How To Write An Effective Cold Email That Converts

Sam Molony Mailshake

So, you’ve launched your WordPress website. What know? It’s time for some marketing and sales rock and roll! But, what’s the plan? You could start by cold-emailing those ideal customers of yours. But we all know that reply rates are very low. But, no worries, folks! We’ve got Sam Molony from Mailshake aboard with some very useful tips. Mailshake allows businesses to contact thousands of prospects all at once with personalized email campaigns, fully automated follow-ups, maximized deliverability, and proven templates. With ~50.000 clients from all over the world, they know the drill.

Cold emails are messages you send to people you have never met. On some levels, a cold email is similar to a random phone call from a stranger. Only, it’s much less intruding. 

So, what makes cold emails so popular?

If you’re interested in growing a business, or your professional network, you need to make new connections. Cold emails allow you to connect with new people. You can use cold emails as a sales tool to generate leads for your business, as a method of outreach to grow your network, ask a favor, PR, or something else entirely.

Cold emailing has a bad reputation because of the sloppy sales emails people receive daily. It’s still, however, one of the most powerful sales and marketing strategies, if done right! That involves taking the time to research and identify relevant recipients.

This guide will discuss everything you need to know to write a cold email that converts. Before we discuss some strategies, let’s set some proper expectations.


What response rate should you target?

Response rate is the number of people who replied to your cold emails divided by the number of emails sent. Data shows that an average response rate for cold emails is 1%, meaning for every 100 cold emails you roll, only one person responds.

The figures might be disheartening. But, if done right, cold emailing can yield great results, so much so that the response rate can shoot up to 15% or 20%.

If you want to get those higher response rates, you need to conduct targeted outreach. Moreover, your messaging has to engage the recipient. Getting those results requires an understanding of your target audience.

Creating a customer persona can help with targeting.Buyer persona


With a customer persona in hand, you can start creating your outreach list. That’s assuming you’re conducting cold outreach at scale, of course.

Always strive for a higher response rate. There’s no point running mass outreach campaigns messaging people who are unlikely to respond to your inquiry.

Finally, make sure to test your emails. Split testing will help you understand what makes a person open your email and what makes them respond. These types of insights will help you improve the quality of your cold outreach.


7 ways to write an effective cold email

The best type of cold email outreach is a combination of proven strategies, good intuition, and a bit of luck. Here are seven proven elements of an effective cold email you need to consider.


1. Grab attention with the subject line

The first hurdle you need to overcome is getting people to open your email. If people don’t open your content, they’ll never read the great copy you created.

Your email subject lines need to be to the point and catchy.

Don’t do what every other sales manager is doing—trying to sell in the subject line.

Be creative.

Take a second to look at your inbox. What messages stand out?

You’ll probably notice that the messages you pay most attention to share some common characteristics. They are generally either;

  • Direct and to the point – i.e., meeting today?
  • Offhand (like a friend sent them) – i.e., just checking in 🙂

Pick the approach that best suits your needs.

You can use the name of the recipient to personalize your message.

Consider the first few sentences of your message as well. Many email platforms show the subject line and the first few lines of the email. You want to create something that naturally draws people in and makes them want to open your message.


2. Add video content

A good email needs to stand out. Adding a video or images to your email can help make your message stand out in the inbox.

Take this example video content


Apart from getting your recipients’ attention, videos can make your readers more engrossed in the information your email offers. They, after all, enable your recipients to hear the presenters’ voice, see their gestures, among other things.

In addition, you get to share a lot more information than you could in an email.

Just think about how many words you speak when you spend two minutes talking. If you transcribed what you say, you’d probably end up with two pages of content.

Most people aren’t willing to read an email that goes on for two pages, even if it was written by a close friend. A lot of people are willing to sit down and watch a two-minute video clip, though.

All of these things increase the likelihood of a recipient responding to your message.


3. Keep your message short

When outlining the products/services you wish to promote, don’t forget you’re a stranger. The recipient of your message has never met you before. Almost everything in their life is more important than you.

That sounds harsh, but it’s true!

To keep the attention of the reader, keep your message concise. You need to quickly convey why they should care and what they need to do in the minimum word count.

For instance, a leading marketing coach, Harry shows how to effectively pitch an audio recording tool as an alternative to Zoom. In a subtle but impactful way, he differentiates his product from the competitor without being too aggressive. 

Email messaging examples


The email is just three paragraphs.

All of the important facts are transmitted in the minimum word count.

A longer pitch is unlikely to appeal as strongly. Most people wouldn’t read the message. If you get a response, then you can send a long reply. Just don’t write a long introduction email.

Don’t send pitch decks early in the conversation, you first need to pass the “get to know each other part”.


4. Use proven copywriting techniques.

A great cold email template follows a formula. There are lots of different copywriting formulas you can use. In the previous section, I provided the example of a cold email written by Harry.

You can see he broke down the formula.

Here’s another example. It uses the Problem, Agitate, Solve model.Problem solving emails


Start with the problem you are solving or the request you are making. Then promote your product or service as a way to solve that issue. That will help you capture your prospect’s attention and push them to read the rest of the email. 

Using proven copywriting techniques will help you craft an email campaign that’s more likely to be effective. After all, you’re not the first person to write a cold outreach email. You can save yourself plenty of time and sidestep expensive mistakes by using proven copywriting techniques.


5. Pick the best time to send your email

Time plays a crucial role in the success of your cold emails. To start, understand the demographics of your recipients and their location. You should send your email at a time that makes sense for their time zone.

It also needs to work for their daily routine. 

For instance, one of the best times to send an email to someone with a job is usually 8 am or 8:30 am. That’s just before most people open their computer to start the workday.

Email timing


Another good time is at around 10 am when people have their first break. Then after lunch, and maybe just before they go to sleep.

If it’s a work email, send the message while they are still in the office. It’s easy to forget to act on messages that come in last thing in the day.

Also, don’t forget to use email analytics tools to gauge the performance of your campaign. They give you important information such as:

  • email open rates
  • reply rates
  • bounce back rates

for better planning and scheduling of emails.


6. Follow up with your leads.

People are flooded with cold emails all the time. So, if they don’t respond, don’t worry. Just follow up on your leads. You need to be mindful of your tone, though. You don’t want to sound too aggressive. 

Ideally, it’s good to send one follow-up email at least five days after you sent your first email. Don’t spam your prospects with too many follow-ups. You might just end up annoying them and getting blacklisted.

Each of the follow-up emails in your sequence should address a different pain point or have a different focus. For example, in a follow-up email, you might share examples of customer testimonials or social proof. Taking a different approach with each message increases the chance of getting a positive response.


7. Don’t make misleading claims

A cold email can be impersonal by its very nature. If you write it properly, you can establish long-lasting relationships with your prospects. It’s all about showing transparency and being truthful in your marketing approach. 

Stay true to your business when reaching out to your prospects. Remember, these are people who don’t personally know you. If you lie even without meaning to, you can say goodbye to them responding to you.


Bottom Line

Cold emailing is here to stay. It’s still one of the most effective ways to promote your product without being too intrusive. For you to reap those benefits, though, you need to write your cold email the right way.

Know your leads and understand what they want. Don’t forget to emphasize how you can help. Start with a catchy subject line. Use copywriting formulas that work. Consider including interactive content like videos to make your message stand out. Send your email at the right time, and then follow up.

Do all these things, and you can expect effective cold emails that yield the best results.


Sam Molony
Sam Molony
+ posts

Sam is part of the marketing team at Mailshake. Sam’s goal is to inspire people to not just “hang in there” but to thrive. When Sam's not publishing or promoting new content you can find him playing sports and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.


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