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Cold emailing is one of the most useful, most scalable, and simplest methods for generating new leads for your business — for these reasons, it’s a popular sales prospecting technique. But this means other salespeople are filling up your prospects’ inboxes with messages of their own, so you have to learn how to stand out from the competition. We’ve spoken with cold emailing experts and compiled the best advice on how to send effective cold emails that will inspire responses.
Before you draft your cold emails, it’s important to find the right leads and their contact information; research the leads; and make a plan to send, track, and improve your emails. Check out these pro tips for cold email prep:
Chief Digital Marketing Executive, Rank-it.ca
“I know many people use bots to generate email addresses, which is totally wrong. We used numerous popular tools but the results were very poor. We found out 30% emails scraped by bots were invalid, 90% emails were generic and 5% had incorrect first names. So we moved to the full manual process, from collecting emails to adding leads into the CRM. Our cold mail conversion rates have increased by 70% since last year.”
— Caio Bersot, Rank-it.ca
Founder & CEO, Clarity Stack
"My number one tip for planning, writing, and sending cold emails is to harness sales intelligence platforms to help you reach out directly to the right prospect at the right time and cut the legwork out of finding warm leads who are in the market to buy. Utilizing real-time sales data and insights helps you to understand where to focus your time and energy for the most effective results, setting you up for the best chance of emailing success. Championing a data-driven sales and emailing strategy will help to minimize the chances of frustrating bounce backs or dead-end leads that get you nowhere."
— Ben Harper, Clarity Stack
Owner, MB Marketing LLC
“Cold emailing is still a good way to increase your leads. Never use your own email address or domain for cold emails, or you risk getting flagged and not being able to communicate with your clients because you are getting sent to their spam folder. Use a different email address, and make sure that you warm it up by sending and receiving a few emails. Signing up for newsletters is a good way to get consistent inbound emails.”
— Megan Brown, MB Marketing LLC
“A perfect, effective cold email has ONE specific mission. Before you sit down to craft it, you should be clear on what you intend to accomplish from it. Some examples of goals include promoting a new product, boosting social media presence, gaining traffic to a landing page, or driving sales, to mention a few. The [email] should push that single goal from top to bottom as including diverse info might confuse or annoy the reader.”
— Mia Green, FindThisBest
Co-Founder & Chairman, MELD
“A widespread belief is that in order to win business, you must first reach out to the big boss or final decision maker. While this may be true in some cases, it isn't true in the vast majority. Individuals in companies are in charge of many aspects of the firm. You'll obtain better results if you contact the head of the department that oversees your line of business.”
— Ken Olling, MELD
Sharon Van Donkelaar
CMO & Head of Growth, Expandi
"One of the best ways to get your cold email read is to use specific names and positions. You can find these things very easily, especially with the advent of LinkedIn. Even if you don’t have the luxury of finding your targets online, sometimes it will also take a simple phone call and question. You not only get important information, but if you create a good rapport with the person on the other line, then you get a warm lead inside the company or organization. It doesn’t matter what their position is, as long as they're willing to help you reach your goals."
— Sharon Van Donkelaar, Expandi
“Cold prospecting emails are easy to write once you have done the necessary research to customize the email. For example, if you are targeting a certain client, you want to first research that client so you can prepare an intelligent and eye popping email. Find out things like who their competitors are, what they are currently using, and who to send the email to at the company.”
— Sean O’Brien, Modloft
Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
“The worst time to make a cold call to prospects in any region is 8–10 a.m. when everyone is rushing to work and preparing for the day — but the worst time to call is the best time to email. Once employees are at work, the first hour is generally spent checking emails and organizing the day. During this hour, your email has a higher chance of visibility. Sending an email during their transit period places your email on top, among the first they see as they open their inbox.”
— Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls
After you’ve completed the preparation that will help your emails be successful, it’s time to start writing them. Follow these experienced sellers’ advice for drafting powerful emails that will make your leads want to respond:
Director of Inbound Sales (EMEA), Leadfeeder
"The average office worker gets over 120 emails a day, 59% of which he finds irrelevant. That is why it’s essential to make your message stand out. How? Here are my three tips:
— Dipak Vadera, Leadfeeder
SEO & Growth Manager, Elevate Demand
"Consider your topic line very carefully. This is the first thing the recipient will see and will be used to determine whether to open your cold email. It must entice the consumer to continue. In reality, there is not much difference between subject lines for emails and other headlines. Any good subject line for an email should contain at least one or more of the following elements:
— Dustin Porreca, Elevate Demand
Head of Growth, Milestone Localization
“The subject line should look natural. Like a friend or colleague sent it. If you use Title Case, it's a dead giveaway that it's a promotional email. Use sentence case and keep the subject simple. We use the following subject lines: ‘Strategy to get more users,’ ‘Translations for global expansion,’ ‘Grow globally with localization.’”
