This article is part of a larger series on Sales Management.
Success with cold emails, or cold email marketing, hinges on your ability to entice the recipient to open and read your message and respond positively to its call to action (CTA). While there are many concerns about CAN-SPAM laws, cold emailing is a completely legal lead generation strategy as long as you make it personal, don’t use misleading subject lines, and the information is relevant to that person. Your business and contact information must also be easily identifiable and give recipients the choice to opt-out of receiving your emails. In this article, learn how to write a cold email that engages prospects to help you close more deals.
Writing a cold email that gauges the interest of the recipient is similar to writing a cold calling script in that the primary message will vary depending on your objective. There are also more similarities, like trying to make a personal connection, pitching your value, and providing a specific call to action.
In the case of cold emailing, you have the benefit of not needing to worry about improvisation (such as overcoming objections). Plus, the message can be viewed, retained, and re-read by the lead at any time. The downside, however, is that you don’t usually have the opportunity to get an immediate response and there’s no guarantee a recipient will open, read, or consider your message.
Here are the six steps to learning how to write a cold email as part of a lead generation strategy:
1. Research Your Prospect
Studies show that at least 50% of prospects being pursued by sales teams aren’t a good fit for that business. Before drafting an email message, spend some time researching the leads you want to target. This helps ensure the prospect is a sound candidate for your offerings and that you have some contextual information to use in your email message.
During the research phase, find any information about the lead that gives you an opportunity to connect. Common examples of this include going to the same university, being from or having lived in (or even visited) the same geographical area, knowing some of the same people, working in the same industry or for the same company or job role, or being fans of the same sports teams.
If you’re a business-to-business (B2B) seller targeting other organizations, make sure part of your research includes identifying who is the best person in an organization to contact for your product or service. Simple Google searches and company websites can provide this kind of information and sometimes even have contact details. You can also use LinkedIn to find the right person and lead data services, such as UpLead to acquire up-to-date email addresses.
2. Determine the Objective of Your Email
As previously mentioned, cold emailing can be used to generate leads, qualify them, or both. Therefore, before crafting a cold email, you need to identify a specific outcome you want to get as a result of sending the cold introduction. This objective will influence your email’s subject line, introduction, value proposition pitch, and call to action.
For instance, you may do a cold emailing campaign to create awareness about your business, which could be measured based on clicks through to your website or direct replies. You could be attempting to set up product demos, which would be measured by the number of appointments set. Your goal may even be to qualify a lead by offering to send pricing, which would then be measured by the number of business proposals requested.
3. Design an Intriguing Subject Line
The subject line is the first thing a lead sees once you’ve sent a cold email—whether or not they end up opening it. Additionally, 69% of email recipients report emails as spam solely based on the subject line, so it’s especially important to diligently craft this aspect of an email message.
An excellent way to draw the recipient into opening the message is by mentioning something personal or familiar in the subject line. You can also use standout words you wouldn’t ordinarily see in emails.
For instance, if your product or service helps someone increase their productivity, your subject line could be “We Are Looking to Bestow [Contact name] Their Time Back.” The subject line is personalized with the contact’s name and draws attention using a less common word, like “bestow.”
Another route you can take is expressing urgency in the subject line. For example, “Our VIP Deal for [Contact name] Ends Tomorrow” personalizes the subject line and creates a sense of urgency.
There’s also the option to use questions in subject lines that look like they need to be answered by the recipient. Examples of this include “Does [Contact name] Want to Pay Less for Legal Services?” or “Is [Contact name] the Best Person to Contact for This?”
4. Connect With Your Opening Line
Assuming your subject line intrigued the lead to open the message, you are now ready to attempt to complete your cold email objective. This starts with making a personal connection in the opening line of the message. Here is when the prospect research you did earlier comes in handy.
Start your email by establishing a level of trust through a connection or relevant observation. This can be anything from citing a mutual connection with another person or organization, complimenting them on something they recently won or created, highlighting a recent event applicable to them, or pointing out that you’re both from the same area.
The purpose is to show you care about the relationship aspect of sales and not just the revenue. Below are examples of some of the different ways you can connect with a lead in the opening line of an email:
- Citing mutual connection: Hi [Contact name], I saw that your business is also a member of [organization name], so I wanted to reach out personally.
- Complimenting the recipient: Hi [Contact name], I couldn’t help but notice your company just recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, so kudos on your success!
- Highlighting a recent event: Hi [Contact name], as you may have seen in the news, [industry] businesses like yours could be seeing a huge compliance change, so I wanted to be sure to connect with you personally.
Pro tip: Designing cold email templates and keeping them stored in your business’ database allows you and your team to simply plug in the contact’s information, saving time on email drafting. Our free email templates offer you email templates that work for various scenarios.
5. Pitch Your Value Proposition
After the personalized introduction in your cold email, you are ready to present what your business offers. The key here is to be brief and to the point by only using a few sentences to communicate your offer’s value. This should address both the challenges the lead faces as well as how your solution can help.
Let’s take a cold email example that would follow the second opening line connection example in the section above:
Notice that a question is used in this part of the email. Questions posed that have obvious answers are a great way to keep the recipient interested. In this scenario, of course the person wants to improve operational productivity and automate when possible. Ending with a question is a perfect segue into the call to action.
