Seven steps to the perfect first email

photo of Kate Taylor
by Kate Taylor match.com’s dating and relationship expert
Seven steps to the perfect first email

Writer’s block? Struggling to think of the right thing to say to an attractive match? Here’s match.com’s relationship expert Kate Taylor with dating advice on how to give great copy.

Anyone who’s ever dated online has had that moment – the blinking cursor, the empty text box, the racing heart, and the brain so temporarily empty, it has tumbleweed running through it. But…relax. Make yourself a soothing cup of tea, and we’ll talk about how to do it right.

1. Make sure your profile is complete before you email anyone

This is basic, but sometimes daters forget that the first thing a match will do when they receive an interesting email is click on the profile of the person who sent it. If your profile is half-finished, or Arctic in its brevity, or doesn’t include photos, most likely you won’t receive a reply. For more advice, check out our top tips for writing your online dating profile.  Once that’s done, the next step is to…

2. Create an intriguing subject line

Again, don’t panic – it doesn’t have to be the best, most perfect subject line in the history of email. Just aim for something pithy and personalised. If your match mentions loving a specific film, use a quote from it as your subject. If they love a certain stand-up comic, use the beginning of one of their jokes (Google is your friend at times like these). Create something that’s witty and warm and demonstrates you’ve read their profile, as opposed to just flicking through their photos. Then…

3. Use their name

Research has shown that people warm towards hearing their own name in conversation. Use that scientific discovery to your own advantage, by starting your email with a “Hello [Username]” and not a non-specific “Hi.” If you want to create a feeling of warmth, shorten their name, use its initials, or create a nickname based on one of their interests. Make it sweet and fun.

4. Talk about them

Everyone loves to read about themselves, so don’t begin your message by launching straight in about you. Instead, start by saying what caught your eye about their profile. If it’s just their dazzling smile or their sparkly blue eyes, that’s fine! If their profile made you laugh out loud in the middle of Tesco, say it. If you despaired of ever meeting a woman who loved football (even if you question her choice of team), say it.

5. Ask a question

The easiest way to start a conversation with anyone new is to ask a question, so include one. Tailor it to their interests or their work, or even one of their photos. Ask open questions that require more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ reply, because these are more interesting to answer. So, “You looked like you were having a blast on your skiing holiday! I’ve been skiing many times. Where would you most like to go skiing that you haven’t been yet?”

6. Be brief

A good first message is sweet, and short. One hundred words is about right: long enough to include a compliment, to say what caught your eye about their advert, mention something you have in common, and to ask a leading question. Don’t feel you have to sell yourself or introduce yourself too much – as we’ve said, they’ll definitely visit your profile and read about you there. Just aim to get a conversation going. Plus, the shorter your first email, the more intriguing you’ll be. As they say in showbiz, leave them wanting more.

7. Check the time of your email

You might say you’re busy and leading a fun, full life, but if you’re sending emails at 9.00 on a Saturday night, how busy can you be..? Similarly, if you claim to love your job but the time stamp on your message says you sent it at 9.30 on a Monday morning, your reader might doubt your career ethic. Stick to neutral hours, like lunchtimes and early evening. Ideally, write it before you leave the house to do something interesting. That way you’ll be in a positive mood, you won’t be tempted to write too much, and you’ll be too busy to keep checking for a reply.

See? It’s easy! Have fun writing your emails, and enjoy the process of meeting someone new. And when you do, we’ll be pleased to receive an email from you, telling us all about it.

For more helpful tips head over to our advice pages or blog!