The Simple Email Marketing Tactic That Tripled My Response Rate

emailBy KeriLynn Engel

When I first started freelance writing full time, I was sending out email letters of introduction (LOIs) left and right, sometimes dozens in a week.

Some writing gurus will tell you email marketing is just a numbers game. But if you’re sending out a ton of LOIs and still hearing crickets — like I was — you need a new strategy.

So I created a more targeted and streamlined LOI strategy. Now I spend only a couple hours a week sending LOIs, and my response rate has more than tripled, from less than 5 percent to 15 percent or more. Here’s what I did:

Get prospects in your email inbox

The first step is to save time by setting up a system where prospects are sent to you automatically — prospects with a high likelihood of needing a freelance writer.

Press releases are a great source for finding those prospects, so I started by subscribing to them via RSS feeds. Try VCAOnline.com for venture capital and private equity news, or PRWeb for press releases organized by industry. Companies that just got VC or angel investor money are often ramping up marketing, and companies that put out press releases have a marketing budget — and those releases often bring news of company expansion that might trigger more marketing needs.

Copy the URL of the RSS feed by right-clicking on the RSS symbol and choosing “Copy link URL.” Now head on over to Blogtrottr.com, a free RSS-to-email service. Paste the URL into the field, fill in your email, and choose “Daily Digest.”

To prevent inbox clutter, I have a filter set up in Gmail that labels all my press releases “Prospects” and sets them to skip my inbox so I can look at them when I choose.

Qualify your ideal prospects

Now you’re rolling in prospects! A few times a week, you can peruse them for ones that seem like a good fit.

The ideal prospect is a business in your target niche that just got millions in new funding, because you know they can afford to hire you. If the press release says they’re spending the new funding on marketing, that’s a bonus! Mention it in your LOI, and point out how you can help them.

Sleuth out contact information

Find the name and email address of the person in charge of marketing — it may be listed right on that press release. If not, go to their website and look for their management team. Look for the marketing manager, chief marketing officer, or anyone with “marketing” in their title or job description. Next, you’ll have to hunt down their email address, if it’s not listed on the website.

Write a short & sweet LOI template

A person is less likely to read an email when they don’t know the sender, so you want to get right to the point. Here’s my super-short, no-pressure template:

Hi [Name],

Just saw the press release about [some good news]- congrats!

My name’s KeriLynn Engel, and I’m a professional freelance writer specializing in [niche]. I wanted to reach out to see if you have a need for any written marketing materials like [list examples]. (Optional short sentence here about your experience in the industry or suggestion about what their marketing is missing that you could provide.)

Let’s chat if you’re interested. Just hit “reply” or call me at 800-555-5555. Thank you,
[Name]
[Email signature with your portfolio URL.]

Consider providing a phone number

Including a phone number in my LOI boosts credibility: not many spammers provide phone numbers! But I don’t want unknown callers using my personal number. Instead, I use a free Google Voice number. They can leave a message, and I can call back at my convenience.

By spending just a few hours a week on this strategy, I’m in constant negotiations with new freelance writing client leads. Last month, I signed a couple of new contracts and was able to let go of my lowest-paying client, which feels great.

What do you put in your LOIs? Leave a comment and share your tips.

KeriLynn Engel is one of those rare freelance writers who actually loves marketing. Her writing niches include history, education, WordPress, and crafts/DIY. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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42 comments on “The Simple Email Marketing Tactic That Tripled My Response Rate
  1. Hooray KeriLynn!

    This is music to my ears.

    Anybody can send out a quick, generic LOI. So putting a bit of thought into what you send and whom you send it to can make all the difference.

    When you indiscriminately send out LOIs in bulk all you do is waste your prospects’ time – and your own.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted…Trade secrets: How to craft bullet points like a superstar copywriterMy Profile

  2. Steph Weber says:

    Glad to see this pop up here KeriLynn!

