Marketing

46 Tips for Writing A Cold Email That Actually Gets A Response

What’s cold email? How do you track it? Nearly 90 marketers weigh in and share their approach to writing cold emails that convert.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on July 29, 2020 (last modified on July 31, 2020) • 40 minute read

Is cold email dead? 

Talk to 10 different marketers and you’re likely going to get at least a few resounding “yeses!”

It’s easy to dismiss cold email if you only associate it with spammy sales pitches and SDRs sending 20+ follow-up emails in 5 days after you downloaded that one ebook you haven’t even read yet. 

The reality is cold email can work extremely well in the right context. Which is why we’re going to share how you can write cold emails that actually convert. 

Let’s dig in:

What is a cold email?

A cold email is an email that you send to someone who you don’t already know. This can include sending 1:1 emails to prospects as well as bulk-sending and mass-sending. 

It is a less intrusive approach than cold calling. 

The reason why cold emails have a bad reputation is that there are many bad actors who abuse it. They use the “spray and pray tactic” and blast spammy sales or self-promotional emails to any email address they can get their hands.

Let’s take this example of a bad cold email that I received.

The first problem is there is not an ounce of personalization in this email. 

To make matters worse, the sender goes with the kitchen sink approach and lists out every service that his company provides. This puts the burden on the recipient to figure out what the offer is. 

Since we get dozens of emails every single day, the chances of us doing anything except ignoring or flagging this message as spam is low. 

Think about it. Why would anyone do extra work that was sent from a stranger?

Cold emails like this example are why people are skeptical and quick to flag cold emails as spam. 

Does cold email work? 

When executed well, cold emails can be extremely effective sales tools. 

In fact, 96% of the people who we surveyed said that cold emails have been at least somewhat effective in increasing sales. 

And, as one might expect, 57.7% of teams have increased their investment in cold emailing in the last year. 

How do you write a cold email that gets a response? 

Now, you can see that cold emails can be an effective lead generation tactic. It is time to get to the good stuff. That is how to write emails that actually convert. 

Here’s a brief look at all the tips:

Send your emails to the right person 

Let’s start with the obvious. If you are sending your emails to the wrong person, it doesn’t matter how awesome the message is, it will fall flat every time. 

“One important thing when writing cold emails is to try your best to get the email to the right person on the first try,” says Andrea Loubier of Mailbird. “Do your research when compiling your email list and utilize a program to help you curate the emails. If your email pops into the right inbox, without having to be forwarded several times, it will be read in a more timely manner, which will ultimately increase your response rate.” 

Morgan Taylor of Let Me Bank says, “You have to target the right people, even with cold emails. If you just bulk blast lots of email addresses, you will end up with a blacklisted, or at least devalued sender rating. You absolutely must only send your message to people it may be of interest to.

Tom Walsh of Kingpin Private Browser adds, “Targeting, targeting, and targeting. It does not matter how many times I repeat it – still some people will not get it. Many salespeople write cold emails without even mentioning the name of the recipient. This email has close to zero chance to resonate.

You would have much higher chances when you focus on the recipient instead of yourself or your company. Do a little bit of research, then write 80% of the email about the recipient and the rest about how it connects with your offer. It is better to send fewer emails, but emails that are personal. That is a targeted email.” 

This also includes spelling their name correctly. 

Jered Martin of OnePitch says, “Make sure you use the correct name (and spelling) and company name (if applicable). Then make sure your message is tailored to the individual. Think about their role, their pain points, and how you are providing them something truly valuable.”

Do your research 

“It’s absolutely essential to do thorough research on your target prospect before reaching out to them,” says Alejandro Rioja. ”It will help you ask the right questions, and draft your email keeping in view their interest — which of course increases the chances of receiving a response.”

Alejandro Gascón Ramos of Restaurantes.com says, “Ideally you should try to gather as much as possible details about the person you’re addressing your email before contacting them.

The goal of this previous research is to try to figure out how my email should interest or help this person. Besides in this research, you will also get some interesting keywords to add inside your communication that can attract his attention.” 

Gabriela Park of Btwn adds, ”One thing that I find effective when writing cold emails is to research in advance the contact and mention something of interest to them. Personalization is the key to getting replies from a cold email.” 

Know your prospect’s pain points

“Understanding your prospect’s pain points and showcasing how other companies got rid of them with your solution/product is the key,” says Peter Manikowsk of AppJobs GAP. “Hit the right tones explaining how you helped competitors to save time/money/effort.”

