7 outreach email mistakes you need to stop making

According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound report, 42% of salespeople report that prospecting is the most difficult part of the sales process. Between researching influencers to contact and drafting a pitch, a lot of effort goes into your sending your outreach emails. Now, imagine the inbox of the person you’re trying to reach. They have to spend time sifting through several outreach emails exactly like yours. So, how do you write a message that will help your hard work avoid that trash folder?


Let’s take a look at a great example:

Hi, we teamed up with *company* to write an article (with custom graphics) on old-school customer retention strategies. In it we cover four rules for keeping customers happy. After all, nearly 80% of a company’s future profits will come from 20% of its current customers.

Let me know if you’re interested in seeing the full article and its graphics. I’d be happy to forward it along!

Now that’s a great email. We were impressed by it because the sender was personal, pleasant, and proved their credibility as well as their article’s relevance to us in just a few sentences. Then, they followed up with a compelling call to action. That’s someone definitely spent time writing their email, and it shows.


Pitching to a stranger can be tough…

7 sales outreach email mistakes

To write outreach emails that are relevant and reply-worthy, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.

1. Forgetting to do your research

Don’t reach out blindly. It’s important to know who you’re reaching out to, and to have some understanding of their company and position. If you prove that you’ve invested some of your time before reaching out, your prospect will know that you’re less likely to waste their time. If the reader can tell that you know nothing about them from your email, good luck getting a reply. Here’s a sample from an email I recently received:

Since you provide creative services, Motion Graphics videos would hugely complement your existing offerings and add value for your clients. We can take care of complete back-end execution and client servicing.

That might have been a very insightful suggestion....if we didn’t already provide our clients with motion graphic videos. This email makes it all too clear that the sender didn’t even take a look at our website or services before reaching out to pitch.


2. Using an inappropriate tone

Once you’ve done research and have an understanding of someone’s business and role, use that information to tailor your message. The tone of your email should be appropriate for the person you’re emailing. Being too casual with a higher-level executive can be just as bad as being overly formal with someone who works at a fun and quirky startup.


3. Writing boring or vague subject lines

Average email open-rates usually fall well below 25%, and if the subject line isn’t compelling, your email will probably not be opened. Make sure your subject line is intriguing and relevant. Be compelling, but also use the subject line to set expectations for the content of your email. If the reader can’t gauge what your email is about from the subject line, they’ll be less inclined to read it.


4. Failing to establish relevance

Does your email offer insight and add value? Use this opportunity to tie your offering to something you’ve learned about your prospect. Comment on something they’ve recently done that you found insightful or interesting, and connect that to your pitch. You can even use this as an opportunity to name drop and grab attention. Have you done work for a well-known client that you can show off? Do you have a mutual connection? Establish why your email is relevant instead of any another message crowding their inbox. The last thing you want is for someone to open your email, scan it, and think ‘So, what?’.

I came across your website after searching for advertising companies on Google and I was wondering if you would like to partner up? Basically what we do is make animated videos that are designed to promote your service online and increase your website conversion rate. So I wanted to offer you a 30 second animated whiteboard video for your agency for just $197. (including script/voiceover) All I ask in return is a quick testimonial if you like the video!

Or worse, your pitch can come across as poorly researched and selfish. If your prospect can think that you want something from them and can offer no value in return, there’s a serious issue.


5. Being impersonal

This should almost go without saying, but I’m going to say it just in case: make sure your message is polite and customized enough for the particular situation. Your message shouldn’t seem like it’s been copy and pasted (Even if it was!). Being polite and personable can work wonders.

Dear Sir/Madam

If your email starts off like that, you’re already off to a bad start.


6. Sending a novel

Be sure to keep your email short and clear. Don’t waste anyone’s time by expecting them to decipher what you mean, or by hoping you’ll leave just enough info to have them follow up. Being vague offers the reader an invitation to disengage. Make enough conversation to connect, and always keep priority in mind. Tell the reader what they need to know quickly and concisely. Also, do your best to avoid meaningless buzzwords.


7. Being the annoying kind of pushy

Be sure to end every email with a strong call to action to encourage a response. If you don’t get a reply to your outreach email, there’s a good chance the person either hasn’t gotten the chance to reply to you yet, or doesn’t want to. Bombarding their inbox with messages isn’t going to change that. Email subjects like “Final Attempt” are passive-aggressive and just make you look bad. If an additional message is necessary, make sure they’re the right kind of pushy.


Getting responses to your outreach emails isn’t easy, but if you put time into drafting insightful and helpful messages, you’ll have a better time connecting with the right people.


Read more:

How to spend 100% less time in meetings

Why your brand needs a real style guide

10 buzzwords you should avoid in your pitch



Carine A.

Written by Carine A.