Email Marketing

How to Write a Cold Email

Warm up your audience


Anam Jalil


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Writing a cold email can be tricky. Cold emails are unsolicited emails so your prospect probably isn't expecting to hear from you.

They are sent for several different purposes which can include networking, establishing a business relationship, or even offering a job opportunity. However, here we will focus more on cold emails that are aimed at eventually attracting business.

You have no previous relationship with your client so getting the prospect's attention can be an ordeal.

Secondly, your potential customer may be a busy person so you need to write a great subject line in order to intrigue them to open your email. A cold email is different from a sales call - there is a high chance you won't get through to your audience at all if they don't open your email.

However, a cold email is less intrusive than a sales call and you may have more of a chance to calmly explain your value proposition to your audience and develop a mutual connection that may make a huge difference in the long run.

Therefore, you now need to learn the art of how to write a cold email from the subject line to the sign off - an integral part of email marketing.

First things first, a great subject line substantially improves the results of your cold email outreach as potential customers start opening your emails and checking out what you have to say.

No compelling subject line, no successful cold email campaigns! Cold email begins with a great email list and then moves on to crafting an excellent subject line, conveying the value proposition or the reason to network, and then ending with an excellent sign off.

That really isn't the end though, because sometimes cold emails are followed by a follow up - or a number of follow ups. Cold leads needs some nudging before they warm up and with all the noise competing for time - getting the prospect's attention is no easy feat.

Most of the time, cold emails fail in developing client relationships. Many people consider cold email outreach to be dead, but this really isn't the case.

A lot of businesses earn a lot of revenue with successful cold emails - as long as they are sending the right message to the right person and at the right time.

Let's back up a little and tell you more about what a cold email is and what to do if you are about to create your first cold email campaign.

Also Read: 6 Cold Email Call-to-Actions to Get More Positive Replies

What is a cold email?

What does the term cold email really mean? Whenever you send an email to someone you don't know, it's called a cold email. Such emails are a technique to reach out to customers that are not yet your customers but are potential customers.

The key to building a business relationship through cold emailing is to initiate a conversation, pitch an offer, and them send a number of follow ups or campaigns until a prospect converts.

You might have gotten cold emails in your Inbox from time to time. But if you're planning to attract an audience, you must divert from the traditional cold email format or stop using a regular cold email template and write something that stands out.

So if you want to successfully connect with potential clients, think from your audience's perspective. What would entice you to respond to a cold email? What ideas and business proposals would appeal to you? What makes a good subject line for you?

Cold emails are highly successful in certain situations. You can find a potential client on LinkedIn or another similar platform and work on making them your customer. Or if your job entails establishing ties with businesses, then a cold email can help to speak with reps from a business that you do not have a personal connection with yet.

Lastly, you can use a cold email to contact a celebrity, influencer, or sponsor to collaborate with your business or provide feedback.

Consider a sales conference where you can meet new customers but not pitch your sales ideas to them. You need to build a rapport and initiate an interesting conversation with them.

Doing so will help you learn about the audience you want to attract and explain to them what your business is all about. This is somewhat what a cold email campaign is all about.

You can perceive cold emails as starting a dialogue with people who you want to know about your business. A cold email will never directly approach the prospect and tell them that you would want to establish a business relationship from the get-go.

It will most likely take it step-by-step and gradually move conversations forward.

One day, those strangers could become your corporate partners, sponsors, or clients.

What should you add in a cold email?

There is no strict pattern that you need to follow when you write cold emails. The content depends on the kind of business you have and what your goal is in sending out these emails.

how to write a cold email pointers

However, remember that you need to describe your business and your interests to the audience without using a sales-y tone usually. No one wants to be sold to - and in the few lines you send, you shouldn't be telling your prospect that you want them to take something out of their wallet and pay you.

Here are some key concepts that you should follow when cold emailing:

  1. Use an excellent subject line: A poorly written subject line marks the end for a cold email campaign. The subject line is what gets people to open the email and arouses interest. Whether you are sending a blog post or using automated cold email sequences, your subject lines should arouse plenty of interest and add value for the target audience - aim for a catchy subject line.

  2. Personalize the opening line: You need to catch the reader's attention and mention how you got their contact in the opening line.