Thimas Bradbury of GetSongkey says, “The best tip I could give for cold emails is to really know who you are sending the mail to. Have a targeted audience and make sure you know as much as possible about them. The subject of the email should be able to grab their attention – think of their pain points, as this will motivate the receiver to open up the email.

The email itself should not waste their time but offer value – based on the needs they have and what you can do to solve the problem.” 

Jasz Joseph of SyncShow adds, “If you are able to address someone’s industry and specific pain points in a cold email, they are much more likely to respond.” 

Erik Rivera of Thrive Talk agrees, “Hyper segmentation, coupled with narrow subject lines that speak directly to each audience’s specific pain point.

If you’re B2B, focus driving leads or sales. If you’re B2C, saving time or increasing convenience are great wins.

At the same time, these topics have a lurking danger of coming off far too generic. You need to focus on your audience’s specific pain points, which can only be done through rigorous segmentation.” 

Read the room before sending your email 

This is particularly relevant in today’s climate. 

Romain Brabant of SEO Buddy says, “Understand the current economic situation and landscape. More than ever, people need to be cognizant about what the people that they are reaching out to maybe feeling or what situations they may be in.” 

This can help you avoid sending tone-deaf emails that make you and your company look bad. For example, you don’t want to send an email advertising your new software that makes it easy for busy executives to fly business class to a company that’s banned all corporate travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Personalize your emails 

“Personalize your emails to make them sound genuine and real,” says William Taylor of MintResume. “Address the person directly (if you know their name). Put the recipient first. Address their needs and wants. Mention how your services/products can bring results.” 

Aleksandra Jovicic of FishingBooker adds, “The more personalized the email is, the more likely you are to get an answer. Before I reach out to anyone, I’ll make sure to look at their previous work, read their blogs, articles and check their social media, so that I can see what type of content they’re looking for. (Please note that I usually reach out to journalists, and bloggers) Once I know what topics they are interested in, I will adjust my pitch accordingly. Finally, I will add their name to the subject line to catch their attention.”

Stephane Gringer of Chameleon Collective adds, “Personalization but not just talking Hi … Do your homework and insert one sentence on the person that shows you looked at their site, their LinkedIn page, twitter, etc. Segment your target lists by cohorts with the same problem.

Cold email to 100 people with that level of personalization is more effective than cold email to 1000.” 

Supriya Agnihotri of SurveySensum agrees, “It’s important to understand the intricacies of the cold email channel and one sure thing that helped me get a better response rate to my cold emails was- Personalization!

And I am not talking about ‘[INSERT FIRST NAME] here’ personalization, I am talking about researching the prospect and using it to your full advantage. Trust me, an email that shows that you’ve done a little research on your prospect can never go unnoticed. It helps people feel special because of its tailored nature.” 

For example, Ken Christensen of Christensen Recycling says, “If you have a local list of emails that you want to reach out to, and know that they are all focused on a specific state or location, be sure to highlight something each subscriber can relate to. The more personal and the less they seem like a cold email, the better results you will see.” 

Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Digital adds, “Hyper personalization is key. Cold emails are working well when done effectively. However, a lot of companies, marketers, founders, and entrepreneurs do it the wrong way by focusing on quantity vs quality.

You don’t want to send non-personalized, bulk cold emails to random people. If you want to be successful with your cold email campaigns, make sure your cold emails are hyper-personalized to the recipients.”

Editor’s Note: If you use Hubspot, this email performance dashboard will allow you to see and track all of the emails you send. 

hubspot email performance dashboard

Personalize the first line of your email  

“Make the first line of your email personalized to that person specifically,” says Toni JV of JVT Media.

“Maybe something they shared in their LinkedIn profile, or their about page on their website. You’ll set yourself apart from 90% of other cold emails by doing this, because they know you’re not just spamming people.” 

Add unique details about their company in your email 

“A great way to stand out from the crowd is to provide some unique info about the company you are pitching,” says Makensie Thompson of Famoid.

“For example, you could say something like, You have # followers on Instagram, and your competitor XYZ Brand has #. Let us show you how to get the upper edge here. This little bit of extra time and information will result in much higher cold emailing success.” 

Grafton Robinson of SafariGrowth adds, “The single most effective way to get a response in a cold email to show that you’ve done some research up front. If you send what looks like a form letter, it’ll get skipped. If you demonstrate that you have some insight into their situation and that you have something of value to offer, though, you can get their attention and make a good first impression.” 

