For those of you who are completely new to sending cold emails, we’re not going to lie… this can be pretty daunting.

Not 100% sure what cold emails are?

These are basically emails that you send to people whom you aren’t connected to.

If you’re a marketer, for example, you might use cold emails to find companies to partner with you on a marketing campaign.

If you’re a sales rep, you’ll probably use cold emails to reach out to leads or potential customers.

Now, you’d think that it’s pretty hard to approach someone with a cold email. After all, you’re getting in touch out of the blue, and the person you’re emailing might not receptive, or give you the time of day.

Well, there are plenty of cold emails that DO get ignored (or sent straight to trash)…

But if you engineer your cold emails the right way, it’s possible to get great results from these emails.

In this article, we walk you through:

  • The effectiveness of cold emails
  • Tips to improve your cold emails
  • How to use copywriting frameworks for cold emails, and
  • 5 subject lines for cold emails that work
  • How to get more leads for cold emails

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

Are cold emails ineffective?

There are plenty of sales reps who write off cold emails from the get-go, but like we mentioned, cold emails CAN be highly effective if done properly.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Take this case study by B2B sales emailing consultancy SalesFolk, for example. In this case study, SalesFolk talks about how they helped their client boost their cold email open and response rates.

The client had a <2% response rate before they approached SalesFolk, and after they tweaked their email according to SalesFolk’s suggestions, here were their results:

57% open rate 21% response rate

Pretty insane, huh? That’s a 10x increase in their response rate – just by switching up the contents of their sales email!

Here’s the new email template that this company is now using:

Hello [first name],

I have an idea that I can explain in 10 minutes that can get [company] its next 100 best customers.

I recently used this idea to help our client [SaaS company/competitor] almost triple their monthly run rate.

[First name], let’s schedule a quick 10 minute call so I can share the idea with you. When works best for you?


It’s obvious why this email template works – it’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s easy to understand.

The bottom line?

Cold emails CAN produce great results, and you should definitely incorporate them into your marketing and sales strategy!

Tips to improve your cold emails

Now that you know how powerful cold emails can be, we’ll walk you through a few tips to increase the effectiveness of your emails.

1. Create a connection

The WORST kinds of cold emails cut to the chase, without any kind of preamble.

You know the ones I’m talking about. They go: I’m [Name], and I wanted to reach out to see if you’re interested in a solution that can help your company…

If you send this sort of cold email to your prospects, what do you think will happen?

That’s right – their eyes will start to glaze over within 2 seconds, and they’ll never make it to the end of your email.

Instead of sending a generic, copy-and-paste cold email, be sure to personalize your cold email, and create a connection.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

This could be literally ANYTHING.

If you and your prospect have both guest-blogged on the same publication, mention that.

If you used to live in the city where your prospect is currently staying, talk about that.

If you’ve got a mutual friend, definitely throw their name in as well.

The goal is to build rapport with your prospect – you DON’T want them to see you as just another sales rep who’s trying to sell them stuff.

2. Talk like an actual human (NOT a robot)

Running in the same vein, employing a conversational tone also helps you build rapport, and create a connection with your prospect.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Consider the following…

Option A = I’m confident that you’ll appreciate all that this product has to offer, and as such, I’d like to explore the possibility of arranging a get-together at a time that’s convenient for you.

Option B = I’m pretty sure you’ll love this product – most of our customers start raving about it 5 seconds into our demo. Let me know when you’re available, and I’ll set something up!

Which offer sounds better?

Option B, of course!

3. Talk about what you bring to the table

Here’s what you need to keep in mind: your prospects don’t OWE it to you to read your cold email, and response.

In fact, assuming your prospect doesn’t recognize your name or email address, they might just move your email to the “Trash” folder, without reading it in its entirety.

How do you get around this?

Simple – incentivize your prospects to keep reading, by highlighting what you bring to the table.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Say you want to get your prospect to join your webinar, for example.

Tell them that you’ll break down and go through the strategy that a company in their industry to increase their revenue by 10x in this webinar.

Once you do this, your prospect won’t be thinking:

Do I want to waste 30 minutes of my life on yet another webinar? No thanks.

Instead, they’ll be thinking:

Wow, I’ll get to learn the exact strategy that Company XYZ used to 10x their revenue? Dang, I can’t miss out on that.

What if you want to get your prospect on the phone, and have a conversation with them?

