A Definitive Guide to Cold Emailing – How and What to write?

how to write a cold email

Cold email is intrusive and often the first step to reaching out to your prospects. As they say, the first impression should always be the best impression, a good cold email often nail the deal whereas a bad cold email brings a negative image about your brand and often put your credibility at risk.

First of all, what is a cold email?

A Cold email is an unsolicited email that you send to people whom you have never reached out before.

It is called “Cold” because you write to them without any prior contact or appointment and your email recipients don’t have any idea who you are or what your company does.

Where do we need a cold email?

A Cold email is often sent in the following situations: A salesperson writes cold email to acquire potential clients for his product, a candidate who is in search of a job writes a cold email to the company to recruit him, a student writing to a college to seek admission for a particular course, a college inviting a celebrity as a chief guest and so on.

Let us see the various steps we can take before writing a cold email.

How to write a cold email? – Steps involve

1. Identify your potential customer

This step is called as prospecting. Traditionally, the name prospecting was to uncover the mineral deposits in ores by excavation. The same way, Salespeople try to uncover prospective clients through research.

As a salesperson, first, target the industry vertical and the challenges they are trying to solve. Research the company on their website and always check the “About Us” page to find if you can get any leads.

Research on the leads profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter. If nothing noteworthy can be found, search for the company’s latest updates.

cold email

The above cold email introduction makes your customer feel good and also demonstrates how much effort you have put into researching your leads.

Don’t unnecessarily snoop into their personal details.

2. State the reason for your cold email

They also want to understand your intent of writing them a cold email. Tell them how you got to know them and why you researched their company.

In addition to this, let them know why you are writing to them and the reason you are approaching them now.

3. Address the ‘whys’

Customers are curious to understand “why” you are reaching them. The answers to “why this prospect?” and “why is the prospect approached now?” are the two key things to mention in your first cold email.

4. Acquaint yourself with the prospect if possible

It’s easier if the prospect has already seen you or knows your brand. Connect with them on Linkedin and see them on meetups or get introduced via a referral. It would be easier as the prospect would have some context about you.

Example in the cold email body would include:

“In researching your company on Crunchbase, I saw that your company is one of the top 10 startups in NY. *(Why are you reaching them?)*

This prompted me to reach out to you as I saw that you are currently recruiting people for technical support and you should be interested to expand your support process. *(Why are you reaching them now?)* “

5. Keep your cold email short

Every second of your prospects’ time is precious. Short messages ensure that your point reaches quickly and effectively.

Don’t make them annoyed with very long cold email when they don’t even know you. Just cut to the chase and convey using a few points.

6. Engaging cold email body text

A good cold email is like a mini skirt- short enough to capture the customers’ attention and long enough to cover the subject.

For instance:

Being one of the top 10 startups in New Jersey, creating good sales productivity should be one of your priorities. Also, in researching your companies website I see that your sales team is expanding as well.

I just wanted to share some insights on how we helped startups like xyz boost their sales by 40%.  When can we discuss this?

(The above cold email has 3 lines but conveys the essence to the prospect)

7. Make it personalized

A cold email must add a personal touch to the client and instill trust in them. It must make an attempt to say that you really care for the client and are there to help them.

The tone of the cold email must be casual and conversational. The casual tone in cold email reflects what kind of a person you are and makes people trust you more.

For your prospects, “you” are the brand. Then comes your product.

Address your customers with their first name and avoid “Dear Sir” or “To whomsoever, it may concern.”

Are you looking for a readymade template to write a cold email, check out here

8. Pay attention to the tone

Be very polite to your customers. Asking phrases like “please” or “thank you” works a long way. 

Never show a sign of desperation just because you have unfinished targets and you are excited in getting them onboard. Be casual but at the same time don’t speak like how you speak to your buddies at work.

9. Check your grammar

Ensure that your cold email is grammatically accurate.

Your prospects will think that you did not care enough to review your cold email before sending if your cold emails are inaccurate. Avoid typos and install tools like Grammarly or Spell Check to check for errors and the choice of words.

While you are at it, avoid short forms and colloquial terms too.

10. Keep it simple and straight (KISS)

Follow the KISS principle.

Don’t use obscure words. Be to the point and list what is the reason for writing them an email, your shared agendas and how your product can help them solve the problem and ask for a call to action.

11. Follow the 3 P’s approach- Praise, Picture, Push

Praise the customer by mentioning his/her recent achievements. If you can’t find any, talk about the company’s growth.

Next, give a brief overview of what your product does and why are you addressing them.

Third, tell them how your product can be used to tackle their problems and push them for the next engagement or meeting.

how to write a cold email

12. Catchy subject lines have more open rates!!

The subject line is the deciding factor for opening an email.

Always ensure that your subject lines are eye-catching and grab the customer’s attention.

Customers tend to open emails with subject lines that convey what is in it for them. To make them open an email among countless subscription and marketing emails, make sure that your subject lines stand out against your competitors.

The key to stand out is to make your emails more personalized by addressing the customer’s name or company name in your subject line and mention the takeaways. As much as possible, avoid words like “Gentle reminder”, “How can I help you?” and so forth.

Examples of  the best cold email subject lines include:

  • John, Can we connect?
  • Best practices to set up your sales process
  • XYZ Inc. ‘s Growth report
  • We love our customers, do you?
  • <Your competitor> said yes to us, what about you?
  • Do you agree with 92% of your customers?
  • It’s all over, but I can make it work for you!