For example, Tom Zsomborgi of Kinsta says, ”I have sent 1000+ cold emails in the past few years and the highly personalized and targeted emails always were the winning combination. It’s better to spend your time crafting one email rather than automate it and send 20 general.

As some other tips, keep it short. I recommend 100 or fewer words, get straight to the point, and be crystal clear what you want. We are all busy and don’t have time for fluff. Don’t use images, attachment, and long subject lines. Always end your email with a question. These are my best tips right now delivering great results!” 

Include the person’s name in the subject line 

“Include the recipients first name in the subject line to help increase the open rate,” adivses Jamie-Lee Kay of The Other Straw.

“Additionally, personalization in the email body is just as important. Find common interests or connection points that are relevant and of interest to the recipient. By doing so, you will be more likely to get a response.” 

Create a personalized offer 

“The more you know about the person you are sending this email to (your addressee), about their company and their needs, the better you can personalize your value offer,” says Ivan Burban of Stripo.email. ”The better you personalize your offer, the more responses you will get.” 

AbdulGaniy Shehu of Winsome Writer Services adds, “The more personalized the email is, the better the chances of converting them into a sale.” 

Related: Email Personalization: Tips, Tools, & The 6 Fundamentals For Success

Use a catchy subject line

“A generic subject line will get your whole email thrown out,” says Melanie Musson of FullCoverageAutoInsurances.com. “If you can catch your recipient’s attention with the subject line, your chances of having them read what you’re offering in the body of the email shoot way up.” 

Matthew Martinez of Diamond Real Estate Group says, “The most effective tip that my marketing team and I use for our cold email campaigns is to use catchy subject lines that ask for a response from the recipient.” 

“Since cold email responses start with getting cold emails opened, the most effective thing I’ve found is to pay attention to the subject line,” explains Ian Kelly of NuLeaf Naturals. “If you can capture the prospect’s attention with something personalized, like a question that is particular to them, they’re far more likely to open the email and read it – which is the first step to making a real connection.”

Alexandra Zamolo of Beekeeper adds, “A tip for creating a great email subject line is to thoroughly explain exactly what the email contains, but not to go overboard with unnecessary details. If this is a sales email, explain the percentage off. If the email contains some marketing tips, note that as well, so that the recipients can see that the email is of value.”

For example, Gintaras Steponkus of Solidguides says, “You can make your customers look at your message with a catchy subject line.

Think of some picky words and arrange them to make your email headline that leads the customers to read the email till the end. Make sure the words you choose are valid and must involve personalization, curiosity, promise, humor or urgency, etc.

Some examples of email subject line include: 

  • You’ve got ONE DAY to try this
  • Your six-figure plan will soon expire
  • Last day to experience this mystery
  • We have got you a surprise
  • Want to spend vacations on Mars” 

Obaid Khan of Planet Content adds, “A good subject line draws curiosity and is the most important factor in terms of whether or not your email gets read.

Aside from that, always personalize your message – make sure that you know a little about who it is you’re reaching out to. Whether it be to congratulate them on a recent success or bring up a point they mentioned in their book, podcast, blog post, etc. You have to let them know that the email was written specifically for them.

Ultimately, avoid sending generic, one-size-fits-all emails, and most importantly, make sure you’re offering them real value.” 

Mention the industry in the subject line

“In the subject line, always mention their industry,” says Mark Soto of Contractor Sprout. “By now, most people have gotten generic spam emails that are aimed for people of all industries. If you specifically mention the industry they work in, then you have already differentiated yourself from the other generic emails. 

As an example, here is one subject line we often use for contractors, ‘Do You Need More Jobs?’ We’ve seen a huge success rate since we started using the industry with a question in the subject line. You also appear like less of a marketer and someone that is trying to help them get more jobs. If you at least get them to open your email then you’re already halfway there.”

Put your value prop in the subject line

“With all marketing content, you only have so much time to grab the reader’s attention,” says Bruce Hogan of SoftwarePundit. “This is especially true for cold emails. Since the recipient is not expecting your communication, and in many cases does not know who you are, it’s critical to place very clear and compelling copy in the subject line and at the top of the email. 

For example, you can frame your primary request or value proposition as a question in the subject line. This way, the recipient will understand the purpose of the email without even opening it. Another best practice is leading with specific, personalized copy that shows the recipient that you’ve done research about them, and it’s not just a mass email.” 