Well, many sales reps will say something along the lines of:

“When’s a good time to connect over the phone? I’d love to share more about what my company can do for you.”

This sort of alludes to the value that you bring to the table, but it’s not EXPLICIT enough.

Instead, try being more specific. For example:

“In your last email, you mention how you’re struggling with problem XYZ. If you have a minute to chat on the phone, I’d like to propose a solution that can help you increase your productivity by X% and eliminate the problem of XYZ once and for all.”

BAM. Plenty of value in there!

Bonus tip: Consider your prospect’s psyche

When demonstrating value and talking about what you bring to the table, be sure to consider your prospect’s psyche as well.

The key here is to keep in mind that you’re selling to an INDIVIDUAL, not to a corporation.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Sure, you’ll eventually have to get your prospect’s entire team to buy-in (plus their CFO has to approve the transaction)…

But, remember: baby steps. You’ll need to convince your prospect first, before you can even jump through those additional hoops.

So, how do you sell to an individual?

Well, instead of just appealing to their logic, you should also appeal to their emotions. More specifically: consider your prospect’s psyche, and think about their goals.

At the most basic level, you know that your prospect’s objective is to hit their sales figures or marketing KPIs…

But if you think about it, you’ll realize that your prospect has other personal goals and objectives tied to their purchase decision as well. These could include:

  • Wanting to get more recognition in their company
  • Wanting to get a raise
  • Wanting to empower their team
  • Wanting to achieve work-life balance

And on it goes.

Say your prospect has mentioned that they don’t have much visibility in their company (in a way that suggests that they’d like to change this).

Bearing this in mind, you should tailor your cold email to address this directly:

Hey [NAME],

I’ve got just the thing that will make your CEO sit up and take notice. Trust me, after you 10x your results using this tool, everyone in the company will know your name.

3. Show that you’re credible

Showing that you’re credible is important, because it helps you to stand out.

And standing out is important… because your prospect might be getting 10+ cold emails in a single day!

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Plus, the more you demonstrate your expertise, the easier it is to get your lead to take you up on an offer.

Here’s an example:

Say two SEO agencies cold email you, and offer you a free SEO audit for your website.

One of these agencies tells you that their consultation takes 30 minutes, that it’s worth $100, and that they won’t upsell you at the end of the consultation.

The other agency talks about all that, but they also go on to tell you that you’ll be meeting with their John Doe, their SEO specialist, who:

  • Used to work at Google
  • Guest-blogs on reputable sites such as SearchEngineLand
  • Recently spoke at the GrowthHackers conference 2018 and the DigiDay AI Marketing Summit 2018

It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

You’d go for the second agency, because they’re more credible, and they have more expertise!

Now, you might be thinking:

Well, I’m just a sales rep. I don’t guest blog anywhere, and I definitely haven’t spoken at big-scale industry events.

Don’t worry – there are other ways to demonstrate your credibility.

For example, you can:

  • Talk about data or research that your company has published
  • Talk about how long your company has been in this industry
  • Talk about your clientele (if you work with Fortune 500 companies, that’s impressive!)

4. Compliment your lead

This one’s pretty obvious – complimenting your lead can help you get into his/her good books, and help you build rapport.

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That said, here’s something that not many sales reps realize…

Not ALL compliments are equally effective, and an insincere compliment could actually ruin your chances with a lead.

So, what’s the key to coming up with a compliment that works?

It all boils down to balance.

On one hand, you don’t want to go overboard with your compliment; on the other hand, you don’t want to sound too vague or unenthusiastic either.

Here’s a negative example:

“I read your blog article on voice technology, and it’s the most AMAZING article I’ve read about this topic!”

This compliment is a little over-the-top, and it sounds insincere.

On the other end of the spectrum, some reps will say something along the lines of:

“Your company is pretty impressive.”

This compliment is far too generic and vague, and it feels like it’s just been copied and pasted into the email for the sake of it.

Try and strive for the middle ground here. Here’s an example:

“I recently read your article, NAME OF ARTICLE, and enjoyed it immensely. It must’ve taken you a lot of time to interview all the industry leaders that you featured in it – I came away with plenty of great insights and tips to apply to my own sales strategies.”

5. Reduce friction associated with your Call To Action (CTA)

When you’re wrapping up your cold email, you’ll throw in a CTA to tell your lead what action they should take.

Now, the most important thing to do here is remove as much friction as possible, and make it EASY for your lead to take action.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Say you’re offering a product demo, and you want your lead to take you up on that offer.

