Cold Email Best Practices Guide


Eric Donti

Mar 6, 2023


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With so much economic uncertainty, most businesses seek ways to reinforce and solidify things. One approach to that is teaching employees how to focus on existing customers. Keeping customers is almost universally cheaper than getting new customers. If you are looking for new customers, an often overlooked option is cold emails. While cold emailing isn’t always easy, it can generate stellar results if handled correctly. Read on, and we’ll cover some essential cold email best practices that should help enhance your cold email results.

Target Your Emails

Sending emails

Unlike those mass-emailed sales emails that bank on snagging a tiny percentage of recipients, good cold emails target specific contacts. In fact, most effective cold emails go out in a B2B context rather than to run of the mill consumers. In other words, prepare to do some research.

If you want a response, your email must reach someone to whom your product or service actually matters. It’s more than just that, though. The recipient must also be able to influence future buying or service contract decisions. That means digging into the company you want to do business with and identifying a key person who deals with software-as-a-service, marketing, or widgets.

You can and should do this with multiple companies at a time. The sales cycle for B2B purchase decisions can run out for a year, so you want multiple irons in the fire. Once you pin down one or more people, you move on to the next step.

Tailor Your Emails

Writing with good cold email best practices means each person gets a unique email from you. Why? Even within an industry, even with companies that specialize in similar ways, companies have different problems. They may have similar problems, but a huge problem in one company may only be a minor problem in another.

The pain points that a company experiences often depend on the resources, services, and even products they bought in the past. One company may have gotten good customer relationship management software for the time. Eight years on, however, they’re finding that the software doesn’t scale or can’t work in a cloud environment.

For that company, customer relationship management is a huge pain point. For a similar company that their CRM software three years ago, their CRM may still be in fairly good shape with just a handful of minor issues that everyone finds annoying.

The approach you’d take with your shiny new CRM software will be very different with each of these companies. For the first company, your software will offer many functional upgrades that could make the purchase decision fairly easy. For the second company, you must highlight the basic quality of life improvements that solving those minor issues will provide.

Write a Killer Subject Line

Compose email

Subject lines make or break emails from businesses with which people already do business. How often have you deleted an email from a company or service you use because the subject line was clearly a sales pitch or just plain uninspiring? It’s probably happened hundreds or thousands of times over the years.

You need a subject line that immediately grabs the recipient’s attention and intrigues them. There are a few ways you can generate that interest and attention.

Use Their Name

Personalization is one of the more effective means that you can use to create interest in your email. Unfortunately, it’s also a well-known tactic, so it’s lost some of its power over time. You can reestablish some of the oomph of the tactic by using the name of the company that the recipient works for into the subject line. It’s not always practical, but it’s worth trying.

Include a Question

Question mark

Another way you can pique interest is with a question. There isn’t a formula for the right question, but it should probably relate directly to your product or service.

Let’s take the CRM software as an example. You might choose something like: “John, is your CRM software letting you down?”

If the company has issues with their CRM software, there’s a decent chance they’ll open your email.

Keep It Short

People want to avoid slogging through an email that goes on for 1000 words. It’s tedious. They’ll probably just skim it, which isn’t what you want. Instead, keep your email tightly focused and on the point. Remember that long sales cycle mentioned above, this initial cold email is almost never going to garner you a sale. It’s an icebreaker. So, keep it under 200 words. You'll probably see even higher engagement if you can get it down to 125 words or less.

Address Their Pain Points

Frankly, the recipients of cold emails do not care about you. They also don’t really care about your business, its history, or even your qualifications. All of that comes later. They care about the things that make their work lives harder and the things that can make their work lives easier.

Your email should identify their pain points, in specific, and the likelihood that you can make those problems go away. If you can even get them to consider the possibility that you can accomplish that goal, they’ll start caring about you much more. Ideally, they’ll care enough to at least reply to your email.

Don’t Lie

Too many cold emails make grandiose promises that the product or service cannot deliver. Those kinds of lies may look like good marketing copy to the uninitiated, but it’s bad advertising for your business and you. After all, what happens when they reply and find out what you’re selling is much less awesome than promised? Being honest is one of the most important cold email best practices.

You’ll have burned that bridge, probably forever. They’ll also talk to people they know about the snake oil salesman from company X that should be avoided at all costs. Word will get around and make your life much harder from then on.

If your product or service really can solve nine of their nine problems, then say so. If your product can only solve five of their problems, focus on those problems. Never lie.

Structure for Easy Reading

You’ll notice a lot of white space in modern blog posts. Paragraphs run short. In fact, sentences often run short as well. Why? Reading big blocks of text on a computer screen gets old fast.

Keep the paragraphs in your email short. Keep the sentences as short as possible without overly dumbing down the essentials. It’ll make the email easier to read and digest. The easier you make the email to process, the better your chances of getting a response.

Use a Call to Action

CTA - Call to Action

It may feel like you’re talking down to the recipient, but mountains of research data and practical experience have taught marketers that you need calls to action. A busy person with a lot on their mind isn’t always be thinking critically about what they read. At the end of a cold email, they might think something like:

“Yeah, that sounds like a good product or service.”

Unless you’ve done a stellar job, they probably don’t think they should get back to you immediately. The problem is that, even if they think they should look into your company or product, there’s a good chance they’ll forget about it before they do it.

A call to action gives their busy minds some direction. It doesn’t need to be overly aggressive. It should always be very clear. Something along these lines often works well.

“If this sounds like a service that you’d find helpful, please email me for more details.”

You’ve put the idea into their head that they should email. Once they start thinking they should do that, it dramatically increases the odds that they will.

Cold Emails and You

The prospect of writing and sending cold emails leaves a lot of people feeling, well, pretty cold. It can feel intrusive. Plus, there is a good chance that many of them won’t land a reply. However, you can improve your odds by deploying the cold email best practices discussed above. They won’t guarantee responses from every recipient, but writing well-crafted cold emails will certainly improve your chances of responses from some recipients.

Are you looking to improve your current marketing and generate more sales? If so, the marketing pros at our e-marketing company can help you grow your business. When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a call today!

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