Test your subject lines

“Focus on the subject line,” says John M. Caviness of MeowEssay. “Marketers are devoting 50% or more of their efforts to create killer subject lines. Limit your subject line to 50 characters (the default setting in most email clients). Test sample subject lines to see what performs best. And never forget to convey a clear value proposition that gives your reader a good reason to open your message.” 

Saurabh Jindal of Talk Travel adds, “Have an interesting subject line. Majority users would delete the mail if the subject line doesn’t appeal to them. Do some A/B testing, and analyze results of 2 or more subject lines sent to a small sample.” 

Related: Email Subject Line Examples: 42 Marketers Share Their Very Best

Reference a mutual friend or connection 

“Having some personal connection is key,” says Jacob Wedderburn Day of Stasher. “E.g. if you have a mutual connection you can reference – someone you both know – or something you know you both care about, that will almost always trigger someone to open the email and consider it.

Speaking from the other side of the table, as a CEO who receives abundant cold emails, it’s the emails that have a personal connection that make me hesitate. I’ll normally delete a cold email unless it looks really really relevant. But if it’s a cold email from someone with a personal connection to me, I will give it the time of day.” 

Ask a thoughtful question 

“When writing cold emails, I find it most effective to write brief, one line questions,” says  Chris McDermott of Jax Nurses Buy Houses. “Often I will purposefully misspell a word. This typically will get a response, good or bad.” 

Valerio Puggioni of Copygun adds, “Asking a thoughtful question not only gets people to respond. People love sharing their thoughts, and if you can ask something that legit looks like you’re seeking their expert opinion, then there’s a good chance they’ll respond. Again, it’s a form of flattery.” 

Include a compelling CTA

“When messaging a prospect you aren’t selling a product or service, you’re there to sell a meeting, a chance to learn more,” says Sean Higgins of BetterYou. “In your call to action in your email include the phrase make sense at the beginning. Would it make sense to get 15 minutes? This gives the prospect an easy way to reply. And even if they reply with No. You have built in a clarifier.

No can mean so many things (not now, I don’t know what you do, I don’t handle this). By using make sense in your email CTAs you can cut through the noise.” 

Or, Valerie Borshch of Snov.io says, “Add a personal question at the end of the short email, e.g., George, I would like to talk to you about a profitable offer. Will you be at [Event/Conference Name] on May 20?” 

Trigger an emotion

“One useful cold email tip is to make your email subject line emotional, even to the point of triggering the other person, to increase your open rates,” says Stacy Caprio of Her.CEO.

“The key after doing this is to make it connect in a conversational way to the body of the email so it does not actually offend the opener or make them want to ignore you.” 

Be clear and direct

“Cold emails should always portray the purpose of the email clearly,” says Ryan Anderson of Bead the Change.

“You may think that by masking your pitch with vague language, the recipient will be more likely to open it, However, in most circumstances, the exact opposite happens. If a recipient doesn’t understand what you are asking for, your email will most likely be disregarded.” 

Keep your emails short

“Keeping the email short and concise,” says Sandip Sekhon of Pathways Pain Relief. “To be more specific, we’ve found the best results when initial outreach emails are under four sentences.” 

Mor Mester of Automizy says, “I see lots of lengthy cold emails. Would you read a long email from a person whom you’ve never had any contact with before? Probably no.” 

Joy Corkery of Latana adds, “One of the best and probably the most obvious tips that we still see people forgetting is; always keep in mind there’s another person reading your email, not a bot. Keeping your message short and to the point is always a way to go with an added sense of emotional connection that’s unique to your brand’s voice.” 

James Canzanella of Isolated Marketing Nights agrees, ”My best one tip would for writing cold emails that get a response would be to keep them as short and straight-to-the-point as possible. For me personally, I immediately delete emails that look like college essays, and I know many others do the same. That’s why I want to get my message across as quickly as possible because more details can be discussed once someone responds.” 

Remove all the fluff 

“Resist the temptation to write long, sprawling emails,” says Carla Diaz of Broadband Search. “Potential clients will be persuaded by how your product/service helps them, not by more words.” 

Jarie Bolander of JSY PR & Marketing says, “Keep it clear and concise. No wasted words. No warm-up sentences (e.g. I know you’re busy). Be specific. Be brief. Be easy to respond too.” 

Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined adds, “Get to the point. And by that I mean- tell them quickly what’s in it for them.

Why? Because business owners and bloggers are used to getting cold emails. They don’t like it, but accept it as part of the game.

So, when they open your cold email, their number #1 thought is to get it done as quickly as possible. Their number #2 thought is, ‘does this email have something of value for me?’

