How To
10 min read

How To Write a Cold Email: Tips for Successful Email Campaigns

Soniya Khubchandani

July 15, 2022

More than 4 billion email users exchange 300 billion-plus emails every day. Let that sink in.

Technically, you have a bigger audience than Facebook to connect with, provided you can learn to write good cold emails.

Whether you are a startup founder looking to raise venture capital (VC) money or a student looking for great career opportunities, you need to communicate with others.

Likely, those people won't be your family or buddies.

Learning to write and send effective cold emails is one of the best routes available to you to talk to such people and get desired results.

After reading this in-depth guide, you will have a well-researched process to write compelling cold emails that get responses.

Let us get started.

What is a cold email? A refresher

First, let us offer you a refresher on a cold email.

An email is termed a "cold email" if sent to someone who didn't ask for it or wasn't expecting one from you.

Feel free to check out our detailed guide on cold email marketing for more details.

Who needs to write a cold email? Some popular use cases

Anyone who needs to talk to a person with whom they have no prior interaction can write a cold email to establish a communication line.

Here are some potential use cases for a cold email campaign:

Salespeople looking for new leads

As you would have expected, sales reps often have to write cold emails to potential clients to get new business. Cold emailing is a part of a sales organization's overall outbound marketing strategy to fill their revenue pipelines.

Startup founders trying to raise money

One of the critical jobs of a startup founder in the initial days is to raise funding for their business idea. Raising money through formal channels becomes difficult as an unestablished business.

Often, an entrepreneur will spend time crafting the perfect cold email to send to a VC partner in the hope of getting their attention and raising money.

Students hunting for job and internship opportunities

Like startup founders, young students do not have the luxury of getting hiring calls all the time. They need to reach out through cold networking on LinkedIn or cold emailing to land a satisfying job or internship opportunity.

What are some tips on how to write a cold email? 

We have broken down the entire process of writing effective cold emails into logical sections and explained them in more detail below. Let us go through them one by one.

Perform deep research to understand your target

When sending out a cold email, you must know who you're targeting before running your outreach.

This step will help you avoid wasting time and effort on people who aren't interested in what you have to offer.

If someone gets 50 emails a day, how can yours stand out? It all depends on how well you know your target audience and what makes them tick.

Knowing your potential customer or cold prospect will help you craft a compelling message that resonates with them emotionally and that they won't be able to ignore, increasing your response rate.

Key details about the prospect that will help you write better cold emails

  • What are their primary jobs-to-be-done concerting  your product orservice?
  • What are their pains in performing the jobs?
  • What do they expect to gain or value if they complete their jobs well?
  • What is their position in the organization?

Tips for finding useful information about the receiver

Using a LinkedIn profile description of a person to learn more for cold emails

  • Refer your ideal customer profiles (ICPs)
  • Check out their bio on social media - LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Follow their social handles or blog to see what they are talking about online
  • Find their business email through tools like Hunter.io
  • Find organizational information through tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Set up an attractive "From" address

Sender names displayed in Gmail on desktop

Before we jump to the subject line, let us pay attention to the "Sender name" displayed alongside the email's subject.

By default, your email service provider will set it to your full name, but we recommend changing it to something more personal.

Good sender name formats to try out

  • {First name} + {@, at, from} + {Company name}. Example, Chris from Copy.ai
  • {First name} + {Last name}. Example, Chris Lu

What you choose will depend on what the reader prefers ultimately. Of course, you can always try different sender names to find the most suited one.

Also, as a thumb rule, your sender display names shouldn't be longer than 25 characters to avoid truncation on certain email clients and screen sizes.

Nail your email's subject line

Example of an email subject line

33% of recipients decide to open an email based on the email's subject line alone. That means that even if the content or opening line isn't great, you have a good chance of getting some opens if you can write a good subject line.

However, creating good email subject lines that get high open rates and pass spam filters can be hard.

Tried-and-true subject line methods that work better than others:

  • Make the subject line personal
  • Highlight some value elements
  • Keep it concise
  • Trigger curiosity
  • Post a question to the reader
  • Avoid spam words
  • Use power words
  • Try emojis
  • Try different capitalization styles
  • A/B test

Try including at least one of the above tips when writing your subject lines to make them stand out. But always avoid spam words for a higher chance of hitting the inbox.

If you want to dig deeper into the topic of subject lines, we have written an in-depth article covering subject line best practices with examples.