Pro tip: Learn more about how to introduce your products and services and pitch your unique selling proposition with our introduction email templates.
6. Close With a Call to Action
The final step is where you’ll prompt the lead to fulfill your objective. A positive response could be taking the next step by setting up an appointment, taking advantage of a free trial or demo offer, responding to your email, or even simply remaining in the sales funnel as a new lead to be nurtured (vs opting out of your sales process in some way). Continuing on the example we started in the sections above, let’s assume that the objective is to schedule a product demonstration. Your call to action could look something like this:
The call to action needs to include the next step and a command to get to that next step. For example, “Arrange a 15-minute product demonstration” is the next step while “When is a good time for us to connect in the next two weeks?” is the command for the recipient to get to that step. If the call to action is initiated, it means the lead has moved to the next stage of your sales pipeline.
Pro tip: Make it easy for your prospect to fulfill the call to action by including a link to your online scheduling software, like Calendly. Your prospect can choose from your available time slots and Calendly will automatically sync appointments to your calendar.
Best Tools for Cold Email Marketing
In addition to helping your sales team craft cold email templates, those in sales management positions can also offer tools and resources to assist with cold email marketing campaigns. Sales enablement tools range in capabilities from expediting the cold emailing process or organizing information for cold email campaigns to sources for obtaining prospect email data.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Customer relationship management (CRM) software has multiple uses for cold email marketing. The first is its ability to organize lead information so you can store the email address of each lead and manage your progress with prospect nurturing through to closing sales deals.
Salesforce, for instance, lets you store email addresses as part of a lead’s record and tracks lead nurturing activities over time. There’s also the ability to track previous activity with the lead, so if a lead responded to your cold email, you can indicate notes on their response in the activity.
CRMs also can be used to store, share, and use premade cold email templates. For example, Pipedrive easily lets you design and choose an email template. Then, with the contact information already stored in the CRM database, fields such as their first name, company name, or a date are automatically merged into the message as it’s sent.
Want more insights on CRMs helpful for creating email campaigns and cold email marketing? Check out our buyers guide on the best CRM software for email marketing to see product comparisons and best-for scenarios.
Appointment Scheduling Tools
Use an appointment scheduling tool to initiate a call to action within a cold email by adding your scheduling link within the email message content or as a button or link in your professional email signature. This lets your recipients find open time slots and schedule an appointment, and events are automatically synchronized to your calendars.
Calendly is a low-cost, easy-to-use scheduling tool that lets you customize criteria for when appointments can be created and through a variety of channels. Through integrations, users can create events for phone calls as well as video conferences.
Calendly is also one of our picks for the best sales automation software. Our guide on the best sales automation software shows you other tools you can use to automate tasks and stages within your sales process.
Email Address Data Resources
To save time hunting down and verifying email addresses, use data providers to accumulate this information for you. Hunter.io, for instance, pulls data from website domains and finds the email addresses based on the contact’s name, email domain, and likely email combination format.
You can also use Findemails.com to obtain email addresses. This platform lets you search for contacts based on company name, contact name, and job position, and then provides you with a verified email address. All the email addresses are tested to validate deliverability so you know you are getting legitimate information.
9 Cold Emailing Stats You Need to Know
Is cold emailing effective? While there are times when cold calling may be the better play, ample evidence exists to support the effectiveness of using cold emails to engage prospects, including sending a series of emails over time:
- 53% of marketers say email is the most effective channel for early-stage lead generation
- Reply rates for sending one to three email sequences is 9% while sequences of four to seven emails show 27% reply rates
There are some basic ways to increase the success of cold email campaigns. Some of them come down to best practices for business emails, while others (like best day or time to send) may vary based on your industry or customer personas:
- Friday is the best day of the week for email click-through rates, at 2.7%
- The average number of characters in an effective email subject line is 43.85
- 46% of emails are opened on mobile devices
In addition to the basics, personalization also improves engagement, such as software that personalizes the subject line and greeting in an email with the recipient’s first name. Advanced personalization tactics are even more effective, such as content tailored based on interests, industry, or details you may have gained when obtaining lead lists, such as the software or vendors they use:
- Email message personalization is the number one tactic to increase click-through rates
- Campaigns with advanced personalization have 10% higher response rates
Choose quality over quantity when it comes to cold email prospecting. Segmentation is an important factor in email marketing at every stage of the buying process, including lead generation:
- Those who segment email campaigns by demographics and behaviors see a 760% increase in revenue compared to those who don’t segment
- Carefully choosing the right prospects helps boost reply rates—campaigns with over 1,000 prospects show reply rates of 8% compared to 18% reply rates for campaigns of one to 200
Bottom Line: How to Write a Cold Email
Learning how to write a cold email allows you to introduce your business to prospects without having to immediately handle objections or unexpected responses. Creating effective cold emails starts with proper research, setting objectives, and a subject line that interests your prospects. After that, success comes down to proper messaging and investing in the right tools to organize the process and make it more efficient―which ultimately helps you close more deals and increase revenue.