How (Not) to Email a Potential Customer

Dana Sheehan/ Email

I received a cold email yesterday (the electronic version of a cold call). I don’t usually even look at these, but I went ahead and opened it. Let me repeat that: I don’t usually even look at these. Do you? When someone emails you and you have no connection to that person, do you even open it? Probably not.

Yet, against my better judgement, I opened the email and here is what it said (minus identifying details):

Hello again Dana,

I reached out last week in the hope of introducing myself and (company), a company that helps schools get more enrollment, engagement and ROI from the web. I haven’t heard back from you yet, and I’m wondering if I might be contacting the wrong person by mistake. Are you in charge of the website and digital marketing strategy for your schools, or does someone else help with that?

My goal is to find out if we could be of any help with your website, marketing campaigns, and results analysis.

I appreciate your help in directing my email to the correct person. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. I’m a real human, located in St. Louis, and my direct contact info is included below.

Thank you,

(name withheld to protect the guilty)


Here are some simple steps you can follow if you would like to spend time sending out emails and annoying people too.

Guilt The Recipient

Why haven’t they returned your email? Why? Desperation is the number one way to show why you’re the right person and company to work with.

Act Confused

Are you not the right person? Am I mistaken? Can you help me? This especially works well if you’re a woman. People love to help a damsel in distress.

Ask For a Favor

Can you help me get to the right person? Why, I would just love to go out of my way to help you make a sale.

Tell Me Your Goals

I want… They have nothing else to do, right? Why not help you get what you want?

Be Helpful – With an Ulterior Motive

Please feel free to contact me with any questions… so they can sell you as much as possible.

I am Not a Robot!

This is my favorite line: I’m a real human, located in St. Louis, and my direct contact info is included below. If you have to tell someone that you are not a robot, doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know about this form of marketing?

I don’t like being spammed. I don’t like it when people look at me and see a sale and not a person. I don’t know this person. I have no connection with this company. I don’t even know how they got my name and email.

The reason these types of email don’t work is that there is no connection with this person or this company. When an email shows up in my inbox, it is taking time out of my day to deal with it, even if it’s just to delete it. It’s much better to have permission to send an email. Your chances on having success are so much better if someone is already receptive to you.

Please don’t mistake this as me advising you not to reach out to people by email. When you do, either have permission (such as through subscribing to an email list) or already have a connection.

We’ve all received those dreaded emails that we don’t want. Don’t contribute to that for other people. Market to others the way you want to be marketed to.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@littlebirdiecom”]”I’m a real human, located in St. Louis” – If you have to put this in an email, reconsider.[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@littlebirdiecom” display_mode=”box”]Market to others the way you want to be marketed to.[/tweetthis]

Until next time


Image credit: Jay Wennington, downloaded from

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