How to Write a Cold Email That Really Works: Step-by-Step Guide

(Last Updated On: January 16, 2019)

 

What do you think is the best way to reach out to your cold prospects with your product?

Take a flight, show up at their office and charm your way in.

Call them and persuade them to try.

Send a proposal by direct mail.

Stalk them on social media and build a relationship.

While all these channels can help you reach out to your cold prospects, they aren’t as effective as this one – sending a ‘Cold Email’

What makes this so effective?

Firstly, it is less interrupting and annoying to the prospects. No pressure on them to have a conversation.

It is highly scalable providing great ROI. You can reach out hundreds of prospects with targeted messages at a very low cost.

Cold emails can also be easily measured and optimized. Once you establish a working process, you can improvise and make this most predictable revenue growth channel for your business.

Nothing beats a cold email!

But for cold emailing to be an effective channel, you will need to craft a compelling email that turns your prospects into warm leads.

This post will help you understand what a cold email is and how to write a cold email that really works.

What is a Cold Email?

A Cold Email is an email sent to a prospect who has no prior relationship with your company or possibly, not even heard of your company.

Simply put, it is an unsolicited email sent to cold prospects with the objective of turning them into warm leads; be it signing up for a free trial, booking a demo, downloading a video, etc of your product/service.

The key to writing a cold email that really works is to make sure that it guides your prospect through a journey – where they start off with a little idea about you, what your email is about and by the time they finish reading, they become ready to take the desired action you want them to.

The journey the prospect has to take should happen in three different stages – ‘Awareness Stage’, ‘Consideration Stage’ and ‘Decision Stage’.

  1. Awareness Stage – This is the stage where the prospect has to get an idea about who you are and what is the email about.
  2. Consideration Stage – This is where you get your prospects interested in your solution and turn that interest into serious consideration.
  3. Decision Stage – This is the final stage where the prospects have to get a clear understanding of what should be the next step of action.

And the best way to get your prospects through these stages is by focussing on the 6 different components that are the building blocks of your cold email.

1. From Line
2. Subject Line
3. Introduction
4. Value Proposition
5. Call-to-Action
6. SignatureCold Email

How to Write a Cold Email That Works

All the 6 components of your cold email have to be nailed to perfection so that your prospects cold email journey is smooth. 

The Awareness Stage

The first step of your cold email is to get the prospect cross the Awareness stage.

Being an unsolicited email, your prospects have little to no idea on who you are or what your email is about; your first objective is to let them know the answers to these questions.    

The ‘From Line’ and the ‘Subject Line’ components should help you with this.

Component 1: The ‘From’ Line

Objective: Letting the prospects know who the mail is from.

The ‘From’ line is a component that we never pay attention to. Because this is something that we only set up when we first create an account. 

We forget about it after that because it isn’t a part of your usual email body. But the fact is that it plays an important role in a cold email.

It is one of the first things that your prospects notices. It forms that part of your email that creates a first impression on the prospect. Your email will get opened or deleted based on this.

You can use this space to build some credibility. Let your prospect know a little about yourself. Mentioning your name, or the company or both your name and your company are some forms of editing your ‘From’ line.

Component 2: Subject Line

Objective: To give the prospect an idea of what the email is about.

Subject lines are one of the most important components in your cold email and could single-handedly decide whether your mail gets opened or not.

Whoever said, not to judge a book by its cover, obviously didn’t deal with emails.

Because 35% of the recipients open emails solely based on Subject lines!

One common mistake that sales reps make here is, practicing misguided techniques in an attempt to make the prospect to open the email, which does more harm than good:

Harmful Subject Line Practises To Avoid In Your Cold Emails

These are few practices that you shpuld avoid while writing a cold email subject line.

1. Misleading lines

Getting your prospects to open your cold email with a click-bait subject line might increase your open rates, but it is a strict no if you want to take your relationship any further.

If your content does not resonate what your subject line promises, you lose your prospect’s trust right away.

Signs that your subject line is a click-bait:

  • Over-promising and under-delivering
  • Exaggerated statements
  • Does not resonate with the tone of the message

Remember, a higher open rate courtesy of a misleading line is not worth the risk of jeopardizing the trust of the prospect; so whatever your message be, it should be conveyed crisply in the subject line.

2. Capitalizing Every Single Word

It is easy to understand why many sales reps think that it is a good way of making the prospects open the mail. After all, they clearly stand out in the inbox. However, an ALL CAPS text could be mistaken for spam by the filters and your email may not even reach your prospect’s inbox. Even if it did, they look repulsive. 

3. Hyper Punctuating

Just like unnecessary capitalization, over-punctuating your emails is for some reason seen as a better emphasis of your message and helping you to stand out in the inbox. But this makes your mail look highly unprofessional, resulting in your mail sent straight to trash.  

If these are practices to strictly steer clear of, then what makes up for an interesting subject line?

Best Practices for Cold Email Subject Lines

The key to a great subject line is not giving away too much about the email; just the ideal amount of information that will make them open your email. Here are a few best practices to write a good subject line:

1. Keep it short

To grab the attention of the prospect, keep your subject lines short and crisp. According to research by Return Path, 50 characters or 6-7 words is the ideal count for a subject line:

ideal subject line length

 
2. Personalize

One of the most powerful ways to make your prospect click on your mail is to personalize the subject line; seeing a personalized subject line in a cluttered inbox immediately grabs their attention and says that the message is specifically for them and not floated to random email addresses.

 
3. Create Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency in your subject lines is a great way to make your prospects open the mail. This is because, deep down we all have an inherent fear of missing out, left behind – By tapping into the fear, you increase the chances of your mail getting opened.

 
4. Arouse Curiosity

One of the most effective ways to make your prospect respond to your emails is, by writing an intriguing subject line that invokes the curiosity of the reader to learn more about the mail.

