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Why I Won’t Respond To Your Email!

by David Brock on July 23rd, 2014

I get at least a couple 100 emails a day (not including the SPAM).  A lot of them are trying to sell me on something.  Most I quickly delete, but some are interesting and intriguing.

Some of the interesting emails are offers to explore a collaboration, people interested in getting me to do something for/with them, some outright trying to sell me something–but still interesting.

However interesting many are,  I won’t respond to them–I don’t delete them, I keep a file of “bad email marketing examples.”

Here’s why I won’t respond to those emails.  They are addressed, “Hi,” or “Hi there,”  or something similar.  Or they may refer to my company in the email as “Excellence.”

What’s wrong with those?

Well, if you want to do something with me, ask me to buy something, ask me to collaborate, ask me to promote something; then you should understand me.  You should be trying to develop some sort of relationship with me, starting with the very first communication or request.

There is no excuse for not knowing my name and addressing me by my name, so at a minimum, the note should open with, “Hi Dave…,” or something similar.  There is no excuse for not knowing my company name is Partners In EXCELLENCE, not Excellence  (Though I might warm up to being addressed as “Excellency.”)

So if you want to sell me something, if you want to discuss a collaboration, if you want me to even consider promoting something, do your homework!  Show that you’ve done the homework, show that you care enough about the relationship to know my name and my company’s name.

That’s just the starting point, but it is unacceptable to do anything less.  Regardless how interesting your product or proposition might be, absent my name and the proper company name, you won’t catch my attention because you’ve demonstrated you don’t care.  You haven’t taken the time to do the most basic homework.

Whether it’s an email, a LinkedIn invitation (there are some embarrassing challenges LinkedIn creates in their mobile implementations), or something else; it is inconceivable that anyone is still addressing emails (or snail mail) as “Dear Occupant or Current Resident.”

Even the most basic email systems, marketing automation, CRM systems allow customization of “mass emails.”  Automatic insertion of name, company name, and all sorts of other data has long been possible with all of these systems or most word processing programs.

So when you address me by saying, “Hi,” or not using the right company name, all you are saying is “I don’t care enough about you to do my homework, but I want you to do something for me.”  You should know the likely response to those messages–so don’t waste my time or yours by sending it.

Getting people to read your messages, getting them to agree to speak, getting them to buy or do something for you is hard enough in normal circumstances.  Don’t blow it with your first communication with anyone, show that you care enough to at least know who they are.

  1. John Sterrett permalink

    Seriously, who gas the time?

    Unfortunately, as I cover 6 states and Mexico, email is often the first way I reach out to new prospects. Luckily, they are not exactly cold calls – they will have interacted at some time with my company or product. So if I can get them to actually READ a few lines, I can often get 20 minutes of their time when I come through their geographical area.

    My secrets?
    1) Always use their name. In fact, on the first contact I still address them as “Mr.” Or “Ms.” Only after they respond using my first name do I respond in kind.
    2) Always get their company name right. In fact, I try to refer to other contacts at, or business I have done with their company. It may be 3 states away, but it builds credibility.
    3) Everybody has a website. If you can’t take 5 minutes to peruse it and tailor your email to perceived needs within their product, and quickly propose ways in which your product ca alleviate pain, your email deserves to go in the round – or virtual – file.
    4) Thank them in advance for their time. They might not give you a meeting this time, but at least they took time to READ your email.

    • John, thanks for reconfirming the points in the post. If we want to stand out, connect, and build relationships with prospects and customers; it has to start with the first step—knowing their names, who they work for, and why they might be interested in talking.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Mark B permalink

    I am always so nervous emailing people out of the blue. Its hard to make the first step in the right direction, and correctly addressing them always is correct. Would you have any suggestions on how to personalize or create a more intriguing email beyond the name?

    • Mark, great question. Think of the “ideal” as being unique and personalized to the individual you are contacting. In such a mythical note, you would have done the research to know the specific goals, issues, problems the individual is facing. You would know their hopes, dreams, aspirations. You would know enough about them and their company to 100% of the time be able to contact them with a message that is timely, relevant, and welcome—even if unanticipated or even not requested. If you were able to do this, you would have a very high hit rate of people responding, and having initial conversations with them. Again, this is an “ideal.”

      While this is the ideal, it’s becoming easier and easier to approach it. If we know our sweet spot, focusing on that, if we further know the buyer personas, customizing our communication to the persona/life cycle, if we further personalize it with basic research from tools like LinkedIn, we can be very close to the ideal. As we practice more, we refine and improve our approach.

      Some would say this takes too much time–but if you have very high hit/engagement rates, then the number of prospecting letters you have to send plummets, the number of follow up calls you have to make plummets–so while I don’t have data, I think the actual time spent to produce a result is probably equal or less–but the quality of the result is far higher.

      Hope this gives you a starting point Mark. Thanks for the question.

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