And if they see early on that you mention how they will benefit doing business with you, then you have an excellent chance of actually getting a reply.

What that reply will be depends a lot on the content of your email pitch, but at least you established a connection. So when cold emailing, it’s crucial to put front and center the value they’ll get if they work with you.” 

For example, David Denning of Jumpstart Go says, “We have found that cold emails that are brief and to the point have the best chance of getting a response. Don’t add a bunch of fluff and make the prospect figure out what you’re offering or why you contacted them – keep it SIMPLE!” 

Consider keeping your emails to two sentences  

Matthew Holmes of Handshaking.com recommends, “Two sentences, short emails. First sentence is a compliment, second is a question that asks them more. An example I’ve used before when trying to find website clients half a decade ago was:

‘That’s a strong looking LinkedIn profile you have there. Do you have a personal website to go with that?’” 

Be helpful 

“Help people,” says Sean Dawes of Modded Euros. “Those who are leaders are helping others right now. Throw away the sales pitch and if you work on solving the other person’s problem without asking for something in return up front, that is how you penetrate an inbox (email, DM etc). Leaders lead by empowering others during economic collapse.” 

Rod Austin of 4Degrees says, “Give more than you receive – open the conversation with a personalized note that provides something beneficial to the recipient.

For example, I like to interview them for an article that I have pre-approval to publish via a reputable resource. This allows us to get to know each other before we get to the commercial side of the relationship.

How you offer value could be something different entirely, but it certainly helps if what you are providing has some connection to your ultimate goal.” 

Marc Andre of Vital Dollar adds, “Don’t make it all about you. Most cold emails involve the sender asking for something without giving a very good reason for the recipient to care. If you want your cold emails to be effective, focus on adding some value for the recipient and be sure there is something in it for them.” 

For example, Kate Robitello of VIVID Collective says, “Provide immense value and prospect-specific feedback 60% of the time and spend the other 40% bragging (but also while providing value).” 

Build rapport 

“Keep your cold emails short and friendly,” says Jeremy Cross of Virtual Team Building. “The person receiving your email probably has a busy inbox just like you. If you are going to add to the bulk of this inbox, then you need to do it in a way that is respectful.

If you keep your message short and clear, then people will understand what you are offering and what you want. Cold emails that prioritize being clever over clear are the kind that get nearly negative response rates.”

Matt Woodley of CreditInformative adds, “I’ve found great success in being genuine with your approach and avoid coming across as salesy as much as possible. Whilst your natural instinct may be to launch straight into your pitch it’s in your best interest to avoid this.

You want to instead focus on building rapport and treat your outreach email the same as you would a face-to-face meeting and start off slowly easing your way into it. No-one wants to receive a short and blunt email that launches straight into a sales pitch – that immediately puts people off and your email will likely end up in their spam folder.” 

Be honest 

“Be honest about what you’re doing,” says Anastasia Iliou of Rain. “Don’t pretend like it’s not a cold email. We start some of our emails with ‘Apologies for reaching out cold…'”

John Donnachie of ClydeBank Media says, “The best thing we have found is a crystal clear subject line. Make sure your prospect understands why they should open the email and exactly what value you have to offer.

Trying to trick your prospects to open the message by using deceptive or misleading subject lines is aggravating to the recipient and will not yield the results you are looking for. Plus, per the FTC’s CAN SPAM legislation, it is illegal to misrepresent the contents of a commercial email in the subject line.” 

Tung Dao of Avada Commerce adds, “Be sincere and upfront but respectful about your agenda. Drop any kind of flattery that you have in your cold email template, people can see right through that and it’s usually not a good first impression.” 

Show some personality

“The number one thing I’d say is that personality is more important than perfection,” says Joya Dass of Buddy Gardner Advertising. “Don’t be afraid to let your quirks show, because it will make your email read like something that was written by a human being. I’ve even experimented with using intentional typos and less-than-perfect grammar (unless that would look bad given the company’s industry).” 

Andy Cabasso of Postaga adds, “Be different. So many people send cold emails, so it’s hard to get an email opened, let alone a response. So, try things like using an emoji in your subject line, or create mystery by having your subject line as simply Question? Having an obvious cold email subject line gets sent to the trash right away. Be different and creative. At the very least it will make your reader curious and more likely to open your email.” 

