One Way to Write A Powerful Cold Email

by Scott - 44 Comments

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The tactic I’m about to share is not only for sales and business development professionals; it’s a unique strategy that can literally be used to start an email dialogue with anyone who has an online presence.

 

One of the most important things in writing an effective cold email is to keep it short. However, communicating all the things necessary to elicit a response in 3-4 sentences can be extremely challenging. One  way I’ve been able to overcome this and start dialogues with many c-level execs and big time entrepreneurs is by communicating my message in a more visually engaging format that’s easier to consume than text.

I’ve written about how to write effective cold emails before. The formula is simple:

  • Keep it short
  • Personalize it and demonstrate your email is unique to the recipient
  • Allude to the recipient’s problem and how you can alleviate it early on

Again, the challenge is doing all of this without writing a Bill Shakespeare novel that busy people won’t read.

An amazing tool that allows me to do all of these things is called BContext. BContext is an Ipad software that allows you to create dynamic presentations from static pdf’s or powerpoints which can be easily shared through a private or public link. The “dynamic element” it is that you can record yourself talking over the presentation as well as make annotations using an ipad. The end result is a highly personalized, human presentation that can be created in less than 5 minutes.

In your cold email, you want to embed and link to this presentation following a similar formula I’ve alluded to before.

Here is an example email I’d write if I was trying to promote the WP Touch mobile site builder to wordpress bloggers – a timely email to my buddy Dan Shipper:

Hey Dan,

I noticed your blog currently isn’t mobile optimized:

Dan’s Mobile site Review(contains sound)

WPTouch is a plugin that actually mobile optimizes wordpress blogs to enhance the viewing experience for your readers on phones and tablets. When you have a few minutes would love to connect to get this taken care of for you. Alternatively, you can just download the plugin here.

Best,

-Scott

Here the BContext I created for Dan and linked to in the email above:

Dan’s Mobile Site Review

SOME NUMBERS:

Over the past 3 weeks I’ve sent emails with BContext presentations embedded to 28 execs who previously did not respond to initial cold emails – 15 have responded. That’s a response rate of greater than 50% from people I don’t know that probably receive 100′s of cold emails and calls a day.

Here’s How to Do It

Step 1: Create a Powerpoint With Screenshots

The best way to grab someone’s attention is to allude to their problem from the get go. Screenshots are an amazing way to accomplish this while signaling that your email is personalized and unique.

I like to take screenshots of the section of the target’s site (social media presence, listing etc) where I can optimize. These screenshots are the first slides in the powerpoint.

The next slides should relate to your solution to their problem. If you’re pitching a comments widget this could be pictures of it on a competitors site followed with key benefits. If you’re trying to network with a popular blogger, this could be a list of specific tools that they might benefit from which they’re not currently using.

The last slide should be a short summary of all the things you touched upon along with your contact information.

Powerpoint order in summary: their problem – > your solution -> overview

At this point, you should have a 3-7 slide powerpoint, which is ready to be turned into a dynamic presentation.

Step 2: Save to Dropbox and Import to BContext

BContext syncs with dropbox. From the BContext Ipad app, import your presentation by selecting add new file and import from Dropbox.

Step 3: Script Out What You’re Going to Say

First impressions are important and this might be the only chance you have to get in front of this person – the last thing you want to do is show up and throw up.

Take the extra 5 minutes to write out a script of exactly what you’re going to say while walking through your powerpoint.

Step 4: Record Yourself Talking Through the Deck

Showtime. With your script in front of you, record yourself talking through the presentation while annotating certain pages of the deck for emphasis.

Step 5: Create A Private Link and Send it To Yourself Via Email

BContext hosts all of your presentations on their site and easily enables you to create private links to these pages. You want to send yourself this link immediately after creating the presentation to be used in the email. Note* you can send the presentation directly from BContext as well.

Step 6: Write A Short Compelling Email Linking to the Presentation

Now its time to send the presentation to your target. I use a similar cold email format that I’ve written about before with an explicit hyperlink to the presentation. If you really want to be a hero, you can take a screenshot of an annotated slide and then paste that into the email with a hyperlink. Make sure to indicate the presentation has sound.

Step 7: Analytics Review

One of the beautiful things about BContext is that it provides analytics on the presentation views (# of views, duration of view, time of view etc). This provides me insight on when to follow up if they don’t get back to me.

I’ve had tremendous success using BContext in this way to start an email dialogue with people I don’t know. 

In the above example, if I tried explaining to Dan why mobile sites are important and all the features of the product, it’d likely be a 10 sentence email. As a busy person, he might not read an email that long, especially if he didn’t know me.

What BContext allows me to do is postpone the communication of this information until I’ve directed him to a more engaging format while condensing my email into a easily consumable size. Very few people are going to ignore a personalized, unique presentation that highlights a problem you can help solve.

From start to finish the creation of the presentation and email takes fewer than 10 minutes – less than 5 once you create templates. When you’re talking about engaging people that can change the trajectory of your career, company, and life, I think the extra few minutes is worth it.

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44 comments, add to the conversation.

  1. Oliver Crangle

    Yeah, so I clicked on your presentation.

    Now in real life, had you sent me that presentation by cold email there is a 50/50 chance I would delete it right then and there.

    But I clicked on your presentation, and of course, nothing works. Why does nothing work? Who knows. Probably a combination of adblock, disconnect, etc.

    I don’t care. DELETE. Next email.

