Google “business email mistakes” and you’ll find endless resources. But they all say the same thing:
Include a first name in the email.
Avoid using business jargon.
Include a greeting.
Don’t say “to whom it may concern.”
Make sure you change the subject line.
Spellcheck your work.
Don't use emojis.
The list goes on. But all of these suggestions are common sense. If you’re a business professional today, what are the non-obvious mistakes you need to stop making that will increase response rates to your prospecting emails?
Mistake 1: Your subject line focuses on the wrong goal.
It’s no secret you need an effective subject line if you want your email opened. But when writing these subject lines, think about your end goal.
The objective of any prospecting email should be a response. It shouldn’t be closing a deal, finalizing a partnership, or hiring a candidate. Until you get a reply and can connect with your recipient, you’re not closer to your goal.
Here are some sample subject lines we’ve seen work:
[First Name], quick question for you.
[Mutual connection] recommended I get in touch.
Ideas for [thing that’s important to them].
Question about [recent trigger event].
Question about [a goal they have].
Thoughts about [title of their blog post].
Have you considered [thought / recommendation]?
Sales email mistake #1: Irrelevant subject line (Tweet This)
The #1 goal of a sales email = getting a response (Tweet This)
Mistake 2: You're sending all your emails at the wrong time.
Most business emails are sent during business hours. However, our data shows something slightly surprising.
The gray line shows the number of emails sent each day of the week. This line illustrates that most emails were sent on Monday, with over 1,000,000 sent that day. The least amount of emails were sent on Saturday and Sunday, with under 200,000 sent on each of those days. The worst days for open rates are Monday and Tuesday.
However, the open rate gradually increases over the course of the week and then spikes on Saturday and Sunday.
Now, we’re not saying that you should send all emails on the weekend. But there should be some balance. If you’re looking to really capture the attention of someone important that isn’t getting back to you, try a Sunday night email.
Worst days to send an email = Monday & Tuesday (Tweet This)
While many one-to-one emails come from an individual account, you may be using an email service provider to send emails to a larger database. For example, you may be contacting many individuals about a new offer. Or maybe you need to send a new feature update. Whatever the case, the name you include in the “From” field of your email can have a huge impact on your overall open rates. There’s been a number of studies that show sending emails from an actual person increases both the open and clickthrough rates.
As you can see in the graph above, the control generated a 0.73% clickthrough rate (CTR), and the treatment generated a 0.96% CTR. With a confidence of 99.9%, there was a clear winner. And it makes sense -- recipients feel a more personal connection to your email when they receive it from you than they do from Company X, or worse, some version of “donotreply.com.”
Sending email from a real person (not generic account) boosts open rate (Tweet This)
Want people to open your email? Use "From: You," not "From: Company" (Tweet This)
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2014, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Originally published Sep 29, 2015 8:30:00 AM, updated June 11 2021