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Last Update December 5th, 2014.

Its not what you know, its who you know.

That’s what my father would always tell me. He was right. A lot of your blogging and online marketing success will depend on not the skills and talent that you have, but the people who promote you, partner with you and so on.

And 90% of the time the way you make those contacts is by email.

In this article I am going to show you some tips I have learned on how to write successful emails to A-List bloggers or anyone in your industry that you want to get in contact with and be noticed by.

What not to do

I thought a good place to start this article would be by telling you what not to do. These are the cardinal sins of writing emails to celebrities and industry leaders, make sure you don’t do them.

  • Don’t use the CC function to email a bunch of people
    I remember getting an email a few years ago from a guy who was trying to pitch a new website idea. The problem was that he sent out an identical email to about 50 bloggers and web entrepreneurs and put all the emails in the CC line for everyone to see. The result was pretty ugly. Don’t share people’s email addresses unless they have said you can do so. And don’t write bulk emails to people you really need the attention of.
  • Don’t talk about yourself
    One of the classic sayings in the best selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People is that people only find you interesting if you talk about them, not yourself. Unfortunately, most people do the opposite in emails. I get lots of emails from people who spend two or three paragraphs talking about who they are. And as much as I love hearing from my readers (I really do) I don’t have a lot of time so I pay more attention to the ones that are short and focused on the idea, proposition or (as selfish as it sounds) the way the email will benefit me.
  • Don’t use a free email address (if you can help it)
    If you are trying to promote yourself or your brand to someone you want to show them you are serious. One sure fire way NOT to do that is to use a Hotmail or a Gmail account. Send emails from your domain name so they immediately know where you are from and that you take yourself seriously enough to have a website.

These things seem simple but are very important. Make sure you do not do any of them when you are sending emails to people that you need to get the attention of.

How to write successful emails

Me, myself and I
Creative Commons License photo credit: svaboda!

Now that we have got the negatives out of the way let’s move on to how you can plan, write and send out successful emails to the bloggers or industry leaders that you want to contact. As always, if you have any other tips please drop a comment and let us know. I am always keen to hear about what other people are trying.

1. Focus on benefits, not features
A classic marketing saying is that you need to focus on the benefits, not the features of your product. For example, if you are selling a knife the features are that it is really sharp and has a nice handle but the benefits are that you will save time chopping vegetables. The same is true of sending emails.

Features: I have a guest post that is about selling eBooks and is 1,500 words long.

Benefits: Your readers will love my guest post on how to change their lives forever with simple eBook marketing strategies.

The recipient of your email wants to know what the beneficial outcomes are going to be. Don’t bore them with too many facts and figures, just show some final products.

2. Study up and get personal
One of the most important things you can do is study up on the email recipient and then get personal with the details. An email should be like meeting someone in person where you smile, shake their hand and have an informal conversation. It is not like saluting to a king or something ultra formal.

Start by following them on Twitter, reading their About page and looking to see if they have a Wiki or Facebook page. Look at:

  • Their favorite foods and music
  • Their favorite sport team
  • Any side projects they have going
  • Their past history and background
  • Where they were born
  • Etc.

The idea here is that you are going to find some common ground or a human way to connect with them. When I email Darren Rowse I try to talk about the weather in Melbourne (I live nearby) or his favorite Australian Rules Football team (who always lose). This doesn’t automatically guarantee a response but it shows that you care about them and what they are doing and that you aren’t just another email spammer.

3. Make your email look like poetry
I love reading poetry. I love the metaphors and the similes and the drama. But I also really enjoy the format. The structure is always perfect and the readability is divine. The best poets make the most complex ideas appear in the most simple forms. Take a look at this short poem by William Blake.

My Pretty Rose Tree

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said “I’ve a pretty rose tree,”
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.

So simple, so basic… but at the same time expressing so much. Your emails need to be like this. They need to have an easily digestible structure with not too many words bunched together. Don’t ramble on but don’t be too flippant. Keep ideas and topics separate but then join in all together in an engaging way. An excellent email is just like poetry.

4. Give more than you ask for
Remember the saying that you have to give before you receive? Well it is true of contacting A-List bloggers and industry leaders. You need to craft your email in a way that looks like you are giving something more than you are asking for.

Now, I don’t mean this to sound deceptive. I do not mean lie to people. Rather, I mean you need to offers something to these people in order for them to feel like they are not just doing you a favor. They get asked for favors all the time. If you want to get their attention you need to show why this is good for them, and then talk a little bit about why it is good for you.

5. Use their name, politely
People love hearing their name and they love it even more when you use it politely. I could be wrong about this but I never use titles like Mr. or Sir or Webmaster. I always use their first name and I always place it around pleasant words like “thanks [name]” and “enjoying all the rain [name]?”.

This goes a long way to personalizing the experience and making it seem more intimate than email really is. If you are too formal you run the risk of losing this human touch. And the human touch is extremely important when dealing with people who get bombarded with material all day long. They just might respond to you if you seem like a friendly person to relate to.

6. Pick the right time
The time that you send your email is absolutely crucial. If you get this wrong all your good work will be undone. Let me explain.

Monday mornings these guys come in to the office, open their emails and see literally hundreds of unread emails. You will probably get filed into the “too hard” basket. Friday afternoons they are probably having knock off drinks or totally worn out by the big week.

You need to find their window. The time when they are relaxing a little bit, working but not working too hard. And the best way to do that is to look on Twitter. Wait until they make an update that isn’t entirely work related. They might just have a minute to read something new.

What’s your experience?

I would like to open up the comments to your own ideas and stories. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Have you ever sent an email to an industry leader and got an excellent response because of the way the email was written? Please leave a comment and let me know, I would be very interested to learn.

Photo credit: mangpages

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