The 8 deadly sins of writing prospecting recruitment emails

The 8 Deadly Sins of Writing Prospecting Recruitment Emails

Despite numerous LinkedIn articles and marketing gurus claiming that “email is dead”, it is still one of the most trusted and proven ways to reach individuals. In fact, according to Mckinsey & Company, emails are 40 times more effective than social media. However, there’s no denying that it is a highly competitive space to get noticed and even more difficult to get a response.

For the recruitment industry, average open rates for prospecting emails stand at a rather depressing 7.9%. To put that in perspective, this means that by sending 100 emails (which each take 2-3 minutes to write) only 8 of them will even get opened, let alone read and replied to. That’s approximately 3-5 hours work for little-to-no return. So why is this?

There are a number of factors contributing to this, but fundamentally, it comes down to the fact that the majority of prospecting emails are flawed – you only have to examine your inbox and the prospecting emails you receive everyday to come to the same conclusion.

To help you improve the way you write prospecting emails, here are the most common “sins” made when writing introductory emails and how to address them so you achieve enviable open rates and engagement.

1. Your subject line is boring

Convince and Convert report that 33% of recipients open based on subject line alone. More often than not, your prospecting emails are trying to grab the attention of busy people within an already crowded inbox. Your subject line could be the only chance you get.

Are yours personal, personable and, if appropriate, convey a sense of urgency? Put some considered thought into who EXACTLY you’re sending an email to and which 4-10 words are going to resonate with them. Try to intrigue, shock or excite the recipient in the subject line or risk facing the junk folder.

2. Your email isn’t personalised

Referring to a mechanical copy-and-paste template that you don’t adjust accordingly for each client or candidate could risk you addressing the wrong person in the subject line, or worse, removing the [insert name here] field!

Candidates are twice as likely to respond to prospecting emails if they have interacted with your brand before and personalisation can increase click-through rates by 14%, so proof-read and do your research to ensure you’re contacting the right person (and spelling their name correctly); your candidates and clients are human – so turn off lazy auto-pilot!

3. You talk about yourself way too much

In prospecting emails, there is often a tendency to want to talk about how good you are as an agency, what experience you have, who you’ve worked with and how you work differently from everyone else. And this may be true, but it is not the best way to get your recipient’s attention.

“You” is the most popular phrase in advertising for a good reason. Our brain is activated specifically by hearing or thinking of our own name and ourselves. So instead of talking about what you can do, talk about the challenges, needs and desires of the recipient and you’ll be much more likely to get a response.

4. Your don’t write for your target audience

In a similar vein to personalisation, the tone of your email needs to be on-point. Finding a new job or engaging with a new agency can be daunting and the tone you set in your email can either make or break a connection. Consider your audience: are they Gen X, Gen Z or baby boomers? What are their unique wants and needs and, based on that generation where can you most add value?

5. Your email is too long

People in the working world are as busy as you are, so it is imperative that you get to the point early on and your email isn’t an eye sore that resembles a novel. What is truly going to grab their attention?

Be brief in your introduction, give them a fact, figure or stat that will pique their interest or add credibility and then clearly ask what you need from them. Your recipient doesn’t have time to read unnecessary context about your agency or your career as a recruiter so be concise and omit anything that isn’t adding value.

6. Your email isn’t optimised for mobile users

Did you know that 61% of all emails are now opened and read on mobile devices? Large image files and long paragraphs will put off those reading on a mobile device . It’ll also help if links are clearly embedded and easy to click. Consider this next time you write an email, particularly for candidates, who may well be more likely to be using their personal email address and accessing that via their mobile.

7. Your call-to-action is too vague

Your call-to-action (or CTA) will convince your recipient to take the next step, be that email you back, give you a call or arrange a meeting. To be effective, your CTA must be prompt, to-the-point and enticing.

P.S. Add a P.S. note with something important included: it draws eyes straight to it (and there’s an example of how to do it!).

8. You give up after the first email

As we’ve established, clients and candidates are busy, they may have missed your prospecting email, it may be buried, accidentally deleted or it might be that it’s not right for them at that particular time – but it may be in a few weeks! If you’re not on-top of clients and candidates, your competitors will be.

If you’re expecting to see positive results, you need to send a sequence of prospecting emails, instead of just one, Campaigns with 4-7 emails per sequence were found to receive 3x more responses than campaigns with only 1-3 emails in a sequence.

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