Related: 23 Proven Email Marketing Tips From Top Digital Marketers

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes

Emily Weber of Rubin Extensions says, “Before you send the email, think to yourself, ‘Is this an email I would open or read?’ Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. You probably get hundreds of cold pitches every week as well and delete many without even opening.

It’s vital to personalize your email and make it relatable to the person you are emailing. Don’t go for the sale in the first sentence but do make your intentions clear in the email.”

“We tell clients who are writing cold emails to remember that the recipients have no idea who the individual in the from line is,” says Erin Barr of Kiwi Creative.

“So, before going in and writing copy that tries to get the reader to enroll in a workflow or book a sales appointment, present yourself in a friendly, empathetic manner.

Show the recipient that not only do you know about the current problem(s) he or she is facing, but that you care and would like to help. Be succinct when writing but do not forget that in the end, you are a human writing to another human. If your email lacks a human touch, then it will likely not get a response. You want the recipient to feel compelled to write back since they feel like you are on their side, ready to help.” 

Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging adds, “Think like your email readers.

For example, what do people like? Discounts, freebies, bargains, deals… put these in your subject line. What makes people click?

Use these words and phrases in your subject line: Act now, act fast, going fast, limited time, limited quantity

Use subject lines that generate curiosity: For example, ‘I must apologize,’ ‘My research is done,’ and ‘I made a mistake.’”

Demonstrate your expertise 

“When writing cold emails you need to be considerate of the fact that this person has never been exposed to your brand,” says Jon Torres of Jontorres.com.

“Including a paragraph on what your company does or represents is necessary for you to warm up the lead and get a response. I recommend my clients have a standard Who are we boilerplate in every cold email.” 

Try using humor

“I use humor–my natural gift,” says Jake Fisher of Bridges Strategies & Digital Marketing. “Business decision makers receive dozens, if not more, generic outreach emails. My goal is to amuse my prospects with jokes, which also, when they are great, convey a truth that we share, building rapport.

For example, one of outreach emails is:

Being an entrepreneur can be like cow manure.

At first, it just stinks.

Then, it stinks less, but it gets harder.

Eventually, success grows up around you.

Or, people in cowboy boots kick you around.

I help entrepreneurs overcome the stink of crummy marketing to grow revenue.” 

Use the AIDA methodology

“I clearly remember the moment when cold email stopped being hard,” says Naz Ahm of StudioGrowth. ”In enterprise sales, you have a limited number of shots that you can take at a cold prospect.

When I started using the AIDA methodology from copywriting and implemented the approach to EVERY cold email, my response rates skyrocketed.

  • A – Attention
  • I – Interest
  • D – Desire
  • A – Action

Follow this framework to write emails and see your results skyrocket.

Attention

In this section start the email with hyper personalization. You need to snap the prospect from what they are doing and have them pay attention to your email. Research something about the company or the person and start the email with that. [1-2 lines]

Interest

In this section, tell the prospect something interesting about your product or solution. Don’t tell them the obvious, but convey a fact that will be interesting to them. Stats and case study results work great here. [1-2 lines]

Desire

Tie the results you mentioned in the Interest section to your prospect. Tell them how they will personally benefit (make them desire your solution or product NOW) [2-3 lines)

Action

End with a call to action – call, meeting, demo (1 line)” 

Use the DIA method

This is an alternative to the AIDA method.  

“Use the ‘DIA’ method,” says Brian Lenney. “The subject line and the first sentence need to disrupt *AND* be highly personal to the person getting the email.

Don’t be afraid to use humor also. You need to disrupt the pattern of boring business emails they get all day and instead, treat them like an old friend and be personal.

So, the use the ‘DIA’ formula:

  • Disrupt
  • Intrigue
  • Ask for [your desired action]

For example, if it’s about a job inquiry, you could write:

———–

Subject line:

This job description stings the nostrils…

———–

^^ Instantly gives them the WTF factor – they will open.

First line(s):

———–

Hey Bill… I saw your job post.

I’m with you on this. And to be very honest with you, I’m not even mad, that’s amazing.

———–

Again, disrupt to get the open.

Be personable and funny to get them to keep reading and like you (intrigue them). You gotta do your homework though. Make sure you’re using stuff THAT person will like. Then, ask:

———–

If you’d like, you can check out my site here: www.yoursitehere.com

Let me know if you have time for a Zoom call to discuss this week… (or, Skype, cell, Facetime, written letter, whatever you want)…

Cheers,

Becky”

Avoid copy and paste pitches

“One tip I can give is to personalize your emails and to avoid copy-pasting pitches,” says Anh Trinh of GeekWithLaptop.

