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Writing persuasive messages to optimize reply rates

September 22, 2021

Master the art of writing short emails

As you can see from the graph below there is a considerable drop in reply rates for emails with less than 50 words. Similarly the reply rates decline slowly from 50% for 125-word messages to about 44% for 500-word messages. And then it stays level until ~2000 words, then plummets precipitously. The sweet spot for the ideal email length is between 50-125 words which yields response rates above 50%.

Another reason why you might want to keep you emails short is the due to the size constraints on mobile. An iPhone will show about 120 words at a time—even with breaks between paragraphs. If you need to write more consider keeping the most important information of your message within the first 120 words and use hyperlinks effectively to direct candidates to landing pages(career, company, culture pages) where you can share more information.

Shape content by candidate sentiment

The following pie chart shows the distribution of today’s workforce across different generations. Also study shows that ~56% of companies say they’ve recently updated policies to appeal to a multigenerational workforce.

The following represents the percentage of people who selected the following as a top factor
when considering a new job. Inspirational colleagues and culture looks like the top priority across all generations. However there is a subtle difference in Gen-Z and boomers. Gen Z wants training,
Boomers crave purpose!

Flexible is the new normal

More employees want flexibility. Employees expect to reclaim their work-life balance through flexibility: the freedom to work where and when they want. There is 78% increase in job posts on LinkedIn that mention work flexibility since 2016. The below chart represents the percentage of LinkedIn members who say flexible work arrangements are very important when considering a job.

Use deep personalization for initial outreach

Moderately personalized messages see almost the same response rates as impersonal messages. There are entire websites and twitter feeds dedicated to SPAM messages that recruiters have sent to candidates. Emails with badly automated personalization, ones that are badly targeted and generic templated emails comes across as SPAM. Your brand’s reputation will be instantly left in tatters!

There is little to no chance candidates will reply and probably just be ranting and raving your message on social media. When you have only once chance to connect and establish a meaningful relationship with candidates, do you really want to frittered the opportunity away so easily with general messages?

To stand out from the barrage of job offers that top talent is receiving you’ll need to take a deep personalization approach. Study shows that majority of the candidates want to hear why you’re reaching out to them in the initial outreach.

Do your research and understand their skill sets and interests, the projects and initiatives your potential hire has been involved in at their current company. Then message your initial outreach by emphasizing on what they could bring to the role and offer your job opportunity.

Personalization need not be time consuming

But personalization can really time consuming. Well, not exactly! Even simple personal references can make a huge difference. The bar is so low with cold recruitment emails, that a three minute profile search and research is more than enough to stand out. Here’s an example showing how just 3 minutes of googling can completely transform the quality of your email.

The idea here is to search the candidate on google, find their social profiles and extract some unique information. In this case, spending some time on Jane’s social profiles reveals that she is really into snowboarding, and has even won an award last week. Voila! Your outreach message just became highly personalized and you’ve drastically increased the chance of getting a reply from Jane.

Leverage video to source candidates

Emails with videos see a 5x higher open rates and 8x higher open-to-reply rates. There is a huge potential for recruiters to leverage videos to engage candidates and increase response rates. When reaching out to passive talent it’s essential to draft a compelling pitch to capture their attention and educate them on why they should consider your job offer. This is where video can help!

Study shows that 96% of consumers find videos helpful when making purchases online. Candidates are researching companies in the same way as they do any other major purchasing decision. Recruiters can leverage videos to effectively introduce and market their company to new candidates. Especially if you’re sourcing millennials, video could be even more effective in sourcing. Research shows that younger people identify with video content: 40% of 18-24 year olds watch videos on their smartphone more than 10 times a week. If you are using a video consider including the word “video” in your subject line and add a video thumbnail to your email text(increases the click through rate).

Make the next steps clear

Every email you send needs to have a clear next action. Candidates are more responsive when they are given clear directions. Being ambiguous doesn’t help. The way you sign off each message is crucial.

Possible next steps could be: a simple ‘reply’ with availability for a call, availability for a meeting, formal interview etc. Make sure that you minimize the friction and effort it takes for the candidate to express interest. The less metal energy they have to expend, the better.

We recommend using call to actions that aim to get prospective candidates on the phone so you can have the real conversation there. This is termed as soft-selling. A sales approach that creates a more low-pressure sales experience for prospects. With soft-selling you focus more on subtle persuasion and casual, friendly language. Here’s some actual data(based on an analysis of 304,174 emails) from sales emails that proves this point.

  • Specific CTA: Asks for a meeting using a specific day and time. Example: Are you available to meet on Tuesday at 4 PM?
  • Open-ended CTA: Asks for a meeting, but it’s open-ended. Example: Do you have time next week to meet?
  • Interest CTA: Asks for interest, not a meeting. Example: Are you interested in learning more about X?

Use Interest CTA for cold emails

The Interest CTA is the highest performing call to action for cold emails. Once you get the nod that they’re interested, then move towards setting a meeting.

Use Specific CTA for deals

But the moment prospect enters the sales cycle switch to using the Specific CTA. This tactic more than doubles meetings booked.

Reason: Removing friction helps your buyer make decisions faster.

Invite candidates for a conversation about what they’d want in their next opportunity rather than selling them a job opportunity. Ask them if they are open to hearing more about the role and tell them that you to find out if their aspirations are truly aligned with your position. Example:



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