3 basic tenants of (prospecting) email etiquette

by Erika Cannon
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We all email, all day, everyday. But emailing someone you don’t know is different from emailing your coworker, your friend, your mom, or even a referral. So you have to pay attention to a different set of rules when prospecting with email.

The three basic tenants of good email etiquette are:

  1. Identify your customer. Many companies don’t know who they do business with, and you don’t want to reach out to a bunch of people who couldn’t or wouldn’t do business with you. Look at your current customers and define them by their industrial codes (SIC or NAICS), their annual revenue, number of employees, location, and title of the person you do business with. Then look for other companies that fit that firmagraphic. That’s your prospect universe.
  2. Work with a reputable list provider to find an accurate database of contacts who match your customer firmagraphics. If buying a list, expect emails to cost about $1 each. Any less, they’re no good.
  3. Nurture your prospects. Don’t sell to them. Yes, I said do not sell to them. Be gentle! These prospects have never met you before. Ease into it. Carefully worded emails can help establish you as a trusted authority in your marketplace, gently shaking your prospect’s electronic hand before you both agree to have a conversation. Your prospect gets to know you with kind regularity, and by the time he is in the right amount of pain to need you, your email in in his inbox with exactly the information he needs to know to get relief.


Prospects may seem fierce like T-Rex, but they’re softer than they look. Treat them gently.

If you follow these steps, email becomes a partner in your prospecting efforts.


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