How To
9 min read

What Is a Cold Email and Why Should You Use Them?

Soniya Jain
November 20, 2022

Why so cold, you may ask?

We are talking about cold emails. An outreach strategy that often gets misunderstood, misused, or ignored.

Cold emails, when done well, can unlock business growth like no other outbound marketing strategy.

For example, Alex Berman, founder of a Las Vegas-based agency, leveraged the personal connection of cold emails to generate $400k in ARR (annual recurring revenue) in just 30 days.

However, only 8.5% of outreach emails get even a response.

We believe that understanding what cold emails are and how to use them can empower more teams to unlock their growth potential.

This guide will offer you a comprehensive overview of cold emails.

You will learn:

  • A working definition of a cold email
  • A cold email example
  • The legality of cold emails
  • Common use cases for cold email marketing
  • How to run a successful cold email marketing program

Let us get started.

What is a cold email?

The term "cold email" refers to an unsolicited email sent to a recipient without prior interaction with the sender. Essentially, they are the email equivalent of cold calling in terms of their purpose.

Categorically, they are a subset of email marketing and differ from transactional and warm emails.

Understanding cold email through an example

Scenario: A salesperson from a project management software company wants to set up an introductory meeting with the VP of operations of a Fortune 500 organization. He finds his business email and spends time on social media to better understand the prospect.

Cold email example to use to get a response

Cold email subject line: Your employees aren't able to get work done. Do something.

Hello Mark,

I can send this email to you because I knew it had to be done today, not tomorrow?

Considering that I am poor at remembering things, you would have never heard from me had it not been for the simple task management tool I have been using lately.

It is called Tasker, which has really changed how I prioritize my workday, reduce stress, and get more done in less time.

I guess your company, too, would have folks like me who struggle to keep their day in order.

How about we have a quick chat about doing something about it as I did?

You can give me a preferable time for yourself using this link -

Best Regards,


Productivity Advisor

XYZ Corp

Explore many more cold email examples to draw some inspiration for your next outreach.

Are cold emails considered spam?

It is not illegal to send cold emails. But it is sometimes confused with spam emails, which are illegal in most cases.

Both cold emails and spam emails are unsolicited by nature, but they significantly differ in their approach and intention.

A spam email is typically sent to a large list of recipients without the sender even considering who the recipients are or whether the email is even relevant to them. The email lists are purchased or scraped from thousands of websites using unethical data collection practices.

Most of these emails end up in the recipient's spam folder.

In contrast, cold emails are intentional and are tailored to the recipient's needs. Its purpose is to provide value to the recipient. This includes helping them with their goals or challenges.

Please note: Each country has its own rules regarding what's considered right or wrong about an unsolicited commercial email. For cold email outreach, you must keep these in mind.

For example, in the U.S., the CAN-SPAM Act sets the rules for commercial emails and allows recipients to unsubscribe from them. Companies that violate these regulations can be subject to steep penalties.

When to send a cold email? Common use cases for cold email marketing

Cold email marketing can be used as a personalized outreach strategy in various scenarios. Let us have a look at some of the common ones.

Generating leads for business

Cold emails are a great way to get your business in front of potential customers. The idea behind such emails is to get your potential customer or client to respond and become interested in your offer.

A successful B2B cold email is personalized and fully prepared before sending it. You need to know who you're targeting, why they'd want your product or service, and what they'll get out of it.

Inviting attendees to an event

If you're planning on hosting an event that you'd like to invite people to, you should be thinking about getting the word out.

The truth is, it isn't easy. You need a cold outreach plan, and then you need to execute it well.

Cold-email outreach is one of the most effective ways to invite people to events like webinars, conferences, and meetups.

One tip is to write the event email invitation by speaking directly to your potential attendee.

Conducting market research

Market research is a crucial part of any business. It helps companies understand their customers and market and identify new opportunities.

But conducting market research isn't always easy. You will find it challenging to get people to participate in your study, especially if you're trying to reach customers who are not currently using your product or service.

You can use cold emails here to reach out to potential customers who haven't yet purchased something from your company, but maybe they will buy from you in the future. This approach allows you to introduce yourself before they've even heard of your company and find out what they are looking for in products like yours. It also makes them more likely to buy from you since they didn't know about you before reading the email, and it seems like you are trying to create a better product to help them..

Cold email for a job

An estimated 70-80 percent of job listings are not made public. Instead, they're filled through networking or referrals.

Because of this, cold email outreach is an essential part of any job search. Candidates can use such emails to introduce themselves to hiring managers at companies they want to work for.

Cold emails can also be used by candidates who have already applied for a job but have not had any response from the employer.

Check out this in-depth guide on writing cold emails to land your dream job.

Landing an internship

An internship is a way to get your foot in the door, but it's also a valuable chance to explore career options, gain experience and build your resume.

But if you want an internship worth your while, you'll have to work hard to get it.

The problem is that many students struggle with how to apply for internships without having connections or an inside track. This means applying through an online portal or sending in your resume and cover letter most of the time. But if you really want the job, there's another way - cold emailing.

Cold emails are democratic because they don't require connections or privilege. They are meritocratic because if you can write well and constructively, regardless of where you went to school or how wealthy your parents are, you can still get noticed by someone who matters.

Learn the best approach to cold email for an internship.

Hiring candidates

Like job and internship seekers may find it challenging to find good companies to work for, organizations may struggle to attract the right talent.

