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Over the years, Lincoln Murphy has come up with a list of sanity checks he goes through before sending a cold email, and he's sharing this list with us.

1. How would I react to getting this email from out of nowhere, from someone I don’t know?
2. Am I talking TO them or AT them?
3. Does this seem like a “blast” or an email a human sent to another human?
4. Is this email too long?
5. Is this readable AND actionable from a small mobile device?
6. Am I starting out with too big of an ask?
7. Am I trying to circumvent the process by jumping to that ask too quickly?

For these to be effective, though... you have to be willing to be 100% honest with yourself. If you can’t, get someone else to run these checks for you.

  • NU

    nicolo ungari

    over 4 years ago #

    Those are some great points.
    People often overlook these clear assumptions.

    Always struggle with #3. Do you go [NAME] or All-?
    Regarding #4 what would you say is the appropriate amount of characters?

    • LM

      Lincoln Murphy

      over 4 years ago #

      How do you write emails to other people? There's actually some evidence out there that email systems/filters/etc. see "Hi [NAME]," as spam since most of us don't actually write that way in normal, everyday, human communication. So the crux of #3 is... does this seem like an email they'd get from someone real.

      And I'm not sue if you mean "Hi All" or something like that, but even if you send the same email to 1000 people at one time - you "blast" it out (ugh... I hate that term) - it is still a 1:1 communication. You're still emailing that one person. Talk to them. Never address everyone.

      That's not specific to this cold email outreach... that's just good email marketing practice.

      And for #4 there isn't a right/wrong answer for email length; it's all contextual, situational, and relative. But... if I was forced to say, I'd keep the first ever email they'll get from you to 3 sentences or fewer.

      And not all bunched-up, either... for me, that means 3 paragraphs, too! :-)

      • AL

        Alfred Lua

        over 4 years ago #

        @lincolnmurphy, I understand that it's important to keep the email short, but I always feel that I am not telling the other party enough information. For example, I'm running a conference and was contacting people from various entrepreneurs societies. I'm afraid that my emails lack details about the conference so the emails ended up pretty long. Any advice on this? Thanks!

        • LM

          Lincoln Murphy

          over 4 years ago #

          Good question @alfredlua ... I'd say it should only contain enough info to get them to respond and start a conversation or to get them to click on a link and go get more info.

          It's tempting to put everything in that first email... but you just don't need to and - even more - you shouldn't.

          A super-short first email that gets their attention and elicits a response can very easily - and fully within expectations - be followed-on by a long, detailed email.

          Remember... in my article I was only talking about the FIRST email they receive from you. Or, really, any email prior to their reciprocating/taking action (i.e. follow-up emails to the first one if they didn't respond, for instance).

          But from the second email forward, while many of these sanity checks sill apply, the fact that you now have a relationship - even if incredibly fragile in the early days - means you can do things, like provide a lot of context or even attach documents, that you should never, ever, EVER do on the first email. Cool?

          • AL

            Alfred Lua

            almost 4 years ago #

            Thanks, @lincolnmurphy, for the advice! I'll try that out your advice when I get the opportunity again :)

            Sorry for the super delayed reply. I have not been on GH for a long time.

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