email marketing tips

If you are a freelancer living gig to gig, marketing is critical. Your marketing prowess gets you clients, brings in revenue and pays the bills each month. More often than not, your marketing, especially when you are staking out new clients, is going to rely heavily on cold pitch emails. That’s a good thing.

Most businesses, in fact, prefer cold-pitched emails to any other form of marketing. Those emails, obviously, are important. A good email pitch can mean a new job and money in the bank. While a less-than-stellar email can lead to a door slammed in your face.  

Here are five tried and true tips for making sure your pitch emails catch people’s attention.

The Heart of the Matter: The Subject Line of Your Pitch Emails

Before you get a new client on an email pitch, they have to read the email. And even before that, they have to double-click on the email sitting with dozens of others in their inbox, rather than moving it to the trash bin. Your pitch email subject line is critical. This is where your research again comes in handy. A subject line that is as far from generic as possible. It also shows you understand the client’s requirements, and have something to offer, is critical.  

Recent studies indicate that if the sender catches the receiver’s attention via an email’s subject line, the sender has a much greater chance of achieving a follow-on response from the receiver. So take the time to craft that subject line carefully.

Aim Small, Miss Small

When it comes to marksmanship training, the adage “aim small, miss small” is often used to remind shooters to focus precisely on exactly where they want their bullet or arrow to strike the target. Businesses that send out pitch emails should be similarly focused.

A generic pitch to a prospective client will, more likely than not, end up in a deleted email bin. Conversely, a targeted email with information germane to the client – one that notes names, recent transactions, or upcoming business requirements – will have a better chance of netting a sale.

So take the time to do a little research, and send a pitch to a prospective client that shows you know what you are talking about.

Be Brief

Here’s a great rule to remember forever when it comes top pitch emails: if you make your target audience work to understand what you are trying to pitch them, they won’t.

No one wants to read more at work than they have to, especially when it comes to emails. Ensure that your pitch is as concise as possible, gets to the point, and then stops dead in its tracks. You want your target, upon reading your email, to respond.

That response may entail an email reply, a phone call or some other sort of follow-up. So forget all of the superfluous nonsense. Focus on whatever it is that will get the target to click on “Reply” and follow up with you or your company.

Avoid Unforced Errors

If your pitch email is your company’s first impression with a prospective client, make sure it is a good one. One of the quickest ways to turn off a prospective client is with a poorly written, error-riddled pitch. In fact, a recent survey indicated that approximately one in three businesses would delete a pitch email with misspellings or other errors rather than read it.

So find a second set of eyes to proofread your pitch emails before you hit Send. Similarly, avoid annoying clichés in your pitch emails. Refrain from sending cloying pitches that encourage the receiver to click on a hyperlink to find out what happens next; remember,  you are not P.T. Barnum, or even BuzzFeed.

Again, the more clear, concise and straightforward your pitch is, the better chance you have of getting the target to hit Reply.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up on Your Pitch Emails

Many people assume that if they don’t get a response right away, the answer is no. That’s sad. Sometimes things just get lost in the shuffle. It’s easy for business leaders to miss an email or two when they receive hundreds each day.

That’s why it’s important to follow up every so often just to stay on their radar. The key is to be polite and respectful, since you’re not likely to impress anyone if you sound pushy or irritated that they haven’t responded to you yet.

If you haven’t heard back within a few days after sending your first email, send a gentle follow-up. Say you’re simply checking in. If you still receive nothing in response, try again after a couple of weeks. Then once every few months or so. You may think that after months of not hearing anything you should take it as a sign that they don’t want to work with you. But it’s not unheard of for a client to respond to an email after months of silence.

Track Your Successes (and Shortcomings)

You won’t know what works until you try it. So play around with different subject lines, greetings, and types of pitches and keep track of what gets you the most responses. Have fun. There’s no way to create a strategy that will work with every single client. But you may find a certain strategy works more often than others.

Equally important is to track what isn’t working. If you’ve never gotten a response (or gotten a negative response) to a certain strategy, that’s likely a sign that you should avoid that tactic in the future.

Once you’ve been sending cold pitches for a while, you’ll be able to narrow down your strategies. Not only will this make the pitching process far easier, it will also increase your chances of getting a response.

Final Thoughts

Sending cold email pitches to prospective clients can be intimidating at first. But keep in mind that many businesses depend on freelancers.  Just remember to craft your emails in a polite and respectful way, outlining how you can benefit them and why you’re a good fit. If done well, it could be the beginning of a successful partnership.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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