“You can follow a template to a degree but each email you send must be unique. This is because people can tell if an email is made by the heart or if it was copy-pasted and mass-produced. You’ll get more replies this way.” 

Make sure it is easy to read your message on a smartphone 

“Make it mobile friendly,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls. “The world is moving to mobile only, fewer people accessing email on big screens so tailor your message and content accordingly. “

For example, Aaron Chichioco of Design Doxa says, “Try to grab your leads’ attention in less than 50 characters so your email subjects are not cut off – particularly when your leads are reading emails through their mobile devices.” 

Avoid generic company email addresses

“Make sure you find the email of an actual person,” says Aristide Basque of SH1FT. “That is honestly the single most important factor in getting a response. Never send emails to the generic email of a company.” 

Segment your email lists

“Your email lists consist of people with different interests especially if you serve different industries,” says Tom Mumford of Undergrads Moving.

Related: Dozens of Proven Email Segmentation Tips for Improving Your Open Rates

“Utilize information such as names and company names to incorporate personalization. If you don’t segment out lists, it will affect your click-through rate. Segment your lists to personalize accordingly. That way, recipients are getting the best email marketing experience possible.”

Editor’s Note: If you use Mailchimp, keep track of all of your different audiences and campaigns using this dashboard template. 

mailchimp dashboard

Incorporate recent events in your copy 

“Make the first line or two of the email about recent events directly related to the company or industry of the person you’re reaching out to, then follow it up with a question,” says Spencer Smith of IRC Sales Solutions.

“This works because it’s engaging, relevant, not salesy, and of course, clearly personalized. It shows that you either care enough to do your research or are simply up on current events relevant to your contact; either way, you’re not just an average cold email blast anymore.” 

Make use of your email signature

Subhash Rao of Digi Elephant recommends optimizing your email signature.  

“Most possibilities utilize your signature as a trust pointer,” says Rao. “Your mark shouldn’t occupy from the duplicate however it needs to demonstrate you’re a genuine individual that can be trusted. Recall this is the primary email the beneficiary is getting from you so ensure their Spidey faculties don’t get activated.

Great marks are short and incorporate the accompanying subtleties:

  • Complete name
  • Employment or calling title
  • Telephone number
  • Site address or other online profile (for example LinkedIn)
  • A photograph of you (better) or organization logo (not too bad)” 

Farasat Khan of IsItWP adds, “Having your LinkedIn, Twitter and if you can Instagram profile links in your signature creates a more natural looking pitch. It also gives an impression that the email is sent by a real human and not run through a bulk email campaign algorithm.

By using this tactic my response rate increased from 12% to 15%, which looks pretty small but a 3% increase means a lot in cold email campaigns.” 

Switch to plain text emails 

“Stop being so fancy,” says Hans Dekker of Wiza. “I know you’ve put a lot of effort into that beautifully styled email signature.

Yes, it links to all your social channels, your website, and your favorite Queen live performance. It’s gorgeous. But it’s hurting your deliverability. Switch to plain text instead.

Make your email look effortless and it will feel effortless. A plain text email without any links will not only help you maneuver around spam filters, but will also improve your reply rate.”

Build email templates 

“I need to write plenty of cold emails to find new partners, bloggers and influencers to work with, and have received many of those as well,” says Khanh Tran of Villa Finder. “My top tip is to make sure that the emails are straight to the point from the title.

If you need to send cold emails to people, you probably have a reason why your email is interesting for the recipients and they should open it. Use that reason as the email title. If the recipients understand that they will benefit from the email, they will open it. Is it a potential collaboration, an error on the blog that they need to fix, or something else?

You can also use power words like question or inquiry. These words urge people to give an answer. Then, in the content of your email, explain briefly how you can provide the result. I usually use the following format:

– Hi [First name of the person],

– One-liner self-introduction

– Reiterate the reason mentioned in the title

– More details about that reason (e.g. the type of collaboration, how they can benefit from working with you, etc.)

– A bit about your company and why it’s trustworthy & relevant for them

– Call to action or next step if they are interested” 

Incorporate social proof

“My first tip in doing cold email is you need to have social proof and a trustworthy brand,” says Dorian Reeves of SH1FT. “You can write the best possible email, if people decide to do a background check and are not impressed with your brand or your achievements, you most likely won’t get an answer.” 

