How to Effectively Use Cold Email


Cold email outreach is using email to solicit business from potential customers with whom you’ve had no prior contact. When done right, it can be a viable and successful marketing strategy. There  are many suggestions on how to effectively use cold email and avoid the delete button. To give yourself the best chance of getting a response, it’s best to keep all of these tips in mind.

Make it Personal

Take a bit of time and research the person or company you’re reaching out to; using a specific name is ideal, but mentioning the company name and location or industry can be nearly as worthwhile. Small personal touches will prove you don’t see them as simply another email address, and will make you more relevant in an overwhelming ocean of email messages.

Keep it Casual

Some of the best advice for writing cold email is to write conversationally. Avoid being overly formal and write like a human, which will make you feel more approachable and what you have to say more relevant. Need help? Try reading your email out loud and see how it sounds, feel the cadence, and make tweaks as necessary.

Example: “Hey Jane” as opposed to “Dear Ms. Doe.”

It’s Not About You

Put the focus of the email on them. They don’t care about you (yet), about what you’re selling or what your goal is. Use “you” and “your” as opposed to “me” and “our” to show how what you’re offering is beneficial to the receiver – or mutually beneficial. If you can reference something of the receiver’s (i.e.: a book or project they’ve worked on) that you enjoyed, that will help show interest and build a relationship.

Example: “Hey John, I read your e-book on ‘How to …’ and thought you’d be interested in …”

Their Time is Important

Remember that most people don’t have the time or attention span to read lengthy emails. Keep it short and to the point and you’re more likely to get a response. By keeping it short, you’re showing the receiver that you know their time is important.

Include Your Contact Information

You signature should include your name, company, web page (personal or company) and any social media sites. These basics will allow the receiver to easily contact you or visit a website to find out more about you and/or your business.

It’s OK to Namedrop

When you’re familiar with someone’s network or have a mutual connection, use that person as an icebreaker in cold emails. This is when social networking really comes into play; look for mutual connections and send a note to someone you both know prior to reaching out to the sought after individual. Then reference the mutual contact in the cold email.

“Our mutual friend John …”

Create a Superior Subject Line

What good is an incredible email if it’s never even opened? The key is to come up with a compelling, must-click subject line (that can be viewed on computers and on mobile devices) in approximately 50 characters – any more than that and you run the risk of the subject being cut off. To write a great subject, know the tone of the industry you’re writing to and use action verbs to instill a sense of urgency. Be honest and up front about what’s contained in the email; don’t be mysterious or write a “bait and switch” headline that doesn’t deliver what it claims. If you’re offering a special discount or a free e-book download, include that as a part of your subject.

Perhaps most importantly, avoid spam triggers in your subject line to avoid automatically being filtered into a junk or trash folder without even being seen. You can find lists online of email spam trigger words to avoid.

Timing is Everything

Be cognizant of when you send out email and understand the time when your audience will most likely be able to see it. Want to reach a corporate CEO? Your best bet is in the morning, early to mid-week – though Mondays tend to be busy for most. Try Tuesday or Wednesday early mornings for peak timing, allowing your email to be near the top of the inbox and when your target is more likely coming in and sitting at a desk to start the day.

Follow up

The outreach doesn’t end when you send out that first – or even second – email. Studies have shown that 85% of leads or responses come from subsequent emails following the initial cold email, so prepare a series of follow-up messages for those who don’t respond right away. Send a follow-up email every 3 to 7 days – at least 6 times – and remember that one of three things will happen: you’ll receive a positive reply, someone will respond negatively and request you stop emailing, or you’ll never hear a word. Don’t take it personally.

The principal key to finding success with cold email outreach is to simply know your customers, and then apply the above suggestions. Consider what you know about them and craft intriguing messages so that they stop and take notice before they can hit delete.

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