6 Email Hacks to Improve Your Outreach Strategies

April 3, 2015 at 1:07 PM by Kathleen de Lara

readCandidate emails can be likened to haikus. The 5-7-5 model need not apply, but there's a recipe for creating a concise message that's relevant and compelling.  

You've heard of hyper-personalization and nurturing a virtual relationship, but because the ball ultimately lies in a candidate's court, the key is opening up the conversation to influence an interpersonal reaction. Read: They don't toss your message.

Try these six techniques for increasing your email open and response rates with candidates. 

Time how quickly an email is opened

An email opened right away does one or all of three things: It was sent to the right person at the right time with a relevant, compelling subject line. If you can catch a candidate’s attention to get two-thirds of the hook, line, and sinker, you’ve mastered most of the hard part. Take note of email habits of candidates you’re reaching out and where they generally fall on the different levels of hierarchy at their company. Are junior candidates more likely to open your emails in the morning when they get into the office, during their lunch break, or after work hours? What about senior candidates? Candidates’ email habits also give you an idea of where checking their email falls on the list of priorities.

Be selective about when you follow-up

Pay attention to the time and frequency of someone opening your email, which indicates the best (and worst) times for sending the message and how much interest they have in what you’re sending them. This can be an optimal time to send them a follow-up since you’re top of mind. Setting reminders for following up with candidates is a good way to organize a multi-touch outreach plan, but the timing you’ve set may make sense to you and can be arbitrary (and inconsiderate) to recipients’ own habits and schedule. The best time to get in touch with someone is when they’re already thinking about you, clicking and reading your message. Using this info can also help build out how you set up additional follow-up emails.

Adjust your out of office auto-reponses

You’ve written a hyper-personalized message scheduled to send to a candidate during whichever prime hours you’ve found has the best open rates. The candidate opens it within the next two hours, and then again a few hours later. She responds to your message asking for more information about the role you presented, and gets hit with a canned automated response. Before stepping out of the virtual office, double-check your email response settings to make sure interested candidates aren’t getting the unintentional cold shoulder or a reply that sounds like it came from a robot.

Keep track of which links candidates are clicking in your emails

In any email you’ve sent to a candidate, you’ve likely included a few links in the main message or footer taking them to the job description, careers page, and recent press pieces. Depending on who’s sending the message to the candidate – whether it’s the recruiter, hiring manager, or CEO – links in the main portion of the message are for the most part the same - the role and/or careers pages. The links in your email footer, however, offer insight to what type of content different candidates are interested in learning about your company. Each person and each team may have differing email footers that may link to a press piece, product video, careers page, or the company blog. Take a look into what candidates are most interested in learning about your company, and how that has an influence on their response. You can also use this information to frame your follow-up message. Did they click a link taking them to a recent news article? Include a line in your email about how your company is building a great product, backed up by who’s paying attention and writing about it!

Craft the email, then add the recipient

Nothing pushes a candidate to trashing your email more than calling them by the wrong name. After sending dozens of emails, it’s easy to get into a quick cyclical rhythm, which may be efficient but can propel the sometimes inevitable slip-up. One of the easiest flubs to avoid is calling someone by the wrong name. Add the recipient’s name last to verify it matches with who’s name you used to start the message.

Test your email techniques on your coworkers

Practice the way you’re reaching out to candidates by using the same outreach methods in your internal messaging. Asking a coworker for a favor via email? Think of the message as you would a candidate email and apply the five tips above to make adjustments, considering your approach, phrasing, timing, and follow-up.

In addition to these tips, keep in mind candidates are most likely to leave their jobs right around the time of the yearly work anniversaries. Recruiters can time their outreach accordingly to engage candidates who may be more open to a new opportunity. Someone two years into a job is more open to transitioning to a new gig more than someone two months into a job. Honing your message and delivery is a work in progress for many hiring teams. Start tracking your open and response rates, and you’ll have a clearer understanding of your team’s interaction with top of the funnel talent.

What other outreach tips do you have to share? Tell us in the comments!

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