How to Write Better Cold Emails

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Every top performing sales professional knows that email prospecting is one of the most effective ways to get in front of potential customers. 

You might be thinking: but I hate spam emails! Why would you send spam emails to your prospects? You want them to like you (and eventually make a purchasing decision).

I hate junk email too but I ask you — How do you get your bank statements? Where do you see any official communication from your cable, power, or cell phone companies? How are your company updates communicated? Do your friends and family (older members) send you emails? 

You get my point. Email is still one of the most important methods of communication.  

I don’t know about you, but I spend time in the work day weeding through emails. While scanning emails: you check who an email comes from, read the subject line to see if it’s relevant, and possibly read a sentence or two in the email preview window. 

This leads me to my point that people generally scan most (or all) of the emails that they receive. 

If you want someone to read your email and not be perceived as spam, you need to learn to write better cold emails. 

The first step is to have a compelling subject line. Something that gets people curious enough to open your message. 

Here are some general rules to follow when Cold Emailing 

  • Make it about them, not about you
  • Keep it short, ideally 4 sentences max (make it interest and mobile friendly)
  • Use language that’s conversational
  • The smaller the ask the easier to answer
  • Follow up, and follow up your follow ups
  • Make use of the outbound email automation tools available to optimize your process
  • BUT beware of the pitfalls of email tracking (open rates are almost vanity metric, what you really care about is engagement)
  • The more personalized, the better (e.g. their name, company, industry, competitors, unique situation, reference a real case, language they use offer a specific solution)

The first step to getting someone to read your email is writing an open-worthy subject line. 

How can you accomplish this? Ask questions in your subject line. 

  • An effective method is to ask or say that you have a question in your subject line 
  • An easy one is “hey – quick question about ______” 
    • Quick questions don’t take long so you’re not asking much of your prospect
    • Humans are curious beings and we selfishly want to know what that question is
  • Other effective questions for an email subject line are: 
  • Everything Ok? 
  • Want to see what I can do in a minute? 
  • Do you think this is a good idea? 
  • Did you know this was on your site? 


The questions for your cold email subject line will vary based on your goal of the email and who you are targeting. Write down 5-10 different subject lines and track how effective they are. 

A great method for high rates of cold emails that are opened is to use a referral in your subject line. Using referrals has been found to open at an incredible rate of 86.6%! 

If you have a mutual connection to your prospect or have been introduced, it almost guarantees an opened message. 

Some effective examples: 

I Found You Through *contact name*  

I was Referred to you by *contact name*

If you don’t have anybody that can refer you to your prospect, substitute a contact name with a platform. This approach has been found to also be more effective. 

For example: 

I found you on Twitter

I found you on LinkedIn 

I found you on _____ Website 

Now that your prospect has opened your email because of your effective use of a subject line, how do you keep their attention and respond? 

Here are some tips to help you write a better cold email: 

  1. Be different: Your prospect gets 20-40 terrible cold emails a day. Stand out from the crowd for a higher open rate. Don’t be weird or creepy different but be casual, comfortable, and informal. 
  2. Write a personal email: In this day and age, we can smell a cookie-cutter mass email from a mile away. The more you are able to personalize (succinctly) your email, the higher chance you will receive a response. Research your prospect through LinkedIn, Social Media, Company websites, etc. Identify a core value of your prospect and speak to that in your cold email. 
    • Personalizing your cold email shows that you took the time to learn about the person or company. The 5 minutes it took to research feels like the extra mile to your target. It also proves that you’re not a robot and that there’s someone real on the other end. 
    • Use Common Interests (found from previous research) to relate to your lead. We are a species who crave connection with others. Common Interests are a great bonding tool. Use it to your advantage. 
    • Focus on what’s in it for them. Find out where they could use improvement, ie, efficiency, sales, profitability, etc. Offer a solution (briefly) and ask for a response to learn more. Be direct and provide value. 

3. Be specific with one thing you want your prospect to do. 

    • If you want to coordinate a time to speak, make it easy for them and offer available dates or a link to your calendar
    • If you want an email back, ask them to reply back to the email (don’t give other options)
    • Don’t end your email with something vague like, “let me know…” BE SPECIFIC 
    • If your email is completely cold – make sure your ask is something small and easy. Action from your first cold email to a potential customer is difficult. All you should hope for (and ask for) is a response. 
    • Warmer emails (once you’re communicating back and forth or they showed initial interest) don’t require as much nurturing. This is where you can be more aggressive to ask for a call, meeting, or demo

Here are a couple basic cold email templates I use:

  1. Hi [name], 

This is [your name] with [company name]. I read about your company’s ________ goals and wanted to reach out because we offer customized solutions to help companies, similar to yours, achieve their ________ goals. 

We can show you how our services will reduce your [insert pain point] and help you achieve your ________ goals faster. 

Send me a reply if this is something you are interested in learning more about. If you are not the person to discuss this with, who is the best person to speak with? 

Best regards, 


2. Hi {!First Name},

{!Your Name} reaching out from {!Your Company} – {!Shared detail}.

Yep, this is another #coldemail that says who I am and asks for a meeting; but I’ve {!specific research you’ve done on person}.

{!Connection/uncommon commonality}.

{!Details of your service} – does this sound like something of value to {!Company} or maybe something you’re actively looking for?

Here is {!piece of content}.

When is the best time to chat about this next week? {!Incentive to call}.

These tips have helped me increase my open rate on cold emails significantly. What are some cold email templates you like to use? Leave comments below. 

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