Experiment with offering freebies  

“When writing cold emails, it’s important to gain the recipients’ attention,” says Greg Brookes of Kettlebells Workouts. “One good tactic is to offer something of value for free. For example, you can provide an informative how-to-guide, a list of helpful tips, or a service or product trial.’ 

Include a sense of urgency

“When you’re writing a cold email, it has to include a sense of urgency,” says Angela Ash of Flow SEO. “Otherwise, it will sit in the recipient’s inbox until it is forgotten while they think about it.

State in your subject line that it’s a limited time offer, and mention in the first full paragraph the date that the offer expires. This can ensure that it won’t end up collecting dust or, even worse, end up being deleted in their next email purge.” 

Olly Beckett of World In Words adds, “Making it clear (in the subject line and towards the top of the body of the email) that this is a one-off opportunity and that the recipient will not be contacted again unless they agree to be (e.g. We’ll ask only once: do you want to save on email marketing?)”

Use the word “because” in your emails

“There are many aspects of writing effective cold emails,” says Wojciech Szywalski of PressPad. “The one that may improve getting the response rate is giving reasoning. You can do it by using the word because. The power of the word because was described in the research conducted by Ellen Langer at Harvard in 1978.

In this study, people who were asked to do something were more tending to do requested things, when they knew the reason. That’s why I am using such phrases as: You can try PressPad risk-free because we provide a free testing period with 1-on-1 dedicated support agent.” 

Develop your own “secret sauce”

“This is a copywriter’s secret,” says Elyse Savaki of Groundvoice Media. ”In every great piece of sales copy, they lay out a UNIQUE mechanism that’s responsible for the product’s results.

Think of it as the secret sauce that makes your solution THE ONE that will FINALLY solve their problem. (And fill the gaps the others left behind).

It’s the #1 most overlooked thing I see in client campaigns. Find this is and you de-commoditize yourself – even in a crowded market.” 

Add a personalized video

Vincent Onderdelinden of TeQflo says, “We’ve actually found that replacing 90% of the text with a short personalized video works wonders in cold emails. Recipients appreciate the gesture, sellers stand out from the competition and it’s easier to make a human connection. All in all, big difference in response rates!” 

Send follow up emails

“The most effective way to get a response to cold emails is actually in a very simple follow up,” says Ty Stewart of Simple Life Insure. “I wait two days and send a follow up email that says:

Just checking to make sure you got my email below. Thanks!

It works more effective at getting a response than anything else I’ve tested.”

Related: 36 Practical Tips for Writing A Great Sales Follow Up Email 

Use the 9-word email to revive stalled deals 

David Bolton of HubSnacks says, “Use the  9-Word email or shorter to revive dead leads.” 

This email is: 

Subject: Quick question
Body: Are you still interested in <Insert Topic>? 

4. How to track email engagement in Databox 

One of the best ways to get better at writing cold emails is to track and analyze your results. Whether you are sending emails from Hubspot, Pipedrive, Sharpspring, Outreach, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, or just using UTM parameters, it is easy to track all of this in Databox. 

Here are some recommended metrics to keep a close eye on. 

Open Rate and Email Clicks 

Your email rate is the number of people who opened divided by the number of emails sent. So, clicks is the number of people who clicked on any links in your email.  

You can also segment your open and click-through rates by campaign, audience, or automation.  

Using this datablock, you can clearly visualize how your open and click-through rates are faring throughout the month. For example, if you notice an email generates 2x as many clicks as normal, you can apply that format or strategy to future emails. 

Email Pipeline 

One of the most helpful things to keep an eye on is your email pipeline. Using this multi-metric Datablock, you can clearly see all emails sent, the number of emails that were delivered, opens and clicks. 

Email Performance 

This is a multi-metric Datablock with the following metrics: Sent, Opened, Open Rate, Clicked, and Click Rate.  

Using the table layout, you can see the high-level email performance metrics for specified date ranges. This allows you to see which campaigns and emails are converting the best. 

Email Opens Vs. Sessions 

Using this line graph, you can see how email opens compared to website sessions. This allows you to see if emails are driving more traffic to your website, which can be an indicator of new leads, sales, etc.  

In addition, this line graph allows you to isolate each variable.

Bounces 

Bounces are the number of emails that bounce instead of being delivered during a specified date range. If you see a spike in the number of bounces, this can be an indicator that your email list is out-of-date and old contacts need to be verified and cleaned.

In sum, cold emails can be an effective lead generation channel. One of the best ways to improve your cold email writing is to practice, employ many of the messaging tips shared in this post, and track your response rates.   

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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