    When you write a cold email, in the email body, you can start with a line such as "It was nice to make your acquaintance at ______ event…". Introduce your company, mention your company name or business but also familiarize them with who you are. A personalized cold email is likely to get more attention. Tell them something that you both have in common in the cold email introduction or mention their pain point.

  3. Clarify your purpose: The main email body should outweigh other portions as it should contain more content. In a few lines, tell the prospect why you are contacting them and why you would want them to speak to you further. Your commercial motive can be made evident here but do not badger the recipient or sound too sales-oriented.

    When cold calling, prospects may not listen to you this long, but in cold emailing, you have the opportunity to take some time to explain why your message is important to a specific person.

    Ask questions that will push them to provide feedback.

  4. Conclude with a call to action (CTA): The right way to end any conversation is to engage with the other person. You can leave a question at the end to which they can respond. A cold email CTA tells the potential client what you would like him/her to do. You can give them a few options of actions you would like them to take or direct them towards your company website.

  5. Sign off properly: Since this is the first time, the reader is getting to know you, leave a formal signature entailing all information about your contact and job title. This will create room for further conversations. 

A cold email shouldn't end up being generic. Personalized cold emails get a lot more attention, so the reader knows that the purpose of the email was to specifically engage with them.

The key to successful B2B marketing is adding originality and personalization to your content. 

Is a cold email spam?

There might be hundreds of emails lying in the spam folder of your email account from different individuals or businesses. Are cold emails considered spam since they're addressed to unknown people? 

You might answer yes to this question, but there are significant differences between spam and cold emails. Let's go through the major differences:

  • Spam is one generic email sent to hundreds and thousands of recipients. There is no personalization in a spam email. 

On the other hand, a cold email is customized for each individual or business and is only sent to them rather than a list of people. 

  • A cold email's purpose is to build a relationship with a potential client. A spam email is written to attract customers and make them buy products. A cold email will only describe the product, not ask the recipient to try it out (not immediately, at least).

  • A cold email is directed toward a target audience and is customized accordingly. A spam email has no target audience and is sent to random people. 

  • The intent of a cold email is not to commercialize a product or business. However, spam email can have any purpose and is usually sent without much regard to whether the audience wants to see something like that.

When writing a cold email, don't forget that while the end goal is gaining a customer, you don't need to start selling immediately. So you don't have to advertise your products in the first email because the first aim is to start a conversation with the recipient. You can't go straight into sales manager mode in the same email that you are starting your first conversation in.

how to write a cold email spam versus email

Do people even open cold emails?

There are no numbers that show how many people end up opening and reading cold emails. Before sending a cold email, you may wonder whether the recipient will even open the email. 

However, you must take your chances and approach people through this technique. The more emails you send, the more the chance of the recipient reading them. But sending way too many is not only annoying but also illegal and is the perfect way to the spam folders.

Rather than sending out hundreds of cold emails to random people, do thorough research. Learn who you want to target and what benefits you might get from building a relationship with them. 

Send a personalized cold email and offer valuable content to the reader.

You can use a template from any website, but remember that the content you create will always feel more original and personalized than some copy-pasted words.

How to write a cold email

You need your cold email to be personalized, effective, and engaging enough to get responses. Just remember to keep it brief so you not only save the time of the reader but keep their interest.

how to write a cold email what to do

Another important aspect of cold emails that you must remember is grammar and language. Poor grammar and a focus on your business or yourself will get you nowhere. Using this step-by-step guide, you can understand exactly how to write a cold email.

Step 1: Search for lead email addresses

You need to start with proper research about your target audience, which includes finding their email addresses to approach them. You can use email finder tools or hire a lead generation company. 

If you're looking for the email addresses yourself, the very first platform you need to check is different social media pages. 

Another way to find an email address is to search on the company's website in the contact us section. LinkedIn is a great platform to find potential clients or you can also use tools such as Sales Navigator and Apollo.  

Step 2: Conduct proper research 

Once you get the email address, you need to conduct proper research about your lead. Learning about the recipient will help you understand what they like and dislike so you can follow a certain pattern in your email to address them correctly. 

This isn't time-consuming but will surely guide you to make the necessary personalization in your email body. During this research, you need to pick out details such as a problem that they might face to which your business has the solution. 

