5+ Steps to Mastering the Art of Cold Email [Open Rates + More]

One of the scariest things a marketer can do is send cold emails.

A well-written cold email can unlock many things: A new client, a new business partner, a new sponsor, and even top talent.

Most cold emails, however, unlock… well, nothing.

But let’s face it: at some point in your career, you’ll probably find yourself sending them to build relationships, backlinks, or just awareness.

Kevin “KD” Dorsey, a sales professional, recently hopped on a podcast to share some valuable tips for successful and less terrifying cold emailing.

Here are our favorite takeaways we think could help you too:

Don’t use templates

There’s a good chance your first, second, or even third emails won’t get read.

But if the recipient finally does open the fourth email, you don’t want them to open a template. They’ll delete you faster than you can say “Hello.”

Instead, use copywriting principles to craft cold emails that stand out.

The most important part of your email? The “from” line

Dorsey once received an email from the famous author Arianna Huffington… without a subject line.

Did he open it? You bet he did.

Your first goal is to become a “who” worth opening.

This doesn’t mean you need to become a celebrity, but being well-known in your industry will boost the response rate of your emails.

Customization is not personalization

Customization is when you change the names in an email template.

Personalization is when you write an email only the recipient will understand.

Ask yourself: If you could send only one email to this person, what would you send?

The first sentence of a cold email

So you’ve convinced someone to open your cold email.

Your from name and subject line worked, and so did the preview text. Well done.

… But don’t pop the champagne yet. Now it’s time to deliver.

Which means… You’re gonna need a very good first sentence.

Done right, the first sentence sets the tone and hooks the reader enough to keep reading your email.

Here’s an example of a fantastic first line:

“Hi there 👋 Megan here from the Superhuman Customer Engagement Team! (I’m a real person, I live in the bay area, and I love being outside ⛰️).

Here’s how to make an opener like this work:

  • Create a casual tone. Emojis do the trick in this case, but they may not work for every audience.
  • Address the awkwardness. The line “I’m a real person” addresses one of the most common objections to cold emails and makes things personal right away.
  • Relate to the reader. Creating a sense of relatability – hobbies, personality – instantly makes your cold email more enjoyable and relatable.

If you’re sending cold emails, keep these three principles in mind next time you send off a batch.

They may just help you book that call.

Leave voicemails

After you send an email, leave a voicemail. Don’t ask them to call you back; ask them to read your email.

It’s a mini distribution model, and it’s far less scary to the recipient.

Master the magic of cold email with this simple structure

This section will show you a simple framework for writing cold emails that your recipients actually want to read and respond to.

First, the structure

The best cold emails usually follow the same formula:

  • Introduction: Say who you are.
  • Personal connection: Something interesting to show them you care.
  • Context: Tell them why you’re emailing.
  • Value proposition: Explain why they should care about the thing you’re emailing about.
  • Call-to-action (CTA): One simple and specific action you’d like them to take.

You shouldn’t need more than 150 words to cover all of these things. And if you follow the structure above, your cold emails will be better than most.

Second, three considerations to keep in mind

  • You won’t sell anything with your first email. People don’t trust you yet. So instead of asking for sign-ups or demos, ask a question to gauge interest in your product. You can also suggest a quick call, but this is less likely to get you replies.
  • Personalization is usually the make-or-break. If there’s a line in your email that shows you did legitimate research on the person you’re emailing, you’re golden.
  • Most business owners read hundreds of cold emails every year. Truth is, most people you want to reach already get lots of cold emails. So the less generic your message is, the better.

Cold emails can work like magic… But only when you write them with some magic of your own.

How to write good subject lines for cold email outreach

Getting results by sending cold emails to as many folks as possible is never easy.

Writing good subject lines can help.

But you have to be careful not to write clickbait subject lines, or overly promotional subject lines.

Like these, for example:

  • Clickbait subject line: Urgent question
  • Promotional subject line: Need help falling asleep? Our mattresses are 20% off this week.

You can definitely do better than this.

Maybe clickbait subject lines may get you high open rates, but they do a bad job of qualifying the reader.

The wrong people might be opening your emails. Plus, these sorts of subject lines are irritating for most people.

And while promotional subject lines may qualify intent a little better, you might lose some clicks because people know they’re being sold to.

So instead of writing clickbait, you can write for intrigue. Here are a few examples:

  • Thoughts on [Company Name]?
  • [Company Name] question
  • How are you managing [thing your product solves]?
  • Dealing with [problem your product solves]?
  • Question about your [problem your product solves]

How to Increase Email Open Rates

Sending emails is easy. But sending emails that get opened frequently? If only…

You’ve probably heard the standard tips for increasing open rates already, like using personalization, short subject lines, and so on.

Here are a few lesser-known tips that are worth trying.

Let’s open them up…

Write meaningful preheaders

If witty subject lines grab attention, preheaders promise the benefit of reading the email.

With an informative preheader, you know the content inside is worth looking at.

Use numbers

Numbers make your subject line more prominent in busy inboxes.

And according to research, some numbers cause higher engagement than others. For example, numbers like 10, 5, and 7 get more clicks than numbers like 1, 13, or 40.

Use catchy words

Studies of billions of subject lines show that words like upgrade, alert, celebrate, or golden are irresistible.

Oh, there are about 20 other words in the article you can borrow.

Use “visual” words

Whenever you’re promoting content that has a video, infographic, chart, or any visual representation, make sure to include it in your subject line:

  • Omnichannel marketing explained with infographics.
  • 10 marketing diagrams you can use.

Clean up your email list

List hygiene is essential. The more inactive emails you have on your list, the lower your open rates.

Your list will have work emails that are no longer active and so on.

Remember, the number of subscribers means nothing if they don’t open.

It can also stain your reputation among email providers, and even mark you as spam.

TOP 5 Cold Email Tips to DOMINATE B2B Sales | Cold Emailing Strategy, Tech Sales Tips, SaaS Sales

To increase cold email conversion, try writing relevant content

When done well, cold emails make millions of dollars.

Done poorly, they get marked as spam and earn you little more than a few angry replies.

So if you’re not having much success with cold emails, try this insight:

Hit pause. Stop endlessly retooling your email copy and your targeting, and stop blasting inboxes.

Instead, ask one question: What’s the most helpful, novel, relevant piece of content for the people I’m emailing?

Then, write that piece of content. Make it as good as you can.

Once the content’s written, write a new cold email with a softer sell and a bigger focus on the piece of content. Make it clear that it’s free, publicly available, and that you believe they may find it useful.

For best results, get as niche as possible. Imagine you’re cold-emailing people in ten countries about HR & Payroll services.

Instead of sending them all the same piece of content, use a content template and personalize the cold emails with country-specific information.

This is a small lift, but can have a big impact on perceived value.

And it may help you get the lift in response rate you’re hoping for.

One final tip

Remember to write an intriguing subject that relates to the content of your email.

That way you’ll get the high opens, plus the results you’re looking for.

Software Blade

SoftwareBlade.com covers today's software and tomorrow's emerging technology.

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