Never have subject lines like the following:

  • How can I help you?(Customer would wonder why are you suddenly interested in helping them)
  • Gentle reminder: Please subscribe for XYZ(Shows the desperation of the salesperson)
  • Benefits using <your product name>(Understood…But the customer would have some challenges to solve. Can we address them first?)
  • The optimist in me(you are an optimist..that’s great! What’s in it for the customer?)
  • My last attempts in contacting you(it is your duty to reach your prospects)

13. Always end a cold email with an open-ended question

A cold email with open-ended questions tends to have higher response rates than a cold email that have only a message that is left to your prospects.

Also, questions would lead them to respond and in that way, you can build a rapport. It is also used to gauge your customer’s willingness in your product offering.

This would help the salespeople set an agenda and they can also expect the right kind of response from their prospects and schedule the agenda for the next conversation.

14. Set the agenda for the next conversation (call/email)

The most common mistake all Salespeople do is either they tend to be too pushy or desperate or they end up giving all value points without asking the customer in return.

You also put in your valuable time to write the cold email though it’s a part of your job as a Salesperson to draft cold email and pump in leads. So ask the customer for the next engagement while ending the conversation.

Like towards the end of the cold email ask them for a 15 minute or 10-minute meeting to discuss the same.

Schedule appointment in tools like Google Calendar or Calendly. Also, have an email tracker to periodically check whether your customers have read the cold email and not yet responded.

If your customer has booked a meeting make sure you get notified with the help of some apps. If not, check your calendar as the first thing when you come to the office and set up a meeting with your customer.

15. Demonstrate credibility

Instill a sense of belief by telling your prospects that you will be there to assist them and how your brand is trusted by many of your customers. Substantiate with examples by adding references from potential customers and how they solved a similar problem using your tool.

Surveys from credible sources will show you the statistics which will up your product or service and your industry and why or how your tool was built to solve the needs.

Examples ​like these mails have clear metrics to tell your customers what they can aim at using your product.

Companies like XYZ have improved their sales by 30% by using our tool. Sourced from: G2 Crowd.

Statistics have shown that having bots reduces the workload of support agents by 70%.

Customers engage with your company to see what is in it for them. Add links for useful content or articles that can be seen by your prospects. Be it a marketing email or cold sales email, this increases the chance of subscription.

16. Add signature:

Add a signature to your cold email to show who you are, what’s your designation and company you represent and the different channels that your recipient can get back to you like your Skype ID, Mobile number or office phone number. When you give in more details, you become trustworthy to your customers.

You can also add your LinkedIn ID so that your customers can be assured that you are a reliable person to reach out to. It also comes in handy as they might refer you or your product to their friends. It is always good to have more connections.

17. Pay close attention to formatting and white spaces.

Presentation matters the most in cold email.

Make sure to highlight the links that you are sending. Add bold letters to highlight the words which need more attention. Choose a normal font instead of fancy ones.

Add bullet points or numbers for mentioning multiple pointers or agenda.

Also, care to indent your cold email.

18. Avoid advertising your company

Cold emails should focus on the customer and the challenges their company faces.

Avoid using your company name as its too pushy. They will get the impression that you are yet another salesperson who is desperately trying hard to sell your products to them.

As far as possible, avoid using your brand name and talk about your product.

For instance, if you are XYZ and you are a bot tool, you can talk about the benefits of bots for the problems your customer is trying to solve instead of mentioning XYZ in your emails.

A body that has “We have been in the business for X years and we know what exactly do you need” is bossy. This can be replaced with “I understand that having manual chat support is quite challenging. Having a bot inside your chat tool will save you a lot of costs required in employing multiple support agents and helps you answer large volumes of similar requests.

This email conveys that the salesperson has researched into the customer’s problem and talks about the chat support.

19. Review all the points once and for all

Before dropping the cold email, re-read what you have written and check for typos and grammatical errors if any.

Ensure that you have the subject lines that immediately make your prospects open your email in their mail list.

Check whether you have addressed your customers problem, offered some helpful links and scheduled the next meeting with them. Also, pay attention to the presentation.

20. Make your cold email stand out

While speaking to your customer, induce curiosity by ending the cold email with phrases like “more details can be discussed over a call.” This would prompt the customer to go and visit your website to see your product offerings so that they can ask more questions on the call.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and see how your cold email should stand against your competitors.

21. Keep track of the intervals

Also, use a CRM or mail tracker to check if the customer has clicked into your links or whether they have opened your cold email. It is always fine to send bulk emails. But the moment you get a response, send personalized mailers. Also while including a brief agenda, leave some spaces for the customer to fill for themselves.

For instance, this is a sample cold email that you can use.

Hey Ron,

Here is the list of points I have compiled for our agenda tomorrow.

Please feel free to add any.

  1. Objective
  • Components of your solution
  • ………………………………(Please fill)
  • ………………………………(Please fill)



The customer who would have gone through the cold email would definitely fill some points before you pass it to the account executive or the business analyst. A customer who hasn’t filled the points would not have gone through the email. This is one way of analyzing the need of the prospect.

22. Pay attention to followups

Make sure not to bombard your customers with more than four to five emails. Your customer would then mark your emails as “spam” which would mean a complete waste of your efforts.

Follow-ups must not be too persuasive. Your emails should express concern for the customer.

These are some of the most recommended practices to write cold emails to nail the right deal. Do you have anything else in mind? Do let us know your thoughts.