    Reply

      1. Oliver Crangle

        Scott, that wasn’t my point.

        My point is that you are relying first on someone to open a presentation in an email, and then relying on their browser to render it properly.

        Maybe a lot of people will do that. And sometimes I will and it will work properly.

        Most of the time I just hunt for unsubscribe or hit spam.

        Reply

        1. Craig

          He is relying on behavior that he has tested and is supported by evidence. That’s a *really good* reason to rely on something.

          Reply

        2. Michael

          “Maybe a lot of people will do that”

          My observation of many people who respond to this type of article the way you do is that they want to put themselves in the shoes of a decision maker, but then completely misunderstand how one actually operates.

          As an exec, each email that you receive comes attached with some probability that your time will be wasted, but the flip side is that it could also be the wrapper for an opportunity to save or make some money. You don’t have the luxury of closing yourself to the world like mr nobody. You have a duty to your company, so you learn to ruthlessly weed out bad emails from good ones. But you still do consult your emails and there lies the opportunity for a crafty sender to get your attention.

          The author of this article relies on the probability that having established a connection with the recipient’s company and having accurately identified a pain point, the exec receiving his message will be curious about his proposal.

          Reply

  2. JohnExley

    I love the example you gave, Scott. It really crystallizes your advice and makes it easy to incorporate into my own workflow.

    I love the level of personal touch you’ve been able to reach while still keeping the email short! ESPECIALLY with the bcontext video. Short and sweet, makes sense, explains your value in a way I immediately understand. I just downloaded it on the iPad here at work and am going to reconstruct my outreach emails for YieldMo this morning based on your post.

    Love the hustle. Keep writing brother.
    -X

    Reply

          1. ScottBritton

            Send me an example so i can make sure you’re doing it best. I had some hiccups in the beginning

  3. Clay

    Great idea. Thanks for the article. Do you know if there is an equivalent to BContext for PC? I looked into using iPadian to run IPad apps on my PC, but don’t think that BContext is one of the apps that will work with iPadian. Thanks in advance for you help.

    Reply

      1. Clay

        Do you mean that BContext is iOS only? Jim, thanks for the idea regarding present.me. However, I like the feature of being able to customize it with the arrows that were drawn in Scott’s example. My goal is to use an individualized presentation to go after some big fish that I am targeting. I will see what I can do with present.me regarding the individual touch provided by drawing arrows as well as how cleanly it embeds into an email. I have found that people are unlikely to click on a link that takes them elsewhere. Thanks again Scott. I will frequent your blog from now on.

        Reply

  4. dbg

    this blogpost is bad and you should feel bad. you’re honestly recommending powerpoint as a tool that should convince somebody to take you seriously? hell, you can’t even get the embedded video on your own blog working for a broad audience (like Oliver, doesn’t work on my machine either).

    Reply

    1. ScottBritton

      Not sure why it doesn’t work on your machine. Works on mine.

      FTR – I don’t care whether you think this is bad. I care about getting results for my team and doing whatever it takes to get them. Feel free to ask anyone here how our BD team is performing

      Reply

  5. John

    If someone I don’t know sends me an email and asks me to click a link, there is a 100% chance I delete the email without reading or responding.

    Reply

    1. Michael

      Who are you? Are you a c-level exec? If not, then your comment completely misses the point and it’s not surprising that you would delete the email. Decision makers don’t have the luxury to think and act like this. They have a business to run and know that being approached by strangers is a *necessary* part of the game. Their goal is to weed out the bad info from the good in the most time efficient way possible, not to “delete emails containing links”. This article lays down a blueprint to increase the odd that the initial unsolicited email elicits a reaction and hopefully a reply. The author claims some numbers that are rather impressive. If you’re an exec, seeing your company mentioned by name in an email should grab your attention. If the problem highlighted by the sender hits the nail, this should once more get a reaction and, unless you’re one of the worst execs on the planet, you WILL click the link.

      Reply

  6. Olive Crabapple

    Thanks so much. My mom taught me all about dyanmic presentations during homeschooling. I’m glad you spelled it right. Most people don’t.

    Reply

  7. Perri Blake Gorman

    What I have found with cold emails is there has to be something that they can say “yes” to that both acknowledges and solidifies the connection between the sender and receiver. That could be a phone call, a coffee, a response, but it has to be receiver stepping forward toward taking that simple, clear, action.

    This goes for both recruitment and sales. If you ask “too much” of someone and come on too strong they will just ignore it.

    Reply

    1. ScottBritton

      A CTA at the end is very important. I probably should have been more explicit with the example in this instance. Thanks for the reminder!

      Reply

  8. BContext

    Just an ad for BContext. Because BContext is a cool app. Download BContext free today and earn $$$ with BContext now!

    Reply

    1. ScottBritton

      Email me at Scott at singleplatform.com – don’t want to display it publicly because it has to do with a new project

      Reply

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  13. Ulysses14

    Just noting that Bill Shakespeare didn’t write no novels! :)

    And my money’s on him if he were around to write emails.

    But seriously, I once prefaced a creative writing story in college with a Shakespeare quote, and hoo boy was the critique from a fellow student scathing! “If you’re gonna quote Shakespeare, your story must be to his quality!” or something like that. Ouch!

    So when mentioning somebody like the Bard, you have to get it right. Plays, poems & sonnets, no novels.

    Reply

  14. kusncslladdsss brand forum

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    Reply

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