    Many will find it useful, I’m sure. One thing though: the link for Blogtrottr isn’t right. It’s taking me to blogtrotter.com instead of blogtrottr.com.
    Steph Weber recently posted…Businesses: Please Quit Clowning Around with Content MillsMy Profile

  3. Elke Feuer says:

    Thanks for sharing these great tips, KeriLynn! I’m eager to break into more local magazines so I’m going to try your following their RSS feed tip!
    Elke Feuer recently posted…Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem in the Cayman IslandsMy Profile

  4. This post was right on time! Thanks for the valuable information. I already don’t like cold-calling, but I especially don’t like blind cold-calling, but these links to press releases makes the idea of cold calling it a little easier.

  5. This approach sounds efficient, effective, and just plain smart! 🙂 Thx so much for sharing your techniques, KeriLynn. Now over to PRWeb to see what I can find…

  6. Heather says:

    This article is just what I needed to start my list of prospects! Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Daryl says:

    Hey KeriLynn,

    Saw this on the forum and thought it was a great way to get to prospects. The part I especially love was your client acquisition method – those people who had put out press releases are actively pushing their products/business and would be more likely to be willing to engage in writing and other services than a regular cold lead. Good idea!
    Daryl recently posted…May Freelance Writing Income ReportMy Profile

  8. Lee J Tyler says:

    These are ninja tips, KeriLynn!

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Lee J Tyler recently posted…Free Author’s DIY Modern Marketing WorkbookMy Profile

  9. Gwen Boyle says:

    This is a great idea, KeriLynn! I’ve just gone and signed myself up for some feeds from PRWeb using the method you suggested, and I’m looking forward to finding some new prospects.

    I’ve been looking for articles on “top 10 up-and-coming companies in [niche]” and “biggest companies in [niche]” etc in order to add to my list of prospects, but this seems like a much more efficient way of seeing what companies are on the up and who’s had a recent injection of money.

    Thanks for the tip!

  10. Joe Large says:

    Keri,
    Great article, I like when you do the “nuts and bolts stuff” more than the philosophical approach. Thanks for posting.

    Doing a brief how-to article myself for Peter Bowerman’s newsletter where I use Indeed’s job aggregation tool to find companies that are looking for new marketing/sales people.

    This is a time where they might welcome new perspective on things on their product or service.

    Thanks again for the post.

    Joe
    Joe Large recently posted…Keeping Cool for a Living (Portable Air conditioners are a key)My Profile

  11. Dan says:

    I just want to say I love how specific and actionable these tips are. I found cold-calling frightening and completely unsuccessful. This is a nicer way to approach clients, and you can show your value right away.

    It’s another tool in my marketing arsenal.
    Dan recently posted…How to Write a Blog Post That Explodes Your SalesMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you found it useful, Dan! I’m diametrically opposed to cold-calling. I’ve found myself close to considering it a few times, but it’s just not worth the stress and anxiety for me.

      Plus, I much prefer clients who are most comfortable communicating via email, so contacting them via cold email is a good way to vet prospects and make sure they’re a good fit for my communication style 🙂

  12. Frank says:

    I think that email is starting to be overlooked by Internet users and potential clients nowadays, although it is the most elegant and less intrusive way of finding clients, as long as you know how to write a good offer email. Your post has given me the courage to give email marketing another try.

  13. Hi,
    When you think about the social ecosystem out there, there isn’t a tool or network available that doesn’t allow you to sign up without an email address. Email actually drives a lot of the social web activity, through notifications, alerts and more. Email is a great complement to social in that it allows marketers to extend the reach of their messages and identify influencers on their list.
    Thanks
    Michael

  14. Hey KeriLynn,

    I’d be interested in knowing what you typically use as a subject line for these.

    – Melissa

    • Good question, Melissa! I’ve actually been experimenting a lot with subject lines lately. I’ve recently found that ‘Introduction: Freelance (niche) writer’ has been working well for me, but I’d encourage everyone to keep experimenting and keep track of response rates to learn what works for you.

  15. Rabbine says:

    I would like to know what would be a good subject line, too.

