Cold Emails How To Write Them To Get Replies

How to Write Powerful Cold Emails That Actually Get Replies

Anyone responsible for selling knows that prospecting includes cold emails (aka unsolicited emails), but who’s actually good at it? How can a salesperson drive a solid open and email engagement rate from a series of unsolicited sales emails, especially now in a virtual selling and digitally polluted environment?

First, we have to answer the question of: What’s a ‘good’ open rate anyway? 

Research shows that, on average, a 3% open rate is the norm for cold emails. The click through rate is likely much lower, on average as well – somewhere in the 0.5%-1% range. Yikes! In my opinion, none of those cold email stats are good whatsoever!

But, fortunately, there are proven techniques you can use to make cold emails work for you! 

I’m not a fan of cold calling or cold emailing. In my humble opinion, cold outreach should be used as a last resort by a seller and used after you have warmed up your buyer. But, both the cold call and the cold email are, in fact, an arrow in your quiver. Both should be used when all other avenues have been exhausted and especially as part of a sales prospecting cadence, it’s a must. 

As a necessary evil, a salesperson must learn how to “warm” up the cold email and/or call to create engagement with the target persona and get them to want to engage or schedule a sales call. 

How Can You Be Persuasive In A Cold Email?

It all comes back to having a clear and thorough understanding of your  buyer personas. Consider what pain point they have, the solutions they may have tried without success, or the goals they have. After sourcing your list through a LinkedIn email finder, make sure you segment it into manageable lists so that your emails have higher open rates. The more you can get into ‘what’ they may be looking for and position your email to provide value, then you’ll increase your chances of them opening and engaging with the content. 

For example, one method we use is to send a link to a blog post, links to our current podcasts, as well as free downloads in our cold outreach campaigns. In this way, it’s our goal to give our potential customer something of value that will help them see that we are a credible source that they can trust (and that can solve their problem). hands on laptop keyboard

Remember, there is a big difference between cold emails and warm emails. When your prospect is a warm lead, then you can approach the email conversation very differently. However, with cold emails, your focus has to be on overcoming their most immediate objection which is “Who is this salesperson emailing me? Why should I listen?”

Similarly, in SEO, when you conduct email outreach for backlinks, your message, and subject lines must be sharp, on the point, and exceptionally well-written.

The more you can earn their trust through providing value in your cold emails, then the faster you can get them to want to move forward with booking a sales call with you.

Now, before we check out the following 9 cold email best practices, I want to provide you with two resources that can really help in your exploration of cold calling vs. cold emails. The first resource is a fantastic resource with one of my guests Joe Pici on the Modern Selling Podcast and here he provides several cold calling scripts to help you convert conversations into meetings. The second is also a podcast I hosted with David Walter where he delivers 3 cold calling tips to help you convert more buyers into opportunities via that first call.

How has the Landscape of Cold Emailing Transformed Over Time?

Cold emailing has undergone a substantial evolution since its initial introduction in sales. In the early days, the primary objective was straightforward – pitching the offer. A generic, one-size-fits-all message was dispatched to a broad audience of prospects, devoid of any personalization or segmentation.

In the nascent stages, this mass-sales-oriented tactic thrived as a lead generation method, given the novelty of email communication in business. However, as inboxes became inundated with copy-paste messages, the effectiveness of this approach dwindled. Audiences grew weary of the sales-centric tone and the lack of individualization in cold emails.

The approach to cold emailing has since undergone a profound transformation. Aggressive sales pitches and impersonal, generic emails no longer yield success. Today’s emphasis is on cultivating relationships with prospects, shifting the focus from your product or service to the recipient.

Empathy is paramount in crafting cold email copy. From the very first contact, prospects should sense an understanding of their business and its challenges. Avoid rushing into the deal; instead, encourage prospects to share their daily work struggles. Subsequently, demonstrate how your solution can enhance or streamline their processes.

Personalization stands as the linchpin for capturing prospect interest in the contemporary landscape. Prospecting plays a pivotal role in the overall success of your cold email campaign.

Moreover, personalization extends to tailoring follow-ups based on the specific responses of prospects and incorporating trigger actions that prompt engagement.

As you delve deeper into understanding your prospects, crafting messages precisely tailored to each segment becomes more seamless, paving the way for a more effective cold email strategy.

