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Email like a hacker

If you're looking to contact a new client, mentor, journalist, or even if you're looking for a new job, email is still the fastest route to getting in touch. However, email is part art, part science.

We focused on building an email approach that emulates the feeling of when you’re speaking with a friend. The email program we built with that in mind got 10x the response rate of the average email campaign (35% internally vs 3% national average), so we decided to share our successful tactics.

Our program includes an initial email followed by short, weekly follow-ups for 4–7 weeks. Here are some of our tenets specifically designed for the opening salvo email:

  1. 50–110 words total

  2. Three paragraphs total and 1–2 sentences max per P. 1st P — mention how you found them and that you’re “curious about the fit”. 2nd P — a 1-liner, preferably with a hyperlink, about what your company does. 3rd P — your ask

  3. Hyperlink instead of attach

  4. “Are you around Tues 10a?” this phrasing led to a big spike in responses. “Are you available to talk”, “can you jump on a call”, and “can you meet” all fell well short of “are you around”. This phrase is often the totality of our 3rd paragraph. It's short, sweet, and implies I want to talk. Plus it’s hard to say “no” to “are you around” because wherever they are, they’re “around” somewhere.

  5. Sack the salutations — Get rid of “Hello”, “Hi”, and “Dear” and instead come in hot with the person’s first name. Also ditch the ending salutations (“Regards”, “Thanks”, “Best”). Both salutations are fillers and bely the vibe of a fluid, friendly multi-turn conversation. Act like you’re already in the middle of a conversation. When speaking with someone in person you don’t start each utterance with “hello” and you don’t cap each utterance with “best”.

  6. Unique, clever phrasing — use clever phrasing (and definitely non-business verbiage) that allows you to stand out from the crowd, especially around the concept of their “interest”. Phrases like “thought this might pique your interest” or “rev your engine” or “capture your imagination”.

  7. Hyperlink something that made you think of them

  8. Subject heading: company name — Maybe the most important item on this list. Many emails get deleted without ever getting opened because the subject heading gives away that it’s a solicitation. The only goal of the subject heading is to keep the email from being deleted and it’s damn near impossible to delete an email that only has the person’s company name in the subject heading.

  9. Less is more — remove every single possible word that you can without confusing the message or looking uneducated. I recommend taking this to an obsessive degree: for example, turn “I would love to chat” to “Would love to chat”.

  10. Tease your product — leave them wanting more by mentioning one thing about your company or product and that’s it. Get a nibble on the line before you start pitching.

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