How to Write a Cold Email: A Beginner’s Guide

The curious case of sending a cold email: Will it head to spam straightaway? Will it be opened? Will it at least be read before being thrown to the bin? Even with so many unanswered questions, cold email is still a popular outbound sales channel with the market now flooded with 30+ cold emailing tools.  

Here are a few phenomenal entrepreneurial journeys that began with a cold email. A collage of cold email success story proofs

Our point being, cold email is an effective way to generate leads.

But here’s the hitch.

There’s an overwhelming number of emails bombarding people everyday. There are also studies confirming that people’s attention span is dwindling.

You don’t want your little missive to be buried in a sea of other emails, or worse, be chucked into spam.

So how do you write a cold email that gets your prospect to respond?

It has to be done right, done consistently, with the right words, and the right structure.

That will ensure that your prospects sign up for that free trial, or book a demo, or even better, enquire about your product or service.

What is Cold Email?

A cold email is an email sent to a person who has no prior relationship with you or 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/meeting, downloading a video, etc of your product/service.

Why Should You Write a Cold Email in 2021?

a) Emailing is least intrusive

It is one of the least intrusive methods to approach a prospect with your sales proposition. It doesn’t barge into the busy life of a prospect like a cold call would.

It is also easier than most cold approaches since you don’t have to have a confrontation of any kind.

With cold emailing, you can lose the fear of rejection, and shoot your shot from behind a screen.

b) Cold email can be personalized. And scaled!

Personalization of a cold outreach is a proven method of improving your chances of landing a response.

Your name captures your attention more than any other word there is. It’s called the Cocktail Party Effect.

Picture this, you are at a party, surrounded by a raging crowd. At a distance, you hear a faint call that sounds like your name. Amidst the deafening blare of the party, you still hear the call because it’s your name.

But B2B marketing teams have been using this technique for years now, so sales teams need to evolve from using just the names of the prospects to adopting a more personalized approach in their cold emailing strategy.

So, research your prospect, pepper your message to them with newly discovered bits of information.

c) Great ROI

The return on investment with cold outreach at scale is high; high enough that it looks too good to be true.

On using personalized cold email software from Klenty, Micah. S., a Technical Sales Manager, said, “You can send 10 times the email and reach 10 times the customers. Cadence is key to the value. The ability to make a stream of messages that are individualized is very powerful. You can keep growing.”

Not All Cold Emails Are Spam: See Why

Since cold emailing is a popular lead generation technique, you’re not the only one using it.

The hundreds or thousands of people using this technique are not enjoying success rates though, mainly because of the way they execute it.

You cannot reach out to prospects like the way email marketing is done. The strategies behind the two are not the same.

Sending templated sales emails to thousands of prospects then becomes – spamming.

Fret not though, we’ve made a list of differences between cold emailing and spam so that you know how to improve the deliverability of your email.

Key Differences Between a Cold Email and a Spam EmailA differentiation table with cold email on one side and spam on the other.

Nowadays with internet service providers upping their games and raising their security features, the system will spot these hacks and move your mail to spam.

Since we know how to avoid spam now, let’s dig into a detailed approach on how to write an effective cold email.

How To Write A Cold Email: A Three-Step Framework

In this framework, you will be taking your prospect on a journey through ‘The Awareness Stage’, ‘The Consideration Stage’, and ‘The Decision Stage’.

The key to writing a cold email that really works is to steer your prospect through this journey – they start off with a small idea about you, what your email is about, and by the time they finish reading, they are ready to take the desired action.

Awareness Stage – This is the stage where the prospect has to get an idea about who you are and what the email is about.

Edit the ‘FROM’ line and ‘SUBJECT’ line to reel your prospect into the story you have to say.

Consideration Stage – Your prospect is starting to get interested in your solution, now turn that interest into serious consideration.

Provide an ‘INTRODUCTION’ and a ‘VALUE PROPOSITION’.

