12 creative ways to catch your prospect’s attention in a sales email

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Marketing Manager, GetRooftop.io

Cold emailing is hard. And yet, a lot of salespeople do it.

That’s actually what makes it hard. Because you need to cut through the noise. You need to stand out. You need to be able to hook your reader and show value quickly.

So what do you do when those outdated templates you found on Google don’t work? You get creative!

Here are 12 ways to be different (in a good way) when sending cold sales emails.

Video

A personalized video is basically the highest level of personalization you can bring to an email. It takes some time to set up but it rarely fails to get a response.

You can leverage videos in your cold emails through the following methods:

1. Screen recordings

If you’re targeting internet companies, a screen recording can work wonders.

Sending your prospect a video that includes their website is sure to catch their attention. Also, it’ll show that you’ve done your research. It can be as simple as this email I received a while ago.

The video itself was quite generic but Hubspot is a big enough name that I knew who they were anyway. The goal is to catch your prospect’s attention and generate a response.

2. Webcam

Another approach is to directly address the prospect directly without any props or video production tricks.

This is an especially good approach when it comes to CEOs.

In a lot of cases, the CEO won’t be the one to choose which solution to go for. They might be the one to sign off on it, but the sales manager will be the one choosing a CRM. The accountant will choose the accounting software. And so on.

With a personalized message to the CEO, you don’t focus on the product but on the values. This is your chance to convey a message that resonates at a higher level. To cut through the noise and get them to put you in touch with the appropriate person.

This is how Rooftop’s salespeople do it:

An easy and cheap way to catch the recipient’s eye is to write their name on a little board, or on a piece of paper.

Writing a prospect’s name by hand is one of those “one weird tricks” for building a connection in a cold email that actually works. (See point #5…you don’t need to use video to make this happen.)

3. Short personalized demo

A good way to get through to a prospect who doesn’t respond is to offer a short personalized demo.

The idea is to show the value of your product to your prospect in just a couple of minutes:

  1. Let them know in the email that you made the video precisely because you know they’re busy.
  2. Keep it short, under two minutes.
  3. Personalize the use case; make it relevant to their situation.
  4. If possible, personalize the demo environment with their logo and products.
  5. Personalize the video thumbnail so it catches their eye immediately.

4. Short feature demo

This is a variation of the previous point. Except that instead of preparing a full overview demo, you focus on key features.

Here’s an example:

And again, adding your prospect’s logo in the video is an ideal way to get their attention.

Image

Personalized images are another great way to build rapport with your prospect.

They’re more scalable than videos, but still bring a high level of personalization. And they’re great to use in follow-ups as well as initial emails.

Here are a few ways you can lean on the images in your email to catch your reader’s attention.

5. “Write” their name in a creative context

If there’s one thing that catches people’s attention, it’s their own name. If you incorporate their name into a picture of yourself, you’re really making things personal.

Here’s what lemlist CEO Guillaume Moubeche does when he emails his prospects:

It works because it’s funny, personal, and personalized.

Another way that’s sure to catch your prospect’s attention is using their logo.

This creative example also comes from Guillaume at lemlist.

Using humor on top of personalization definitely makes this email stand out.

7. Use their website/app

Whether you’re offering to improve their design, copy, positioning, product offer—anything you can make out from their website—be sure to include their website.

Seeing their own website will catch their attention, and you pointing out areas of improvement will pique their interest.

Then offer to set up a short meeting to go over it.

This is a great format because it’s 100% focused on offering value. And it takes only a small amount of your prospect’s time.

8. Use GIFs 

GIFs are an easy and fun way to liven up a cold email

Sales is an emotions game, and GIFs are a good way to convey emotions. They’re especially great at making people smile.

And you make your prospect smile, you’ve already gotten through to them in some way.

Here’s an example from Natalie Blardony at Crunchbase:

However, be mindful of best practices when using GIFs in a cold email:

  • Make sure the GIF doesn’t contain any offensive content
  • Make sure it doesn’t contain any foul language (depending on the target audience)
  • Pick/make a GIF that’s consistent with your brand and tone of voice
  • Keep the file size under 1MB
  • Make sure it’s properly embedded
  • Think about accessibility—include alt text
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Text

If you’re not in a position to create visual content, or if it doesn’t suit your target, text still works!

It’s all about finding the little things that are going to catch your prospect’s eye.

Here are a few.

9. Congratulations

Everyone likes getting some recognition. What better way to do that than by congratulating your prospect? Keep your eyes peeled for noteworthy news from your prospects, such as:

  • Starting a new job
  • A new round of funding
  • A recent acquisition
  • A product update

You can then start telling them how you’d like to be part of that story.

10. Common ground

Finding common history with a prospect is a great way to build rapport.

If you used to work in the same niche or went to the same school, use that!

I used to work in sales automation. It’s a small industry.

This is my go-to opener when pitching guest posts to sales automation companies:

It works wonders, especially coupled with the credibility of having worked at that company.

11. Referencing their content

Content marketing is not just a way to improve SEO, authority, and lead generation. It’s also a way to build and engage with an audience.

If you’re a part of that audience, reaching out and mentioning that content is only natural.

Here’s what it could look like:

Hi [first name],

I just read your article about [topic]. I specifically enjoyed the section about [subject] because [reasons].

Make sure it’s sincere and specific enough, and you’ve got yourself a conversation.

12. Referencing your content

Alternatively, you can open your email by letting them know they’ve been mentioned in a piece of content on your website.

If you decide to target a specific niche, just publish an article about that niche on your website. From there, mention specific companies (or people at those companies) you’re planning on reaching out to.

Identify your targets

Visual and creative content is the same as every other type of content. That is, you need to adapt it to your audience.

For example, people won’t react to the same content depending on their position in the company.

A CEO might not react to content about the specifics of what you’re selling. But they might react positively to big-picture talking points

A sales manager might not react to a comment about a piece of content they have nothing to do with. But they might react to content about their sales performance.

Take the time to identify who your recipients are going to be. 

Get creative and get prepared

Whatever approach you choose, using creative content in your sales emails requires some level of preparation.

But if you’re willing to put in the initial effort, it’ll take your sales process to a whole new level!

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