How to Write Cold Emails that Trigger Responses

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How do you write an effective cold email that gets responses? Make sure to include: subject line, preview text, body, and closing. However, the key to success is being concise, staying on point, and making your email easy to skim with bullets, white space, and headings where applicable to increase your engagement.


How many times have you heard people touting the much-desired Inbox Zero? Your buyers’ inboxes are a bit like a restaurant on Friday night, overcrowded and loud. The average person receives about 100 emails each day. The chances of your message being read and getting a response relies on a mixture of personalization and science.

When I refer to cold email, I’m not talking about spam emails where someone sends the same message out to a list of contacts. Much like cold calling, your approach to cold emailing should focus on qualified prospects with valid email addresses whom you’ve taken the time to research before reaching out. In other words, cold emailing should actually be warm emailing.

As a less intrusive form of contact, cold email is a worthwhile supplement to cold calling efforts. However, for it to be worth your team’s time, you must optimize the process for scalability without losing sight of the human quality.

As a less intrusive form of contact, 📧#ColdEmail is a worthwhile supplement to 📞#ColdCalling efforts. Click To Tweet

What to Include in a Cold Email

Personalized snippets within emails can double the response rate. According to Woodpecker, personalized emails garnered a 17 percent response rate, compared to non-personalized emails with a 7 percent reply rate. Using the prospect’s name, business name, and other available information is fundamental when creating compelling emails.

Review the aspects of a response-worthy cold email below to learn how your sales team can craft messages that trigger action.

  1. Subject Line –  35% of emails are opened based on the subject line. Think of it as a headline. The subject should be relevant and specific to the recipient. A good test is to ask if you would open the email if it showed up in your inbox?
  2. Preview TextMost people use an email provider with a preview panel. Customizing the preview text or at the very least writing a captivating first sentence is crucial to boosting the open rate.
  3. Body – Since it’s a cold email, start with an introduction and then explain the reason for the email. Stay focused on the recipient. Use I and Me sparingly, and instead make it about the prospect by using You and Your more often.It’s no surprise that initial emails with video have a 96% higher click-through rate than those without a video. It gives the prospect a chance to see your salesperson’s face and creates a sense of connection that text cannot. Encourage your salespeople to record a short customized video for each prospect and include it in their cold emails. Initial emails with #video have a 96% higher click-through rate than those without a video. 📹 #SalesTips Click To Tweet

    Our on-the-go lifestyle means that a lot of people are checking email on their smartphones. To be exact, 35% of business professionals check email using a mobile device. Encourage your reps to check the formatting of the emails they right to ensure they will be readable on smartphones. Use of white space, larger fonts, line spacing, bullets to break up the text, and highlighted words through bolding or color can make an email easier to read on mobile.

  4. Closing – What action do you want the reader to take? Include a call-to-action (CTA) and customize signatures with links to the company website or social media accounts. I’d also recommend adding a single line promoting any upcoming events, webinars, downloads or blog posts.

Applying the above tips will put your sales team on the right track when it comes to sending cold and warm emails. However, there are two additional areas to consider: brevity and skim-ability.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, people are receiving 100+ emails per day.  They don’t have time to read a long-winded treatise. Stay concise, on the point, and make your email easy to skim with bullets, white space, and headings where applicable. If your topic requires an in-depth explanation, suggest a meeting to review rather than spell it all out in an email.

#ColdEmail Tip - Stay concise, on the point, and make your 📧 email easy to skim with bullets, white space, and headings where applicable. #SalesTips Click To Tweet

Now you’ve got the basics for starting more conversations from cold emails — just don’t forget about following up! Create alerts in your CRM or sales engagement platform so that you’ll have reminders to make additional attempts at getting a response. Better yet, try setting up an automated sales cadence to incorporate both email and phone follow up.

Cold emails should be personalized, but you’ll want to scale the process. Create customizable templates and give your sales team guidance on how to make each email unique.

Do the emails sent by your sales organization stand out or seemingly get lost? Let us know in the comments below if your salespeople are getting responses from their cold emails.


Scott Amerson

As Vice President of Sales, Scott is responsible for leading our global sales team. He is a results-driven professional who brings more than 25 years of sales and executive-management experience to VanillaSoft. He is a proven veteran at building scalable infrastructure for inside sales and call center teams by defining key performance indicators, sales process, and training programs. In his previous role as Director of Sales at BenefitMall, Scott built and launched their inside sales team. In this position, he created and delivered policies and procedures, strategic planning, and technology integration leading to a 42% decrease in their sales cycle, and 30% increase in revenue per sale. Scott has also held prestigious positions at multi-million-dollar companies, including Capital One, where he overhauled the entire sales and training processes to drive goal-surpassing revenue from $300 million to $900 million. Scott holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Marketing from Nicholls State University.

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