How to Write an Effective Cold Email

entrepreneur how to sell sales skills Apr 15, 2021

Everyone you know has an email address.  This means that you can literally get in touch with any person, including potential clients and even Fortune 500 CEOs through email. 

Cold emails can take your business from zero to sixty if you play your cards right.

Did you know that many Silicon Valley startups started with email? Salesforce is one of the earliest platforms to use emails as a selling tool and has since grown into a multibillion-dollar business.  Even Uber used cold emailing when it first launched in cities across the United States. There's no denying that cold emailing is a great way to gain traction and generate leads for your business.


What is a cold email anyway?

A cold email is an email sent to someone with whom you have no prior relationship. It's basically an unsolicited sales email. 

You can collect email addresses by researching on the internet (Google or Bing) or social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  Cold emails can then be used to get in touch with prospects you think would be interested in your products or services.

What separates a strategic cold email from bulk sales email is its specificity. Unsolicited bulk email is also restricted in many countries, with laws such as GDPR and CASL regulating email use for marketing. Cold emails work because you're talking to a specific person.

 Cold emailing is also about working smarter, not harder.

But before you type your first word, here are six  things you need to consider.


Write a killer subject line

You’ll never get a response if the recipient won’t even open your email. You want your cold email to stand out among dozens of other emails in their inbox. The best way to do that is to write an eye-catching subject line.

 Avoid using subject line templates you can get off the internet. Chances are it’s a generic line that lots of people have used, and if your email looks like any marketing email, it’s going straight to the recycle bin.

 Keep it short, be specific, and tease what you have to offer. Use their name or their company’s name to make it more personal:

“Hey, Steve! I’ve got just the thing for you”

“Dan, I know how to solve your delivery problems”

“Sorry to hear about your PC troubles, Sarah”


Make the email about the recipient

This means you need to do your research. You want the reader to feel that you specifically sought them out. A sales pitch is perfectly fine, but you don’t want to be ham-fisted about it. You’re not just emailing to sell a product. You’re offering a solution to their problems.

Remember that you're trying to make a good impression, and the recipient doesn't know who you are. Be polite and respectful and put the focus on them. Show them that you understand their needs and explain how your business will make their life better.


Strike the right tone

 Tone is everything in cold emails. You might make a compelling argument, but if your email comes off as entitled and overconfident, you will risk losing your prospect.

Remember, you're trying to get their time and attention.

One easy way to strike the right tone in your email is to write the way you speak. No one begins a conversation with the sales pitch. Maybe you would start with an introduction, find a shared connection or problem, and then transition to your main case.

The best emails are ones that sound natural. If it sounds too stilted or bland, rewrite it until it sounds like your own voice.

Find a connection

Commonalities make for stronger connections. That's why we form bonds with people with the same interests, hobbies, or even sports teams as us. 

Though you’ve completed research on the recipient, they know nothing about you. You need to find a way to establish trust and credibility. Leveraging your connections is a great way to do this.

If you and the recipient know someone in common, you should mention that in the email. Having a mutual friend means that you exist within their orbit. Other connections you might want to consider include professional associations, schools, or even shared experiences.


Give them something they need

The recipient probably receives sales emails every single day. Why should they take time out of their busy day to respond to your email? 

You need to give the recipient a reason to respond.

Every person has a pain point, a problem that needs to be solved. You want to establish yourself as the solution to one of their problems. Pique their interest and get them excited enough to speak with you.

Let’s say you’re an accountant. You could explain how your services have allowed other businesses to feel confident about their monthly statements. Show them what they stand to gain by doing business with you.


Keep the message short and direct

People prefer short emails to long ones. Not only are short ones easier to read, but if written well, they also leave the reader wanting more. Don’t risk burying your key points by writing a long-winded message..

Keep your pitch short and snappy. Ideally, it should be short enough to present under a minute but substantive enough to reference all the  important information you unearthed during your research. Show why you’re specifically interested in them. If you can put that into words, you’ll appear more genuine and trustworthy.

But more importantly, your cold email needs to contain a specific call to action. Compel the reader to do something right away.

Don’t assume that the reader will automatically know what to do. Choose an action, be specific, and set a time limit. For instance, you could say something like:

“If you want to learn more, let’s talk. Are you available for a quick call on [time and date]?”

It also helps to make things easier for the recipient. Ask simple questions, and if you are trying to schedule a meeting, give them a couple of specific dates and times.

The bottom line

Cold emails remain a powerful tool for lead generation. Don't forget that you're not emailing brands or businesses, but real people. Do your research, show your human side, pique their interest, and get straight to the point.


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