Decision Stage – Here your prospect is hooked and ready to be swayed, now nudge your prospect to take the next step. It will act as a gentle reminder of who you are.

Send a clear message asking them to make a decision with a ‘CALL TO ACTION’, and a ‘SIGNATURE’ to top the message off.

Prospect's journey with Cold Email

Breakdown Of How To Write A Cold Email

Awareness Stage: The FROM line

Objective: To let the prospect know who you are

This crucial first step is often overlooked because it’s not part of your body content. This, in fact, is part of the good first impression that you’re trying to create on the prospect. 

So chances are that your email will get opened or deleted based on the from line. 

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.

Awareness Stage: The SUBJECT line

Objective: To give the prospect a peek into what your 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.

Did you know that 35% of the recipients open rates solely based on subject lines?

A common mistake sales representatives make here is highlighting, coloring, capitalizing titles and using the power of clickbait to lure the prospect in. 

Sadly, the only thing that will do is send your email to spam.

So, stick to these few simple yet effective steps to write a subject line.

Best Practices for Cold Email Subject Lines

1. Keep it short at 6-7 words

We know that attention span is reducing, but there’s no denying that people aren’t spending their time online. 

So, aim to create a subject line that your prospect will consider.

To get your prospect hooked, 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 cold email subject line length

2. Personalize, personalize, personalize

It’s widely known that adding the person’s name and little personalization elements while offering services evoke a positive response.

But, in the case of cold emails, it’s actually proven.

In one of the very few researches ever conducted on cold emailing, Shane Snow, the author of ‘Smartcuts’, revealed that high personalization goes a long way in not just getting a response from the prospect, but also possibly building a relationship.

So, personalize the subject line to the prospect. They should notice something they can immediately connect with.

In an inbox full of vaguely addressed subject lines that are indicative of mass mailing, stand out by offering a personal connection request.

3. Create a feeling of urgency

You know that uncanny feeling that looms over you when the quarter is closing in and you’re nowhere near hitting your monthly target?

…yes, that.

You need to create a smaller version of that in your prospect.

Creating a sense of urgency in your subject line will push your prospect to open the mail, because, deep down, we all have an inherent fear of missing out, of being left behind.

By tapping into that fear, you increase the chances of your mail getting opened.

4. Pique their curiosity

Get their attention by getting them hooked on an intriguing subject line.

Thankfully, the one thing we can surely rely on while writing an interesting subject line is a person’s natural, ingrained ability to be curious.

You simply have to talk to the curious side of your prospect.

A screenshot of a cold email with its subject line highlighted

This personalized subject line creates a curiosity gap, making your prospect want to open the mail to find what’s in store.

Consideration Stage: Introduction

Objective: To get the prospects interested in what you have to offer. 

Once the prospect has opened your email, you have about 5 seconds to persuade them to keep reading further. 

Here is a frightening trivia: Investment mogul Mark Cuban said on the “Raising The Bar” podcast that of the 750-1000 emails he gets a day, it takes him just 2 seconds to decide whether to respond to or delete it.

So, the sooner you get to your message, the easier it will be to keep them engaged.   

How to write an intriguing introduction?

Right off the bat you need to establish that your mail is not part of a blast email campaign. Mention that the prospect was contacted because you believed that they were a good fit for your solution. 

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

Talking in specific about the prospect, their company, and the problems they face show that you care about them and that you’re not just looking to sell your product. 

A screenshot of a cold email with its introduction highlighted

This personalized introduction highlights the technology context used in the subject line and tells the prospect that you’ve done background research.

Consideration Stage: Value Proposition

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

This is the crown jewel of your email. This statement defines how you are going to help the prospect. 

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

  • What does your product offer?
  • How will the prospect benefit from your product?
  • How are you different from others?

When writing this line, 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 an aspect of their business by implementing the solution – that you are offering.

