How to write a cold outreach email?

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Cold outreach emails are an effective way to initiate contact and build relationships with potential customers, partners, or influencers. However, crafting an effective cold email that compels the recipient to respond can be challenging. In this comprehensive article, we provide research-backed best practices on how to write compelling cold outreach emails.

Define Your Goal

Before drafting your email, be clear on what you want to achieve. A specific goal will help shape the tone and content of your email. Common goals for cold outreach include:

  • Introducing your company/product - For example, reaching out to journalists and editors to pitch a story on your new product launch.
  • Arranging a meeting/call - Getting on a prospect's calendar to discuss their challenges and how you can help.
  • Getting feedback on your product/idea - Reach developers or UX designers to get input on your product's features or design. 
  • Building relationships with influencers - Establishing rapport with industry influencers to collaborate on content, quotes, or thought leadership.
  • Joining a community - Introducing yourself to Facebook group admins or Slack channel moderators to join their community.
  • Partnership opportunities - Reaching out to complementary businesses to explore co-marketing, lead sharing, or cross-promotion.

Research shows emails with a specific purpose are more likely to get a response compared to generic outreach. Before you start drafting, get very clear on the exact action you want the recipient to take.

Personalize the message  

Avoid generic "Dear Sir/Madam" emails. Make sure to address the recipient by name and company to signal that you've done your homework on them. According to Yesware, personalized cold emails have 79% higher open rates. Some tools like paragraph AI help you to create personalized mail and also give auto answers to your mail.

If possible, refer to the recipient's role, interests, or pain points. For example, "As a Marketing Director responsible for maximizing ROI, you likely grapple with the rising costs of pay-per-click campaigns." This shows you understand their role and responsibilities.

Referencing common connections or associations is another powerful personalization tactic. For example, "I see you're connected with John Smith, who suggested I reach out regarding lead generation tactics." Social proof builds credibility early on. 

Mention recent news or activities gracefully. For example, "I read your article on transforming sales funnels - it provided great insights for our own funnel optimization efforts." 

In short, personalization demonstrates you are genuine in reaching out specifically to them, and not just blasting generic emails.

Craft an attention-grabbing subject line

Your subject line is prime real estate - it can make or break whether your email gets opened. Craft subject lines that grab attention but avoid gimmicky claims like "This will 10x your business!" which can backfire. Effective tactics include:

  • Using the recipient's name or company - Adds a personal touch and familiarity. For example, "Nancy, does your team at Acme Co need extra developers?"
  • Referencing a common connection - Leverages social proof. "John Smith said you're the perfect person to evaluate our MVP." 
  • Stating a specific ask or value proposition - Directly communicates what's in it for them. "Can we get your input on our new tutorial feature for educators?"
  • Using "RE:" to indicate a response to a previous message - Helps the continuation of existing conversations. 
  • Timely topics like events, holidays, or news - "Following up on our discussion at the Digital Marketing Conference..."

In short, your subject line should compel opening without overpromising. Subject lines under 50 characters perform best in crowded inboxes.

Keep it scannable 

Yesware says cold emails with around 125 words get the highest response rate. Avoid large blocks of text. Use brief paragraphs, bullets, and bolding for key text to enhance scannability. 

The ideal structure is the inverted pyramid - start with key details like your purpose, value proposition, and requested action upfront. Then provide evidence or elaboration below.

Here is a sample structure for cold mail:

Introduction (2-3 sentences)

  • Grab attention and state purpose 

Key Takeaway (1-2 sentences)

  • Highlight your value proposition or credentials

Supporting Details (2-3 sentences) 

  • Provide evidence for claims like metrics, testimonials, methodology 

Call to Action (1-2 sentences)

  • Specify the next steps and contact info

Scannability allows busy recipients to quickly grasp your key points and requested action.

Communicate value

Don't make the email all about you. Focus on quickly communicating the value you can provide the recipient. For example, "We helped Company X increase leads by 25% in 6 months through our inbound marketing framework. I'm confident we can do the same for your business using proven tactics."

If introducing a new product or service, relate its benefits specifically to the recipient's role and pain points. Support claims with evidence like metrics, case studies, or testimonials. 

Lead by emphasizing how you can help them, not just selling what you offer. This value-first approach is key for compelling cold outreach.

Include a clear call to action

Be explicit in what you want recipients to do - schedule a meeting, provide feedback, make an introduction, etc. Don't assume they'll intuit your desired outcome. 

Make it easy for them to comply. Provide links to schedule through Calendly or contact info to get in touch. 

Having one clear, reasonable CTA like "Book a 20-minute intro call here" boosts response rates. Avoid requesting multiple actions like "set up a call and connect on LinkedIn."

Follow up 

According to Boomerang's research, following up increases response rates by up to 30%. However, don't aggressively pester recipients. 

If no response after a week, consider a personalized follow-up reiterating interest in discussing their needs and delivering value. But know when to move on if they continue not to respond.

Combining follow-up with other tactics like new subject lines, value messaging, or addressing concerns also improves results. Just one additional short follow-up can make a difference before moving on.

Proofread carefully

Typos, bad grammar, and misspelled names undermine professionalism. Proofread before sending and run spellchecks. For important emails, have a colleague provide extra proofing.

Pro tip: Disable the send button for 1 minute to allow final review before the email goes out.

Execute consistently 

Sporadic cold email campaigns see lower results than consistent sustained outreach. Set up tracking to monitor open and reply rates. Refine your outreach cadence based on data. 

Schedule time regularly for cold outreach efforts - it's a numbers game. With a thoughtful approach, you can eventually connect with the right recipients.

Case Study: Cold Email Best Practices

Here is an example cold email applying the best practices:

Subject: Nadia, does your marketing team need more targeted traffic?

Hi Nadia, 

I noticed on LinkedIn that you recently joined as Head of Marketing at Acme Co. Congratulations on the new role!

In your position, you're likely focused on maximizing Acme's marketing ROI, especially as the company scales.

My company, Growth Rocket, specializes in generating targeted, high-converting traffic for SaaS startups like Acme through content syndication and SEO. 

We’ve helped similar e-learning SaaS companies lower their cost per lead by over 30% while doubling monthly lead volumes. I’m confident we can optimize Acme’s lead-gen marketing efforts as well.

Would you be open to a quick 20-minute call to discuss Acme’s customer acquisition strategy? I have some ideas that could help boost conversions for your inbound campaigns.

You can easily schedule a meeting with me on Calendly here.

Looking forward to connecting and learning more about Acme’s goals.

Best,

John

This email is personalized, highlights value, gets to the point quickly, and has a specific CTA. It applies key principles to compellingly connect with and persuade the recipient.

Conclusion

Crafting effective cold outreach emails requires careful personalization, conveying value, scannability, a focused CTA, and consistent execution. Following cold email best practices helps cut through the noise in crowded inboxes to connect with the right recipients. With a thoughtful approach, cold emails can open doors to new partnerships, investments, sales, and opportunities.

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