You need to know the necessary details about their company and the role the lead has in the company. You should also be aware of their hobbies and interests so that when you add a small paragraph about their interests, they know how invested you are. 

Step 3: Follow an outline

When you begin writing a cold email, create an outline that you want to follow. You can use a ready-made template or even write out a brief template yourself to guide you. Here's what a basic outline of a cold email looks like:

  • From line

  • Subject line

  • Introduction

  • Your pitch

  • A call to action (CTA)

  • Your signature

Step 4: Begin with a catchy "From" line

This is the very first thing that the recipient will view. You can decide what the “from line” should entail. The default setting is normally just your full name, but for a better outlook, you should follow a pattern similar to this: "Full name" from "Company name." 

The “from line” shouldn't include lengthy sentences, but it also shouldn't be too short without an explanation. You should always include your first name, so there is no confusion about who the email is really from.

Step 5: Use an interesting subject

The subject line is a summary of what the email is all about. The reader gets the first impression from the subject line. It is the first line he/she sees and this is where you can set yourself apart from cold calling. You can give the reader a sneak peek into what you are offering them.

Hence, you need to make it as intriguing as possible. Make sure you don't mention spammy words such as Free, or 10% off, as that may make you land in the spam folders.

If you don't pay attention to the subject line and end up writing a bad one, then your email could be ignored, or the recipient could just block further emails while forming a biased opinion. 

The subject line should be no longer than 5-6 words and should include personalized content such as the recipient's name. The most important purpose of the subject line is to prove to the recipient that the email is generated only for them rather than being spam. 

You can include your name, company name, and any other important information that may be useful to the recipient. 

Step 6: Introduce yourself tactfully

About 75% of your cold email is the cold email introduction and your pitch. So make it count. Within 125 to 200 words, you need to grab the reader's attention and prove your point. 

Your opening line should be a warm and friendly greeting, such as a Hi/Hello (first name). Don't make it formal. Introduce yourself by stating your name, business name, and why you're approaching them. 

Be clear that the email is written specifically for them. You can include their interest or hobby to prove this point. After a proper introduction, you need to give your elevator pitch. 

The pitch should include the reader's pain point that you researched and how it could affect them negatively. While doing so, identify another pain point that other clients tend to face. 

After this, introduce your business and how it works to remove the pain points for the reader. Then also, add in one or two extra benefits that your product provides. 

Step 7: Add a call to action (CTA)

After giving a proper introduction and elevator pitch, you need the reader to respond. A call to action (CTA) is the best way to engage them. This can include you asking the reader to collaborate with you and provide respectful feedback or it can be to have a quick chat at a specific date.

The ultimate goal of a CTA is to set a virtual meeting with the reader regarding your services. This meeting is meant to help you learn more about the lead while telling them more about yourself. 

You can leave a CTA such as "Would you be free for a brief call on Monday anytime between 1 pm and 3 pm?" To ensure that the reader will end up following the call to action, make sure that the CTA explains the purpose of the email. 

You should be clear about what you need the reader to do. The CTA should be as short as a single sentence without being vague. Even if you want to end up having a formal meeting with the lead, start small. Ask for their free time to schedule a call. 

Step 8: Use a perfect cold email signature 

You might think that the signature is the ignored part of the email, but it definitely leaves an impact on the reader. It is part of the message that you are trying to convey to the lead, so it has to be powerful. 

Before the signature, you should also close off with and ending like Kind regards, Looking forward to hearing from you, etc.

The signature should tell who you are and how the lead can contact you or find more information about your company. If you can craft a strong signature, then you are well on your way to ticking boxes on the list.

You want the signature to look trustworthy enough for the recipient to contact you and it should give your name, job title, contact information and maybe briefly mention what your company does. Sales emails should definitely include all of this.

An improper signature with little to no information will only lead the recipient to ignore the email. Don't add information that will be useless.

You can also add an HTML signature or a text signature with the help of a signature generator. 

Step 9: Keep a follow-up

At times even if the lead is interested, they might not respond. The email can be forgotten or just put aside for later. Hence, after sending a cold email, you need to keep a follow-up or send 2 to 3 more cold emails until you get a response. 

