Cold emailing is tough, right? Wrong!
The fundamentals of every cold email are simple. But the best cold emails and writers manage the art of grabbing someone’s attention and offering value.
First, we describe what a cold email is, how to write a cold email and finish with some examples.
How to write a cold email
Does cold emailing still work in 2022? Absolutely – but only if you get it right.
Sending cold emails used to be a numbers game, but today digital marketers are using more sophisticated strategies to grab attention and get responses.
A witty, informative, and engaging cold email can still get results – but you have to pitch it correctly.
The fundamentals of every cold email are simple, with a standard structure and a simple format. But the best cold emails and writers manage the art of grabbing someone’s attention and offering value.
Here we describe what a cold email is, how to write a cold email, and finish with some example templates you can use.
What is a "cold email"?
Don’t know what a cold email is?
Chances are, if you’ve got an email account, you get them all the time. Cold emails (often called unsolicited emails) describe any emails you haven’t requested or from someone you don’t (yet) know.
It’s easier than ever to ignore cold emails, so you need to do something that stands out. You can create a great subject line with some essential information, an offer, or a captivating call to action (CTAs).
Now we’ve mentioned CTAs; we should explain they’re the core of every cold email. Once you’ve grabbed someone’s attention, you need to explain why you're emailing and what you want them to do.
Examples of cold emails include:
- Cold emailing for a job opportunity
- Cold email for an internship
- Cold emailing an executive
- Cold emailing a potential client or customer
- Cold email to a professor or academic
- Cold email to a former employer
Do people open cold emails?
It’s hard to find accurate information, but cold email open rates are low. In some cases, open rates may be as low as 1%.
Sending cold emails is a numbers game, meaning the more you send, the greater the chances of success. But you can’t just spam people. Sending out thousands of unsolicited emails is annoying and illegal.
Instead of sending out hundreds (or thousands) of emails to random people, the best cold emails are well-researched, personalized, and offer value to the reader
Achieve this, and you’ll get higher levels of engagement than copying and pasting a cold email template (even templates as good as ours).
Best time to send cold emails
Search online, and you’ll find hundreds of articles telling you the best time to send cold emails. (According to this blog, it’s between 8-9 in the morning.)
The advice sounds plausible enough, but it’s only relevant to those sending out large numbers of emails to email lists.
As we’ll explain below, the best cold emails are based on research and insights, and if you do all this, you can send out an email at any time and stand a good chance of success.
Cold email format
We’ve written loads of blogs about professional email formats, but cold emails are slightly different.
Why? Because you’re attempting to grab someone’s attention, and sometimes you need to do something creative to capture the CTA.
Still, it's worth sticking to the format if you’re just starting out writing your first cold emails. We can break the professional cold email format down into 5 steps:
- Cold email subject line
- Cold email opening
- Cold email body
- Cold email CTA
- Cold email ending
1. Cold email subject line
A great cold email subject line is critical to capturing a person’s attention and getting them to open your email.
Creating a great subject line is part science and part art. It’s a huge subject, and it’s not something we can cover in a few lines, but the best cold email subject lines do at least one of the following things:
- Engage someone personally
- Add value
- Offer an insight
- Create a connection
- Make people curious
- Ask questions
2. Cold email opening
Evidence shows that people love hearing their names (surprise, surprise). So, greeting the recipient with their name is already a big step towards getting a response.
What it does is break down the first barrier. This isn’t an anonymous email from someone you don’t know; it’s addressed to them and has value.
If the person you are reaching out to is in a position of authority, you'll probably want to opt for a more formal greeting. If there's any doubt about the appropriate way to address them, familiarize yourself with standard ways to start an email in different situations.
You don't want to begin any new relationship on a wrong footing, so spend some time finding the person’s name and job title.
3. Cold email body
You’ve grabbed their attention with a great subject line and a personalized greeting, but you still only have about 3 seconds left.
Firstly, don't start with "I hope this email finds you well!". Instead, think about what you've learned about them and come up with something personal that directly relates to the subject matter.
Sometimes it's hard to come up with something that shows you got to know the recipient. Some example body copy examples include:
- Stating who you are and what you want
- Complimenting someone on a recent project success or client win
- Lead with a question that sets up the stage for your value proposition
- Ask a question
- Drop in a juicy stat
In some cases, you might consider skipping an opening line altogether and getting straight to business.
4. Cold email CTA
Every email has a purpose, whether that’s asking for information, calling for a click, or asking for a reply. Getting the right call to action is critical for a successful cold email campaign.
