It’s fair to say that many of us in the recruitment industry will have had almost no coaching or guidance when it comes to prospecting by email. As one of those people myself, I’ve learned a lot over the years about what works and what doesn’t simply through trial and error - and for me, it’s the super short emails that have brought me the most success.
And it appears I’m not alone, either! Research from Boomerang app recently found that emails of 75-100 words have a 51% response rate and subject lines of 3-4 words achieve the most opens.
But why is it that super-short prospecting emails are so effective?
Here's my two cents!
Decision-makers love brevity
The main trick with emailing prospects is to make the task of responding feel like such a small effort that they’ll do it straight away - and a short and direct email is the best way to convey this.
If your recipient has to think too hard about what it is you’re asking, your email will just become one more item on their ever-increasing to-do list – which you’ll likely end up at the very bottom of and never get a response.
Busy people don’t have time to dance around the topic in emails, and niceties just waste time as far as they're concerned. Your prospects want to clear their inbox and move onto the next task as soon as possible – they’re not interested in a leisurely back-and-forth about your weekend, the weather, or your kids!
This might sound brutal but remember that business emails don’t need pleasantries to be polite!
Decision makers appreciate recruiters who are straight to the point with their communication as it makes them feel they can send an equally short response, whether they’re interested in what you have to say or not, and this saves valuable time.
Short emails are perfectly optimised for mobile
46% of all emails sent are first read on a mobile device, and you can be sure this will only increase for a busy hiring manager’s inbox. Decision makers are busy people, and many of the emails that reach their inbox will be read on the go.
If your recipient is able to view your email in its entirety without even needing to scroll on their phone, you’ll increase the chances of a response substantially. It’s critical that your prospecting emails look good on a phone screen.
Keeping your messages to three sentences or less in length ensures that the entire message is displayed on a single screen without the need to scroll down the page. If the prospect can read your email with minimal effort, then they’re a lot more likely to read the entire email and perform the action you ask them to take in your call to action.
So, what’s the winning formula?
I know what you’re thinking: “It’s all fine and well telling us three-sentence emails will get us great results, what’s actually in those sentences, Cameron!” Am I right?
Well, there are loads of potential ways to go about this, but one formula I’m particularly a fan of is called ‘Problem-Agitate-Solve’ (or ‘PAS’ for short).
PAS emails are structured as follows:
Sentence 1 ‘Problem’ – Identify a pain point
Sentence 2 ‘Agitate’ – Agitate that pain point
Sentence 3 ‘Solve’ – Offer a solution
In other words, instead of focusing your email on how much better the prospect’s situation will be after you’ve helped them with a hiring challenge (called the ‘after stage’ in sales speak), PAS calls out the dangers in the road from point A to point B and explains how your service is the solution to the problem.
Why this formula works
Basically, this works because pain is even more motivating than pleasure.
People naturaly want to avoid hassle, problems, and unnecessary burdens, and will therefore be more motivated to work with you if you’re able to identify and empathise with a challenge they’re facing and propose your solution (with brevity!).
Of course, a three-sentence email isn’t always going to be the appropriate strategy when reaching out to create new business for your agency. But if you’ve established that you’re in a situation where the short and direct option could work for everyone involved, give it a try – it’s certainly worked for me!
If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to mix up your recruitment sales email strategy, check out the email tool below, which has templates for all different stages of the process to get you kickstarted.
Cameron McLennan works within recruitment technology industry. Outside of work, he loves spending time with his family and playing golf.