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Cold Emails Can Be Pretty Lame. Here's How to Avoid That.

July 29, 2020

cold-email

Five seconds. 

It takes five seconds to skim my inbox and consider the name and subject lines of all of my unopened emails in the morning. Not five seconds for one email – five seconds for all of them. 

People are so accustomed to receiving heaps of uninteresting emails. Whether they’re sales pitches, boring old newsletters, or redundant software activity updates, the default attitude towards our inboxes has slowly but surely reverted to assuming that it isn’t offering us anything of value. 

If you’re a sales rep genuinely trying to help a business find a solution that can help them relieve a pain point, this is not good news for you. The last thing you want is for someone to glance over their inbox and hit the “Mark all as read” button with your well-crafted, thoughtful sales email sitting in the lineup. Ouch. 

To avoid that heartache, all you need to do is write a killer cold email that’ll catch their eye.

How to write a cold email

It’s almost guaranteed that part of your prospecting strategy includes cold email outreach to potential customers. So it’s time to get familiar. 

There are five major components of a cold email, or any email for that matter: the subject line, the opening line, the body copy, the closing, and the signature.

While they might appear in a particular order in a prospect’s inbox, creating arguments for which ones are the most important, each component still requires its own strategy, thoughtful construction, and careful execution. 

The most important things to remember is that for your cold email to fulfill its intended purpose, it must be written in a way that keeps the reader’s attention from start to finish. It’s not likely that you’ll get there on the first try. Arguably the best thing about sales emails is that your approach can always be optimized.

As your business, solutions being offered, and target audience change, your cold emails should adapt to reflect that. Run tests, experiment with language, and always keep an eye on your market. 

But before you go about trying a bunch of different methods, let us give you a good place to start with each of the five components of a cold email, and then you can go from there.

Subject line

Besides maybe your name, the cold email subject line is the first thing your prospect is going to read. If they aren’t intrigued enough about your offer to keep reading after seeing your subject line, they won’t open it.

33%

of email recipients open an email based on the subject line

Source: Email Analytics

So it better be good. Really good.

An effective subject line will embody two qualities: short and enticing. Remember, the goal is to simply gain the interest of the reader, not to sell to them. This might seem obvious, but don’t pitch to your prospect in the subject line of your email. Give them an idea of why you are reaching out, and leave it at that. If they don’t open or respond to your message, maybe they just weren’t a good fit for your solution. 

Remember to write your subject line like a human, not a robot. If it has weird spacing, the wrong name, or brackets implying you forgot to fill in a field, recipients will immediately pick up on the fact that you used a cold email automation tool or a canned outreach email without giving it a once over before hitting send. When writing your subject line, stay true to your situation, which is a human trying to open up a line of communication with another human. 

Pay attention to your style, formatting, and language as well. Too many words starting with capital letters will give off the impression that your cold email is a part of a marketing campaign. Trying to create urgency with words like “final” or “reminder” will result in the prospect seeing right through you. 

Due to the pressure of writing a stellar subject line, some people can take it a bit far. Don’t lose sight of the intended purpose of a subject line: to give the reader an idea of what’s included in the rest of the email.

If you promise something in the subject line, you better deliver in the rest of the email. If you get too fancy with your subject line and end up not using it properly, you might mislead the reader. And that’s a recipe for getting your email deleted. 

Here are some basic, yet authentic subject lines you can try in your email outreach strategy:

  • “Question about [topic]”
  • “Trying to connect”
  • “Quick request”

Opening line

Alright, they opened your cold email. Congratulations! That’s a big step, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

It’s time for the opening line. 

This is where you would add some personalization and typically put something like a “hello” or a “good morning” to officially start the email. But don’t just slap that in the email and call it a day. Give it some extra thought.

Reacquaint yourself with your customer persona and ask yourself what they would want to read as an opening line in a sales email. Is it a “hello” and then their name? Or a more formal greeting like “dear” and then their name? Or in the other less formal direction, maybe something like “hi there.” 

After the greeting, get right to the point. There’s no need to introduce yourself. If the recipient wanted to see who you were, where you worked, or how to reach you, they would skip to the bottom and look at your signature. The best cold email opening lines will explain why you are reaching out, make an attempt at building trust with the prospect, and smoothly transition into your sales pitch, all while staying true to the subject line. 

Use the connection you’ve found while researching your prospect and use it to build context about the purpose of your email. Being straightforward with your prospect will make them see you as someone who isn’t trying to be sneaky about starting the conversation, helping you earn their trust.

Body copy

Now to the good stuff. The cold email body copy, also known as your time to shine.

This is where you tell the prospect what it is that you want. However, you need to pose it in a way that places the benefits on their end, not yours. Yes, you are trying to help them by selling them a solution that can make a difference for their business, but to do that, you need them to take action as well. 

Before writing your body copy, establish the goal of your cold email. Obviously the end goal of your email outreach is to make a sale and gain the loyalty of another customer, but this is going to require getting down to the knitty gritty.

Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with this email and this email alone. Is it to schedule a call or meeting with the prospect? Do you want them to sign up for a free trial? Depending on this end result, the body of your email will vary to reflect it. 

Alright, so we left off in the actual email with you opening up the conversation by explaining why you contacted the prospect. From there, give them your pitch. Keep it brief, but make the problem you are trying to help them solve clear and doable for you. Mention benefits specific to their business that could be attained if things move forward. Prove to them that you’ve done your research and that you truly believe that your solution could help them. 

Closing 

The way you close your message carries a lot of weight in the overall cold email. You don’t want the heat to die, and even more than that, the last thing you want is for the prospect to be intrigued by the offer in your email and then wonder, “What do I do now?” 

The best way to avoid that is by offering a simple, clear, and direct call-to-action (CTA) for the recipient to follow as soon as they finish reading the email. While the purpose of that particular cold email is to create a connection between you and the person on the other end, you have to think about the bigger picture here. For this relationship to work, and for you to figure out if your business’ solution is a good fit for this prospect, you need input from both parties. 

Explicitly state what the customer needs to do if they want to hear more about your offer. Should they respond to the email? Give you a call? Book a demo online? Either way, make it clear what they need to do to move forward so they can officially enter your sales funnel. 

It might seem as if crafting the perfect closing CTA for your cold email is tricky, but it takes a bit more strategy than you would think. 

Here are some general guidelines to follow when writing a CTA for your email's close: 

  • Choose one CTA and stick to it. Including too many will most likely result in them taking one action and not the others.
  • Make the action clear and include links if necessary. Make it as easy as possible for them to follow through and enter your sales pipeline. 
  • Don’t put too much pressure on them. Make the action simple, like a stepping stone. Asking for a big commitment too early on is a recipe for them feeling negatively conflicted.
  • Be as specific as possible. The prospect should have not a single question about how to proceed after reading your CTA. 

Signature 

Even though your prospect has made it all the way down to your email signature at this point (which is still a win), that’s no reason to stop trying to wow them. 

At the most basic level, you’ll want to include your name, title and company, phone number, and email. Mine would look something like this: 

Mary Clare Novak
Content Marketing Specialist, G2
555-555-5555
myemail@website.com

While the signature will close out the email, you can still use it as an opportunity to offer something interesting to the recipient. Embed a link to a YouTube video, webinar recording, or case study. If there’s any media file or clip that can help build your credibility with this prospect, include it. 

Cold email templates

If you’re looking for some guidance as you get started crafting your own cold emails, there are a few examples below for a couple of different situations. While these cold email examples offer a good place to start, remember that finding the right style of email for your business is going to take some experimenting.

Test a couple of different approaches and analyze which one gave you the best results. Even when you do have luck with a certain cold email template, make sure to always keep an eye on your business, solution, and market. What works for you today might not be as effective in a couple of months. 

If you want to keep it generic

There’s nothing wrong with going back to the basics for your cold email outreach. Here’s a generic yet reliable sales email template that you can count on. 

Hi [their name],

This is [your name] with [your company name]. Our business has worked with organizations like [their company name] to [pain point resolution for their business]. 

Let me know if you have a few minutes to hop on a quick call on [day] this week so we can chat about exploring this for [their business name] as well. 

[Your signature] 

If you want to sound helpful

Obviously the overall goal of your cold email outreach is to help your prospect find a solution that can help their business. But if you really want to lay it on thick, here’s a template for that. 

Hi [their name],

I saw your announcement about [news from their company] on [platform on which you saw the news]. As your team moves forward, I thought you would want to hear more about how [your company name] helps businesses in similar situations [pain point resolution for their business]. 

Let me know if you want to set up a time to chat more about it sometime this week.

[Your signature]

If you want to sound like an expert

Another way to appeal to your cold email recipient is to make them realize you are an expert and the perfect person to speak with to find a solution that can help their business. If you want to give off that impression, use this template. 

Hi [their name], 

I’ve recently been working with [similar company’s name] for [duration of relationship with that company]. One thing they tend to struggle with is [business problem], and we’ve been able to help them [business value]. 

If this sounds like something you would also be interested in doing, respond with some times and dates that work for you to chat about it further. 

[Your signature]

If your goal is prospecting

It’s possible that you’re emailing someone not with the goal to sell to them as soon as possible, but to first find out if they would be a good fit for your solution. This is known as a prospecting email, and it might look something like this. 

Hi [their name], 

I’ve been paying close attention to the growth your team is experiencing at [their company name] and wanted to know if you would like to chat about how [your company name] has helped similar brands like [similar company’s name] [pain point resolution for their business]. 

Do you have a few minutes to chat on [day] this week to see if that’s something you would be interested in? 

[Your signature]

If you need a referral

If you know you’re going to be faced with a gatekeeper, you’re going to need an effective cold email template that will help you move past them to the business’ decision-maker. We’ve got one right here for you. 

