How to Write a Business Email Prospective Clients Will Never Forget

Writing business emaisl

All day long, we send business-related emails to clients, co-workers, and beyond.

But are you writing the best possible emails that reflect well on your business and help you build meaningful relationships?

As an author and speaker on business communication skills, I teach people the power of effective writing and networking. So often the littlest detail of an email can make the strongest impression. That’s why my professional mantra is “Write well, open doors!”

In this article, I’ll break down the typical business email, explain my approach for each section, and then show you a sample email that applies the lessons.

Sound good? OK, let’s get to it.

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The subject line

Make a note of this sentence: the details always make the difference.

The details always make the difference.

Let’s say you went to the ShopTalk conference, made a great connection with a prospective client, and want to send an email to further the conversation once you get home.

The typical email subject line is something like, “Following up.”

But the words “Following up” do not stand out in a crowded inbox. The better move is a subject line like:

“Following up from ShopTalk conference.”

The words “ShopTalk conference” are specific, and the recipient will likely spot your email faster in a scrolling list of new messages.  

Details in the subject line are crucial.

The email intro

Writing business emails: Intro

We write business emails for a million different reasons. But the goal each time is to: 

  • Hold the reader’s attention
  • Prove authenticity
  • Make the person feel valued

So, you already wrote a strong subject line. Now keep the dialogue going with the potential new client from the ShopTalk conference. What do you write next?

First, a bit of small talk.

Hey, Jane. Great to meet you at ShopTalk conference. Have your ears recovered yet from the way-too-loud rock band on Saturday night? Mine are still ringing!

Short and sweet, but it’s better than discussing business immediately. That could be perceived as too pushy.

Then — and this part is critical — you need to “give the love.” What do I mean? Prove that you’ve studied up on the other person (or the person’s company), and find their work impressive. Give a clear example of a recent project — again, the details make the difference.

Remember, if you want someone to take an interest in you, then you must first take an interest in them.

Remember, if you want someone to take an interest in you, then you must first take an interest in them.

As an example:

I did more research on your company, Tech Logistics. Congrats on your recent traffic study in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Transportation. The website that houses all the data is clean and easy to navigate, too.

It’s so impressive that your team drove 15,000 miles in one month to gather all the data! Were you the one driving the entire time?

Notice what I did here. I didn’t write, “Your company does great work!” Not. Good. Enough. People can sniff out fake praise from a mile away.

No, I included specifics throughout, and I linked to the article to reinforce that I visited the website: 

  • Recent traffic study in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
  • Fifteen-thousand miles in one month to gather all the data.

I also asked a question at the end to encourage a response and allow the person to talk further about a project she’s passionate about. Let someone talk about the work they love to do, and you will build instant rapport.

You might also like: The Power of Community: How Nurturing Your Network Can Propel Your Business.

The ask

Writing business emails: The ask

Right after the intro, we employ another critical strategy: we make our “ask” right away. Too often, freelancers and/or agencies put the ask (what they want) at the bottom of the email — as if they’re too afraid to be up front.

Explain what you want early in the message so the reader has context.

I’m following up to explore ways my agency, ABC Research, can aid your team on future web design and development projects.

Simple and concise.

The evidence

Once the ask is well understood, you need to underscore why you’re worth the person’s time. I recommend three bullet points that highlight your experience and success rate.

As an example...

Here’s a quick snapshot of the work we’ve done recently:

  • Completed a major ecommerce site for XYZ Corporation, which carries a line of 11 different eco-friendly water bottles.
  • Developed a user-friendly database for home prices in Sacramento that updates every five seconds and shows prices in real time.
  • Designed a series of animated videos that teach financial literacy to more than 5,000 middle schoolers, in 17 school districts, throughout Wisconsin.

Again, I’m all about the details:

  • Eleven different eco-friendly water bottles.
  • Updates every five seconds and shows prices in real time.
  • More than 5,000 middle schoolers, in 17 school districts, throughout Wisconsin. 

If your business has a positive track record, share it. This is why a personal/company blog is a game-changer. When you need to convince someone your business is legitimate, go to your blog and grab three examples of your work. Drop them into your email and boom — that’s all the proof they need.  

Wrap up the email with a line like:

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon.”  

And there you have it — a well-constructed message with thoughtful strategy at every turn.

To recap, a memorable business emails includes:

  • A subject line with a key detail so it stands out (the detail could also be a mutual connection — “Following up, friend of Dave Wilson”).
  • Small talk if you have a relationship already or it feels appropriate to do so.
  • Research on the person’s company to show genuine interest.
  • The “ask” high up in the message.
  • Specific examples of your own past performance.

In total, the message should make you sound authentic, and someone worth talking to further.

Sample business email: How to introduce yourself to a prospective client for the first time

Writing business emails: Sample

In the example below, I include the email sections I discussed up above. I did omit the “small talk” portion because this is a cold email, and we don’t yet have a relationship or any past conversation to draw upon. 

See how we “name drop” the person’s company in the subject line. Right away, the tactic makes the email feel customized to the recipient and will help the open rate.

Subject line: Smart new resource for [name of person’s company]

Hi ______,

I’m [first and last name] with [name of company], [and then a short line about what the company does so the reader has context; for instance, “a premier web design and development company”].

I hope you’re doing well.

I’m writing you because I think [name of person’s company; for instance, “the team at American Pet Supply”] would like to learn more about [name of company; for instance, “Superb Web Design and Development”]. [Why should the person care? Why does your business matter? For instance, “We offer great-looking websites at affordable prices for small business owners”].

In the above section, you need to explain the purpose of the email and why your company matters (AKA the “ask”). People are busy, so make your main point high up in the message to prove your worth.

Then, add one sentence to show you studied the company’s website. It’s a powerful way to prove you didn’t send the same email to 100 merchants. Be as specific as possible.

Also, I want to tell you that I enjoyed the photos from the recent Bark Bark 5K race you sponsored. The chihuahua with the running shoes? Too funny!

Remember, it’s not only about selling products. It’s about building a relationship.

Now, show people results. Here, you need to provide an example of a recent success, with data to back you up.

Since we began Anderson Web Design and Development in 2013, we’ve worked with more than 200 clients across California. On average, clients rate our service a 9.6 out of 10, and often mention our professionalism and ability to stay on deadline.

However you define and quantify success in your business, provide at least one clear example. Make sure the case study has metrics. Otherwise, you have no proof.

A bit more information on [name of company]:

  • We always offer a complimentary initial meeting to learn about your goals for the new website or web development project.
  • You’ll be given a project manager who oversees the project, and serves as your primary point of contact.
  • We also provide training to help your team make modifications to the completed site and add new content.

Please let me know your thoughts. I’m happy to answer any questions and hope we can start a conversation.


– Your first name

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Deeper insight

It’s tough to win over a stranger in a “cold call” email, but you give yourself the best odds with a message that’s designed to gain someone’s trust. From there, you may move into conversations about selling your product/service and get to deliver a proposal and submit a statement of work.

Once more for emphasis: The details always make the difference.

How can you stand out in your next business email? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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