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

Key elements that can help you write a good value proposition

1. Provide benefits

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

You read something because it has something for you, maybe it’s a discount, new information, a solution to your problem like the one we are providing in this blog. 

Same way, tell the prospect how your product will make their life better. 

Your value proposition should speak the language of your prospects. Address their pain points and offer a solution with your product. 

If your product helps with engaging website visitors, highlight how helping prospects with their queries in real-time will dramatically improve their website experience, leaving a good first impression.

2. Explain with clarity

You have to tell your story in as little time as possible, in line with what we have been following since the beginning of this blog, so cut to the chase and be clear. 

Don’t use jargon and buzzwords as it might take away the essence of what you’re trying to say. 

A screenshot of a cold email with its value proposition highlighted
This value proposition shows that they’re offering their product as a solution, and adds trust factor by mentioning that the other companies similar to that of the prospect are using this solution.

Decision Stage: Call To Action

Objective: To nudge prospects to take the desired action  

A call to action is a statement or text that prompts your prospect to perform what you want them to do. 

What was the goal of your cold email? 

Did you want the prospect to respond to your mail, download a resource, book a demo or maybe start a free trial?

You ask them to do that in a small line of text, as nicely as possible. 

It is essential that you nail the call to action bit because you have carefully and successfully steered your precious prospect throughout the cold email so that they take this elusive next step. 

An effective CTA doubles as a bridge to level up your relationship with the prospect, from being ‘an unsolicited approach’ to ‘a potential business opportunity’. 

Three 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 an exciting CTA. 

1. Reiterate the value proposition

Reiterate the value you’re bringing to the prospect in the call to action. 

You should be able to gently remind the prospect to connect the different parts of your email content. 

A study confirms that people respond to a request more if there’s a ‘because’ aspect. Therefore, they are more likely to click on your CTA because of ‘the value’ you are offering to provide. 

2. Provide a specific time and date

Being decisive will help eliminate any ambiguity. 

Since you’re being decisive about the time and date, you are removing their burden of coming up with these decisions, which could have either lengthened the process, or pushed the meeting to the land where “meet soon” never happens. 

If they find it convenient they’ll accept your terms or get back to you at a suitable time.

3. Request a Connection

Don’t be discouraged to reach out if you’re not sure of who to connect with. 

Take that opportunity to contact an executive of the company, explain to them 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.

A screenshot of cold email with its call to action highlighted

This is a low-friction CTA asking the prospect to just reply in return for something valuable.

Decision Stage: Signature

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

An often overlooked component, a well-polished signature can be the pièce de résistance of your cold email.

Why is a Cold Email Signature important?

An email signature is that tiny bit of space where you can showcase your company, and what you do.
Since a major part of your messaging so far has been focused on the prospect, and how you could help them, here is where you can shine.

Your Email Signature should tell prospects who you are and where they can find more details about you and your company.

This also acts as a credibility booster. With the information that lets them reach you outside of this, it shows that you are open to their scrutiny.

What should your Cold Email Signature contain?

All the necessary details about you and your company.

But that doesn’t mean that you clutter it with images and links, that could end up distracting the reader.

On the other hand, adding information sparingly makes it difficult to build a personal connection with the prospect thereby losing your shot at establishing credibility.

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

Factual details like your Name, Title, Company Name, Address, Social Media Links.
Level up by adding a tagline or your accomplishments.

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

And in a last attempt to reel them in, try squeezing in a call to action that let’s the prospect 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.

Here is an example of a great email signature: great cold email signature

Proven sales outreach… high ROI… and saves time. Have you written your cold email yet?

If you are just beginning to write cold emails and are looking for templates that can help you kickstart your campaigns, here is a collection of more than 100 cold email templates that you can use as inspiration.

Roll up your sleeves and type away, your prospects are waiting for your email. Follow the 3-step cold email framework to book 3 times more meetings.

Drop us a message. We’d love to hear your success story with cold emailing.

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