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Boost Your Response with Cold Email Marketing for Recruiters

By: Luella Delano
Updated: December 13, 2023
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Successful cold email marketing for recruiters depends heavily on making a genuine effort to engage with your candidates or clients meaningfully. This is harder to do than it sounds. Traditional recruiting agencies typically get a modest response rate of 15–20% with cold emails, meaning only 2 out of 10 people are likely to respond—which is not impressive at all.

So what’s the solution?

While improving the content of your emails is an obvious step, given that 73% of talent is passive, is crafting compelling emails enough? The resounding answer is no.

Ultimately, structuring your campaigns properly plays a crucial role in cold email marketing for recruiters. We’ve gathered key insights and strategies to help recruiters improve their recruiting cold emails and significantly increase response rates.

The Difference between Warm and Cold Email Marketing for Recruiters

Email marketing for recruiters involves promoting job opportunities instead of physical products. It’s marketing with a twist.

In the sales world, we have warm and cold calls. In recruiting, we have warm and cold emails.

The main difference lies in the recipient. Warm emails are sent to candidates who have already applied and shown interest in a position. These individuals are engaged with the opportunity.

On the other hand, cold emails are sent to candidates who may not actively be looking for a job or who are indifferent to a specific job opening. This adds complexity, since only the recruiter and hiring manager have a vested interest in collaboration. The job itself needs effective marketing and a persuasive sales pitch.

Writing impactful cold email copy is crucial in grabbing a candidate’s attention and generating a positive response in this complex recruitment landscape.

Two Key Categories of Cold Email Marketing for Recruiters

Personalized Cold Emails

Crafting personalized cold emails presents a significant challenge, requiring thorough research into candidates’ social networks, projects, and accomplishments. Aligning this information with your job opening is a meticulous process.

The payoff for this effort is clear, as personalized emails typically generate a higher response rate. These messages stand out, avoiding the stigma of spam and fostering increased conversion rates and candidate loyalty.

Generic Cold Emails

In the fast-paced world of email marketing for recruiters, time is often a scarce commodity for recruiters. This is where non-personalized or generic cold emails come in, providing an efficient alternative. Particularly useful for high-volume recruiting and junior positions, these emails bypass the time-intensive nature of personalization, offering a practical solution for reaching a wider candidate pool.

Improving Response Rates in Recruiter Outreach Emails

According to Open View Partners, only about 20–25% of candidates usually respond to recruitment offers. However, with some strategic efforts, it’s possible to increase the email response rate for passive candidates to an impressive 65%.

How can you achieve this?

Choose the Right Candidates to Email

Successful cold email marketing for recruiters depends greatly on your selection of message recipients.

Avoid sending emails to just anyone, since that approach is not only inefficient but also increases the chances of being marked as spam.

Instead, take the time to create a curated list of candidates using platforms like LinkedIn or GitHub.

While building the list, try to find common interests or connections. Whether it’s participating in the same online community or sharing an interest in similar publications, finding common ground will increase the chances of your email standing out in their inbox.

Make Sure Your Subject Line Pops

Think about this—around 35% of people decide whether to open an email just based on the subject line. Yes, you heard that right.

In cold email marketing for recruiters, the key to getting people’s attention lies in the subject line. Even if you put a lot of effort into writing the email itself, many recruiters find it challenging to come up with an attention-grabbing subject line. This can undo all their hard work.

Creating an effective subject line takes time and effort. Otherwise, your email might not even get read or, worse, end up in the spam folder.

Before you start crafting your subject line, consider these important factors:

Clarity—Does your subject line clearly convey the message you want to get across? Avoid clickbait, because it can mislead people and lead to your emails being flagged as spam. Tactics like adding “RE:” or “FWD:” or insisting on “IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED” might increase open rates at first, but they can also annoy people in the long run.

Length—Shorter is better. MailChimp suggests keeping subject lines to a maximum of 9 words and 60 characters. Aim for a sweet spot of 2-6 words, especially for mobile readers, who might see cut-off subject lines if they’re too long.

Personalization—According to HubSpot, emails that include the recipient’s first name in the subject line tend to have higher click-through rates. Customize your subject line to address specific hiring needs, geographical preferences, or shared connections.

Curiosity Without Spamminess—Avoid using spammy tactics that can make you seem like a scammer. Instead, strive to spark curiosity without giving away too much. Subject lines like “Are you our next exclusive Software Developer?” or “We’ve been looking for a top-tier Engineer like you” strike the right balance.

Organize the Content Effectively

When writing your message, remember the following important elements:

Sender’s Identity—Make your cold email marketing for recruiters more personable. Instead of just using your company’s name, introduce yourself by name. This increases the chances of recipients opening your email. Adding an HTML email signature can also make the sign-off more personal, leading to a higher reply rate.

Clarity—Avoid lengthy emails with extensive descriptions about your client’s digital technology leadership position. Instead, your cold email marketing for recruiters should focus on briefly highlighting the role you’re looking to fill and the corresponding offer.

Anti-Spam Measures—Avoid using trigger words like “MAKE MILLIONS” or overly enticing phrases in the subject line to prevent spam filters from catching your email.

Call-to-Action—Encourage recipients to take action. Clearly instruct them on what to do if they are interested in the vacancy. Provide a point of contact such as offering a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. For instance: “I’m excited to discuss this opportunity further. Please let me know if you are interested in our job.”

Mind Your Approach in Addressing Recipients

Cold email marketing for recruiters is more effective when you address your recipients in their preferred way. When interacting with someone, it’s important to consider their generational background.

For individuals from Generation X, it’s appropriate to use a more formal greeting like “Hello, Travis Sanders.”

When addressing individuals from Generation Y or Z, a less formal greeting such as “Good afternoon, Travis” is more suitable.

Read Your Message before Hitting ‘Send’

This may get the Duh of the Year award, but make sure to review your email before sending it. Check for any grammar errors, jargon, or unnecessary formalities. Also, when doing a final read-through, make sure to look for plagiarism and spelling mistakes. Lastly, consider the tone of your email.

Use a Series of Cold Email Marketing for Recruiters

This approach, commonly used in various marketing initiatives, involves sending personalized emails to users based on their behavior. It’s a versatile strategy applicable to promoting products across different industries, including recruiting.

To streamline the process and reduce manual effort, use automation tools to manage these email sequences.

Initial Outreach—The first email in a sequence of cold email marketing for recruiters is the job offer. When crafting this message, follow these tips:

  • Use a compelling subject line
  • Address the recipient by name
  • Explain how you found them
  • Share why they are of interest to you.
  • Provide information about the company, the role, and its objectives.
  • It’s recommended to include a call-to-action, but don’t be too pushy or make the candidate feel pressured.

Follow Up for Non-Response—If there is no response, send a second email as a gentle reminder. Introduce yourself, acknowledge the initial offer email, and reiterate the key information. Avoid blaming the recipient for their silence.

Responding to a Negative Reply—Receiving rejections is not ideal, but it’s better than one-sided emails with no responses. Express gratitude for the candidate’s attention, convey openness to future collaboration, and subtly ask about potential professional recommendations. Include the job link once again for reference.

Engaging Interested Candidates—When you receive a positive response, express genuine pleasure and offer various contact options for the candidate. This helps guide their attention towards a specific action and facilitates ongoing communication about the offer.

Cold Email Marketing for Recruiters’ Final Cut

As recruiters, it’s essential that we understand the finite nature of our contacts and use every tool available to reach our intended audiences. Cold email marketing for recruiters, when done effectively, is a powerful way to tap into passive talent pools. With some strategic planning, recruiters can start boosting their response rates—and successfully hiring top talent.

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