Photo by Adam Chang on Unsplash

Cold emails. Ugh. Some in the business world would say a necessary evil. Contacting a business or individual unsolicited can be…uncomfortable. And frankly, unfruitful. There are dreary stats (less than 1% response rates) connected to the old “blast” method of email marketing.

But we are not here to talk about the old way. Consider this new, hopeful background music to your cold email campaign.

Starting with some stats that we do like:  

Even a surface search will reveal entrepreneurs and organizations that have built their entire businesses on well-crafted, specifically targeted, cold email campaigns. Some with response rates hovering in the 20% range. 

The point is you need to do this. You can’t afford not to. But you need to do it well. 

Before we begin, we understand the pressure this can induce. Nailing cold emailing could not just increase sales but could “make” your company. So to release the tension a bit can we remind you of the first and best strategy for creating emails (or any other copy):

Only write messages that you, yourself, would respond to. 

Companies that are successful, utilize cold connecting in very specific, personal, dare I say HUMAN, ways. Unlike cold calling or print, cold emailing can be meticulously tracked, giving the sender the opportunity to tweak and experiment with subject lines, main body, message, and targeted recipients. 

Trial and error? A marketing dream. So don’t give up on the first, second, or tenth try. Learn from your efforts and try again.

Now, to make that trial and error process curve less severe…we have pulled together some fool-proof tips/strategies to make your cold emailing game more productive:

1. Choose your target wisely

Doing a little homework upfront will free you from frustration later.

For example, AGE MATTERS.  From a study done tracking the response rate from sending out 1,000 cold emails to CEOs, a recipient responded: 

“Different generations have very different ideas of what is and isn’t interesting to them, so a cold e-mail should have awareness of the age of their target. Sending a message to a bunch of CEOs with CEO-speak isn’t a terrible idea unless you include CEOs from 23-83. Teens and twenty-somethings see the world very differently–they have far less trust in some areas (like marketing messages) than older generation, but at the same time they have different boundaries for things such as privacy.”

Your goal is to alienate as few people as possible. So take your list, apply some detective work, and create a tighter group of people that are more likely to respond to a similar message.

Targeting small groups and switching up your message based on who you’re contacting is key to cold emailing success. Filter lists by location, age, business type, small business vs. corporation, decision-maker vs assistant, etc. Your message/benefit can be the same but each demographic needs a slightly different tone.

The same concept applies when cold emailing individuals or singular businesses. Get just a little bit stalkery and find out WHO you are talking to. Shockingly enough, the internet has made this less tedious and less uncomfortable. Here are some things to look for in that google search:

  • Who is your decision-maker? Who is the “yes button” pusher?
  • Who is the gatekeeper? Who can get you to the person that can say “yes”?
  • What do you have in common?
  • What speaks to you about their business or them personally?
  • How long have they been in business? (Different services apply to just starting out vs seasoned professionals.)
  • What time would they most likely be looking at email?
  • What are they doing well?
  • What holes do you see and potential solutions to offer?

Once you have targeted your people, it’s time to…

2. Make a connection! Cold outreach needs to feel warm.

The best way to conjure up some warmth? Make it PERSONAL! To do that a cold email should, according to an extensive and comprehensive article on the subject:

Address the recipient directly.

It should come as no surprise that the subject line of an email is important. In your own personal experience, what has enticed you to open an unsolicited email? Over a third of email recipients open a message based wholly on the subject line.

And a sure-fire way to increase an open rate is to add the recipient’s name in that juicy subject line. That small effort to personalize your message can jump your open rate by 22%, according to a report from Adestra. Use that name again in the body of the message and you can double your response to 17% from the average. 

Equally important is using YOUR name. Show your prospect that you are a real person.  Along with a signature, adding a title, website, social media profiles, phone number and a photo can humanize your message.

Creating a feeling of authenticity goes a long way in being actually, well, authentic.

Mention a common contact or commonality

It’s time to use that research!  Once the recipient opens your email, the key to enticing them to stay will be when commonality and benefit meet. 

A commonality could be very tangible –  a person, an event, or a product. You could bond over the fact that you both love the city you are operating in and like to work and connect locally.  

You could also go the intangible route. A connection can be made through a common problem, painful situation, similar appreciation. Consider asking for advice or highlighting something impressive they are doing as a company or personally. 

The connection provides the warmth and your benefit provides the purpose.

Your purpose should be clear and to the point, making sure the purpose matches the intent of your subject line to develop trust. You are building a relationship. When you’re on a first date you’re looking for someone that matches their internet profile, if you know what I mean. 

Also, how awkward would it be to show up to that date and be presented with easels of proof that you should be together? What you’re really looking for is someone who speaks your same language.

Another CEO from the FastCompany experiment gave this insight: 

“Don’t inundate me with a Wikipedia article’s worth of facts and figures,” she says. “I’d fall asleep from boredom. When you know a fair bit about a subject, it’s usually obvious because you write and talk about it in a way that feels familiar and fresh.”

Your purpose should build on the connection you’ve made and support the tone of authenticity you’re trying to develop.


3. Follow-up

Finally, the follow-up. No waiting for them to make the first move. The ball is still in your court until you get a response. And according to a handful of sources, it’s better to send more follow-ups then less.

Follow-up emails generally get a better response rate than that first email. This study saw an 18% response rate to the first email, 13% to the fourth, and 27% to the sixth. And these folks found sending more follow-up emails can triple your reply rate.

Of course, being a human applies here as well. The last thing you want after making a great first impression is to come off needy or desperate. Be cool and space out your sequence. Your message, again, should be targeted and should reference the benefits of the previous email while highlighting something new like a special offer or deadline.

Basically? Be persistent.  

And there you have it! This should be an excellent start to building a cold email sequence that will baulk at average statistics. Remember, the very best thing about cold emailing is the ability to analyze. Let this be your mantra:

Target. Connect. Track. REPEAT!

You can do this! You need to do this. And now you have the tools to do it well. If you need some help, use our Cold Outreach Email Campaign as a guide and backbone. Otherwise, get those emails together and explode your growth. 

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