You should shoot across 3-4 potential dates/times that your lead can choose from. This way, your lead can simply pick a date, instead of having to ask you “What’s next?”, or take the initiative to propose a date and time.

Even better, insert a link that your lead can use to schedule an appointment with you – this lessens the back and forth, and makes the process a lot faster.

Check out: 17 Best Appointment Scheduling Apps.

How to use copywriting frameworks for cold emails

Alright, you’ve got all the tips you need to improve upon your cold emails. Now, let’s discuss the copywriting frameworks that you can use to structure your emails.

Before-After-Bridge (BAB)

The BAB framework is pretty self-explanatory.

It involves highlighting a before vs after scenario, and positioning your product or service as a “bridge” that allows your lead to get from the “before” to “after”.

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Here’s an example:

Hi [Name],

A quick search of [CompanyName] shows that you appear on the fifth page of Google, which is way behind [CompetitorA] and [CompetitorB].

I don’t need to tell you this – in this day and age, being visible online is everything. Since you’re not ranking on Google, you’ll probably find it hard to generate awareness about your business and acquire new customers.

If you’re keen to learn how to increase your ranking, I’ll be happy to schedule a demo to walk you through my company’s SEO tool. Many of our clients have used this tool to help them rank on Google’s Page One – and once you do that, you’ll find your traffic increasing exponentially, and your sales will skyrocket as well. In fact, here’s a case study of how Client X generated $100,450 more in revenue in 3 months after ranking using our SEO tool.

Problem-Agitation-Solution (PAS)

BAB aside, there’s the PAS framework, which stands for Problem-Agitation-Solution.

With this framework, you start by discussing the lead’s problem, then rock the boat by talking about what consequences will surface if the problem isn’t addressed.

Finally, you follow up by providing the solution.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Here’s an example:

Hi [Name],

I noticed you downloaded 2 of our eBooks on common mistakes marketers make with analyzing PPC campaigns recently, and this leads me to think that your company might be struggling with utilizing your PPC data properly.

If that’s the case, it’s smart of you to try and troubleshoot your problems. Harvard Business Review recently published a study that shows that interpreting data wrongly is the one most common factor that causes marketing teams to be unsuccessful; more specifically, we know that the average business loses $9,856 per year because they’re not analyzing their PPC campaigns properly.

Plus, consider this: now that PPC advertising costs are skyrocketing, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting the most mileage out of your campaigns and budget. It just doesn’t make sense for you to increase your budget to deal with the inflation on AdWords, only to have this money go down the drain because you’re analyzing your campaigns wrongly.

If you need some help analyzing those PPC campaigns, I’d be happy to hop on a call and give you a 15-minute walkthrough of how we do it at [Company]. We’ve helped [Number] of companies save an average of $XYZ with this walkthrough.

Subject Lines For Cold Emails That Work

Subject lines are important regardless of what sort of email campaign you’re working on, but they’re exceptionally important when you’re sending cold emails.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails

Remember, with cold emails, your prospects DON’T recognize your name or company in any way. This means the only chance you have to “hook” them and get them to open your email lies in your subject line!

In this section, we share 5 subject lines for cold emails that will get you great responses. Read on to find out more!

1. Quick question…

This subject line is particularly effective in evoking curiosity.

You’re essentially leaving your lead hanging, and there’s a high chance that they’ll take 2 seconds to click on your email, so that they can find out what, exactly, is your question.

One caveat: make sure you really DO feature a quick question in your email body – and don’t ramble on after that.

If your leads open your email expecting a “quick question”, and are immediately confronted by a wall of text, you can bet that they’ll be put off.

2. Offering free consultations this week only.

If you’re wondering why this subject line works, it’s because it involves the element of urgency.

In fact, if you’ve ever subscribed to an eCommerce store’s mailing list, you’ll probably have gotten your fair share of emails utilizing this technique.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

These emails might say something along the line of:

  • Flash Sales - 24 Hours Only!
  • Bestsellers Now On Discount *Limited Time Offer*
  • Black Friday Sale – Sale Ends In 24 Hours

So, who’s to say that you can’t adapt this for reaching out to your leads?