Hi [gatekeeper’s first name],

This is [your name] from [your company name]. My business has been working with [similar company’s name] to [pain point resolution for their business]

Could you connect me with the right person to talk to about this at [their company name] so we can see if this would be valuable to your business as well?

[Your signature]

If you want to be super direct

Lastly, there’s an option for people looking to get right to the point with a cold email that acts as an initial connection and an in depth sales pitch all in one. Here’s a template for that approach. 

Hi [their name]

I wanted to reach out to you because [explain your connection here]. [Your company name] has a new and exciting solution that helps businesses like [their company name] [pain point resolution for their business].

I am certain that our product can do the same for [their business name], as other customers like [similar company’s name] and [similar company’s name] have seen results. 

Are you available for a call to discuss this further at [time] on [day]?

[Your signature]

When to send a cold email 

Trying to determine the best time to start your sales cadence with a cold email will land you in a rabbit hole of research results, leaving you more confused than when you had the original thought. The truth of the matter is, and it’s a pain to hear, but it really depends. 

The strategy you use to decide when to send your cold emails will all rely on your target audience of prospects and what works best for them. All businesses are unique, but you can still make generalizations regarding the best time to send cold emails to all of them. 

The only way to do this is with constant testing and experimentation. Vary the days of the week and times of day that you’re sending your cold emails and closely monitor the results by measuring the following email marketing metrics: 

  • Open rate: The number of people who open your cold email. Open rate is a good indicator of how engaging your subject line is. 
  • Click-through rate: This metric is only relevant if your desired action for the prospect to take is clicking on a link. If that is the case for your cold email, your CTR will reveal how intriguing the rest of the email is. 
  • Response rate: And of course, your response rate, arguably the most relevant cold email metric, is the number of people who respond to your email. Your response rate shows how truly valuable your offer is. 

Pay close attention to those metrics with an email tracking tool, so you can get the most accurate picture of your data. Make sure to only alter one variable at a time so you can accurately get to the cause of whether a new method will show you more success or failure. 

Cold emailing follow-up strategy

At this point, you’ve probably sent a few emails and have thought of some initial methods for testing days and times to send them to your prospects. That’s a great start, but the work isn’t done.

To be truly successful with your cold emailing, you must avoid a major mistake that sales reps can make when sending cold emails: forgetting to follow up. 

27%

of prospects don't respond until the sixth email. 

Source: Copper

Follow-up emails tend to get better response rates than the first email you send, meaning as you implement a follow-up series, your chances of making a sale increase. So it’s safe to say that it’s just as important to send follow-up emails as it is to send the initial cold email. 

Remember, you’ll only see true success if you keep testing, experimenting, evaluating, and changing your methods. Other than that, your follow-up email won’t be too much different from your initial cold email in terms of format and language. Here are some tips for sending cold email follow-ups. 

Give them context

If you were to open an email from someone you have never spoken with before and their message implied that you had some sort of past connection, you would be confused, right? 

It’s possible that your prospect didn’t read your cold email because they missed it in their inbox or accidentally deleted it. To give them some context of why you’re emailing them (again), jog their memory and refer to that last email you sent them. If they remember you, then great. If not, they’ll admire the persistence. 

Here are some phrases you might use to add some context to your follow up email: 

  • “I wanted to follow up on the email I sent on [date you sent the email] regarding [subject of last email]”
  • “I wanted to follow up to see if you had any thoughts on my last email regarding [subject of last email]”

Include unique value

The easy route for your cold email follow up strategy would be to jumble some words around and essentially send a reworded version of your first message. That approach isn’t going to cut it. 

When you send your follow up email, make sure to include unique value that wasn’t mentioned in the previous message. Avoid the whole approach where you just nudge the prospect to create another touchpoint. To make it worth their while, and yours, make sure each interaction is providing its own value.

To do this, touch on another benefit or feature of your solution. Mention the success one of your customers had with it. If your last email included a YouTube video, this time around make it a webinar or a link to your social media accounts. 

If you can’t add another piece of relevant value for the prospect, then you shouldn’t be emailing them at all. 

Don’t forget the call-to-action

Your follow up email should have just as clear of a call-to-action for the recipient to follow as your initial cold email. If the first call to action didn’t cut it, make this one more specific.

For example, say your cold email closed with this CTA: “Would you be interested in hopping on a call with me next week?” 

You could make it a bit more concrete if you gave a specific day and time. Like this: “Would you want to hop on a call on Thursday at noon to chat about this more?” 

Test, measure, repeat 

Trying to establish a relationship with a prospect is no easy feat. There are countless mistakes to be made, and even more lessons to be learned. But that’s the beauty of cold emails, isn’t it?

As you try you fail, as you fail you learn, and as you learn you grow. If something failed miserably, don’t stress. Throw that idea out and try a new one. The only way you can have a truly terrible cold email strategy is if you stop trying to improve it. 

Is the next step in your sales cadence to call your prospect? Here’s a guide if you need to leave your message after the beep

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