Writing a good email pitch is a crucial skill in the freelance world. Whether you’re selling a product or your ideas, you need to know how to get people’s attention quickly in a very crowded sphere.
An effective pitch email is an art rather than a science. Most of us spend years honing the skills behind it, and success is still far from guaranteed.
Still, there are some simple things that you can do that increase your chances of hitting the jackpot, and getting your pitch email not only read but answered, too.
The best email pitches hit a careful balance. They are confident not cocky, firm without being pushy. They use charm and personality, yet still feel authentic. And they never let a typo pass unchecked. Here are 10 top tips on how to write an email pitch:
1. Write a killer subject line
With the average person receiving 121 emails a day, half the challenge of a good email pitch lies in the subject line. Get that wrong, and the chances are it won’t even be opened.
Choose something catchy and succinct that tempts your recipient in. Ideally, it’ll add value to your overall email and be front-loaded with all important info (including keywords). Apps like Automizy will help you test your subject line before you send. Play around to get it right and check out more great tips here.
2. Keep it short and snappy
The best pitch emails are as succinct as possible. That isn’t the same as being sloppy, or lacking in detail. But remember, you have just moments to catch and keep your reader’s attention. The last thing they want to do is wade through mountains of facts, or a long personal essay. Don’t make them work for you.
Instead, figure out exactly what you want to say – your elevator pitch – and articulate it as concisely as you can. Every word should add something new. A trick editors use is to remove a word from every sentence at the end, when you’re checking through. You always need less than you think you do.
3. Introduce yourself well
Your personal introduction should be brief, but not bland. Add in a bit of colour here to help to capture the reader’s attention.
For example, “My name is Mark Smith, and I’m the founder and CEO of baking company Sweet Treats” reads better as “My name is Mark Smith and I’m the founder of Sweet Treats, a Portland-based startup inspired by my lifelong love of donuts.”
The first version is accurate but not that interesting. The second uses a few extra words to pack in charisma and talking points (head here for more info on how to write an introductory email in full).
4. Know your audience
It’s a good idea to have had some contact with the person you’re talking to with before launching your email pitch. One way to do this is to connect via LinkedIn, then message them to let them know you’ll be sending a pitch (don’t ask for permission to email–it’s a pointless formality and it may stall the whole process).
Alternatively, you could work your contacts and get an introduction via someone you know in common. Doing this creates more of a graceful route in, and increases the odds of your pitch email being read.
Even if you do cold pitch, make sure you know who you’re talking to exactly. Never, ever copy and paste a generic email. Take the time to scope your pitch to a specific person or company need.
5. Make it personal
Only ever direct your pitch email to one person, and make sure it’s the right one. If you CC in a load of people from the same company, it’s likely that none will reply.
Making your email personal puts more of an onus on the reader to respond. If they’re a CEO, for example, start following them on social media and pick up on one or two leads from their posts. This can create a nice, natural angle for your pitch email.
For example, you could go in with something like: “I was intrigued to read about your ideas on a four-day working week on LinkedIn last week. Work-life balance is also really important to me; in fact, it’s the reason why I decided to start my own baking business.”
You could also research your target company’s policies, and pull out a few things that you like about them. Or link to a recent piece of press coverage about them that you enjoyed. Anything to gently flatter your recipient, and show them that you’ve taken the time to engage with what they do.
6. Highlight three great ideas
What values can you bring to your reader and their business? This is the thing you have to keep circling back to when writing an email pitch – because it’s all too easy to get side-tracked into a ramble that is all about you.
List three great ways that you can help your reader’s business grow. This might include your achievements or services, but you should present it in the form of original ideas.
What are the three things you can do that your target audience will love? Make it specific and clear, with a tightly packed line or two of info for each point. Don’t be afraid to think big–it’ll help you stand out.
7. Use upbeat language and be precise
An email pitch letter should strike a confident tone. Use positive, simple and precise language throughout, and take a swerve on anything that sounds unsure.
Wrong: “I hope you don’t mind me contacting you but I just want to tell you about my baking business, which I’m aiming to grow in the next few years.”
