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Effective email strategies for salespeople

Picture of Corinne Thomas

Corinne Thomas

Founder & Managing Director

Of all the sales communication channels, email is the one that seems to have fallen out of favour. Many businesses and their salespeople appear to have lost faith in it as an effective way of communicating with prospects, particularly since the pandemic.

There’s no doubt that email outreach is challenging, with conflicting advice about the best way to use it leading to confusion and doubt over best practice. But despite all this, email is still an incredibly effective way of reaching out to people.

We asked three email experts to teach our Ethical Sales Academy members how best to approach email outreach strategies. Email Consultant Kacper Floryn from Valueships, Pablo Gallego from The Luster Group, and Account Executive Ian Cartledge from Approval Max all use email outreach in their day-to-day roles and advise businesses on the best strategies for success.

If you’d like to access the full 1-hour masterclass plus many more hours of sales training, please register your interest to join the Ethical Sales Academy, our membership community for like-minded salespeople.

The changing email outreach landscape

Let’s look at some stats: there were 347bn emails sent in 2022 from 4bn users.

So that’s a lot of people sending – and opening – emails.

But while volume has increased, people’s attention span has decreased. In 2018 the average time spent looking at an email was 13.5 seconds. As of 2024, it’s 9 seconds.

It doesn’t help that people are bombarded with near-constant content from adverts, messages, social media and more, so emails are fighting for attention in a cacophony of other communications.

The way that emails are sent has also changed in the last few years. Once it was possible to send out thousands of emails a day, but behaviour like this would now get your account flagged as suspicious. Google and Yahoo’s new requirements to halt unsolicited mail also require you to have your inbox authenticated to stop your emails being marked as spam. And while it used to be possible to send emails via a CRM such as Salesforce, doing this risks your emails being regarded as spam without the right set up in place.

 In 2018 the average time spent looking at an email was 13.5 seconds. As of 2024, it’s 9 seconds.” 

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Five top tips for effective email outreach strategy

So how can you ensure your emails are being opened and, crucially, read? Our  expert share their top five tips for email creation.

1. Authenticate 

The first thing is to authenticate all sending email addresses, otherwise they won’t even hit people’s inboxes. It’s simple and free to do – ask Google or ChatGPT for help with it. You may also need to find email software that works with your CRM to send out your emails, such as Woodpecker.

2. Create copy 

Once you’ve got this in place, it’s time to consider your email copy and framework.

Our experts’ tips were to not rely on ChatGPT or off-the-shelf templates – they’re overused and repetitive, and often use out-of-date data and trends. Instead, consider frameworks for your emails, such as AIDA (attention > interest > desire > action) or a structure such as problem > credibility > close. 

Whatever framework you use, keep your copy concise. It’s tempting to write more than is needed, but stick to short sentences and short paragraphs. This reduces the reading time, and hopefully increases the response. Remember, you only have 9 seconds to grab people’s attention, and with many people scanning rather than reading properly, it makes it even harder. And if you need another reason to keep your language simple: using complex words and sentence structure leads to a greater chance of your email being marked as spam.

Struggling with finding the right words? Embedding a video also works, and research also suggests leads to a greater response rate. Memes or gifs can also work well. however, be mindful of sending too many external links or attachments, particularly in the first email of what may be a sequence.

3. Personalise 

It’s also crucial to tailor your email to the recipient. This goes beyond personalising with their name and job title, instead extending to changing email content depending on their role in the company and what they’re focussing on. Doing research beforehand really does reap the benefits, as your reader is more likely to find your email relevant. And always remember that email outreach, particularly to cold leads, is more about starting a relationship than outright selling.

Format is also extremely important. Salespeople often work off laptops or desktop computers, but over 81% of people favour opening email on a mobile device. Make sure your email works when read on a phone or tablet, not just on a laptop.

4. Follow up 

Once the email is sent, your job isn’t over. Following up is crucial – and not once, but up to four times. If you still don’t get a response, consider using the final email to why – this can provide good feedback from people and help hone future emails.

Look at the data and see what worked – and what didn’t. If your open rates are dipping, A/B test things such as the call-to-action, the subject line or pain points. But remember to only tweak one thing at a time so it’s clear exactly what’s making the difference. 

“There’s a golden rule for all cold outreach – practice is constant, perfection is impossible,” says Ian.

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Ethical considerations for email outreach

As ethical or purpose-driven businesses, should we even be using email for cold outreach? This is a very interesting question.

All our experts agreed that emails in themselves aren’t inherently spammy – the way they’ve been leveraged in the past is. While there has been talk that the new rules around volume and authentication will be the death of cold email outreach, it seems that these changes will actually help drive a more ethical mindset. You may have to work harder as a salesperson to get your message to the right person, but this will also stop the wrong people from receiving unsolicited emails.

It’s also important to note that what one person sees as unwanted will be welcomed by another. If you believe you’re genuinely trying to make someone’s life better and solve a problem they have, then there’s nothing wrong with reaching out and starting a conversation, as long as you are polite and respectful of their time.

So how can you make sure your emails are as ethical as possible?

Here are our top tips:

  • Ensure there’s an opt-out function, either via a link or a simple PS at the bottom of the email inviting people to let you know if they don’t want to be on your list.
  • Always be transparent about who emails are coming from – never create fake people as the sender.
  • Be mindful of taking up space in people’s crowded inboxes. 
  • And never, ever send weird stuff! Be respectful of the receiver at all times.
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Practice makes perfect

In conclusion, creating effective emails is an art rather than a science, and as they say, practice makes perfect.

The basics must be mastered first, such as email set-up, copy and personalisation. A well-crafted and thoughtful email can create sales success and book meetings.

Send us your best email and we will let you know what we think!