Alright, now let’s check out 9 Cold Email Best Practices!

an open laptop on a desk for thank you email

9 Essential Steps for Writing a Cold Email

Learn 9 #ColdEmail best practices to create more #Sales Responses w/ @M_3Jr #SocialSelling #Sales Click To Tweet

1. Keep Your Emails Short

Your cold email must be concise and to the point, especially because you’re a new name in your potential customer’s inbox and they will likely be very skeptical to even open the cold email. Keep in mind that your prospect or modern buyer is both very busy and they don’t know who you are – two things that will work against you in getting them to both open and read whatever cold email or campaign you send.

Be smart – don’t waste their time with a foot-long page of information or a longer email that will take them more than 45 seconds to read. Stick to emails that are no more than 111 words. You’ll have plenty of time to discuss details down the road. For now, it’s all about getting your prospect’s attention, creating curiosity, and earning their trust.

Keep in mind that email is just an extension of a conversation, albeit in the digital format. Think about what you do when you first meet a person in real life. You’d likely introduce yourself, then they may ask you what you do, and you (hopefully) wouldn’t spend 8 minutes telling them about yourself. Right? This is the same or very similar approach you want to take with a cold outreach email. 

No one likes a long drawn out talker and your prospects don’t like long-winded emails either!

Be sure to always lead with high value, high intrigue – all while not spending more than a few seconds doing this.

If you don’t already read your emails out loud and time yourself doing so, that’s a great practice to follow to make sure your sales emails aren’t too long, boring, hard to read, or otherwise likely to hit the trash folder.

So, what’s the #1 thing to remember when you write winning cold emails?

Get to the point as quickly as possible and invite them to connect with you (aka drive them to your LinkedIn profile). This way it gives them the opportunity to get to know you more before you start to pitch your product or service.

2. Write Cold Email Subject Lines that Grab Attention

Your subject line makes the difference between an opened email and one that goes directly in the trash bin, or doesn’t get read at all.

According to Convince and Convert, 35% of email recipients open emails solely based on the subject line. So, this is your first (and sometimes only) chance to grab your prospect’s attention.

Your Subject Line makes a difference between an opened email vs. not! How? Learn from @M_3Jr #SocialSelling #Sales Click To Tweet

a) Avoid SPAM trigger words

With your first goal being to make it into your recipient’s mailbox, you need to know how to stay out of their SPAM folder.

For that reason, has put together an extensive list of words to avoid in your email subject line. While some should be banned, for most it’s all about context. Time to get creative! Another way to avoid the spam folder is to make sure your email domain is secured with DMARC.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Words 2 avoid in UR #ColdEmail subject lines to avoid spam trap R? @M_3Jr uses the @prospectio list!” quote=”Words to avoid in your #ColdEmail subject lines to avoid spam trap are? @M_3Jr uses the @prospectio list!”]

b) Keep your subject lines short and personalized

A subject line longer than 45 characters may not fully appear in your recipient’s inbox.

According to Litmus, the sweet spot is between 4 and 15 characters, which tends to produce an average open rate of 15.2%. 28 to 39 characters seems to be a good formula as well, with a 12.2% open rate. Now according to Salesloft and Outreach 1-6 word subject lines is the range with in fact, one word subject lines having the best results. 

Whenever possible, include the prospect’s first name in the subject line as well. People are more likely to open an email or to engage with it, when it is addressed to them. 

Keep in mind that around 40% of emails are first opened on mobile devices, where screen space is even more scarce. So, you’ll want to not stuff too many words in your subject line because it will dramatically reduce its readability on a smaller mobile screen.

In a LinkedIn poll, we surveyed sales professionals about their cold sales emails and what they found to be the average length of their best-performing subject lines. Their answer? 3-4 words max! But remember what I said earlier… The data shows it’s one-word subject lines that rule. So either the data is wrong from companies who help drive sending cold emails or sales reps truly have no idea what to do and they are just throwing mud on the wall to see what sticks.

In fact, 53% of sales leaders surveyed said that very short subject lines had the highest open rates. With subject lines just a few words long, you must get straight to the point and find a curiosity driving way to get someone (who doesn’t know you) to want to open and read your email.

Cold Emails How Many Words Should Your Subject Lines Have

3. Begin An Effective Cold Email With Their Name

Using sales or marketing templates can be a time saver! Hiring an email marketing agency for template creation can be a great time-saving strategy to create emails that convert. But their purpose is to make your job easier, not to do your job for you. 

Always personalize your sales email templates to highlight the information you know about your prospects and about their current challenges within the first few sentences.

Your recipient will most likely be a human being. And like all human beings, the thing they’re passionate about is…* drum roll *… themselves! 

The trick is to make the personalization feel like you’re friends. 

At Vengreso, we have done an extensive amount of research to determine the best way to use your prospects name within the body of an initial cold email as well as in follow up emails. 