There are several strategies you can use when creating a CTA. Keep it simple, and ask upfront for a reply or a response
Over time, you’ll start to understand those CTAs that work and those that don’t – and that’s all part of the process. You’ll want to test, review and refine your messaging over time. It’s all part of the process.
5. Cold email ending
A little thanks often goes a long way. By showing gratitude at the end of your emails, you’ll make the recipient feel good about themselves if they decide to take up your task. Many people fall into the trap of appearing entitled in their cold emails. You should remember that https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2008-00266-003, rather than when they feel pressured.
You should also personalize it if possible, giving a targeted sign-off.
Oh, and don’t forget to include your signature!
6 cold email examples
We’ve provided an outline of cold emails, but you’ll only really understand how to write them by seeing some examples. As we’ve explained, your cold emails should be personalized, so no template will be perfect for your audience. But you can see the structure here
Let’s start with 5 cold email examples covering some common reasons you might need to message someone.
1. How to cold email for a job sample
Sure, you can check online job sites and social media, but sometimes a cold email can be a great way of getting early notice of an opportunity.
You want to appear confident but not arrogant. Before emailing, do research and greet the person using their name and professional title (if they have one).
2. How to cold email for an internship sample
Anyone who has secured work experience or an internship will know that cold emailing is essential. The key is to ensure the person reading the email understands your enthusiasm and excitement at any opportunity. Explain what you want to work there and the skills you’ll bring.
3. Cold emailing executives sample
Executives are time-poor, so you’ll need to grab attention quickly. In this example of a cold email for an executive, we keep things brief and follow the basic outline above.
If you’re brave, feel free to add some more personality, but we recommend sticking to a simple and professional message.
4. Cold email introduction sample
Cold introduction emails are an essential business strategy we can all use to build our networks.
This cold introduction sample focuses on areas of common interest and aims to create a connection. You can cut and paste the example for use in emails, but you can also use it for LinkedIn messages too.
5. Cold email to potential client sample
A cold email to potential clients or customers is a chance to showcase your products. But don’t lead with that; instead, focus on your customer's needs and push their pain points.
Put simply, a pain point is something they’re struggling with, and you can solve it. See how that works in the next cold email to a potential client sample.
It's good to remember that whatever your industry or niche you are in, you can find many pre-made templates (like these photographer email templates) online to help you out.
6. Cold emailing professors for research sample
Professors hold all the power in the academic world, and you’ll need to engage them if you want to build the best career. This cold email is targeted to professors and outlines your expertise and enthusiasm.
We don’t have all that information, so you’ll need to fill in the gaps, but you’ll see how simple that is with the sample.
Cold prospecting email template
Cold emails are a vital strategy for prospecting. You may want to capture leads, get clicks, or increase sales – and that’s what this sample is all about.
This cold prospecting email template can be cut, pasted, amended and adapted for your business. One great exercise is to work up some samples and test them with colleagues, family and friends before sending them.
The fastest way to write cold emails
Try to Google "cold email template" and see what comes up. The apparent popularity of these templates you fill in the variables suggests immense pressure to spend less time writing cold emails.
Some of the templates are pretty decent if for spray and pray, but sending a personalized message tailored to a specific person is not about ticking boxes.
With Flowrite, you can turn your research on the recipient to a personalized cold email faster than ever. Just provide a couple of bullet points based on the principles laid out in this blog post, select the right cold email template, and let our AI writing tool do the rest. Test it out here:
A step-by-step guide on writing a cold email
In addition to personalization, there are a couple of best practices to keep in mind whenever you write a cold email. First of all, remember not to blabber. It's not only appreciative towards the time of the person you are contacting, but short emails are more likely to get read by the recipient. Also, make sure to avoid common pitfalls of poor grammar, making it about yourself, and appearing entitled.
1. Start by greeting the recipient by their name
A study shows that people love hearing their name (surprise, surprise). So, greeting the recipient with their name is already a small step towards getting a response.
If the person you are reaching out to is in a position of authority, you'll want to opt for a more formal greeting. If there's any doubt about the appropriate way to address them, familiarize yourself with common ways to start an email in different situations. You don't want to begin the new relationship on the wrong foot.
2. Grab the attention with a personal opening line
You have about 3 seconds to capture the attention of the recipient, so don't start with "I hope this email finds you well!". Instead, think about what you've learned about them and come up with something personal that directly relates to the subject matter.
Sometimes it's hard to come up with something that shows that you got to know the recipient. Try complimenting their recent work you came across, lead with a question that sets up the stage for your value proposition or consider skipping the opening line altogether. It's better to go straight to the business than waste their time with something irrelevant.
