Cold emails are hard. No matter how much research you put in, many will still end up in the bin, but if you get your outreach right and know how to construct cold emails that work, you are setting yourself up for the best possible chance of success and some of your targets will get back to you to hear more.
Here are five parts of a cold email that you need to get right.
1. Be clear who the message is “from”
For most emails you send, the recipient already knows who you are and so just “Firstname Lastname” works perfectly well. Cold email is different. In a true cold email, the recipient has no idea who you are and so if you just leave your name in the from field you are losing a chance to introduce yourself before they click through and open the message (or send to to the trash).
In general, you want the recipient to know who you are and what you are offering as quickly as possible, and so simply changing the from field to “Firstname (Company)” will serve you much better as it both introduces you and your company before even the intro or subject line.
2. Engage and intrigue with the subject
The subject line is the first chance you have to engage with the recipient, and get them intrigued by what you are offering. In just 41 characters or less, you have the chance to get your foot in the door for that potential sale, meeting, or whatever else you are trying to achieve in your cold outreach.
A poorly written subject line will means your email gets sent straight to the bin as spam, but a great subject line opens the door for you to convince the recipient of the value of your product or service in the body of the email.
Critically, you want to personalise the subject line so the recipient knows they are not being mass-mailed, whether that is with their name or other relevant and unique details, and you want to pique their interest as to what you might be offering them when they open the rest of the message. You don’t want to giveaway the whole offer right in the subject line, because you will have a better chance of convincing the recipient of your worth in the body of the message, but you need to intrigue them enough that they want to read more.
3. Come up with a clever introduction
Once you have gained the recipient’s interest and they have clicked through to open your message, you need to excite, amuse, or engage them with a unique introduction.
Most people open their email introductions with information about themselves or the company they represent, but you should remember that the recipient doesn’t know or trust you yet – if you go straight into telling them about yourself or your product or service, then that email is going straight in the bin.
Instead, write two or three sentences that talk directly to the recipient – their their expertise, achievements, work, and their company. Flattery can be useful, but don’t overdo it and make the words feel insincere. And once you have engaged them by talking about their unique role, explain in a few short words what problem you believe they have that you can solve.
This opening paragraph is designed to highlight to the recipient that you are keen, you have done your homework on them, their company, and the problems they face, and that you are ready to show them exactly how you can fix their problems.
Get the pitch right
Once you have explained how you can help them solve a problem, you should pitch them your product or service and highlight the benefits that signing up will bring them. Don’t talk features, but turn all of them into specific benefits for the recipient – put them at the centre of the pitch.
5. End with a call to action
By the end of your email you should have convinced the recipient that they want to talk to you about the product or service you are offering, and the closing call to action (CTA) is how you get them to get in touch.
Your closing CTA should sum up the reason why you contacted them in a concise manner, and then ask the recipient for what you are after. If you want to schedule a 30 minute chat – ask for it. But importantly, ask for it in a way that makes it as easy as possible for them to say yes. Don’t make them do the legwork of finding a time and date when you are both free – pitch them some times and dates that would work for you and so all they have to say is “yes” to any of the options. The easier it is the more likely they will confirm.
Photograph by Torsten Dettlaff