message delivery

How To Personalize Cold Email At Scale

When you send out a cold email you want it to be amazing.

After all, you want your prospect to be glad you reached out. And part of sending high value messages includes personalization.

But how do we go beyond custom fields like { First Name } and { Company Name } in a way that makes sense?

In this article we’ll look at some great ways to personalize cold emails. And make your prospects feel like you went the extra mile on their behalf.

Let’s get started!

Cold Email Personalization

Personalize The Opening Line

Your first line is critical. After your prospect reads it, they have a pretty good idea if they want to continue reading your message.

Or maybe they want to delete it with absolute prejudice.

So let’s get the first line right!

To start don’t write,

“My name is… and I’m the… at…”

Use your opening line to show that you are contacting them intentionally. And you have specific value you want to share.

Consider these two opening lines. If you were Jim, which one would grab your attention?

Hi Jim,

How would an increase in website conversions impact your business?


Hi Jim,

I just clicked on your article about ‘How to Format Your Drive Properly’ – interesting read! I had no idea that formatting was so important.

While browsing your site I noticed…

Both approaches can be effective, but they aren’t the same. The first message applies equally well to almost anyone.

The second can only be sent to Jim.

So which one do you think Jim is more likely to reply to? Probably the second message – it’s meant for him!

Aberdeen released a study called the Email Personalization Report. They found that:

cold email personalization stats

  • Fully 98% of businesses believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance.
  • And 75% of buyers like it when companies personalize messaging.
  • This resulted in a 14% increase in click-through rates.
  • And a 10% increase in conversions.

That’s a lot of increases for a relatively small amount of work!!

This reseach is backed up by eConsultancy who did a comprehensive survey on the effect of personalization on email.


cold email personalization statistics


  • They surveyed 1,100 digital and ecommerce professionals working for brands and agencies.
  • 94% of companies felt that personalization was an essential component to modern marketing.
  • 74% of marketers believed that personalizing their email content increases engagement.
  • But 72% of companies said they aren’t sure how to personalize email effectively.


All of this highlights the importance and impact of effective personalization. And also how difficult it is for companies to do well.

Magical Email Campaigns

Now’s probably a good time to point out that even the best personalization can’t magically generate b2b sales leads.

In fact, in some instances personalization may not generate much revenue at all.

Think about it.

If someone has zero need for your solution, the fact that you know their favourite baseball team isn’t going to change that.

Nor will they suddenly buy from you because you referenced a bit of public news about their company.

So why bother with personalization?

Well first, it’s always good to start a new relationship on the right foot.

And second, personalization actually does have a big impact. It’s just not in the way that you think.

Advanced Personalization Improves Delivery

The REAL benefit of advanced personalization is simple. It helps you get better email delivery.

When ISPs see you sending the same email template again and again and again, they start to suspect you might be a spammer.

And guess what? Spammers don’t get good delivery.

That’s why messages with more, better personalization get better inboxing.

And the more messages that get delivered, the more replies you’re likely to get, too.

Imagine you contact 100 people and get 4 positive replies. That’s pretty good! But if 50 messages go to the spam box then you’ll only get 2 expressions of interest.

That’s the real value of personalizing your cold emails.

While browsing your site I noticed {you have multiple CTA’s on your blog pages}. Have you {run an A/B test using just one CTA instead?}

Consider the sentence above. A lot of the content is custom snippets. Depending on how many words are in the email, just this bit of personalization may be enough for email filters to classify the entire message as unique.

personalized cold email results

The campaign shown above has an impressive open rate of 79%. This was largely achieved because the content includes longer variable snippets with unique content.

Targeting & Relevancy ARE Personalization

So how do you personalize cold email at scale?

There are a lot of ways.

But, by FAR the easiest way to personalize cold email is to use targeting and relevancy aggressively.

In other words, send emails to people who you have reason to believe will be interested.

When done right, you can skip a lot of tedious research. And connect with more people, with less effort.