However, if you're sending more follow up emails, then maintain a gap of at least 3 to 4 days, so you don't end up annoying the lead. The first follow-up email should serve as a reminder to the lead that you've already sent them an email. 

The second follow-up email should be more than just a conversation. You can share a customer success story or a blog post that will intrigue the reader. You can even share information about your products and services. 

Another follow-up email, if needed, should include your CTA once more. This shows the lead that you're willing to move ahead with them if they're interested and normally consists of a message asking to schedule a call with them. You might want to automate these sequences with a cold email software.

If in case the lead never responds to the first and the follow-up emails, then enlist them in your CRM notes so you can reach out to them in the future. However, you might want to stop emailing them now.

Step 10: Write cold emails after revision

You can choose to track and improve your cold emails based on your metrics. If you have to send out 100 cold emails, try experimenting.

You can A/B test and change the subject line for 50 of them and see which batch gets the better response. 

Or you can try changing the signature for one group and compare the results with the other group. For this, it would be better to use a cold email software that can not only track the emails you send out but also run reports. 

Using different metrics in the software, you can judge which group had a higher open rate, click rate, and reply rate. These metrics can help you identify whether your emails are working or not and whether your subject lines are actually resonating with your audience.

You can also find out the issue of a low opening or reply rate. Maybe you emailed late at night, and your email got buried beneath other new emails for the recipient. For a better result, you should always come up with new ideas to attract your audience and see what clicks for them. 

A cold email needs to be perfect. To make it perfect, you need to test out different versions and methods. Only then can you manage to come up with the best cold email and end up using it regularly or follow the same template. So be consistent, and you'll write cold emails that actually work!

What is the best time frame to send cold emails?

how to write a cold email time

Have you conducted some research about which time is the best to send out cold emails? While there are different responses to this question, you need to think about which one is actually plausible. 

You need to send the cold email when the lead is able to give full attention to your content and can also get back to you. Keeping this in mind, anytime between 8 am and 9 am is the perfect time to send out emails. 

Why? The reason is simple and logical.

The first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up, is to check all your messages and emails. If your cold email is at the top for the recipient, then there are greater chances that they'll read it and also respond soon after. 

However, if you end up sending an email at night, the recipient might not open it. Their inbox might also get flooded with more emails, and your cold email will remain unopened somewhere at the bottom of the list. 

Nonetheless, conducting proper research to see when your cold emails receive optimal responses is crucial.

To aid in this, we highly recommend you read our detailed, comprehensive guide on How to Determine the Best Time to Send Emails. This will not only help you pinpoint the best time to dispatch your cold emails but also enhance your overall email marketing strategy.

Strategies for a successful cold email

We discussed earlier how you can write a good cold email and how it should be formatted. One thing we tend to forget is the strategy we need to use while trying to start a conversation with someone we don't know. 

Below are some strategies that can help increase the response rate for your cold emails:

  1. 25% reply rate formula: You reap what you sow is a common phrase that you must have heard. The same ideology applies to cold emails. The more effort you will put in, the better outcome you will get. You can use a cold email template that is tried and tested or convert used subject lines to suit your purpose.

A 100% customized cold email may even get you a 100% reply rate, but it is difficult to achieve. You need to know the target niche, goal, and value props. Understand your audience and learn what they are asking for. An improved response rate will be seen when you follow this idea. 

  1. Short email: Do you also get tired of long sentences and paragraphs? People do too. Keep your sentences short. The attention span of online readers is about 9 seconds, so make the most out of it. Get your message across but in a concise way. There is no need to write an email that can be the length of a blog post.

  2. Research: Rather than jumping on the pitch bandwagon, you can start with some research toward your lead. 

Approach them to ask if they'd be able to answer a couple of questions based on the research work that you're conducting. If the idea is relevant to them, people end up replying. This way, you can discern whether you want to pursue the client. 

  1. Ask someone for an introduction: While you might be inclined to send a cold email to a member of the company you want to approach, there might be a better way. 

Email someone from the company to get you introduced to a relevant member there. You can explore the best fit and then work toward building a business relationship. It is crucial to get in touch with the right person and make sure your email lands in right email account.

