Contrary to what the free forces of the world say – cold emailing is not dead. Even established companies like SEMrush engage in cold emailing to draw in new clients, and they already have more than 6 million users on board.
If you have a well-crafted message, a cold email can be an effective way to generate leads, attract customers to your site, and grow your network. Apart from being relevant to your audience’s needs, it should have an appealing subject line, an intriguing value proposition, and a credible email signature.
I’ll teach you with a few examples of cold emails about critical things that worked for them and helped boost their response rates. Also, I’ll dive into a few mistakes that kill your productivity and your chances to land that lead.
Why Content Relevancy is Key
Let me ask you a simple question – you won’t read a blog past the first paragraph if it doesn’t sound remotely relevant to your needs, right?
The same principle applies when writing a cold email as well.
Many salespeople lift cold email templates straight off the web and send them out to do their bidding without giving an iota of thought to personalization. For instance, tailoring subject lines boost the open rate by 16% and the response rate by 3%.
While there’s nothing wrong with looking for inspiration in email templates, content relevancy needs to permeate your cold email outreach strategy through and through for your campaign to be successful.
Building content relevancy into your cold email writing strategy means performing due research about your audience and building your customer’s profile. You have to think deeply about who they are, where they work, what their interests are, and most importantly – what they are looking for. Show them you have done the legwork to learn more about them, and build a quality mailing list on the back of this research.
By making the value proposition the star of your cold email, your prospect would be far more motivated to help you because they’ll know where they fit in.
How to Write A Killer Sales Cold Email
Step #1: Email Signature
The only time I ever click on an email from someone outside of my contact list is when it looks like it’s from a real human. Choose a legit-sounding name that ideally typifies your prospect’s persona as closely as possible.
What to do
Notice how in the example below, the sender presents themselves as the ‘SVP of Growth at Huckabuy’ to a Head of Marketing at a SaaS company.
This is not a fluke.
When an email looks like it’s from a peer, it provides them instant credibility and increases authority in the target’s eyes. Make sure to highlight your job title and designation when performing a sales outreach targeting executives and leaders. You can easily craft a credible-looking email signature from a template.
Additionally, it also gives an illusion of size to the prospect. By cursorily glancing at the signature, you would assume that Geoff or Barton would be leading at least a mid-sized company of about 15-20 people.
I am not saying that there can’t be an SVP of a software company with a headcount of 4 people, but for that to be someone’s first impression about your company after seeing your job title … now that is much less likely.
What not to do
The early 2000s called, they want their chain email aesthetic back. Cold emails like the one below take me back to a time when my inbox used to be flooded with chain emails. They have typos galore, no substance, and the greatest sin of all – no credentials in the signature!
Who is this email from? Why should I get in touch with you? Why should I trust you?
If I can’t answer these questions after reading your cold email, sadly, I am going to have to kick this to the ‘I-do-not-want-to-hear-from-you-ever-ever-ever-again’ folder.
Step #2: The Call-to-Action or CTA
You need to give specific instructions as to what you want your prospect to do. Do you want them to set up a call, a demo meeting, or sign up for your super awesome newsletter? While these are pretty standard run-of-the-mill requests, if you would like to have your cold email stand out, then you need to figure out what your prospect is looking for.
What to do
Let’s look at the above example again, shall we?
As a CEO of a software company, would you ever say no to benchmarking your data against that of your competitors?
Competitor benchmarking helps you iron out your company’s growth strategy to improve and course-correct, which may involve investment into resources.
And what might that resource be? Correct. The product or service supplied by you.
In Geoff’s email, he asks a simple question to the CEO – is he seeing similar trends as his competitors? Evidently, Geoff has some valuable information to share on SaaS competitors, and this question easily opens a discussion to be taken further in their potential meeting.
It is also quite a low friction ask and makes it easy for them to respond. All the recipient needs to do is hit reply and say ‘Yes, they would like to discuss further’.
Focus on conveying the value your prospect could derive from a call or a meeting with you. Create a good hook while keeping it non-salesy and something that takes the least amount of your prospect’s time.
What not to do
While there are plenty of cold email no-no’s in the above example, the one that stands out (or doesn’t) is that there is no clear CTA. What does the sender want me to do? Set up a call with them or look at their LinkedIn profile? A reply is ideally what you need from your prospect, Make it easy for them to get back to you..
Here’s what you shouldn’t do –
- Bury the CTA deep down in the copy that they are too bored to take any action by the time they reach the end.
