How to E-mail Important People and Get A Response

by Brett Borders on July 26, 2011

Most people aren’t very responsible with their e-mail. It can be especially difficult to get a response from really important people… who can easily get 200+ emails per day when they only have time to respond to a handful. But if you write e-mails using basic principles of psychology and direct response copywriting, you can greatly increase your chances of hearing back from a big shot.

Inbox Psychology

Professionals open their inbox hoping to see messages bearing good news or leading towards money. But what they usually see is an avalanche of spam, unwanted social media updates and newsletters, and long-winded requests for people wanting something for free.

A hypothetical e-mail to a busy tech blogger, following the advice below.

Important people tend to delete or wait till later (meaning “never”) to handle almost all messages except 1.) very simple messages and 2. messages they are obligated to respond to. If you don’t know the person well, keep it as simple and scannable as possible!

Professional E-mail Writing Tips for a Better Response Rate

  1. Choose a headline that communicates either “painless” or “possible benefit.” If your e-mail has some angle that could genuinely benefit the recipient, allude to that in your headline. If not, I’ll frequently ask just one question and use the headline “Quick question”. This makes it seem painless enough to open or respond to.
  2. Keep the copy short and spaced out. Aim for 5 sentences or less. Seriously. Add a line of space between each sentence or main point: don’t smash it all into one intimidating block of text.
  3. Make a personal connection. If you can show that you know about the person and you’re up-to-date with what they are currently working on – it makes it harder to dismiss your e-mail as irrelevant. If you’re in the same business, you love their company or use their product, or if you admire a specific piece of work, or you’ve been to their town or country before… don’t be afraid to quickly mention that.
  4. Say what’s in it for them. Let them know how helping you can also help them – if possible – but don’t stretch the truth so far that it’s absurd.
  5. Use bolding, italics and underlining to make the main points “pop.” This makes an e-mail much easier to scan quickly and digest the main points. I like to save the bold for my main request or question… and use the italics and underlining to draw attention to the main supporting points.
  6. Ask only one question or favor per e-mail. The more questions you ask, the less chance any of them will be responded to. Try and slim down your requests to the most crucial one. If you get a response to the first question, then you can follow up with with a second.
  7. Specifically ask for a response. A call-to-action in the text that specifically asks for a response implants a psychic suggestion that makes it harder for them to ignore you. Something like “I’d really appreciate your reply, either way” at the end gives them wiggle room to say no, and it will greatly boost your response rate.
  8. Include your full name, website and phone number in the signature. Important people will often want to find out a little more about you before responding or saying “yes” to something. Having some information about yourself makes it easier for them to feel like they’re responding to a real person.
  9. If you don’t get a response, wait 7 to 14 days and keep trying again until you get one.You can send the message as is, again. Or quote the whole thing and ask a micro question like “Any thoughts?” or an ambiguous statement like “Thanks“. Thanks is a sneaky way of saying “Please respond now” while sounding grateful. Keep going every week or two until you get a response of some kind. You may have to try 4 to 8 times before they finally have a moment to get back to you.

That’s what has worked best for me!

What are your own tips and tricks for increasing the response rate of personal business e-mails? Please share whatever you are thinking in the comments below!

Get a FREE Website Evaluation!

Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.

  • Dan Whitehouse

    I find that the most important part of the email is the title. Use lower case and keeping it informal I think is great. Will give this a try myself..

  • Ritesh Singhania

    good description related to email contents

  • Anonymous

    This is really great, thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve been starting to do emails like I do blog posts, using things like bold, italics and lists to make things pop; It’s working well so far.

  • Ryzeup WebMaster

    Wow these are very good tips for email marketing. I will also implement your ideas in my email marketing campaign and post my experience soon. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ryzeup WebMaster

    Wow these are very good tips for email marketing. I will also implement
    your ideas in my email marketing campaign and post my experience soon.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • business logo design

    In my opinion the most important thing is your email’s title if it is attractive, then you can get attraction for your email otherwise you can get any traffic or business from your email.

  • Jobs in Nigeria

    Very descriptive email content article. thank Brett for your time into this.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for giving us some knowledge about the importance of email. After reading this blog I think that email also have some importance in our life… Thanks again and waiting for your next…. :)

  • Stanley Rao

    well written email descriptive article 

  • YourVirtualWizard/JanineGregor

    I also like to leave my question for the reader in the last sentence. My research has found that when people read an email and they get to the last sentence, which is a question, they are more likely to hit reply and answer right away because it was the last thing they remember.

    I try not to ask questions in my email because I find that people will only read through an email once and if the questions are in the middle of the email, they may not remember to answer.

    Nice post…thank you!

    Janine Gregor
    Virtual Assistant @urvirtualwizard

  • Tiffani Bassett

    Great information, even for Cold emailing, which i suggest you also include the “opt-out” information to co-inside with spam laws..

  • Bruno Babic

    Hi Brett,
    Being a bit of a hustler in both my private and business life, I have really enjoyed reading about your tips on professional email writing for a better response rate especially when writing to somebody well known or important.

    By the way, I’d just like to add that one of the good cold approaching strategies as far as emailing is concerned that’s proven successful for me is when I put something down the lines “Hey Steven, I liked your…” in the subject line.

    This is how I have lately got the quickest response from somebody who by the way I have initially approached in order to help them correctly do something that I am knowledgeable about and that I have received via email through being their subscriber. And, then soon comes a super pleasant shocker to me out of blue.

    In one of their replies I soon find out that my email contact is actually closely related to realizing my ever desired international playboy lifestyle because that person is a pageant girls coach who was happy to even introduce me to their beautiful audience as their thank you for helping them out with the matter that I have initially contacted them for.

    By the way, I have shared a little bit of my latest story about the kind of “email hustleing” if you like in order to let you know that I hugely appreciate you adding a high value to the area and the skill of professional email writing for a better response rate in your post.

    Thank you.

    Bruno Babic
    P.S. Funnily enough your interesting post has also reminded me on a little bit of my recent success with writing some compelling short and punchy solo ads put as short email messages. Therefore I feel that it could perhaps be fun and useful to swap our copywriting talents and skills at some point.

  • adam

    Thank you a lot for all the knowledge you could share.its very usefull for me.
    iPhone screen Protectors

  • Security Camera Installation

    Really great article on email marketing. thanks for share the article.