What we’ve found is personalizing the email opener as much as possible by using the prospect’s first name is key. 

More specifically, the reply rate increases when it is in the following format:

Hey {NAME}: – moving away from more formal salutations such as “Dear” or “Hi” and instead starting your email with a more conversational or friendly tone, followed immediately by their first name (not Mr., Miss, or Mrs.), and ending with a colon (not a comma or a dash). 

This can seem like a very specific way to start a cold outreach email, but it works!

4. Keep your prospect’s attention

According to Litmus, the average attention span when it comes to reading an email is 11 seconds. And 43% of readers won’t get past the first 8 seconds.

Despite this, many salespeople continue sending emails in which they start by introducing themselves and their company-which the prospect has never heard of and doesn’t care about-as well as what it does. That’s at least 5 to 6 seconds. Wasted.

Since your prospect doesn’t know you-and again, really doesn’t care-you must start by grabbing and keeping their attention: reference something they did, or mention content they published, or immediately address their challenges. Maybe you know they were at an event? Mention it! (Again, don’t be creepy!)

Keep in mind that every sentence you write must compel them to read the next one, and then the next one, and so on.

If you want to learn how to write a cold email that people will actually read, check out this video, where I explain the three elements of the perfect prospecting message, and provide a sample script you can use.

If you're writing a #ColdEmail, @M_3Jr says @litmusapp reports readers have an 8-sec attention span! #Sales Click To Tweet

5. Lay Out the Reason Why You’re Reaching Out

Chances are very good that your prospect receives dozens, if not hundreds, of cold emails every single week. So, what makes yours any different than the ones they’ve already deleted?

This is why you have to make it clear what is in it for them (WIIFT) to open and then keep reading your email, and, more importantly, why they should care.

Including WHO you are and WHAT you do are not usually enough to pull someone into the digital conversation; you must make it clear WHY you’re reaching out to them specifically.

It won’t take long for you to write two sentences about why you’re contacting them, why what you have for them in the email can help them, or explain what they can get out of taking time out of their busy day to read your email. 

Because when you can spell out the reasons why you’re reaching out and include personal messaging about them throughout the email, this goes a long way. It’s showing your prospect that you put in time and effort in getting to know who they were before you reached out.

This is very easy to do, but it is the most overlooked step, even though when done right, it can add immense value to your cold email.

6. Establish Credibility

Existing or past customers are the best ambassadors for your business. When you get in touch with a prospect, don’t just mention a few satisfied customers; make sure those customers are actually relevant to your prospect (industry, company size, country, etc).

Feel free to drop names because social proof asserts credibility!

7. Emphasize the Benefits

Who likes to be shown features of a product they don’t know and have no reason to care about? Not a lot of people!

Keep in mind that your product and its features will only enter the stage as a solution to your prospect’s pain points and challenges. This is why you need to lead with how you solve your targeted buyer’s business problem, NOT the product’s features and benefits.

8. Use a Clear Call to Action

The goal of every cold email is to get the prospect to take the next action moving the sales process forward. So everything you write in the email must be directed toward that one and only purpose.

This implies 3 things:

  1. Only seek one action: don’t ask them to get on a call with you and to complete your survey and to download that piece of content you wrote. Focus.
  2. If it’s too early or not appropriate to ask for a meeting yet, you can include a call to action that directs the buyer to a helpful resource (e.g., downloadable eBook or video), solicit their opinion by asking simple questions they can respond to, invite them to an event (webinar or live event) or ask a question to validate their business pain(s).
  3. If you honestly believe that your solution can bring value to your prospect: make the ask and provide three 30-minute time slots two, three, and four weeks out. At two weeks out provide a 9 am slot, at three weeks = 1 pm, and four weeks = 4 pm. Then record in your CRM how far out their schedule may be booked when they respond and select a time slot AND what time they prefer to meet!

9. End a Cold Email With an Enticing Close

In the same way the opener of your emails should start with a conversational tone, there is research that shows that there are effective ways to close your cold emails too. 

We’ve found that signing emails with: “Best, {your name}” has the highest email performance rates over using endings such as “Sincerely”. You can also download a email signature template and simply slide in your name.

The other thing to note is the success of leveraging P.S. lines at the end of a sales email. The P.S. naturally draws the prospect’s attention and can be a great place to add additional value to the email or to throw in a clear CTA for your prospect to follow. 

But, don’t jam too much into your P.S. If you do use it, try to stick to no more than two lines with the P.S. at the end of your cold email.

