Are You Making These 11 Mistakes With Your Email Outreach Strategy?

Outreach email fails

When I talk with business owners about their biggest frustrations, one aspect always ranks high in the list: email outreach. But despite the endless rumors against this strategy, frustrations, and social media craze, email still works. A Barriliance report estimates that the average ROI for email is a whopping 3800%. 

Cold email outreach could be the silver bullet to elevating your lead generation. It’s how you get in front of potential customers, partners, and influencers to share your story and inspire growth.

Outreach marketing centers around building genuine relationships that mutually benefit both parties. But if you’re going about it all wrong, your emails are more likely to get buried and ignored. Consider also that the average response rate for cold outreach emails is 1%. So, tread carefully with this digital marketing strategy.

This post will shed some light on the most common mistakes business owners make in email outreach campaigns. Use the mechanics provided to get better results.

1. Using Long, Un-Targeted Subject Lines

The first impression people get of your email will be the subject line. Treat your subject line as if it were an advertisement, making sure it’s clear and precise right off the bat. If there’s anything negative or confusing about your email, chances are you’ll lose the customer right there.

The best cold email subject lines provide details! Don’t just say “great offers” or “special discounts.” Tell your prospects why they should care! What’s in it for them?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to include the recipient’s name in the subject line. Highlighting a subject of deepest interest to the recipient, instead, can work. And that will depend on your research’s thoroughness.

Avoid sales jargon or slang. An influencer or decision-maker probably knows what to expect when they open your email. Save the “special offer” or “limited-time offer” language for your body copy.

Avoid all caps unless yelling is what you want to do. If you feel like yelling at people in your subject line to get their attention, that will only come off as a desperate attempt to draw attention to a weak offer.

As with all written communication, shorter is better in subject lines. Be succinct — keep your cold email subject line at 35 characters or less — and use action words that convey what’s happening. (“Save $100 on our new model!”) instead of vague statements (“We have exciting news”).

Once you’ve done all of this, you can feel free to add some flair with emojis- don’t go overboard, though.

2. Indicating You Aren’t Familiar With the Recipient

I recently received an email from a company I’ve never heard of about an unfamiliar product. It was targeted to someone named Robert, married to someone with the last name Jordin and has kids who have the first names, Ryan and Nick. The trouble is, I’m single and don’t have any kids. The email was sent to me by mistake, and I knew it. I doubt you would reply to let the sender know they erred.

One of the surest ways to get an email deleted is to address the recipient by the wrong name. It’s not only impolite, but it’s also a strong indicator that you aren’t familiar with the prospect.

If you want to be sure that your letter is read and taken seriously, take the time to familiarize yourself with the recipient. At least do a quick Google search or check out their website or LinkedIn profile and learn about them and their business/field/niche first.

Ensure you capture the prospect’s correct name and title, as well as their correct email address when reaching out via email. Don’t worry about knowing the recipient’s company in-depth — if you get the name or title wrong, your outreach efforts will likely flop regardless of how compelling your offer is.

3. No Introduction

No introduction is a mistake? That’s a little harsh. Maybe not. In my experience, this is among the gravest email outreach mistakes.

Here’s how it looks: I get an email from “Sender” (or “Company”) with a salutation that reads “Hello,” The email includes a brief message about something I wrote on my blog and why they liked it. The email concludes with two or three sentences asking me to check out their site and consider writing about them as well. I re-read the email to identify the sender, realize there’s no introduction.

Wouldn’t you move on to the next email?

The initial sentences of your cold email should highlight who you are and what you do. You may include how you know the recipient and why you’re reaching out right now. 2-3 lines are enough to get right to the point.

Here’s an example of an introductory paragraph:

My name is ______ (your name) and I’m working with/for ______ (company). We’re interested in finding someone who can help us promote our business through content marketing. We’ve seen some of your work in ___________ (blog topic), and we thought you might be the person for us.

4. Reaching Out to the Wrong Person

Let’s start with a disclaimer: there’s no magic email for reaching out to anyone. The most important thing is to be genuine and make the recipient feel like you’re reaching out because you have something to offer, not because you want something from them.

But there are plenty of ways to screw it up. Prominent among these email outreach mistakes is trying to get the attention of the wrong person. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people do it.

If you’re sending a cold email to someone who doesn’t directly influence decisions in your target company, they probably won’t take your desired action.

I recently received an email from an emerging writer who wanted me to read their book (and provide feedback). I’m not a literary agent, and I have never worked in publishing, so I had no idea why they sent me this email. They could’ve avoided the mistake if they had taken some time to research my background.

Emailing someone who doesn’t even need your product is detrimental to both sides. You waste your and their time by sending irrelevant information, jeopardizing your chances of getting an effective response. Still, you come off as spammy, and the recipient will have no choice to ditch your email in the trash.

5. Formatting Your Outreach Copy Wrongly

No doubt, outreach emails are a great way to attract prospects’ attention and start a conversation about your product or service. But how you format your outreach copies can mean the difference between someone caring about your product and being turned off by your email.