Here’s the intro from a cold email I recently received from a sales rep.

Matthew – you don’t send cold emails just to see them land in the promotional folder.

This is great! The first line tells me everything I need to know about the rest of his outreach email.

  1. He knows exactly who I am, and what I do.
  2. I’m not just a number and he’s contacting me intentionally.
  3. The rest of the content is relevant to my work and areas of interest.

And he did it all without knowing my favourite sports team. Or even scrutinizing my Linkedin posts.

When your copy is aimed at a very small number of people, it basically writes itself. The people on your list will all share common goals and pain points.

You can use these to introduce your solution in a natural, organic way.


You Know What They’re Doing


In the example above the writer showed me that he knows who I am and what I do. And he did it in the simplest way possible.

He just told me what I’m doing.

That’s it. Nothing special at all. But this approach makes it instantly clear that he’s contacting me intentionally.

You can do this for almost any industry. Just reference what you know they’re already doing.

For example, accountants follow an annual filing calendar. And that’s really all you need to know to demonstrate an understanding of their responsibilities.

Hey Jim – filing season is finally done. Hope you’re planning to take a few days off?

People don’t mind getting cold email that’s meant to help them. They hate getting messages that haven’t got any relevance to what’s important to them, now.

Different Levels of Personalization

So we know we should be personalizing our outreach emails. So why doesn’t everyone do it?

The answer is obvious – it’s hard work!

Personalizing cold email is a lot of work. And sometimes takes more time than it’s worth.

So it’s good to consider what’s the right level of personalization for your situation.

Generally speaking, there are two factors that affect the different levels of personalization applied to an email campaign.

First is the size of the data set. If you’re contacting 100 people in total then it’s probably worth putting in some effort to do advanced personalization.

Why not? It’s a lot of work, but it’s only 100 people.

When you add a few zeros to that number then you need to be more strategic. Even a little research can add up to a LOT of work for your remote sales assistant when applied to thousands of prospects.

In this case you need to consider the deal size.

If it’s a deal potentially worth $10m you should create a highly personalized email outreach campaign.

But it probably doesn’t make any sense to do detailed personalization for a small deal size. The economics just don’t work.

Cold Email Personalization Deal Size

For small deals, just use contextual references as a form of personalization. And as the deal size gets bigger, do more research.

Share A Compliment

One of the most effective forms of email personalization is to share a compliment.

Even if the recipient suspects it’s not heartfelt or genuine, most people still like to receive kind words.

Here are a couple of notes on how to express your admiration through email outreach.

Use Industry Norms To Craft Your Compliments


Compliments can become a huge time suck if you don’t standardize the research process.

Compliments work best when there is a normalized format used in the industry you are researching. This speeds things up and ensures you don’t take too long on a single contact.

For example, almost every single architect will put pictures of their past projects on their website. They’re proud of their work, and it only takes a moment to call out a project. And say what you liked about it.

Don’t Fake It!


I frequently receive outreach emails that offer me a compliment, but are obviously insincere. For example:

Matthew – I just saw your Linkedin profile. You’re doing amazing work.

There’s no reason to believe they actually reviewed my profile. And this approach comes across as fake and does more harm than good.

So be specific about what you liked, and why.

Hey Jim – just saw your Fuji Pond project. To my untrained eye it looks like you used Japanese joinery for the eaves. It’s absolutely stunning.

The more specific you are with your compliment, the more real it feels to the recipient. So be honest with your feedback. And find something they are doing that you genuinely like.

Reference Industry News

If it fits in well with your solution then it never hurts to reference topical industry news. This approach works well for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s immediately clear that you know who they are and what they do. Everyone appreciates that.

Second, when you use trigger events there’s an opportunity to connect your solution to a larger problem or event.

For example, during the pandemic we saw massive interest in remote training software. Businesses were suddenly faced with the problem of how to train their employees.

And our clients generated a lot of interest, quickly on this trend.

