Ridiculously Effective Cold Email Copywriting
A quick search for “cold email templates” would have you believe that the perfect cold email is just a quick copy and paste away.
The author promised their outreach email template works every time. And even had some stats to back it up.
Unfortunately, writing the perfect cold email isn’t that simple. But it’s not super complicated, either.
In this article we’ll break down how to do cold email copywriting, section by section.
So you can craft personalized emails that are ridiculously effective, and grow your business.
Research Your Prospects
When you think about cold email copywriting, prospect research probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
But how can you write a good email, unless you know who you are writing to?
To illustrate my point, several times a week I get contacted by our direct competitors.
Read that again. Several times a week I get contacted by our direct competitors.
If they wanted to explore collaboration opportunities then I’d be thrilled to hear from them. But they’re not. They want to know if we need b2b lead prospecting services. And I think it’s fair to say we’ve got that part of our business covered.
The point is, even some of the largest lead generation companies in the world aren’t taking the time to do basic prospect research. I mean, how hard is it to open our website and confirm whether we fit their sales targeting!?
So the #1 thing you can do to create powerful cold email copy is to know who you are contacting.
Who are they? And why do they want your sales emails? When you can answer that, then you’ll be on your way to a cold email campaign that works.
Don’t skip this step. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, hire a virtual sales assistant to help you out.
Prospect research is important for another reason.
When prospects like your messages then they engage with them. This creates a positive engagement spiral.
Internet service providers (ISPs) see that your cold emails get lots of responses. So they keep them out of the spam folder. Which means you get higher open rates, and better deliverability.
Takeaway: Take the extra time to figure out who wants to hear from you. Email is about relationships, not contact volume!
Write Value-Driven Copy
The goal of cold email copywriting should be to provide as much value as possible.
The more value you add, the more prospects will respond positively. It’s very predictable in that sense.
Unfortunately, many people expect a positive response in exchange for very little value.
They’re so excited to share what they do, they forget to ask if anyone actually cares.
Here’s an example of an email I received that delivers zero value (to me).
Managing board meetings might be a problem for someone else.
But it certainly isn’t one of my biggest problems. And I’m not sure why they thought this was keeping me awake at night. It’s just digital junk.
Think in terms of a 20:1 value ratio. Your message should reflect at least 20x more value than what you are asking from your prospect.
Takeaway: Treat your sales target like a real person. Send cold emails that they’ll find useful. If you don’t get high engagement then add more value until your prospects are thrilled to hear from you.
No One Cares What You Do
Here’s a harsh truth that we all need to hear from time to time.
No one cares what you do.
People only care about what you can do for them. So write email copy that focuses on how the recipient benefits.
I know this is incredibly obvious, but most cold email outreach fails this simple test.
Then they ask whether I have any projects they can work on…
Why are they sending cold emails that require me to think?
A better approach would be to suggest a project I might be interested in. This demonstrates they understand my business challenges. And then they can explain how the project will make things better for ourselves and our clients.
Takeaway: Send cold emails that tell prospects how you can make their life better. Don’t tell them about you or your company – no one cares.
Adjust Your Pronouns
When you write cold emails, use prospect-centric pronouns.
Huh? What does that mean?
Look at your email copy and search for all the words like, “I“, “we“, “us” and “my“.
How often do they come up? Now find the words, “you” and “your.”
Ideally, you won’t have any sentences that refer to yourself. The entire text will be focused on your prospect.
It sounds a bit difficult, but you’ll get the idea quickly. Just look for ways to transform sentences about yourself into a benefit the client will appreciate.
“We’re open 7 days a week“
“You get premium access 7 days a week.”
“Our service includes free copywriting“
“You get free copywriting with unlimited revisions“.
The more you frame things with potential customers as the focus point, the better your cold email outreach will be.
Takeaway: Remove most or all references to yourself and your company in your cold email. Reframe the copy so it reflects the potential clients’ point of view.
Keep It Short & Sweet
Pay attention to word count, and write cold emails that are short.
Ideally, you want your outreach messages to come in at the 75 to 125 word range.
It sounds easy, but a lot of people have trouble writing messages that are less than 125 words.
Why so short?
Well, if you need more than 125 words then you’re probably giving prospects more information than they need.
The prospect doesn’t need to know everything you do. You don’t need to list 10 different ideas. Keep your body copy focused on one idea – no more.
This sales team should probably hire a lead generation consultancy…
If you have other benefits you’d like to share, then make them part of your follow ups.
Longer emails also tend to include a lot of information about the sender.
Your cold email just has to establish credibility and state your value proposition. Neither of which require many words.
Takeaway: No one wants to read long blocks of text. Tell prospects how you can help, nothing more.
Use a Cold Email Framework
I’ll pull the bandaid off quickly on this one.
There is no ‘best’ cold email outreach template. So don’t search the internet for one.
Cold email templates have three fundamental problems.
(1) Most of them suck.
(2) The few that don’t are overused. So now they suck.
(3) Mail servers have probably already seen variants of the template text 1000’s of times. And they’ve already flagged that template as spam. And they’ll treat it as such.
So what works?
Instead of using a cold email template, apply a framework instead.
A cold outreach framework is a pattern that can be applied to most cold email situations.
For example, you could try something simple like, Problem, Solution, Hook, Action.
Imagine you want to connect with compliance managers. In this case your cold email framework becomes:
Problem: Is Hammersmit aware of the newly passed transport law?
Solution: We’ve prepared a short summary of what’s required for you to remain compliant.
Hook: It includes 3 ways you can use the new rules to reduce your compliance costs.
Action: Can I send that to you?
This is very short, and clear. And if you work in compliance then there’s a compelling reason to take action.