3. Establish credibility for yourself
Remember that at this point, you're still a stranger to the recipient. Why should they care about whatever you have to say? In addition to introducing yourself, you need to find a way to appear as convincing and trustworthy to them – stand out and fit in at the same time.
To appear credible to the recipient, you can:
Mention people you both know
Having someone in both of your lives makes you a friend of a friend instead of a stranger.
Point out your status
If there's anything relevant that could make you seem "important" in the eyes of the recipient, now it's the time to play that card.
Highlight a similarity
The more uncommon commonality such as hometown or hobby you two share is, the more likely it's to appeal to the recipient.
Don't feel discouraged if you feel like nobody who doesn't belong to their world – we all start somewhere. Highlighting what you've done to help yourself before turning to the recipient has been proved to be a powerful way to win them over. Whatever your approach is, you shouldn't spend more than a sentence or two talking about yourself.
4. Tell the recipient what's in it for them
You should always give before you ask. When writing your value proposition, remember that people are willing to go to greater heights to avoid pain than to acquire pleasure. If you can't relieve their pain, help them avoid getting sick in the future or give them something they want.
Even though your email wouldn't have a commercial motive, you are always selling the recipient on something – if nothing else, yourself. If you find an opportunity to be a painkiller or vitamin for them, go for it. In case you feel like you have nothing to offer, remember that a chance to help can be something they want. Tap into that.
5. Make your call-to-action clear and easy
People want to take action on the emails they receive quickly and are more likely to do so if they get clear directions on contributing. That's why you should make a specific ask. You want to do everything within your power to make it easy for the recipient to say yes to whatever you want them to do.
Go straight to the point and keep the CTA short. Don't ask for the moon or more than one thing. "Let me know if you want to chat" only puts the weight on the recipient's shoulders instead of prompting action. You can do better.
6. Express gratitude and give the recipient an out
A little thanks often goes a long way. By showing gratitude, you not only appear as humble but make the recipient feel good about themselves if they decide to take up on your ask. Being explicit about them always having a chance to decline will only increase your chances of achieving what you want.
Many people fall into the trap of appearing entitled in their cold emails. You should remember that people provide more extensive and useful help when it's an enjoyable choice than when feelings of pressure or obligation drive them. Even though you want to be confident, avoid coming off as pushy at all costs.
7. End with a proper sign-off
Similar to greeting, you should choose your sign-off based on the recipient. You don't want to appear too formal when reaching out to potential clients or too casual when cold emailing for a job.
Don't overcomplicate things, even though you'd feel that your life depends on this email. Go with a sign-off that feels natural to you. In writer's block, you can find the right closing for any cold email from this list of professional email sign-offs.
8. Perfect the subject line
The subject line is your first and often the last chance to make an impression. A study shows that people are more likely to read an email if the subject line taps into their curiosity or provides utility. So, aim to intrigue the recipient or be useful to them. Remember also that a compelling subject line is not about you; it's about them.
Whatever your subject line is, it should connect with the rest of the email. You have already done the heavy lifting at this point, so draw inspiration from the email body and write out different options to find the winner (here's our guide on email formats, for more info).
Ask a question, tell them how you can help, highlight a pain point – the possibilities are endless. Just remember that even in the most desperate times, you shouldn't mislead the recipient with clickbait.
9. Remember to follow up
If you don't hear back immediately, don't lose your confidence. The chance is that the person is buried in their inbox. If you don't get a response, show persistence and send appropriate follow-up.
The most natural way to follow up on an email is to send a new email to the same thread. In the follow-up email, try approaching your value proposition from a new angle if possible. You can also point the attention back to the original email. Whatever you do, remember to include your call-to-action also in your follow-up.
How soon and often you should follow up depends on what you are trying to achieve. Some sales representatives follow up with potential clients with an email in two days. In contrast, an HR professional might suggest you follow-up on a cold email for a job only after a week. Whatever the situation, when you no longer can count your follow-ups with the fingers of one hand, there's likely no point in continuing.
Final thoughts on cold emails
Writing cold emails isn’t easy, but waiting for a response is worse. We can’t guarantee you’ll get an answer to your email, but by following our format, advice, and tips, you’ll stand the best chance.
Remember, cold emails with a strong subject line, personalized greetings and a solid CTA are proven to work.
Lastly, a little word of advice. The stats show that open rates and responses are low, no matter how great your emails are. So don’t be disheartened – focus on creating the best emails, and you’ll get results.
Trust us; we’ve been there and done it, and that's why we built Flowrite to help.
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