Mention Company News

Likewise, mention achievements of their company as a form of personalization.

The most common way this is done is to congratulate them on a recent funding round. Though I think it’s fair to say that approach is getting a bit stale.

Try to limit yourself to company achievements that actually have an impact on the person you’re contacting. That creates a stronger sense of connection. 

Good news  can be an excellent trigger event for your solutions. For example, a company that announces plans to expand into a new country will need tax advisors, real estate agents, office furniture, office designers, and so on.

Congratulate Their Change in Role

Job changes are great for personalization. You are speaking directly to their new responsibilities, which means they’ve probably got time for you.

More importantly, new role shifts are incredible opportunities to get into a target account. The previous executive in that role may have had no time for you.

But the new person might!

So be sure to congratulate people who’ve just received a promotion. And help them do their job even better.

Personalize An Image Or Video

They’re a bit gimmicky, but personalized images are an excellent way to stand out. They can be a bit fun, too.

Personalized images take a bit of time to do at scale, so most executives don’t receive them often. Which gives them more impact.

Just be aware that not all images open in every email client. You can spend a ton of time crafting an amazing image, but it might not get seen.

Less common are small videos or video links. But if you’re serious about getting a prospect’s attention then video is a great way to go about doing it.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

One thing we’ve seen over and over is that geography matters.

There’s no reason you can’t work with someone on the other side of the planet. But they may not want to work with you.

People gravitate to others like themselves. And there’s a certain comfort about knowing the person you’re working with is nearby.

Consider web design services. You can order a new website from anywhere in the world. But companies tend to look for local vendors first.

So when personalizing your email, consider your ‘localness’ as a point of customization. You may not care about your local hockey team.

But your prospect loves that you know who they are. And who doesn’t like to buy local, when we can?

Website Technologies As Customization​s

Technology companies get leads by identifying the technologies their target prospects are already using. There are several tools (ie BuiltWith) that can tell you what technologies a website is using.

This same approach can be used as part of your customization approach. 

For example, you can research websites that are working with your direct competitors.

Or contact companies that use tools that integrate well with your own.

Get Introduced Via A Mutual Connection

When Linkedin first started the idea was for professionals to introduce people they know well. That ethos has eroded a bit in the last 2 decades. 

But the underlying idea remains strong.

If you’re looking for an excellent way to personalize, just request an introduction from a mutual connection. 

It’s got a ‘better than average’ success rate since it’s hard to refuse a request from a mutual connection.

Mention Their Direct Competitors

A different way to personalize cold email is to reference their direct competitors.

Interestingly, it can be done using both a positive or negative approach.

For example:

Happy Trails started offering this service. And it now represents 32% of their revenue stream – in just 4 months!


Your competitor Happy Trails is spending money on X. But their approach isn’t very efficient and they’re wasting money. Would you like me to show you what they’re doing wrong so you can avoid a similar mishap?

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about a 3rd party entity than the client’s situation. And direct competitors are an excellent way to open the door to deeper discussions.

Personalize the Subject

Don’t forget to personalize your subject lines.

It doesn’t have to be overly complex. but your prospect should know the email is intended for them.

A method popularized by Reply is simply: 

{ Company } < > ( Your Company } → Jenusss Media < > Sales Higher

You can also consider using the company name in question format.

Is { Company } ready for the new AHRT standards? → is Jenuss Media ready for the new AHRT standards?

Or using the name of the prospect in the subject line.

{ First Name }, have you seen this? → Matthew, have you seen this?

We go more into how to craft amazing subject lines in the cold email copywriting article.

How Do You Personalize Your Cold Emails?

So how about you? How do you show your cold email prospects that you’ve gone the extra mile. And that you know who they are and you’re contacting them intentionally?

What personalization methods have worked well for you. Do you have any methods that aren’t listed above?

I’d love to hear what you find works best. You can message me on Linkedin or send a message on our contact page.

Look forward to hearing from you!


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Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

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