Hook the reader with your opening line

Cold email intro example

The opening line is your hook if the subject line is the bait. It covers the first few lines the reader will immediately see after opening the mail.

Like any other type of intro, its purpose is to grab the reader's attention and get them intrigued enough to scroll down and read our email body.

Also, suppose you are not using email marketing software to add explicit preheader text into your emails. In that case, your opening words will be shown to the recipient after the subject line, giving you one more reason to optimize it.

The truth is that there's no one-size-fits-all answer for how to write an appealing cold email introduction.

Some basic opening line principles will help you get off to a good start

  • Address the recipient by their name
  • Highlight your researched pain point
  • Give the context for why you are reaching out
  • Add some balanced flattery
  • Establish a common ground between you and the reader
  • Mention the main value point for their problem
  • Provide brief self-introduction
  • Start with a personal story

Offer a specific and relevant solution

If you succeed in getting the reader interested in your intro, they will want to get more details about what you have to offer.

This is your chance to present your solution in the most specific and relevant way possible.

Tips for talking about your product or service in the email

  • Make it specific to the problem you highlighted in the intro
  • Highlight the main benefit for the prospect if they choose your solution
  • Explain in simple words
  • Insert a link to the landing page for the reader to learn more

Back up with solid credentials

Can I trust you GIF. Source

You can't expect the reader to trust you solely based on a sweet offer. They would need some social proof to be comfortable carrying out the conversation further with you.

Our advice is to establish trust with the reader using social proof elements.

All social proof elements grouped into three main categories

  • Company credentials: What makes your company worth trusting?
  • Product/ service credentials: What makes your product worth trusting?
  • Personal credentials: What makes you worth trusting?

Some common social proof examples to use in your cold email campaigns:

  • Client names
  • Testimonials and case study links
  • Mutual connections
  • Product/ service impact data
  • Company size and funding news
  • Reputed media/ press mentions
  • Your revenue and profit figures
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Business partners

See what all you would be able to sneak into your email copy. The more impactful, the better. But make sure your points are legit and verifiable.

Ultimately, the prospect will want to do some digging to believe in your claims.

Personalize cold email outreach as much as possible

Comparison of email reply rates with and without advanced personalization. Credit

Personalization is at the core of everything you write in your cold email. 

It gives the reader confidence that you have done your homework in learning about them and their needs and may actually be able to offer value to them.

You can double your email response rates by applying some advanced personalization techniques.

Advanced personalization means adding specific content beyond the standard Hello {first name}.

If you did your audience research well, you should be able to add advanced personalization to your emails.

What are some email content elements that you can personalize?

  • The problem that you mention
  • Common ground that you use
  • Solution benefits that you highlight
  • Prospect's goals that you highlight
  • Client names and case study material that you reference
  • Mutual connection you mention

Now that you have numerous personalizable elements make the most of this opportunity. It is much easier to talk to someone like a colleague than a stranger.

Speak with clarity and brevity

Speak English GIF. Credit

You must avoid using overly complicated language and jargon when you send a cold email.

This is because the person reading it may not have the same level of understanding as someone who works in your industry. So if they don't understand what you're saying, they'll often just ignore it without reading further.

Cold email communication tips to get your message conveyed without being lost in translation

  • Use simple words and short sentences wherever possible
  • Only use specific industry jargon/ terms if you are confident that it will help the reader
  • Break down your content into digestible sections
  • Format your content well
  • Proofread for grammatical errors and typos
  • Maintain the right tone
  • Keep your total content length short. 

How short? As per a Constant Contact study of over 2.1 million emails, emails with around 20 lines of text get the highest click-through rates.

Email click-through rate vs. lines of text. Credit

Your key takeaway should be that simple, short, and concise cold emails perform much better than longer convoluted messages.

However, you can always test the ideal email length for your campaigns to learn what works best for you.

Make the expected action obvious to the reader

What do we have to do GIF. Credit

You want people to take the action you want them to, so clearly communicating what that action is will help them do so.

It may seem obvious, but too many people forget this simple fact when writing cold emails.

That means including a call-to-action (CTA) in every email you send.

What are some tips for writing cold email CTAs?

  • Stick to one prominent CTA
    You will be better off focusing on one goal than two. For example, if you mention both "Can we connect over a call?" and "Would you like to get a demo?" both actions may become diluted for the prospect.

  • Make it easy to schedule a one-to-one conversation
    Don't ask them for a suitable time to meet? Either provide them with 2-3 time-slot options or share a link to your meeting calendar via tools like Calendly. It should be seamless for the prospect to pick a suitable time than suggest one for you.