 
Resource: Here is a comprehensive guide on how to write cold email subject lines with 60 examples.

II. Consideration Stage

The next objective of your cold email is to get your prospect interested in what you have to offer and then turn their interest into a serious consideration of your product/service.

The ‘Introduction’ and ‘Value Proposition’ components can help you with this.

Component 3: Introduction

Objective: To get the prospects interested in your message.

Once the prospect has opened your email, you have about 5 seconds to persuade them to keep reading further. So, the sooner you get to your message, the easier it will be to keep them engaged.  

The first mark should be to show the prospects that your email is not a blast to random email addresses but you specifically chose to contact them because you believe that they are a good fit for your solution.

How to write an intriguing introduction?

When it comes to Introduction, there is no silver bullet. That said, researching about the prospect and using that information in your email is a great way to get them interested in what you have to say.

Talking about your prospects, their company, the pain points they are facing etc. shows that you actually care about them and not just looking to sell your product.

Component 4: Value Proposition

Objective: To let the prospects know why you are reaching out to them.

This is the most important component of your email. The value proposition is the statement that defines how can you exactly help your prospect.  

A good value proposition is one that delivers on the promise that you make in the initial stages of the email by answering the 3 basic questions:

  1. What does your product offer
  2. How will the prospect benefit from your product
  3. How are you different from others

When writing the value proposition, avoid emphasizing too much on your product’s features or your company’s achievements, in an attempt to impress the prospect.

Instead, highlight your understanding of the prospect’s company and how they can improve on one aspect of their business by implementing a solution – which you just happen to offer.

This subtle, yet critical difference in the tone of the message is what makes your email stand out from the rest.

how to write a cold email

Here are the key elements that can help you write a good value proposition.

1. Provide Benefits

“People don’t buy features. They buy benefits.”

Your value proposition should speak the language of your prospects. They are not concerned about the numerous features that your product offers; what they care about is, how exactly your product can help them.

Show your product’s value by addressing the pain points that they are facing which can be solved by your product.

 
2. Explain with Clarity

Your message should be crafted in such a way that the prospects can easily understand how your product can help them.

Avoid writing ambiguous statements or using buzzwords and jargons, which will take away the essence of what you are trying to convey, instantly losing the attention of the prospects.  

 
Remember to make your value proposition as simple and clear as you can, for the prospect to understand.

III. Decision Stage

This is the final stage where you want to drive the prospect to take a specific action.  

The Call-to-Action component can help you in letting your prospects know what is the next step of action.    

Component 5: Call-to-Action

Objective: To make the prospects take the desired action.  

A Call-to-Action is the statement or text that prompts your prospect to perform what you want them to do; it could be anything: replying to your email, downloading a resource, booking a demo, starting a free trial, etc.  

It is absolutely essential to nail your Call-to-Action because right from the subject line to the value proposition everything in the email us built up to make the prospects take that elusive next step.

An effective CTA is a bridge which takes your email from an ‘unsolicited approach’ to being the first step in nurturing a new relationship.

Techniques to Craft an Effective Call-to-Action

Though your Call-to-Action depends on the context of your email and the response you want from the prospect, here are a few techniques to help you craft a compelling Call-to-Action.

1. Reiterate the Value Proposition

The Call-to-Action is a good space to reiterate the value you will bring to the prospect. In one line, you will help the prospects connect the dots between various parts of your mail, subtly persuading them to connect.

 
2. Provide a Specific Time and Date

Let’s say you have written an eloquent mail, describing how your product can help the prospect and the next logical step would be to ask them for a meeting or a call, where you can explain more.

How do you do that?

One of the most effective ways to do that is, by ending your email with an ask, at a specific time.

 
By being specific in your ask, you are removing the burden of them having to think through what date and time work etc. If they find it convenient they’ll accept or get back to you at a suitable time.  

3. Request a Connection

There may be instances when you may not be able to identify who the exact decision-making person in a company; instead of letting it be a reason to not reach out to them, you can take it as an opportunity to contact an executive in the office and explain how you can help their company, and request them to introduce you to the right person.

If they see the value your product can bring, they would be more than happy to put you through to the right decision-makers.

 
Useful Resource: Here are 10 techniques for crafting a persuasive Call-to-Action.

Component 6: Signature

Objective: To give more information about you and your company.

An often overlooked component, a well-polished signature can be the perfect pièce de résistance to end your cold emails.

Why is an Email Signature important?

Email Signature is the part where you get an opportunity to let the prospect know more about you and your company.

A major part of your email message focuses on the prospect and how you can help your prospect.

Email Signature is where you shift the focus onto you. It should tell your prospects who you are and where can find more details about you and your company.

Also, by sharing more details about you and your company, you improve your credibility and quash any fears your prospects have about you.

What should your Email Signature contain?

Yes, all the necessary details about you and your company.

But that doesn’t mean that you litter it with many images and links. You will only end up distracting the prospect. And on the other hand, adding very little information will make it difficult for you to connect on a personal level and build credibility.

Your email signature should have details about ‘who you are’.  

This could be factual details like your Name, Title, Company Name, Address, Social Media Links, etc.

Then you can go a level higher by adding a quote or a tagline or your accomplishments.

By adding them, you can stand out and let your prospect know ‘why do you matter’.

Finally, to make your email signature really effective, you can squeeze in a call to action that lets the prospects know ‘what you want them to do’.

For example, a calendar link to book a meeting with you or a free trial signup page, etc.

 
Useful Resource: Learn more about creating awesome email signatures.

Conclusion

Cold emailing is a very powerful prospecting channel that can help fill your sales pipeline with warm leads.

Focus on nailing on all the six components to craft the best cold email that your prospect will have ever received. 

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