Interestingly, 73% of job candidates are passive, meaning they are not actively applying for any jobs.

Cold email offers hiring managers an excellent opportunity to connect with such candidates personally and sell the organization's pitch.

The best thing about cold emails is that they're incredibly flexible. You can use them to look for any worker, from entry-level positions to senior-level roles.

Building SEO backlinks

Broken link-building email outreach example by Brian Dean.

Outreach by cold email can be a powerful approach for marketers. It's a great way to get in touch with bloggers, journalists, and other influencers who might be interested in your content.

It works particularly well if you have a relevant piece of content that you can share with them. It shows that you've done your research and understand their audience’s needs.

If you follow best practices, cold email outreach can be a low-cost way to build links to your website and improve SEO performance with increased rankings and traffic.

Influencer collaboration

Influencer marketing is a strategy brands, businesses, and organizations use to reach their target audience. It involves partnering up with influential people who have an online following. They are usually paid for their services, but it's not necessary.

Cold email outreach is a powerful influencer marketing tool that lets you target prospective partners who aren't necessarily looking for new opportunities.

The best influencer marketing collaborations come from genuine relationships built on trust and mutual respect. Personalized cold emails can be a great way to establish that.

How do I run a successful cold email marketing program?

If your organization wants to get the most out of cold email marketing, you should treat it as a critical marketing program.

We offer some valuable tips to make it a solid revenue-generating channel for your business.

Define your goals and expectations

You need to understand how good your cold emails may be; they are still unsolicited communication. Therefore, you should be modest with what goals you want to achieve with this outreach mechanism and plan your overall strategy accordingly.

For example, you should define the number of follow-ups to be carried out before passing on a prospect. This way, you won't be quitting too soon or be stuck till too late.

Build a quality database

Building a good prospects list is fundamental to any successful outreach campaign.

This strategy becomes a make-or-break activity for cold email outreach,  as the information you have on your email list will decide whether someone will engage in a conversation with you or not.

Tips to build a solid cold outreach list

  • Define the target persona for your list
  • Use audience research tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and to create your list
  • Gather as much information as possible for each individual
  • Organize the information properly
  • Prefer business emails
  • Validate emails using an email validation tool
  • Note down the key jobs, pain points, and gains for each individual concerning your product or service

Nail your cold email copies

Your email copy is one of the most critical elements for cold emails. It will set you apart from your competitors in a crowded inbox and convince readers to engage with your message.

Key elements of your email content

  • Sender's display name
  • Subject line
  • Email body
  • Personalization
  • Email signature

Why is a well-written cold email copy effective?

  • It helps you stand out from the crowd.
    If you send a cold email that doesn't grab people's attention, they'll probably delete it without reading it. However, if your email subject line and the copy are compelling enough, they'll want to know more about what you're offering them and why they should care.

  • It allows you to humanize yourself in your reader's mind.
    Like in real life, we tend not to trust people we don't know or who seem too formal or robotic (even if we like them).

  • It helps foster trust and connection with your reader.
    This makes them more likely to respond positively to your message, even if they don't purchase anything from you just yet.

Check out our in-depth guide to writing great cold emails for your campaigns.

Time your cold email well

When it comes to cold emails, timing is everything.

The time of day, the day of the week, and even the month can hugely impact your success rate with cold emails.

For example, research suggests that emails sent between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. get the most response during workdays.

Depending on your industry and target audience, your emails' best sending times will vary.

It is advisable to test and define your preferred sending time slots for campaigns.

Don't forget to add a sequence of follow-up emails to improve your reply rate.

Maintain high email deliverability

Email deliverability is the percentage of your emails that reach the inbox of your recipients.

Email deliverability is crucial because it determines whether your email gets delivered to the inbox or junk folder of the right person. If your email isn't delivered, it's like sending an invitation to a party no one receives.

Understanding what factors affect your email deliverability and how you can improve it is helpful.

What are some best practices for improving email deliverability? 

  • Configure your technical foundations like DKIM, SPF, and DMARC.
  • Use a dedicated domain for cold email outreach campaigns
  • Start with a low send volume
  • Personalize your email content
  • Avoid using spammy terms by using a spam filter
  • Monitor your sender score
  • Maintain a clean email database
  • Mix up your sending times
  • Add an unsubscribe link

Create your own cold email templates

While cold emails are supposed to be highly personalized, you can still benefit from frameworks to follow for different kinds of emails.

For example, your sales rep can create a meeting request cold email template using the Problem Agitate Solve (PAS) copywriting framework and share it with everyone in the team. This email formula will help streamline and standardize your outreach activities.

If you find it hard to come up with persuasive sales copy, try adding the power of AI to your workflow with CopyAI's sales copywriting tools.

Track results and optimize for an effective cold email strategy

Tracking the results of your cold email outreach will help you determine whether or not it's worth continuing with this strategy.

It is good to track key metrics for each campaign and review the results periodically to inform your next steps. For example, you can see who is opening emails, how many times, and if they click on links within the email with most email marketing software.

A low response rate or link clicks is a sign there needs to be an improvement and can imply that your email body needs to be more persuasive.

Closing remarks on cold emailing

Like cold calling or direct mail, cold email may not seem like the most exciting marketing method, but it is worth trying.

Spending time to understand what cold emails are and how to make the most of them will make your attempt much more likely to succeed.

We hope that this comprehensive overview has cleared many of your doubts and given you the confidence to pursue this email outreach strategy.

Good luck with your next cold email campaign!

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