11 tips for sending cold emails that get responses

by | Tue 18 Aug, 20

No one likes a cold email. They can be bothersome, spammy or plainly irrelevant. But, sometimes cold emails are a necessary part of the job and can generate responses and leads. 

How can you increase your chances of getting a reply? We asked 11 professionals to share their advice for perfecting the cold email.


WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

Focus on the key benefits to them, don’t make it about you. Why should they care? Cold emails can be highly effective but go right into the sales pitch. Secondly, when I write something and need to keep it short (like an email marketing campaign), I always take a hatchet at it, really strip it back, break up the copy into headings, bullets, buttons, etc, anything to avoid big paragraphs of text. Lastly, try to ask questions that can prompt a simple yes or no answer, like ‘are you free for a call tomorrow?’, instead phrase a better question to prompt better answers, like ‘what time are you free for a call tomorrow’.

Doug Dennison, MailNinja, an email marketing agency


Make It Plain Text

No one likes a cold email. But, some cold emails can turn people cold if it is a display email. Immediately upon receipt, their first thought is, “I didn’t sign up for this!” The pretty images and HTML display reinforces that they’ve been added to an email list without permission. But, a plain text email doesn’t inspire the same level of coldness from a recipient. People are unfortunately used to receiving unwanted emails in plain-text form. If an email marketer keeps their campaign in a native, plain text form, then they better their chance of a response or action. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors


It Is All About the Subject Line

Avoid a spammy subject line, especially with cliches and exaggerated claims. Even vague subject lines are spammy. Make the subject intentional and somewhat specific, with enough detail to warrant interest. For example, if you want to get in touch with a business manager to suggest a partnership, don’t make your subject line “Great opportunity!” It’s too vague and won’t attract any attention.

Carey Wilbur, Charter Capital


Address the Elephant in the Room

One of the best things to do when typing out a cold email is to be honest and acknowledge the elephant in the room –the fact that it is a cold email. Follow that up with kind wishes and then get to the purpose behind the email. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think logically about what would make you positively respond to something of that nature. Cold emails happen all the time, but the writer must avoid coming off as rude or self-centred. 

Henry Babich, Stomadent Dental Laboratory


Acknowledge the Value and Benefits Right Away 

The best tip for getting a response to a cold email is to tell them the value and benefit to them right away. Don’t wait until after they respond, if they ever, to share what’s in it for them. Give them a call to action, like “Let me know if you’re interested by replying to this email” or “Here’s the link to X if you’re interested” after the benefit so that there’s an incentive, as well.

Ryan Nouis, TruPath


Discover Your Winning Formula

You can optimize your chances of receiving a positive reply by being very selective in who you target, keeping your email short and personal, positioning your copy to be about your customer (not you or your business), delivering value and including social proof. 

Start by identifying the top 10% of businesses in your email list that are most likely to have the pain points your business can solve. Then write a short email (<200 words) highlighting each prospect’s personal pain points, how your business has solved these issues for similar customers and provide value in the form of relevant industry data, a case study or even proven tips/advice. Add a relevant and catchy subject line, and you’ve got a winning formula!

Jonathan Pipek, Product Marketing Manager


It’s All in the Subject Line

With a cold email, it is all in the subject line. See those few characters as an open window to the offer that is inside. Get straight to the point and leave out the guesswork. And avoid all clickbait. Opening an email to find that the content doesn’t match the subject line is a quick way for your message to be flagged as spam.

Chris Gadek, AdQuick


Research Your Prospects

Try and tailor each cold email to the prospect’s business to get more positive replies. Search online to see if they’ve been featured in the news, reached a new milestone or have had some other major change in their company. Prospects may not be interested in your offer but will still appreciate that you took the time to learn a bit about their organization. That’s the start of building a new relationship and will open the door for future opportunities.

Colton De Vos, Resolute TS


Embed Videos

My best tip for getting a positive reply from a cold email is to include a video from a service such as Loom or BombBomb. They both allow you to embed videos directly into emails, which get attention. My secret for making them extra effective is to use my prospect’s website as the background so they know the video is personalized to them and nobody else.

James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC


Make Them Short

Cold emails are a numbers game and your best chance at success comes from making them short and to the point.  Our inboxes are flooded every day and the last thing I want to do is read through a long email template and try and deduce what they want. I understand the value of cold emails and try to read them all – I also respect people who get to the point and will reply if I don’t need to type an essay or ask for clarification!

Quincy Smith, ESL Authority


Include a P.S. Statement

The #1 way we have found to get positive responses for cold emails is to include a friendly P.S. statement at the end. For example, “P.S.: usually I work from home, but today I’m at a cafe. This email is powered by coffee and cookies.” Using this format, we’ve had hundreds and maybe thousands of people reply that “I don’t usually respond to these, but yours just seemed so different!” Overall, find ways to connect with people at a human level and they will want to connect with you too.

Michael Alexis, Teambuilding

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