15 expert cold emailing tips to help you convert more

August 19, 2020

Cold emailing tips for conversion

Rumor has it someone once used cold emailing and turned leads into clients without losing their hair due to frustration. It wasn’t you, was it? Otherwise, you won’t be desperately searching for cold emailing tips to help you out.

So if you’re worried this is just another article about cold emailing wasting your time, we assure you it’s not. Right the opposite: more than 20 professionals from different industries have selflessly shared the tricks they use for successful cold emailing.


Jump directly to:

 1. Personalise the message

 2. Build rapport

 3. Build trust

 4. Use personal names

 5. Optimise your cold emails to be mobile-friendly

 6. Templates – yes or no?

 7. Write attention-grabbing subject lines

 8. Be careful with bulk messaging

 9. Use humor to put their guard down

 10. Always follow up

 11. Use visuals to increase engagement

 12. Ask for permission before sending something

 13. Increase touchpoints

 14. Keep it short

 15. It’s all about good timing

 16. Conclusion

15 tips to help you write cold emails that convert

Whether you like it or not, cold emailing is a big part of email marketing, and we all know how important that is for your business growth. So instead of cringing and plotting exiting plans, check these cold email tips and keep your cool.

Because as unbelievable as it may sound, there’s not some big secret behind successfully converting leads with cold emailing. It all comes down to following these steps and staying true to your brand.

Personalise the message

Remember there’s a human reading your email! Until the robots rise to power, people buy from people. If you’ve never talked to this person, think about how your email will make them feel after reading it. If you start off your email with “I wanted to tell you about my business/product offering” you missed a critical first step in trying to establish a connection with that person who might be a potential customer.

Lauren Patrick, Vice President of Marketing of Curricula

It’s important to introduce yourself and catch the recipient’s attention with personalization, so you can earn their trust and interest to read the rest of the email. The goal with personalization is to let the recipient know that you’re not just a random stranger, but someone who has done their research and has taken the time to learn something about them. 

For example, I would take the time to read an article that the recipient wrote or reposted on their website or LinkedIn, and tell them something that I learned or found valuable. It’s also important to be concise with your ask so that the recipient has to do as little reading as possible – that’s one of the best ways you can make their life easier while also offering value to them. 

Lizzie Dunn, Content Associate at Fundera 

My favourite and most effective tactic is to personalize the email with timeliness and relevance by using trigger events. A trigger event is an occurrence that signals a potential buying opportunity. Trigger events can include industry events such as a new analyst report, company events like objectives shared by the CEO on an earnings call, or personal events such as a prospect’s job promotion.

Trigger events prove that you’ve done your homework and are writing a one-to-one message to the prospect. It provides context as to why you’re reaching out and why you’re reaching out right now. When I started coupling trigger events with value, my results skyrocketed.

Christian Banach, VP and Business Development Director at Genuine Interactive 

We’ve had good success with cold email by taking the time to find the right prospects, be personal, genuinely praising, thoughtful – and one step further: insightful. In practical terms, I go to my prospects’ website and do research to prepare before I write a message and also make a connection that shows I understand what’s important to them. 

It takes a lot of time to be so thoughtful and that effort pays off. Everyone is desperate to be seen for who they are and if you can start a relationship really demonstrating that you can do that, you make a strong emotional connection right off the bat. We get better conversions than we ever have with this approach. And even if it doesn’t convert, we often have people tell us it’s the best email they’ve gotten or that they’re passing it on to their sales team as a template—and worst-case scenario, we brighten someone’s day!

Kerri Feazell, CEO at Concurrent Productions 

If you have a contact in common who mentioned the person to you I start the e-mail with a subject line of “XYZ suggested we connect” so that even if they do not recognize my name in their inbox XYZ should ring a bell. If you saw them speak at a conference or read an article they wrote you can tailor the subject line to that such as “Loved your piece on ____ in HuffPo!” or Great talk at the conference this week!

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO at Mavens & Moguls

Build rapport

If you want to stand out in an already cluttered inbox, take a look at the company’s website and social media to get an understanding of the culture. Pull copy from the mission statement or the about page and incorporate it into your pitch. In my early days as a freelance web designer, I would often create a graphic with the brand logo and tagline to include in my proposal. Clients loved it and I almost always got a call back!

Shakira Polite, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Brooklyn Braised 

Read their mission statement on their website to get an idea of what their company stands for and who they’re trying to help. I look for parts of the mission statement that I strongly resonate with and craft my email using their mission statement. This shows that not only did I take the time to research what they’re about and took time to personalize my email, but that I also connect and resonate with them from a heartfelt place as opposed to popping up out of nowhere and asking for something.

