What makes for a good cold email?

Sales Content
September 26, 2022
What makes for a good cold email?

Each type of email requires a different approach. Cold emails, by definition, are emails that are sent to a prospect with whom the sender has no prior relationship. To write a good cold email requires following some best practices and taking into account some basic psychology with regards to how people relate to unsolicited contact.

We’re all too used to receiving unsolicited cold emails and all too often these emails fail to grab our attention or interest. So how do we define ‘good’ in this context? We define ‘good’ to mean that the email succeeds in getting the recipient to take the desired action. That action can be any number of things, for example: agree to a call, provide feedback, take a survey, sign up for a service etc.

Based on thousands of cold emails that our team has sent over the years (and many good mentors), these are the best practices we’ve learned for sending a good email:

  • Personalized icebreaker with context - a great email will include a 1-line opener that references something about the recipient (role, background etc.) or their company. This is vital in showing the recipient that you are reaching out to them specifically and their company generally for a clear reason. It should, in short, address “why them, why this, why now?”.
  • Keep it short (!) - we cannot emphasize this enough. Most people try to cram everything about their company, values, features and product into the first email and end up writing a long email that no one will read. You need to understand that your recipient is busy. They barely have time to read the emails of the people they know, let alone from someone they’ve never met. You have a few seconds to capture their attention. Turn your pitch into 1 to 2 sentences. If you cannot do this, then you are probably struggling with clarity about what it is that you’re promoting. If people see a block of text they tend to ignore it.
  • Social proof - social proof refers to 3rd party validation of your offering. This can be reference to notable customers, publications, awards etc. Not all startups have this when they’re first reaching out, but if you do have it, you should use it. Your recipient will use this as a heuristic for determining quickly if you are a reliable and trustworthy potential partner. This should be tied into the 2 sentence pitch.
  • Call to action (CTA) - your email invariably is attempting to get the recipient to take an action. That action, whether it’s jumping on a call, signing up for a product, completing a survey etc. needs to be made explicitly clear. Your email must include it or the recipient will not know what to do. AND there should only be 1 CTA in an email. If you add more you will confuse and overwhelm the recipient and they will likely just ignore it. Make it easy for them to take this action.

If you stick to these practices you’ll be a top tier emailer. These continue to guide our team when drafting emails. You will iterate the content over time. Based on experience you’ll need to refine your sentences, pitches and CTA. But this structure will make sure you have the basics covered.

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