When trying to get new orders, many freelance translators and translation agencies get the contact information of potential clients, and then send them emails and messages on social networks offering their services. But 99% of these messages are deleted unread. Why does this happen and how do we avoid it?
Emails to everyone and anyone
Most emails do not contain the recipient’s name. They begin with “Dear vendor manager!” or “Dear colleagues!” or simply “Hello!” without mentioning the recipient or company name — which shows that thousands of people have been sent this email and the recipient is just one of these. In other words, instead of being an offer of cooperation for a specific person, the email is nothing more than you calling out to a crowd of people. The recipient will not feel compelled to respond to you, especially considering that he or she receives many such mass emails.
People buy from people. This is an axiom for the seller, including in the field of translation. If you want to get a reaction — show who you really are treat the recipient as a real person. This is more difficult than sending out hundreds of emails with the push of a single button, but the desire to respond to personalized emails is greater. Mass mailing is carpet bombing, while a personalized email aims right at the target.
This point is similar to the previous one. If the recipient of the email is a company from Poland specializing in financial translations, and you work with the English-Korean language pair, then what use are you? A quick glance at the company’s website is sufficient to see that it does not require your services, no matter how good they are. What is the point of bothering this company? Why did you spend your time promoting services that the company would clearly not need? Oh yeah, but you didn’t spend time on it — you simply clicked the “Send” button. And for the recipient this is instantly obvious.
Instead of sending hundreds of emails from a large email database in the hope that at least one or two of the recipients will “bite,” you should seek out companies that really require your skills. To do this, you just need to have a look through the company website. And if there is insufficient information on the website, find out if they need translators like you. This is the first step in the purchase funnel — to find out what a potential client needs. If the client does not require your services, any attempts to sell to that person are pointless.
Emails from the “best”
Many emails are replete with self-praise along the lines of: “We offer the highest quality!”, “There is no one better on the market,” etc. But even if the recipient opens such an email, he or she will simply ignore these words. For the recipient, this is the least informative part of the email: they are platitudes without facts, and are completely useless to the recipient. Anyone can call himself or herself “the best.” Have you ever met a seller or consultant who would say: “Our product is not the best”?
To prove your high level of professionalism, you need to offer something more convincing than simple self aggrandizement. “I worked as a personal translator for the president for ten years” or “Take a look at the website of company XXX. This is what we have achieved!” — these are the facts, and they speak for themselves. And statements along the lines of “We are your dream team!” are more likely to be perceived as an attempt to muddy the waters and conceal your low level of professionalism.
Emails from “people who can do everything”
Quite often, emails are received from unknown companies, who claim that they work “with all languages.” An attempt by a foreign company to offer its services to an agency that works only with the language of its country looks particularly ridiculous — for example, when an Indian agency undertakes to translate into Russian for a translation agency from Russia.
Any company that undertakes to do everything will most likely not do anything well. And unless you are a monster company like TransPerfect or Lionbridge, then far from attracting clients, the endless list of language pairs you work with would act as a deterrent. After all, it is evident that it is impossible to ensure quality without a powerful and expensive vendor management system. And this means that you would simply hand on your orders to unverified translators from a translator website or other such open email database.
Imagine that you are approached by two companies with a proposal to translate into Czech: one is physically located in the Czech Republic and works only with Czech, while the other is somewhere in Malaysia and translates into hundreds of languages, including Czech. Which of them will you contact if you need a translation into Czech?
The answer is obvious — and so clearly you need to specialize.
Too many words
Do not flatter yourself: a long email listing all your achievements and containing a long-winded description of your work history will not impress anyone. It will simply be ignored: no one has time to read it. In the best case it will be skim read, and in the worst completely ignored.
The recipient of your email only needs to know the most important things about you — briefly and to the point. And that is what you need to include in your email. Do not burden the recipient with unnecessary information. When sending an email, your goal is to “grab the attention” of the recipient, and to show him or her that you are just the person he or she needs. If you succeed in this, later you will get the opportunity to talk about yourself in more detail.
Shoemaker without shoes
An email from a linguistic service provider is the first chance to demonstrate the quality of services on offer. And if you write “professional translator” in the subject line of the email, the recipient will not open it. Any typos, grammatical errors or unnatural sounding phrases will immediately kill off any desire to work with you: they point to a low level of professionalism. Therefore, it is vital that you carefully proofread your emails before sending them: the quality of the text should be no lower than the quality of the text in your translations.
Keep in mind that even an email written “according to all the rules” is no guarantee that a potential client will be interested in your services. But a poorly written or incoherent email addressed to nobody in particular practically guarantees that the client will not respond. The above tips are important, but do not guarantee that you will obtain a new client.