As a sole-proprietor that's offering services, your income relies on bringing in new clients and maintaining your current client list. Part of the ways that people build a potential client network is through emails. However, before you send out that cold email to spread the word about your business, you need to make sure your message is relevant.
An Example of a Badly Targeted Email That Won’t Win You That Client
Dear Team, (Uh oh, you don’t even know who you’re talking to. You didn’t spend 30 seconds on the website to try to determine the owner or manager name. Since this is an actual email I received, I can assume he didn’t even look at the website address! But let’s keep going cause it just gets better.)
Not sure if you knew this but your website X has some problems that you might want to consider looking into. I spent 2-3 minutes looking around and found: ( I just bebunked this in the top paragraph with the greeting.)
- It doesn't work properly on Mobile Phones, at all (which is how people browse the web these days). (Actually, it does. This guy assumes that I don’t have a cell phone and haven't looked at my own website on my cell phone)
- It doesn't adjust properly when you resize the screen (Google recommends RESPONSIVE Websites rather than ADAPTIVE) (Actually, yes it does. I’ve tested this myself. Works on cell phones and tablets. It’ll also resize itself if you adjust the size of your browser on your computer or tablet. Again, did you spend 10 seconds on the website?)
- It's hard to read on larger displays ( bahahahahahaha. This is just complete and utter bullshit.)
- The design looks really, really dated compared to some of your competitors. (Because you want to turn a 2000 page website into a Wordpress site. BTW, I’ve never seen a good one.)
I actually do web design as a living so I figured I'd reach out and let you know there's serious room for dead easy(and affordable) improvement. If you would like, I can send you some of my previous work samples. (hahahahahahahhaa….. My website is shit. BUT this guy can web design it into perfection! Yeah, that’s gonna work.)
I can develop the website on a more advanced platform at an affordable price. That price also includes making it complete mobile responsive which will support all modern devices including all ranges of screen sizes. (Uh huh… sure you can web DESIGNER! This guy doesn’t know the first thing about the platform I use. I’d guarantee it)
Is that something you'd be interested in? (Not a chance in hell)
I do want to point out that this is a form email. I’ve received it numerous times, and this guy now goes directly to my spam folder, but the problem here is that the guy completely insults the website. When you add all this together, he calls the website trash. THEN, after he’s presumably made me doubt my own web development and programming skills, he tells me he can do it better. He can go suck something unpleasant because:
I have a computer science minor
That minor specializes in web design and databases.
I used to be a Java programmer
The bottom line is that you should never do this. Don’t insult potential clients, even if you think whatever they already have is terrible. I never tell potential clients that the content on their websites is garbage. I may feel that it is, but I sure as hell do not insert that opinion into my emails. Instead, I tell the individual that I am a freelancer writer. I specialize in X content (whatever industry they are), and I can write content for them. At no point do I ever tell them that there existing content is shit. That’s a sure fire way to piss someone off because they probably paid good money for that content! I also tend to include coupons or free articles in those emails as an incentive.
How Should You really Tailor Those Custom Messages?
1. Do not insult potential customers.
You want this individual or business to give you money for a service that you provide. You do not know who designed the website (unless it says. Sometimes there’s a link at the bottom.) You do not know how much the individual or business paid for their existing website and web development and maintenance services. Sometimes, this can be quite a huge amount of money, so you don’t want to tell this person that they’ve wasted all their money up to this point.
2. Make sure the individual or business lines up with your services.
Don’t offer them a service they don’t need. For a freelancer, this would be looking at the blog posts and checking the date on the most recent blog. If they’ve posted in the last month, they don’t need your services. If it’s been 6 months, they might need your service.
3. Look at the website and figure out who the owner is.
This information is normally located on the About Us page. If it’s not, look at the blog posts. Sometimes you can find the name of the owner in there. If the website is a NAME, well… duh. If you really can’t find a name, skip the Dear X and just get to the point.
4. Get to the point. Quickly.
If you are not asking the individuals something about their website, a product or a book or asking a question that is relevant to the individual you are sending the message to, get to the point. You’re already wasting their time because you don’t need anything. You want something. Specifically, you want this cold email to lead to a new client, and you want them to pay you money for your services.
5. Offer Something Free
If you’re a freelance writer, offer a free blog post. Make sure it’s unique and a good example of your work. Yes, you will have to offer different articles for different potential customers. You do not want to circulate the same email. If they use it, it’ll be dinged for duplicate content. If you’re a graphic artist, make a simple logo. Pick a blog post and create a new top image for it. And say – Hey, I thought you might like this. It’s totally free. Feel free to use it. It is an example of my work.
6. Use a polite closing
Sincerely and Regards are passe, overused and unwelcome. Close your email by thanking the person for their time. Tell them that if they have questions, they can email you back, and you’d be happy to speak with them. Put your contact information under your name, and include your business name if you have one that is separate from your name. If you include links, they may not get clicked, but they may search your business name in their web browser.
By taking these steps, you are helping to ensure that your cold email is read, your potential client is not insulted and that you get your message across in a clear and concise way. In other words, you're going to increase your chances of landing that new client.