  1. Podcasts: Podcasts are really big these days. A lot of people are also interested in the idea of a podcast. You can send a cold email and ask the lead if they would be interested in collaborating with you. This is the quickest way to get a response from someone. 

  2. Multilingual: Remember, not everyone speaks or reads English. The company or any one of its members might speak a different language. 

After you have written your cold email, translate it to the relevant language before emailing it. Not only will this have a greater impact on the reader, but it will also show how keen you are to work with them or for them. 

  1. Customize all images: Adding customized images in your cold emails will get you more attention. If you add a picture of the customer or add their business logo, it will create a bigger impact. It will increase the reader's curiosity and your chances of getting a response. 

  2. Loom video: It's all about visuals these days. Adding a Loom video in your cold email or asking the reader permission to send them one will intrigue them more. You can send a Loom video explaining their pain point and how you or your company can provide relief. 

  3. Always ask for permission: Most emails just jump to the point and press you to purchase a product. Cold emails are more about personalization. Hence, always ask for the reader's permission before sending more information or pitching your sales idea. Your opening line should not be salesy.

  4. Add guarantee: Trust is a huge factor in cold emails. You need to add a guarantee to build their trust in you and have them approach you. For example, a money-back guarantee will ensure them a refund if things don't work out. 

  5. Make a performance-based offer: Since cold emails are about getting the right response from the right person, you can also make an offer. If your company is providing certain services, you can suggest that if you are unable to deliver the desired results, such as sales growth, then the lead doesn't have to pay you anything. 

This is a performance-based offer that only develops the prospect's trust in you or your business. 

You may not have come across these strategies commonly, but you can always try and test out new things. If your product or service is unique, you can use this to your advantage and get better response rates.

Benefits of an effective cold email strategy 

When multiple marketing options are available, you might wonder why you should go for cold emailing. You should be aware of how reliable and consistent cold emails can be. 

People go through social media ads whenever they open them. So if they don't open the social platform one day, they might skip out on an advertisement. An email will stay in the Inbox and wait to be opened. 

You can generate new leads with the help of cold emails. Once you generate a lead, you can continue to work on developing your sales pitch with them with follow ups or by sending them content such as a blog post.

Moreover, cold emails are great for networking. If you email someone about your product or service which they might not have heard of, they will be more interested in the idea. 

You can easily track your cold emails. You can tweak your strategies after reviewing the results and seeing how many people opened and responded to them. Viewing these results helps boost your productivity by knowing what your target audience really wants. 

Final thoughts on cold emails

Even though we are in an era where many believe that emails are obsolete, they still have a major role to play. Most business contacts tend to develop from emails, which is why cold emails are still relevant today. 

Cold emailing is a task that requires patience. But if successful, it can lead you to multiple customers and clients and alot more revenue. After all, you need to start a conversation with someone who has no idea about you or your business, so learning how to cold email is essential when attempting to master the craft.

Following the right format, grammar, tone, and language can make you a pro and if you get how to write cold email subject lines, there is no stopping you. Keep testing different strategies and techniques to find out what is working and what is not including the right formula for best cold email subject lines.

You never know; you might even find the secret to unlocking the highest response rate. It is all about testing and trying and finally finding the right mix.

However, cold emailing is never going to work if you don't get creative about it. So start writing your email draft and then hit send! Make sure you don't land in spam though - GoCustomer has got you there!

An image to showcase the email warmup feature

Reach more customers with your cold emails

Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    A cold email is an unsolicited email sent to a recipient who has no prior relationship with the sender. It is often used for sales or marketing purposes.
    The subject line is the first thing the recipient sees and can determine whether or not they open the email. A great subject line can increase the chances of the recipient reading the email and taking action.
    Follow-up emails are important in cold email outreach because they can increase the chances of a response and keep the conversation going. They can also show the recipient that you are interested in building a relationship and are willing to put in the effort.
    Cold emails can still be effective in developing client relationships, but they require a personalized and targeted approach. Building trust and providing value through your email outreach can help establish a strong foundation for a relationship.
    A cold email should include a clear and specific purpose for reaching out, a personalized introduction, a value proposition or benefit for the recipient, and a call-to-action that encourages a response. It should also be well-written and free of grammar and spelling errors.
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