Follow this outreach email structure to ensure your correspondences are readable and aren’t sent straight to the trash:

Subject line

Craft catchy (not clickbaity) subject lines that pique interest and demonstrate you know the prospect in some way.

Email introduction

 Write a brief and personalized introduction that builds trust between you and the recipient. Start with a friendly, casual greeting. It could be something like “Hi {First Name}.”

Don’t be too formal, though. So avoid things like “Dear” and “Sir/Madam”. Next, introduce yourself and mention a referral right away (if you have one).

Opening line

Personalize your opening line with everything you know about the recipient, including their recent blogs, achievements, and social media activity. Blend creativity and humor to trigger a quick and positive response.

Email body

The body of your cold outreach email should be brief, include a pitch that provides value, and encourage recipients to take action.

Because the prospect has no idea who you are, build credibility by highlighting your niche expertise, actual results, achievements, or professional credentials. 

Call to action (CTA)

Getting prospects interested in your offer is only half the battle. A well-crafted email should always include a clear call to action so that recipients know precisely what they need to do next.

It could be a simple question like, “Do you have 10 minutes for a video call next week?”. Use only one CTA as too many requests will confuse the recipient. Feel free to incorporate urgency in your CTA by assigning exclusivity or deadline to your offer.


Use this real estate to lend more personality and credibility to your cold emails. You can choose between simple and elaborate signatures. 

A simple signature will include your full name, company name, and role. An intricate signature may include your:

  • Picture
  • Website URL
  • Phone number
  • Social icons and links


Your outreach emails should include a straightforward way for recipients to unsubscribe from your emails. It’s common courtesy, but more importantly, it’s a simple way to keep your cold emails compliant and sustain an excellent sender reputation. We recommend formatting your opt-out in a text line as links/buttons make emails appear computer-generated.

Be compliant, else…

6. Missing a Personal Touch

Another major email outreach mistake is sending generic emails to everyone. You see, every day, tens of sales representatives send out cold emails requesting a favor from your target prospect. And considering that the average professional receives over 120 emails daily, generic influencer outreach email templates will hardly get you noticed.

Understand that cold email campaigns don’t operate like sales funnels. This is because cold emailing has low response rates (1-3%). So, you must use the most effective techniques to get a response and build relationships.

Whether you are a marketing person, a salesperson, or an entrepreneur hoping to get your business off the ground, it’s critical to learn how to write an outreach email that appeals to the prospect’s needs and desires. If you send a marketing strategist in your target company a pitch about dog-shaped pasta forks, they aren’t going to care — so how are they going to care about the rest of your product line?

A cold email will only work if your pitch is relevant. That means conducting thorough research on the folks you’re targeting and ensuring that your email content addresses their unique needs and interests.

How to Personalize Cold Emails

Below are the best ways to personalize outreach emails: 

  • Building buyer personas that summarize the key characteristics of your ideal customer (demographics, interests, business goals, pain points, etc.)
  • Mentioning the prospect’s name in the subject line and salutation
  • Focusing on the prospect’s interests and pain points
  • Highlighting a mutual connection
  • Including visuals (like GIFs and screenshots of your recipient’s website)
  • Using compliments (touch on their award, blog posts, achievements, etc.)

7. Not Being Clear Enough About Your Intent

We’ve all experienced it.

You’re in the middle of a hectic day at the office or home when an email pops into your inbox. It’s from a sender you don’t recognize, and the subject line reads “Hello.” Who is this person? And more importantly, what do they want?

The sender’s intent isn’t clear. Your first instinct will likely be to delete the email immediately. However, if you could identify their specific need, crafting a response that speaks directly to their underlying problem couldn’t be easier.

There’s no substitute for knowing how to communicate well when reaching out to someone who has no idea who you are. Whether you are conducting email outreach for backlinks or social mentions, let recipients know right away what you want and what you’re offering in return. If you want an introduction, say so explicitly.

Don’t make it too broad — instead, be as specific as possible. The more detailed your message, the better clarity you provide about your most wanted response.

Incorporate this tip in your subject lines, too. So instead of “Book Proposal,” try “Book Proposal (on x topic).” This way, the recipient knows what they’re getting into without ever having to open your email.

Pro Tip: 1) know your most wanted response for every cold email you intend to send, and 2) don’t waste time asking prospects if I’m interested in working with you — show them why they should be!

8. Writing Long Emails

I used to blast professionals’ inboxes with long emails every day. Often it didn’t work, and I took the lessons seriously. Nowadays, I write a few paragraphs and wait for a reply or follow-up later. 

Prospects will hardly read or reply to long-winded messages that ramble on about how great you and your business are. You want to get right to the point and let the interest come from your prospects instead of you trying to sell it.

However, many cold emails out there make business owners look unprofessional and lazy- like they just dashed off a quick email and hit the send button. Much as we insist on keeping it short and sweet, never rush your emails. Taking your time with an outreach email is easier than having to regret sending a bad one.

