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Do your emails grab your prospects' attention and make them excited, or do recipients just press delete before they even get to the second line?

Would you reply to an email that feels salesy or pushy?

Probably not. So why should prospects respond?

Most cold emails fail because they don't connect with their audience; they feel disingenuous or impersonal. If you want to catch your prospects' attention, you need to address their needs and speak to them on a more human level.

Fixing these three common cold-email marketing mistakes can get you more responses from your prospects.

1. Your message is too self-focused and impersonal

No one wants to hear you drone on about how awesome you think you are. Your prospects don't care about how many awards your company has won or that your new product is your fastest or coolest ever. They only want to know how you can solve their problems.

How can you speak to your prospects needs if you don't understand their needs? Before you craft any cold emails you need to develop a clear buyer persona and research your prospects' industry and role to understand their pain points and priorities.

Canned and generic messages won't get responses in 2015. Everyone has become immune to gimmicky emails. Your prospects want to feel special, and know that you took the time to understand them and their business. If you send the same message to a CEO as a VP of Engineering, you will either alienate one of those parties with an untargeted message that doesn't make sense, or bore both of them with vague language. Instead you need to create thoughtful emails that are specific to each of your buyer persona's needs.

2. You're boring your prospects with long-winded pitches

Your prospects are busy people. They don't have time to read through bloated paragraphs that resemble small novels, and they aren't going to go out of their way to read a whitepaper that explains your value proposition either.

You only have a few seconds to entice someone with your message before he or she clicks delete, so don't waste words on useless fluff.

The only goal of a cold email is to get your prospects talking to you. Don't get too overwhelmed trying to say everything in the first email; you can always explain more when you have them on the phone or in following emails. Keep every email simple, and focus on one main benefit or idea per email.

Because people have short attention spans, you should try to keep your cold emails to 2-5 sentences. The most persuasive cold emails eliminate anything that does not support the email's main idea.

3. Weak calls-to-action (CTAs) lose your prospects' attention

Even if you write the best introduction to your cold email, a weak or missing CTA will kill your chances of getting a response. Spending your time talking to a stranger is a risk, so you need to give prospects assurance that talking to you won't waste their time. Great calls to action offer prospects value or gives a sense of "fear of loss," and incentivize them to promptly respond.

How can you make it worth their while?

Make sure your prospects clearly understand how they'll benefit by talking to you. Provide incentive in your CTAs by offering a piece of actionable advice or sharing a quick idea that can help improve their business.

Think about this the next time you craft a cold email

Here are a few quick takeaways you can use for crafting your next cold email based on the mistakes mentioned above:

  • Start your first sentence as a question focused on your prospect, ideally one that makes them think about an existing pain point or a potential benefit you can offer.
  • Keep your cold emails short and conversational. Try to use the word "you" more than "I."
  • Try to keep your CTA in one short and clear sentence. Questions like "When do you have time for a short call so I can share an idea that could double [Company]'s revenue?" tend to work well.

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image of Heather Morgan

Heather R. Morgan is CEO of Salesfolk, an agency that specializes in copywriting for B2B content marketing and sales copywriting.

LinkedIn: Heather Morgan 

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