Julie Ann Dokowicz, CEO and Creative Director at Girl in Heels Travels 

Build trust

The biggest mistake with cold emailing is that people try to sell straight away. So many times you see cold emails telling you about what they can do for you, but without any credentials or case studies shown from the senders end.

People do not want to be sold to straight away. It just puts them off entirely. What people will respond to, however, is problems that you have identified they were not aware of, and then showing them that you have the solution.

This needs to be done subtly. For example, rather than emailing someone along the lines of ‘I’m a web development company, we offer X services, we can do this for you, etc’, instead, spend some time on their business/website, and identify a potential problem.

You can then email something like ‘I noticed that your website speed is a little slow, and it seems like you’re using plugins that slow down your website. I’ve worked with clients with similar issues, and we were able to increase their site speed by X, using Y. I’d be more than happy to discuss this further with you, feel free to contact me here’.

All of a sudden, you’re opening up a different type of dialogue. The potential client is now aware of a problem, and they have an opportunity to talk to you about the solution, without feeling the pressure to buy your service. As you’re dealing with cold emails, you need to be far less salesy to initially build that trust needed to move things along the sales funnel.

Dale Johnson, Co-founder & Content Strategist at Nomad Paradise 

The purpose of your cold emailing should be to start a conversation. If a salesperson goes to a networking event or conference, they intend to find opportunities by starting conversations. Think of your cold email as a way to break the ice, build rapport, and ultimately spark a conversation with prospects virtually.

To avoid the tendency to try to sell, reframe how you think about cold email and look at it through the lens of value creation. We know that prospects are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM?). Focus on a pain the prospect is likely experiencing. Provide a compelling offer that adds value to the prospect as an incentive to speak with you.

Christian Banach, VP and Business Development Director at Genuine Interactive 

The biggest rookie mistake I see when it comes to cold emailing is that they care way too much about their own product or service, and all of the details about it, when what should really be the main point is presenting the contact with a reason why they should even care. 

Let’s face it, every businessperson gets numerous cold emails in their inbox each month, but none ever stick to their memory if they don’t build rapport, come across as relatable, and provide a solution to a problem that the contact is likely facing. Put yourself in their shoes and understand that they’re looking for something that can solve an issue they face, not a rundown of cool features or how them buying your product or service helps you. Express interest in them and they’ll express interest right back if your product or service appears to fulfil a need of theirs.

Alexandra Marin, Co-founder and Director of Design CodeCrew 

Make it easy for the prospect to say “Yes. The goal is to enter the prospect into a sales cycle, to do this, they must show some positive engagement. Asking a prospect to agree to a sales call from a cold email is a tall order and will often reduce the likelihood of any response. However, asking if you can share a case study on “how we saved a customer £XXXX” or “increased sales by Y%,” just requires a response which says “yes”.

We have experienced success by explicitly saying in the email “I know you’re busy, so if you’d like me to share the case study, please simply reply with ‘yes’ and I’ll email it straight across”.

James Ford, Co-Founder of AutoBead 

Use personal names

I receive cold emails daily, and I’ve sent many myself over the years. One of the biggest mistakes, which I find can be easily corrected, is the person’s first name

If their name is Robert, you can find out through doing a little research, what they actually go by: Robert, Rob, Bob, Bobby, Robbie, etc. 

You can search their company website, FB page, LinkedIn page, Twitter, and look for people who have commented on their posts. The easiest is for their birthday or other congratulatory posts. Look for what their friends refer to them as. If you can start your cold email by calling them what they actually like to be called, you start ahead of your competition in the cold-email space.

Todd Bryant, Founding Partner and Financial Planner at Signature Wealth Advisors 

Optimise your cold emails to be mobile-friendly

You have to make it mobile-friendly, the world is moving to mobile-only, fewer people accessing e-mail on big screens so tailor your message and content accordingly or risk being annoying if they have scroll too much or the design is not responsive

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder and CEO at Mavens & Moguls

Just give quick 1-2 sentence paragraphs at most and keep your language nice and tight.

Remember most people will be receiving this on their phone and will be overwhelmed by big blocks of text on their small screen. Always keep in mind the person who is going to be receiving this email and on what device, what situation, etc. so you can give them a good experience or your whole cold email effort is wasted when they click the delete button. 

Chris Post, President of 2M Locating

Templates – yes or no?

