Enough Boring Email Headlines! Case Study: This Redo Really Rocks

Here’s the headline of a sales pitch email that landed (with a thud) recently in my inbox:

Checking in one more time. “Checking in one more time?” Wow. Sales approaches — especially cold ones — don’t get much less effective than that.

Ordinarily, I would’ve just zipped it right into the trash. Then, I got the idea to turn it into a blog post that offers suggestions for refashioning a poor pitch and for amping up communication that plods so it packs power and purpose, instead.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 2.15.22 PM

The Headline

Look at the score that came up when I plugged the sender’s headline  into the Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer. (A fabulous site, by the way.) 0.0% Not surprising. It doesn’t tell me what the marketer is selling. It doesn’t tell me how I can benefit — and it turns out I can’t, anyway, because I don’t ever use the kind of services that this company offers. (I’ll get to that point later.)

Five words. At least the headline is brief. But that’s about it. The only thing it tells me is that this person tried, unsuccessfully, to get me to respond before. These five words say nothing to me, as a potential client, aside from giving me the sense the sender is desperate.

We’ve heard this before, of course, but it’s worth repeating: Headlines must grab.

  • They must be focused on the customer.
  • They must be specific.
  • They must be compelling.
  • They must give enough information to make a recipient want to open the email.

Short is fine, as long as it accomplishes these goals. This one doesn’t do that. Still, it offers a great case study for creating one that would.

Headline Makeover

I opened the email and discovered this business arranges conferences and meetings. So, this might be one angle for a sales pitch: We are experts at arranging meetings and conferences and can relieve you of headaches and hassles if you outsource these logistics to us.

Okay, so with that assumption, I crafted a new headline. My aim was to use just five words, as well. The idea, though, was to make them descriptive enough that the headline would let potential clients see how they could benefit and prompt them to open the email, not trash it.

My version of a headline for this pitch is this: Host a Conference Hassle Free. It took me less than three minutes. It’s not perfect. But it is a heck of a lot clearer than that email I received yesterday.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 2.14.30 PM

If, in real life, I actually received the redone version, I likely would have still trashed the email. After all, I don’t plan conferences. If I did host conferences, however, and I saw the redone version of the headline, I might be inclined to at least open the email and peek at the message.


Getting your prospects to open the email is the first chore. The next is coming across as competent, confident and professional. Re-read any pitch you plan to send and hunt for clunkers like these to strike:

  • I just wanted to…
  • check in with you one more time…
  • since I haven’t heard back from you…
  • I was wondering…
  • If it is possible…

These and other qualifiers litter this sender’s three paragraph email. Even in the body of the email, it doesn’t say what the company can do for me, as a potential client.

It seeks, instead, to arrange a phone call to tell me about the company’s “innovative solutions” — jargon that doesn’t tell me anything that lets me understand why I might need this company’s products or services. Not to mention how I might benefit from them. I’m quoting here: “I was wondering if it is possible to jump on a quick 10-15 minute call with you to share more about what we do and why I believe our services would benefit you a great deal.”

Don’t give potential prospects the chance to answer your questions with “no.” Once they do, you — and your pitch — are done.

Also, the body of the pitch must be in the active voice. This post discusses some great, clear words that help do that. The rest of the pitch email needs to do the same thing the headline does, in terms of making it clear what, specifically, the product or service would do/fix/complete/make easier for potential clients. Unfortunately, none of that came across in this case.


A little legwork goes a long way, when it comes to making pitches. Don’t waste your time, or the time of potential clients, by sending emails that are totally irrelevant. A pitch that is not targeted or personalized has as much relevance as a generic cover letter. None.

It turns out that this business owner is a 3rd degree contact within my LinkedIn network. My website is provided there, as are the services I offer and clients I serve. Never do I mention hosting conferences. However, if I did, then it would’ve been a much savvier approach to ask for an introduction to me through the mutual contacts in our professional networks. A warm call is always, always better than a cold one.

These tips about the headline, the body and approach to pitching by email are basic, I realize. Common sense, you might say. And yet, you know what they say about common sense not being so common!

If this helped at all, please let me know. If you have other pet peeves in pitches that have gone awry, feel free to weigh in, as well.

Written by


  1. Enough Boring Email Headlines! Case Study: This Redo Really Rocks

    I agree, they are common sense ideas, but I guess if someone is in a rush they send out ill thought out messages. I know I am guilty of this too and I’ve been in marketing for several years now. I like the headline analysis link.

    I’ve noticed some really great ‘how to articles’ appearing on the web now that really show ‘good’ processes to follow and your 4 points about headlines is a ripper: specific, focused, compelling with enough information provided.
    I like it!

    • Enough Boring Email Headlines! Case Study: This Redo Really Rocks

      Thanks, Nigel! Glad to hear you found the tips helpful.

Leave a Comment