- Make it difficult to take any action. For instance, in the above email, the sender asks, “Let’s set up a call via Skype” but there’s no link to book appointments. A CTA like this puts the onus on the recipient to decide for both of you.
- Sound like clickbait by saying, “I’ll tell you more if you set up a call”. Language like this is the surest way to shoot up your domain’s spam score.
Outline a handy email testing checklist to avoid flaws like above and assess their impact on your email domain.
Step #3: The Body Paragraph
What to do
Let’s look at an example where a video creator got a major lead in a marketing giant like HubSpot.
According to HubSpot, Bryan wasn’t a complete stranger to their team. He had been actively engaging with their blogs for nearly two years now – commenting, sharing, sending feedback on email, etc. Since Bryan was highly visible in their supporter community, he caught the recipient’s attention right away as soon as his email landed in their inbox.
“I made a demo for you to show what it might look like.”
He went above and beyond to make HubSpot feel special. One of the golden rules of any kind of email marketing is, and I can’t stress this enough, personalization. He ditched a cookie-cutter cold email template and put in the effort to create a demo tailored to HubSpot’s tone of voice.
By being proactive and resourceful, he utilized some of the essential elements of great customer service.
Did you notice any other elements that made Bryan’s email a winner?
He used a lot of white space, making the body easy to skim, and also inserted the name of one of HubSpot’s prominent competitors – KISSmetrics.
Supporting your claim with proof of value forces the recipient to take you seriously. You can also do this by providing testimonials, statistics from previous campaigns, and case studies of your successful campaigns.
The more time you put in to craft a personalized pitch, the higher your chances are of receiving a response. Many spam filters use sophisticated NLP software to detect spam, and personalizing can help you tackle it.
What not to do
Right off the bat, the email is way too long that the reader can’t be bothered to go past the first paragraph. While the tone is dry and factual, the copy doesn’t seem to exert any effort to connect with the reader.
It starts with a long-winded pitch about the sender’s company and doesn’t address the prospect’s issues at all. If you can offer a solution to a major pain point of the prospect, it’s essential to highlight them at the beginning of your cold email.
You don’t want your email to read like a lengthy essay. Keep your cold email crisp and short at under 50 words.
Other elements to keep in mind are grammatical errors and typos! They can be a death knell for your personal brand’s credibility so use a grammar checking tool before sending your cold email out into the wild.
Step #4: Subject Line
All your efforts are futile if nobody opens your cold email. The purpose of an email subject line is to get people to open it. People are skeptical of advertising, so anything that sounds remotely “salesy” and is presumably from an unknown sender, goes straight to the spam folder.
Your cold email’s subject line needs to break down that barrier and weed out any mistrust in your prospect’s eyes.
What to do
Great copywriters will tell you that email subject lines don’t need to be witty or clever. They need to be concise, clear, and straightforward.
To catch people’s attention as they are scrolling at breakneck speed through their inbox, make sure to personalize subject lines with a focus to provide a distinct context.
In the cold email below from a lead automation company, the subject line opens with an intriguing and personalized offer. Adding a time constraint to the proposition makes it all the more appealing and tangible to the prospect.
A few more pointers for creating an appealing subject line are:
- Tangibility: Give them a number to work with, and this could be anything ranging from a statistic, time constraint, to the number of steps it’ll take them to get a higher response rate, for example.
- Question: Who doesn’t like to answer a direct question? Immediately engage someone with a question in a subject line like this one by a network security company – ‘How secure are your printers?’.
- Name drop: It could be theirs, an influencer in your niche or a mutual contact that can help you get your foot in the door.
What not to do
Avoid being gimmicky at all costs. You are reaching out to a professional, not to a group of first-year college students for a campus ambassador internship gig.
Additionally, the subject line doesn’t provide any context as to why this person is reaching out or what value I derive from opening it.
Is there a new TV show coming out? Is there an impending zombie apocalypse for real? We can’t tell, and for all I know, neither can this person.
Cold emailing can be a lot like taking a shot in the dark. You don’t have a relationship with your prospects yet and lack channels to gain any non-verbal feedback. With any email marketing strategy, you need to relentlessly A/B test to determine tactics that work best for your business. And of course, make sure you have a follow-up plan to steward leads after the first cold email.
Lastly, remember that you are out there to initiate connections and build relationships until you have established enough trust to earn a lead.