Want to learn even more about how to prospect? At Vengreso, we have developed a simple but powerful 3-step formula called the PVC Sales Methodology – which stands for: Personalization, Value and Call-to-action. Watch the video below to see how the PVC Sales Methodology works and pay special attention to the section about the Call-to-action (starting at 4:03).

Templates used for #ColdEmails are Great, but @M_3Jr says use #DigitalPersonalization #Sales #SocialSelling Click To Tweet

What Information Should you Leave Out of a Compelling Cold Email?

Now that we’ve outlined the 9 Cold Email Best Practices, let’s take a look at what not to include in your cold emails.

A good initial cold email to a prospect that you’ve never engaged with before, so do not include aggressive selling language. 

In some cases, later in the email sequence, you may want to build “buy now” urgency. However, the best approach is to always offer value. When it comes to cold outreach, the most successful cold emails as we mentioned are short and they are jam-packed with great content, whether it be something to help alleviate the potential client’s pain point, a strategy that they can try, or some other key point of information. 

The goal is to use your email as a way to start a sales conversation with your prospect by providing lots of value to build rapport – not to lead with a “you must buy” tone. 

If all else fails, just consider what you would want to read or be sent if you were a potential customer. Putting yourself in the shoes of your prospect can do wonders to helping you determine the best way to craft a highly compelling cold email. 

Other Tricks to a Cold Email

These are the most obvious ways I could think of to slay your sales process, but here are a couple more tips:

  • Make sure to send follow up emails and ask what the next steps should be. Again, this should be done more as a way to extend the conversation as opposed to feeling very pushy, salesy, or aggressive.
  • Build your email list yourself. Purchased lists generally contain unreliable, unverified, and unqualified email addresses that won’t generate any sales. Plus, it can lead to you also having escalating opt-out rates which could also trigger your emails being marked as SPAM.
  • Use a reliable ESP and trustworthy sending address to help ensure your emails get delivered. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of having significant deliverability issues and having your automated emails make it only in your prospect’s spam folder – not in their inbox.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Cold Emails

Navigating the terrain of crafting effective cold emails requires steering clear of common pitfalls. Let’s dive into these stumbling blocks so that you can discern them clearly on your journey.

1. Overgeneralizing the Recipient

One of the most substantial blunders in cold emailing, that I have seen over the years, is the tendency to generalize the recipient. This misstep transforms your email into a robotic and impersonal communication, devoid of the human touch that resonates with non-robotic individuals.
Instead, tailor your email messages for each prospect, creating a personalized touch that conveys genuine interest in connecting. Remember, it’s not a billboard; it’s a message aimed at forming a meaningful relationship.

2. Excessive Salesmanship or Aggression

We’ve all encountered the overzealous salesperson more focused on pushing a product than understanding our needs—an irksome experience. In cold emails, you need to prioritize building relationships and delivering value over forceful sales tactics.
Infuse your email with a positive and optimistic tone to make a stellar first impression. Show genuine care for the recipient and their needs, emphasizing relationship-building over a quick sale.

3. Emails Lacking a Clear Goal or CTA

The cornerstone of a compelling cold email lies in a clear Call to Action (CTA) that guides recipients toward a specific action. Ensure each CTA provides tangible benefits by addressing crucial questions:

  1. What action do I expect from my recipients?

  2. How will they understand what to do?

  3. Why should they take this action?

In my years of experience, I have found that crafting a well-thought-out CTA motivates recipients to engage, fostering a stronger connection with your audience, and enhances the chances of getting more replies.

4. Neglecting Follow-Up

Unlocking better response rates hinges on recognizing that initial emails are just a fraction of the broader process. Well-crafted follow-up emails play a pivotal role in completing the picture and genuinely engaging with your recipients.
Remarkably, sending a single follow-up already positions you ahead of the competition. This proactive approach signals consideration and genuine interest in fostering meaningful conversation.

A meticulously crafted follow-up not only increases the likelihood of a response but also reinforces your brand reputation as a thorough and attentive professional committed to building lasting connections.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.What is the optimal length for a cold email?

Keep your cold emails clear and concise. It’s advisable to limit your cold email to fewer than five sentences or less than 150 words to ensure it gets read and prompts a reply.

2.How can I make my cold email stand out?

To enhance the impact of your cold email, personalize the subject line and make it attention-grabbing. Ensure that the email content is tailored to the recipient, offering genuine value, and conclude with a compelling call-to-action.

3.When is the best time to send a cold email?

The ideal timing for sending a cold email depends on factors such as the recipient’s time zone, industry, and schedule. For an increased open rate, consider sending your cold email in the middle of the week during the early morning or late afternoon. This strategic timing can optimize the chances of engagement.

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