— Nikita Agarwal, Milestone Localization
Content Manager, GooseSmurfs
“Avoid sounding like a template. The more personalized, the better. Templates can be very useful especially as it is time-saving; however, if you want your cold email to stand out and not be disregarded, put some effort into how not to make it sound like a template. Make your email sound more genuine so you'll get higher chances of getting a response. Start by tweaking your language so it will sound more real.”
— Nicolas Holand, GooseSmurfs
CMO, Better Proposals
“People hate it when you waste their time. Don’t try and build interest over a series of emails — state what you want in the first email and be clear about your offer. That way, your prospect can immediately tell if they want to dedicate time to you or not. Also, if you’re halfway through a sequence, it’s a good idea to send a proposal rather than a typical email. When you use proposal software, you’ll be able to see whether the prospect opened the email, how much they read, and where they spent the most time. These bits of information can help you greatly in making the sale.”
— Petra Odak, Better Proposals
VP Revenue Growth & Enablement, Clari
“There are 5 key elements to writing an effective cold email that's 50-100 words:
— Kyle Coleman, Clari
Outbound Manager, Snov.io
“We recommend building your cold email based on the AIDA copywriting model that presupposes four elements: attention, interest, desire, action. First, catch the prospect’s attention with a hooking opening sentence. Then, appeal to their interest by highlighting their pain points. After that, stimulate desire for your product or service by sharing how it helped others, providing social proof, etc. Finally, end your cold email by asking the prospect for a specific action (e.g., watch your demo, agree on a sales meeting).”
— Yulia Zubova, Snov.io
“Hit a pain point and be relevant. For most salespeople, this is what converts to sales most. This is because hitting pain points will make prospects feel like they are valued, they are seen, and they are heard. This then results in getting their interest into your business because they feel like they have someone or something to lean on just by how you hit a pain point you didn't realize would take effect to begin with.”
— Sherry Morgan, Petsolino
CEO, Sales Therapy
“Provide stakes. If clients don’t solve the issue with your solution, what exactly are they losing? You don’t need to say it in visible terms, but trying to allude to the risk factors of your sales pitch can help you secure a straightaway buy-in.”
— Michael Hammelburger, Sales Therapy
Marketing Associate, TeleCRM
"In your cold email, include a 30-second video for your prospect that addresses one of the major problems that he might be facing and how you can solve it. This tactic is simple and straightforward, but few people use it, so it can help you grab your prospect's attention and stand out from the rest of the salespeople sending cold emails."
— Hardik Masani, TeleCRM
Marketing Communications Manager, demandDrive
"There are a number of different calls-to-action you can use at the end of your email to promote follow-up from the prospect. However, many of today’s buyers are wary of the hard ask for a meeting. They know how sales pipelines work and unless they're really interested, they don’t want to jump into the funnel right away. In these cases, it's often useful to ask if they're interested in something other than a meeting, like a webinar recording or another piece of collateral, to keep them warm and informed while they think about whether to take that meeting."
— Alex Ellison, demandDrive
Sales Head, Snorkel Mart
“[A] strong call-to-action at the end of the email not only generates interest and desire in the client regarding your client but also reinforces the feeling of taking an action right away. Therefore, a good, catchy CTA is as important as a clickbait subject line, as it increases the chances of the customer actually replying back. A strong subject line will draw the buyer in to read your email, whereas a strong CTA will compel him to buy your product!”
— David Morgan, Snorkel Mart
Co-Founder & CEO, Mobibi, Inc
“I find that including a Calendly link in my email signature has increased our number of meetings and demonstrations with potential clients; via my Calendly, leads can conveniently schedule a meeting with me without much back and forth.”
— Matthew Stormoen, Mobibi, Inc
Founder & CEO, Jennifer Harder Mortgage Brokers
“The majority of prospects regard your signature as an indication of trustworthiness. Your signature should not detract from the material, but it should demonstrate that you are a genuine individual who can be trusted. Remember, this is the recipient's first email from you, so make sure their ‘Spidey senses’ aren't triggered. Signatures should be brief and include the following information: name in full, title of job or profession, phone number, address of a website or other online profile (e.g., LinkedIn), photo of yourself (preferred) or the logo of your company (decent).”
