end of your email body.
Writing a professional email isn’t tough, but it is easy to get it wrong. Follow these simple tips, and you can be sure of being taken seriously and getting a high open and response rate.