“Offering free consultations this week only” is a great option if you’re getting in touch with your leads for the first time…

But if you’ve been speaking to these leads for some time, and you want to push them down your sales funnel, you can experiment with these variations:

  • 7 day free trial extension (please respond in the next 24 hours)
  • 10% off your preferred plan (for the next 24 hours)
  • Limited Time Offer: Free setup + developer assistance for XYZ product

If you have a mutual acquaintance who referred your lead to you, be sure to reference this in your email.

You don’t need to come up with anything too fancy – just a simple “[Person] recommended I get in touch] will do the trick.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails Image Source

Using this technique helps your email catch your lead’s eye, and it increases the likelihood of your lead responding.

Similar variations included:

  • [Person] said you’re a great guy
  • I’m not stalking you, [Person] gave me your email
  • [Person] told me you’re the best person for this

4. So, you [insert hobby or trivia]?

Here’s a great way of personalizing your cold email, and having it stand out in your lead’s inbox.

Simply do a bit of old-school stalking, and dig up some interesting trivia related to your lead. Then incorporate this trivia into your subject line accordingly!

With this technique, the sky’s the limit. Your subject line could be:

  • So, you like geocaching?
  • So, you speak Mandarin?
  • So, you’re a Taekwondo black belt?

As long as it applies to your lead, it works.

Now, don’t worry about having your subject line not being relevant to your ask. The goal is to build rapport (yup, you’ll find that this is a common theme!), and you can slowly nurture your lead from here on out.

Check out: 47 Email Personalization Best Practices To Get You More B2B SaaS Sales

5. Can I make your life 20% easier?

This is another great email subject line, because it gives your lead FOMO (for the uninitiated, that’s the Fear Of Missing Out).

When you use this subject line, this automatically results in your lead thinking:

What could this person possibly do to make my life 20% easier? I’d better have a quick read, in case I miss out on a great tool or solution.

That’s how you get your foot in the door!

BONUS: How to get more leads for cold emails

Awesome! You now know how to write kick-ass subject lines that will skyrocket your cold email open rate.

Now, let’s backtrack a little, and talk about how you can find more lead for cold emails.

The old-school method is to simply Google the heck out of your leads, and hope that you can find their email addresses online.

Obviously, this takes a ton of time and effort, and it doesn’t give you the best results.

That’s why we’ve come up with a tool that allows you to generate leads and get their contact details… without ANY effort on your part.

The Ultimate Guide To Cold Emails

In a nutshell, Albacross is a lead gen tool that tells you who’s visiting your website, AND how to reach them.

Here’s the good news:

Albacross is 100% free to use, and setting it up is simple. (You don’t need ANY technical skills to get it up and running!)

First, create an Albacross account. This takes just 30 seconds, and you don’t need to input any credit card information.

Next, copy Albacross’s tracking script, and paste it on your website.

Finally, sit back and wait for Albacross to collect data about your site visitors. Once there’s sufficient data, Albacross will start sending you daily, weekly, or monthly email reports which tell you who’s visiting your website.

That’s not all… you even get your visitors’ contact information, so it’s easy for you to nurture these visitors, and convert them to paying customers.

All in all, Albacross is a HUGE help for marketers and sales reps who struggle to generate sufficient leads.

Again, all you have to do is set up Albacross once, and it’ll run like clockwork in the background while you take care of your other tasks.

To create your free Albacross account, and start generating more leads, click here.

A final word on crafting the perfect cold email

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide, so here’s a quick recap…

  • Cold emails are effective, as long as you do them right.
  • To write awesome sales emails, create a connection, talk like an actual human, highlight what you bring to the table, compliment your lead, reduce friction associated with your CTA, and use copywriting frameworks.
  • To improve your open rates, experiment with the 5 tried-and-tested subject lines for cold emails that we’ve outlined above, and finally
  • Use Albacross to generate more leads for you to email!

Trust us, we know that sending your first cold email (and putting yourself out there) can be a scary process.

So, we’ll leave you with one final tip:

Regardless of whether you’re a marketer or sales rep, you’ve got to thicken your hide, and learn how to bounce back from rejection.

More specifically, don’t take it too personally if your leads don’t respond to your emails, or if they reply with a curt “not interested”.

Instead, use this as an opportunity to learn, and to improve upon your subject lines for cold emails.

Alright, you’re now an unofficial expert on cold emails. Start crafting those emails, and make sure you do us proud! ;)

Try Albacross


Marcus Svensson

Head of Growth

Marcus Svensson is responsible for the Growth of Albacross with previous experience as a founder and background in Mathematics.