— Jennifer Harder, Jennifer Harder Mortgage Brokers
Before you hit “send” on your emails, read these tips to make sure you’ve found the appropriate tone that portrays confidence and trustworthiness to your leads and makes them feel as if you have their best interest at heart:
Founder & Chief Editor, Archery Topic
“Always make sure to establish relevance to give them a reason to keep reading. At all costs, never highlight that you’re a stranger. First lines like ‘You don’t know me, but’ or ‘We've never met, but’ are a big no and will surely get you ignored. Instead, talk about them. First lines like ‘I’m in awe of the work you’ve done’ or ‘I’ve never learned a lot from just a single piece of content, but with yours, I was totally blown away’ are surefire ones. After all, who doesn’t like to be complimented?”
— Robert Gate, Archery Topic
CEO, Veritas Buyers
“You must speak their language if you want your prospects to take your emails seriously. Pay close attention to the words used in the online profiles of your prospects. In their About section or role descriptions, do they use highly technical or industry terms? We can learn about our prospects' preferred tone and words by observing how they communicate.”
— Richard Latimer, Veritas Buyers
Digital Marketing Strategist, josephbushnell.com
“Using humour can be a very smart tactic for cold email outreach. It can help you stand out from the myriad of spammy emails they’re getting, and it can bring down the reader’s defences where they might otherwise be very guarded.”
— Joseph Bushnell, josephbushnell.com
CEO, Amplify C-Com
“The crucial part of a cold email is not to ‘sell.’ Instead, aim to position yourself at the same level as the person you are reaching out to and treat them like you already know them. Think about what help you can provide this person. Why should this person get on a call with you? What is in it for them? From experience, you're bound to close more sales calls this way.”
— Paul Ace, Amplify C-Com
“I think the main thing is to be authentic, write naturally, and write with confidence. People can tell when you’re not confident. It might appeal to your higher brain, which is trying to make sense of why you’re writing about their interests when you don’t sound very convincing when they can see that you’re somehow faking it. This is why it’s important to cold email with confidence. It helps to break it down into the few main benefits the reader will get, and be honest about how it will help them.”
— Chris Panteli, SaaSWins
Growth Marketing Manager, POWR
"Write cold emails like a tweet: 140 characters or less. Be vague enough to spark interest, but not so vague to find your email in the trash folder. Your subject line should be one word. For example:
Subject Line: Growth
Email copy: [Name], curious to know how much attention you're giving to growth this quarter. I understand others in [company industry] are devoting an avg of X% of budget to growth.
Let's chat soon... I'll follow up w/a phone call later this week."
— Mick Essex, POWR
Founder, One Search Pro
“Power words evoke an emotional reaction from your reader and can hold their attention. These power words should be solution-related and might include words like ‘overcome,’ ‘elevate,’ or even ‘stop.’ Power words are useful for subject lines or opening lines. However, don’t oversaturate the body of the email with them or you might end up sounding aggressive.”
— Eric Ang, One Search Pro
Once you've sent your cold email, your work is not done yet. The experts below told us how they follow up on unanswered emails and make adjustments to their messaging to get more responses to future emails.
Founder & CEO, Ashore
“The biggest hurdle to cold emailing is starting the conversation; with the massive amount of emails we receive on a daily basis, it can be difficult even to get people to open them, much less follow through on a call-to-action. However, cold emailing does work, and works well, when it’s done right. The key is to A/B test your introductory emails, then pay attention to the cold emails you receive, and modify your A/B testing accordingly. It might take a little extra effort, but eventually, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what your target audience responds best to.”
— Cody Miles, Ashore
Business Development Manager, Code Inspiration
“The one cold emailing tip that always shows a good response rate is ‘letter with a choice.’ It might be sent as a second or the last [email] when an addressee received an email but didn't reply. It looks something like this:
Hello, I dropped you a message earlier and haven't heard back from you. My product/service might not be interesting for you, and that's ok. I just want to understand if this is really the case. Please reply simply by indicating the letter:
The text is customizable according to your business needs and situation.”
— Artur Prokopchyk, Code Inspiration
Remember that your cold email serves the purpose of opening up a conversation with a potential buyer during the lead generation stage. It’s not to talk about all the wonderful features of your product or service. The serious selling comes later in the process. Follow these tips, and focus on hooking the prospect and building trust and interest by writing an email that speaks directly to their needs, pain points, and objectives.
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