Just because you found a cold email template that was successful for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Ideally, you want to spend a bit of time getting to know your target to craft a custom message that caters to their actual wants and needs. (Unless you’re just playing the numbers game and not worried about burning opportunities or leaving people with negative associations of your brand or business.)

Adam Truszkowski, Founder and Principal of Painted Brick Digital 

As Simon Sinek says, start with ‘Why’. Here’s a cold email template draft that I’ve found effective in at least getting a reply back:

Hi (first name)! 

Hope you’re staying well with everything going on in the world. (Your name) here from (company), (quick sentence about what your company does) I’m feeling curious to know a bit more about… (then ask 3 questions that tie back to what you’re actually selling)

– Are you (x)?

– Do you (y)?

– Is there (z)?

If so (explain in 1 sentence how you might be able to help). Would you please let me know if you’re available for 30 minutes to discuss more? Feel free to reply back to this email.

Thanks for all you do to keep your employees and organization safe. I look forward to hearing from you. 

(Your name)

Ultimately, people may not remember the exact words you used, but they’ll remember what it was about and how it made them feel. We’re all just humans looking to learn and have some meaningful interaction.

Lauren Patrick, Vice President of Marketing at Curricula

Write attention-grabbing subject lines

There’s a technique that has been taught where you add RE: to the subject line to make it look like a reply. Another is Just Following Upor something to that effect. 

The problem is, people don’t like to be fooled, especially in business. We’ve found that the success rate of closes on interactions that start with sneaky subjects is smaller when compared to non-deceitful subject lines. 

Be witty, be honest, be helpful, but don’t be deceitful from the start.

Adam Truszkowski, Founder and Principal of Painted Brick Digital 

One of the biggest mistakes the sender makes is writing a bad subject line and introduction. Companies should think of an attractive subject line so the recipient will be tempted to open it and read the whole message. And also, it is not recommended that you put too many special characters in your email just so you can reiterate your offer. Always make it simple and

straight to the point so the readers can understand it easily.

Martin Seeley, CEO at MattressNextDay 

The catchier and stranger the subject line, the better. I’m a big fan of using emojis every now and then, or having a thought-provoking subject line, such as “Don’t Open This (or do…)”. Also if you can keep the email to three lines or less, you’ll have better success, especially if you’ve made it feel like the receiver is the only one who has gotten the email.

Jake Moffett, Growth and Campaign Manager at RevenueZen

The best tip I’ve got for a cold email is to scare your recipients into opening your email. For instance, if I was emailing a potential client trying to sell them on a product that solves an industry-wide issue, I’d want to start off by telling them something may be wrong with their current business/solution (if they have one) and the body of my email will prompt them to have to email me back to discuss my findings or solution to their problems. Once you’ve got successful opens and responses, you can better formulate your next plan of attack and future campaigns.

Jake Lane, Director of Growth at NuBrakes Mobile Brake Repair 

Be careful with bulk messaging!

I can’t tell you how many cold emails I have received where everyone this person is soliciting is in the CC section and not BCC or using an email marketing software. So definitely avoid that! Also, if using email marketing software, always test first to make sure it’s pulling names from your database correctly. I’ve seen people cold emailing with “Dear Lastname” – really, really bad! So test, test, test before sending.

Chris Post, President of 2M Locating, LLC 

Use humor to put their guard down

For me, personally, humor has worked well. You cannot expect a reply to your first emails. Most people will get back to you after the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even more emails.

Try to make your subject lines intriguing enough for them to open. In the past, I tried two campaigns to 100 different emails. The first used formal subject lines, and the second used humour. With every email, I would write the subject line as if I was genuinely concerned they hadn’t contacted me, in a funny way. Lines such as ‘NAME, I’m concerned I haven’t heard from you, which must mean one of three things…

The campaign with the humorous subject lines got a 12% better response from clients than the formal responses. Some people appreciate humour, as it makes you appear more human and less robotic. It’s not appropriate for everyone, but for some potential clients, it could work well.

Dale Johnson, Co-Founder and Content Strategist at Nomad Paradise 

Always follow up

What I have seen work best is a sequence of emails 6 emails providing value or information to nurture your list and then the 7th email being an offer written as what is referred to as a 9 word email.

Robert Patin, Managing Partner at Patin & Associates 

Most of the first emails are not answered, if not directly sent to trash. So, your well-crafted and personalised email becomes a complete waste. This happens because you think one email is enough and the recipient is supposed to reply to your first effort alone. The recipients might overlook it, they might be too busy to open and/or reply or the recipient simply forgets to reach out. If you don’t send at least one follow up email, you will never be able to yield anything near a positive result of our email campaign.