Right: “My baking startup Sweet Treats saw a 70% increase in YoY profits in 2019, and I’d love to speak to you about the opportunity to work together during this exciting time of growth.”
The more you can talk about working together, the better. That way, you are setting the scene for a collaboration, rather than making it sound like a favor or a hard sell.
8. Be charming, not insistent
Let’s not forget: the best pitch emails are a balancing act. You want to be confident, not arrogant. A little witty, perhaps, but never rude or inappropriate.
If you’re at all unsure of your tone, try running your pitch email past a few trusted friends or co-workers to get their thoughts. A second opinion is always helpful.
You are essentially pitching someone out of the blue here, so you need to have a little finesse about how you do it. Always thank them for their time, and don’t be pushy in the way that you put your offer across.
This is especially true of your follow-up. It’s fine to check in with someone if they haven’t responded to you, but be mindful of how you do it. First, leave enough time (around four days is about right: don’t be impatient). And second, if you still don’t hear back, resist the impulse to endlessly chase.
Your recipient is under no obligation to reply to you, and using phrases like “if you can just let me know either way” is simply annoying (most people are well aware that a silence means no). Also bear in mind, you might need to contact this person again: don’t burn your bridges.
9. Don’t forget links and contact details
Hyperlinks are your friend when it comes to crafting a succinct email; you can pepper them all over the place without taking up extra space.
Speaking of which, avoid using bulky file attachments with your email pitch (Spike can help here)–they’ll only create hassle for your reader, and make it harder to read. But do include supporting links with more info wherever possible; it helps give weight and integrity to your pitch.
Always put your cell number clearly in the last line of your pitch email. That way, if your recipient wants to pick up the phone and talk your ideas over, you’ve just made it super-easy for them to do that.
10. Proofread like a pro
When you’re done with your pitch email: check, check and check again. There’s nothing that shouts “rookie” louder than sloppy errors or grammatical mistakes.
Most of all, check you’ve got your recipient’s name right. That’s the first thing they’ll notice if you don’t, even if it’s just one letter out of place. Then, again, get your friends and family to check your email pitch. It’s easier to spot other people’s mistakes rather than your own, which is why newspapers have whole desks devoted to sub-editors.
Remember, there are lots of free grammar and readability tools out there like the Hemingway app that will help with this process, too. Finally, if you do send out an email pitch with a mistake in it, don’t follow up with a correction – unless the mistake is huge. You’ll only draw attention to it.
Pitch email example
So, now you know how to write an email pitch, here’s how to put it all into action–using our good friend Mark from Sweet Treats as an example.
My name is Mark Smith and I’m the founder of Sweet Treats, a Portland-based startup inspired by my lifelong love of donuts. We create unique, low-carb pastries and cakes using my grandmother’s family recipes.
I’m a big fan of your company, Ittium, and I love what you’re doing to build a better work-life balance for your employees. I read your LinkedIn post on the power of lunch breaks last week, and I couldn’t agree more with your argument about the link between happiness and productivity.
With that in mind, I’d link to share a few ideas I’ve had about how our two businesses could work together. Sweet Treats saw a 70% increase in YoY profits in 2019, and I think there’s a great opportunity for us to collaborate at this exciting time of growth.
To help your business become an even better place to work, Sweet Treats can provide:
A lunchtime cake truck
We’ll run a subsidized lunchtime service of low-carb cakes and pastries for your employees, along with custom designs for special occasions. A recipe for workplace happiness.
Monthly baking masterclasses
Whether you love cooking or simply have a sweet tooth, our dedicated team of pastry chefs will share their passion in a monthly workshop at your offices. This is a chance for your workforce to develop new skills in a fun (and delicious) setting.
Bake Yourself Happy campaign
We’ll work with you on a standout media campaign that highlights the link between baking, happiness and employee satisfaction. Great PR, and an even better opportunity for your HR team to attract potential candidates.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and any other ways you think Ittium and Sweet Treats can work together – I’m available on (503) 555-1234 if you’d like to chat. In the meantime, you can read more about Sweet Treats here and here.
Thanks so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.