And there’s no template needed!
Takeaway: Avoid cold email templates that everyone is using. Instead, use a cold email framework that provides value to your prospect.
Craft Effective Subject Lines
Subject lines for cold email copy have been discussed extensively.
How many characters is optimal? Should you use emojis? And so on.
The point is, subject lines matter, because they’re a big part of getting your message read.
But it’s possible to overthink subject line creation. After all, it only has ONE job.
Which is to get your prospect to open your email. That’s it. Nothing more.
Here’s how to craft a strong subject line.
(1) Personalized subject lines work best. Try to incorporate the recipient’s name or company name into the text.
(2) Say what the email is about, but be a bit vague. This will give your prospect a reason to open. They need to confirm what it’s all about!
Using the ‘Hammersmit” example above, we want to use their name and describe what the email is about. But without sharing too many details. This creates a curiosity gap that needs to be filled.
In this case, just make the Subject Line: “Hammersmit’s transportation compliance“.
Here’s the thing. The compliance team can’t afford to ignore any message that’s directly related to their job function. That’s a good way to get fired. And for all they know the message requires their urgent attention.
Follow these 2 rules and your subject line will get your message opened. Which is the first step to a successful cold emailing campaign.
Takeaway: Don’t get fancy. Put the company’s name and the topic in the subject line. They need to open it since they know it’s related to their business.
The Opening Line Of Your Sales Email
Remember, on many email clients, the preview pane enables the recipient to read the first part of your message. So make it great!
Let’s begin with what NOT to do. DON’T introduce yourself. So many cold emails begin with:
“My name is so and so and I’m the head of sales for such and such company.”
Here’s the problem – no one cares! Also, all that information is already in your email signature. Why are you adding it twice? If you adhere to the 125 word rule then introducing yourself is a waste of 10+ words.
The opening lines of your email copy need to establish two things:
- First is relevancy. Demonstrate that you are contacting this person or business intentionally. You know who they are.
- Second, introduce your value proposition. This could be in the form of a question, stating a problem, or introducing a benefit.
In the example above, the introduction is,
“Is Hammersmit aware of the newly passed transport law?”
If you’re contacting the Head of Compliance this opening sentence establishes that you are aware of their responsibilities. And it’s an area where you think you can add value.
Takeaway: Use your opening sentence to establish you are intentionally contacting the prospect. And you think you can solve a pain point.
Write Powerful Body Copy
In your first sentence you established why you’re sending a sales email, and why your prospect should pay attention.
Now it’s time to take their interest to the next level.
The main body of your email should be 1 to 3 sentences. This is where you explain your value proposition. And give them more reasons to care.
If you break it into two parts then the first part shows value.
And the second part provides social proof. Or adds even more value so they feel compelled to take action.
In the example above, the value proposition is:
“We’ve prepared a short summary of what’s required for you to remain compliant.“
And the additional value becomes:
“It includes 3 ways you can use the new rules to reduce your compliance costs.“
It might not be riveting reading for you. But for a compliance manager it’s worth a look!
Takeaway: After the introduction outline your value proposition in one to three sentences. Give the prospect a strong reason to answer your email.
Write A Successful Call To Action
Before you write your call to action (CTA) check whether there are any question marks (?) in your copy. If yes, are they asking the reader to do something?
Every sales email should only have one call to action. If you put in more then your prospects won’t know what to do. Which will reduce your conversion rates.
Most cold email campaigns use a CTA that are hyper-focused on b2b appointment setting:
“Would you like to have a quick chat?“
“Here’s a link to my calendar. Let me know when it would be good to speak.“
This approach can be successful. But it also limits your response rate.
The CTAs above invite a positive response as the only option. If the prospect doesn’t want to speak then what should they do?
Many of your potential clients are interested in what you do. But they aren’t ready to speak yet. What about them?
Try and calibrate your CTA so you get the most possible responses. This will help your email delivery, and give you the most opportunities to connect with prospects.
For example, use your CTA to GIVE something. You’ll get a higher response rate. For example,
“Can I share some details?“
“Would you like me to send you a copy?“
Remember, cold email copywriting is about creating relationships. And it’s a lot easier to make a new friend when you are looking for ways to help them out.
Takeaway: Meeting requests work great under the right circumstances. But sometimes it’s better to offer value instead.
Include Your Signature
Cold email is no different than any other email. You include you signature in your regular email, so you should include it in your cold emails, too.
Your signature is an important part of your email copy. You can think of it as a form of social proof.
For human readers, your signature proves you are a real person. They can visit your latest blog post on your website. And also check Linkedin to see if you have any mutual connections. It brings you to life as a person.
Which is why many people use photos in their email signatures. They are doing their best to come across as authentic and transparent about who they are.
For email algorithms, your signature is an important tool, too. Except it uses it to decide whether to put your email in the inbox or in spam.
The filter checks for things like an address and a phone number. Because those are things we see in normal business correspondence. If they’re not there, then your chances of going to spam go way up.
So make sure your email signature is complete. It’s important for both humans and algorithms to recognize you’re a real person.
Don’t Forget An Opt Out Option
CAN-Spam requires that you include a way to opt out of further communications.
Virtually every cold emailing tool has a function that enables you to generate an unsubscribe link for your emails.
Don’t use it!
Unsubscribe links are delivery kryptonite. And they’ll get your email sent to spam as fast as you can send them out.
Instead, just use a general message in a natural way. For example, below your signature you can leave a postscript (PS) like:
PS: Let me know if you’d rather I not contact you again.
This satisfies the requirements for opt out. And can be presented in a friendly way that won’t compromise your delivery.
Takeaway: Use a text opt-out instead of an unsubscribe link. Unsubscribe links kill delivery.