You must send a follow up email to the same person the following day when you sent your first email. Don’t repeat the same content in the follow up emails. Instead, prepare your follow up email with a different and appropriate approach. You should remind the recipient to check your first email and ask for an alternative time to contact. You can offer the recipient something of value to build up your credibility. 

Never forget to send a follow up email, if not more, to the recipient shortly after the first email you sent.

Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Digital Marketing Specialist at DontPayFull 

Use visuals to increase engagement

Use images and videos to your emails. It adds more flare. Engagement rate is much better than a text message. Having a personalized image/video helps a lot with successful cold emailing.

Newaz Chowdhury, Marketing Manager at Powerphrase 

Include some sort of imagery of yourself in the email helps! You never know who this random person emailing you is, and half the time you don’t even know if it’s really even a human or just some automation or robot, but if you show that you’re a real, flesh-and-bones person, it puts that worry to bed immediately.

Alexandra Marin, Co-founder & Director of Design at CodeCrew 

We use personalized videos to increase email engagement. They help us stand out in the inbox to really capture attention. We’ve run AB tests, when using a video, we get more than 300% increase in clicks, 800% increase in replies, and 190% increase in revenue from email campaigns.

Bethany Stachenfeld, Co-founder and COO at Sendspark 

Ask for permission before sending something

Ask permission before sending a link. Don’t bombard your recipient with tons of information and links that they never requested. It’s rude and inconsiderate – think about how you felt the last time a stranger walked up to you and tried to give you a coupon that you weren’t interested in.

Asking permission shows a basic level of respect and also simplifies their response. This way, the recipient only needs to respond “Sure, send it over” and you can start a conversation from there.

Matt Bentley, Founder of CanIRank 

Increase touchpoints

The best tip I have for successful cold emailing is to increase the number of touchpoints with a recipient before you email them. Use social media to your advantage and connect with them through other channels. Maybe this means sending a connection request on LinkedIn, following them on Twitter, or friending them on Facebook. Help your recipient put a real-life face to the email they receive. 

By increasing the number of touchpoints, a recipient is more likely to respond because then it really isn’t a cold email anymore. The lead is warmed up and can recognize the name and face associated with the message.

Farzad Rashidi, Co-Founder of Respona 

Use LinkedIn to connect either instead of, or prior to, sending that cold email. If they happen to be a 2nd degree connection, that means you already have people in common with them, which brings it from a cold outreach to a warm one instantly. 

Through LinkedIn, you can also send voice messages instead of written messages. I have received thousands of written messages over the years, but out of over 5K connections, only ONE has left me a voice message… and that is memorable. 

Also, for LinkedIn or Email, use a quick introductory, personalized, video instead of written script. There are a ton of resources to do this, many of them free.

Todd Bryant, Founding Partner and Financial Planner at Signature Wealth Advisors, LLC 

Keep it short

Small business owners often make the mistake of feeling like this one email is their only opportunity to tell their prospect everything that is great about their business. As a result, the email is long, intimidating and highly unlikely to be read, let alone replied to. To avoid this mistake, use your experience to focus in on the one point which you feel the recipient will find the most valuable.

Remember, the goal of a cold email is to have the recipient say “tell me more” and not “where do I sign?”. A succinct message which talks to a single problem the prospect has is more likely to be read and positively engaged with.

James Ford, Co-Founder of AutoBead

Time is important and attention span is short right now. Don’t ramble on too long and, as Tom Petty once said: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. Say what you need to say early on and don’t make them read through a few paragraphs of small talk.

End it with a nice concise CTA and you’re giving yourself a better chance of success!

Donny Gamble, Owner of RetirementInvestments.com 

It’s all about good timing

The best time to send emails depends on your list of prospects. Remember, the time you select may or may not match with your recipient’s time zones. The best day and time to send emails is between Tuesday to Thursday around 10 am. While scheduling bulk emails, try to keep a minimum gap of 5 mins between two emails. By doing this, there will be less possibility of you email ending up in the recipient’s spam box.

Simonas Steponaitis, Marketing Manager at Hosting Wiki 


Hopefully, while reading these cold emailing tips you had a few a-ha! moments and you’re already contemplating your next campaign. It’s always the perfect time to optimize your email marketing and give a boost to your sales.

Most importantly remember to, treat everyone as a human and not a number.


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