  16. Mai Bantog says:

    This is absolutely helpful, KeriLynn. I always send out personalized LOIs, but sometimes I go overboard and end up with really long ones in the hopes of outlining all my relevant experiences since I have limited clips. Any tips on how I can still mention my experience without ending up with a super long LOI?

    And I sure need help getting ideal prospects so that I don’t have to sift through so many clients who are not a good fit. Your tips are golden. Thank you so much!
    Mai Bantog recently posted…Job Survival Tips from Game of Thrones CharactersMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Mai, limit the story of your experience to two lines. Pick the most important stuff. Vast majority of the LOI should be about the client’s problems and how you solve them.

  17. Ronn Jerard says:

    I love this article. However, in trying to follow your instructions regarding copying the URL of the RSS feed by right-clicking on the RSS symbol, and then going to Blogtrottr.com, none of the feeds work. Even the Feed Validation Service does not accept the feed. Can you help? Thank you.

    • Are you on VCAOnline.com or another website? From VCAOnline, click on the link in the right-hand menu that says “RSS Feeds.” That will bring you to a page that lists the different feeds they have available. From there, you can right-click on the icon and copy the link URL.

      RSS feeds are usually linked to using the RSS symbol, so that’s an easy way to find them on many websites, but sometimes it’s a bit trickier. Here’s a useful article I found with more tips & tricks on locating feeds: http://www.wikihow.com/Find-RSS-Feeds-on-the-Web Hope that helps!

  18. chris Marlow says:

    Melissa — this is brilliant! What a sleuth you are! I do believe you’ve discovered a very worthwhile strategy! Congratulations!

  19. Perry Rose says:

    Hello Keri.

    I’m a freelance copywriter. My response rate for getting business owners and managers to respond to my e-mails and phone messages is around 2%, on average (around 2 replies to every 100 contacted).

    You said in your article: “…and my response rate has more than tripled, from less than 5 percent to 15 percent or more. . . .”

    If I read that right, or I’m not half-asleep 🙂 so for every 100 e-mails you send out, you get around 7 responses, on average?

    Did I read that right?

    • Oops! Thanks for catching that typo, Perry. When I wrote this, my response rate was about 15%, or 15 out of 100. From experimenting with subject lines, I’ve since been able to raise my response rate to around 25-30%, or 25-30 out of 100. (When I say response rate, I mean any kind of response: yes, no, or anything in between 🙂 )

      I think the main takeaway from what I’ve learned is to keep it short & sweet, and to laser-target prospects who need your services and have the budget for them.

      Hope that helps!

  20. lione jhon says:

    Oops! Many thanks for catching which typo, Perry. While i had written this, the reaction charge seemed to be regarding 15%, or 15 beyond 100. Via experimenting with subject wrinkles, I’ve due to the fact had the opportunity to improve the reaction charge in order to all-around 25-30%, or 25-30 beyond 100. (When My spouse and i say reaction charge, I mean any kind of reaction: without a doubt, not any, or everything in between: ) )

    I’m sure the principle takeaway coming from what I’ve realized would be to maintain that short & sweet, and laser-target prospective customers exactly who need ones services and still have the actual afford these.

  21. Larry says:

    You had a plan and you followed it through. It’s always great to hear people who do this and succeed. Good for you. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Donia says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your approach! This is SO just what I have needed to include in my 2015 marketing plan! I think targeting potential clients in the $500,000 annual range is a good fit for freelancers. The bigger companies are able to afford dedicated staffs for this. Many of the medium sized companies don’t have that luxury, but they can still afford our rates. I love working with smaller businesses and non-profits but have really had to limit the number I work with because they don’t yet have the mind set of paying the rates for the work I do. One more idea, though – don’t hesitate to approach bigger companies because they occasionally have more work than their staff can handle and will outsource it to trusted freelancers.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think of $500K as pretty low — I like $1M and up for new writers, and $10M and up for anyone who’s got a portfolio. They just have more work and better rates.