What’s the ideal length of a cold email? 

In 2015, Constant Contact (a digital marketing tools provider) analyzed over 2.1 million customer emails to determine how email images and length impact email click-through rate (CTR). The study found that emails under 20 lines of text generated the highest CTRs from subscribers. That translates into roughly 200 words. 

Boomerang data suggests that emails between 50 and 125 words generate over 50% response rate. Generally, 125-200 words are enough to pique a prospect’s interest and begin a conversation. 

Here are some tips for writing snappy outreach emails:

  • Have one goal per cold email
  • Use bullet points
  • Use a question format rather than a statement format
  •  Use simple, easy-to-understand language
  • Edit like Hemingway would

9. Straight-up Solicitation

I receive a lot of emails. I have had to sign up for newsletters to keep track of what’s going on in the world (and also because I like free stuff). The thing is, unsolicited emails are often unwelcome.

There are only two reasons a company should send you an email: 1) they’re adding value, or 2) you signed up for it. Email outreach campaigns are no different. 

Treating your cold email list like a begging avenue will only get you lousy results. Instead, let prospects know what’s in it for them. Put another way, provide value before soliciting for favors.

Your lead magnet should be something your target customer will want and appreciate— not just something you want them to have.

So, before you ask a prospect if they want something or tell them about something great happening at your company, think about this one question: Would anyone care if that email never arrived? Then ask yourself: Why would they care? Only send an email only if it’s valuable or necessary.

10. Not Following Up

There is a common misconception that recipients aren’t interested if they don’t reply to the first email. However, this isn’t necessarily true.

There are many other reasons why someone might not respond to your email. Perhaps they are too swamped with tasks to craft a response. Or they simply forgot.

When building the foundation of a valuable business relationship, the first email is only part of the equation. The follow-up is vital!

According to WoodPecker, a single follow-up can elevate your initial response rate by 40%. For example, if your first email scored a 6% response rate, a follow-up email could increase the score to 8.5%. A Propeller CRM study revealed that campaigns with 4-7 emails per sequence generated 3X more responses than sequences with 1-3 emails. 

It’s essential to track when you send an email and follow up if you don’t hear back from your recipient within a reasonable amount of time. The rule of thumb is to wait 2-3 days before following up on your initial email, then extend the waiting period by a few days for the subsequent emails.

Don’t use follow-up emails as constant reminders that your recipients should respond to your original email. Always provide additional value with each subsequent email. That could be a link to a case study, customer testimonial, or anything else that builds value or credibility.

Experts recommend sending up to 6 follow-up emails within 3-4 weeks. If you don’t receive a response within this timeframe, move on to new (and possibly interested) prospects.

11. Doing Email Outreach Manually

You wear many hats as an entrepreneur. You have duties to delegate, clients to contact, deals to close, and possibly a startup idea that will revolutionize your industry if only you can find the time.

You might get some free time on your hands, but rather than relax or catch up on some reading; you might use that time to set up an email outreach campaign. Maybe it’s for your current business. Maybe it’s for a product or service you want to launch soon. Whatever the reason, this is probably a bad idea.

Here’s why: it’s labor-intensive and time-consuming. 

You’ll need to build an email list and research your prospects. You must craft compelling subject lines and relevant email body copy that distinguishes you from your competition while still being useful and interesting enough to prompt a response. This takes time and practice—time you spend on other important matters.

Outreach email automation comes in here. 

Most email outreach platforms are freemium models, where basic features are free, and advanced features come at a cost. But all of them can save you hours and hours of manual work while helping you build meaningful relationships with influencers and decision-makers.

The best email outreach tool takes care of all the hard work associated with your outreach marketing campaigns under one roof. That includes:

  • Building a list of verified email addresses
  • Customizing outreach email templates
  • Scheduling emails
  • Setting up sequences, and
  • Tracking vital metrics

All within one window and a few clicks. 

How to choose an email outreach tool

Below are critical features to look for in email outreach software:

  • Customizability: Most tools, including Postaga, can automatically insert unique data for every recipient. 
  • Email scheduling: Look for a platform that allows you to schedule outreach emails and follow-ups. 
  • Integrations: The best cold email outreach platform integrates several email providers, productivity tools, CRMs, and other vital apps. 
  • Analytics: A good outreach tool should provide insight into critical email metrics, including delivery rates, open rates, CTR,  and bounce rates. It becomes easy to adjust your campaigns to be more effective. 
  • Scalability: Look for a platform that can grow with your business needs. 
  • Compliant: Spam is not only impolite, but it’s also illegal. A reputable outreach marketing tool ensures all your emails are compliant to keep you off the spam denylist.

That’s All, Folks

When done right, outreach marketing is a terrific way to grow your business. However, there are plenty of ways it can go wrong—or right, as the case may be. 

Most of these email outreach mistakes are fixable with some thought and preparation. Put forth the effort, and you’ll have an easier time attracting the attention of valuable influencers and decision-makers to your business. Ultimately, you grow your business’s exposure and sales.