  • Don't ask for too much at the beginning
    Don't be greedy. Even if your prospect is ready to give you 15 mins, you should take it happily. Ask yourself? What minimum commitment do I need from my prospect to get the conversation rolling?

    For example, simple requests like, "Can we have a 15 minutes web-meeting?" are more likely to be accepted than, "How about we connect for a 1-hour product demo session?".

  • Minimize their risk by offering value in all cases
    Making commitments can be tricky because the person is expected to follow through. To address this mental barrier for most prospects, you can clarify that you are not expecting any purchase to happen in the first meeting. Instead, it would help if you gave them something they value for free. For example, complimentary 30 mins advise on improving team productivity.

  • Make it easy for them to say "No" if they are not interested
    Sometimes, getting a "No" for an answer is the best thing that can happen for your cold outreach. Let us explain this. Often, salespeople spend too much time knocking on the wrong door than focusing their energy on a more receptive buyer. This is because they hope that the prospect will come through after constant messages. Unfortunately, a lot of times, you will hear nothing from them. So, making it easy to reply with a message like "Not interested" will free you to start more conversations with the right person.

  • Give them the option to message or call you anytime
    Some people just prefer to call or message you when they want. While this may affect your schedule, it still offers one more way to get others to talk to you. For example, you can add something like, "Feel free to call or message me anytime without hesitation. Here is my personal number.”

Add a signature and close off

Your email closing should have a sign-off message like "Best regards" and your signature.

A simple and clean signature helps let your potential client know who you are, what you do, and how they can get in touch with you.

Please be careful not to overshadow your CTA with your signature. You can use extra spaces to separate them.

Use popular email copywriting frameworks

Cold emails can be enhanced using several sales copywriting frameworks. They make it easy for you to start with a logical structure and develop a well-written first draft.

Popular copywriting frameworks you can apply to successful cold email writing:

  • Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA)
  • Before-After-Bridge
  • Pain-Agitate-Solution (PAS)
  • Problem-Promise-Proof-Proposal
  • Feature-Advantage-Benefit

Pro Tip: You can utilize all of the above copywriting frameworks with CopyAI's suite of AI-powered copywriting tools. When writing your cold email copies at scale, this will be a game-changer for you.

Learn from examples

Example of an actual, successful cold email sent by a startup founder to a VC, Credit

For those still wondering how to start and what to write in your cold email, you can draw some inspiration from real-world cold email examples that have got even the toughest of prospects to respond.

To make it easy for you to refer to such emails, we have curated the best cold email examples.

Make use of effective cold email templates to get going

While you should never just copy a cold email template, you can benefit from them if you use them wisely. 

Templates are a great way to document the best of what has worked for someone and make it accessible to others. 

You can build your collection of frequently used templates and personalize them to every prospect.

We have created a vast list of cold email templates you can copy and edit to meet your specific goals.

Be prepared to follow-up

Email follow-ups and reply success rate. Credit


In an ideal world, your cold email should get you the desired response in the first attempt, but unfortunately, it doesn't usually work that way.

 

70% of senders give up after the first unanswered mail.

But if you want to get traction with your cold email strategy, follow-ups are a must. Research shows you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your first follow-up email alone.

Tips for doing effective email follow-ups

  • Distribute your wait times between follow-ups based on data and your observation
  • Add value
  • Reiterate the context
  • Explain your reason for contacting again
  • Add a CTA

You should follow up at least twice on every unanswered cold email, no matter how frustrating it may feel.

Track results and keep optimizing

Whatever results you may be getting from your cold email campaigns, you should monitor them closely. Without a proper analysis workflow in place, you would have no way to improve your outreach.

So, you must give time for retrospection based on data and make improvements along the way.

Closing remarks on writing cold emails

It is time for us to sign off from this blog, but you are just getting started.

Cold emails are one of the most cost-effective and direct ways to connect with your potential audience but not the easiest to execute.

However, you don't seem like someone who gives up quickly. That is why you spent valuable time reading this guide to learn more about the art and science of writing effective cold emails.

With the right attitude, patience, strategy, and a few follow-ups, you should be able to hit some home runs.

Happy cold emailing!

Ready to level-up?

Write 10x faster, engage your audience, & never struggle with the blank page again.

Get Started for Free
No credit card required
7-day trial of Pro
90+ content types to explore