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Best practices for writing cold emails

Learn how to master cold emails and enhance your sales strategy to take advantage of more better quality leads by personalizing your cold emails for better results.

First published

26.01.2022

Last edited

17.08.2022

Read time

9 minutes


    By Tobias

    After his studies in industrial engineering at RWTH Aachen University, Tobias co-founded Mailbutler GmbH together with Fabian in 2015. In his free time, he spends most of his time in the garden and with his son Timo.

    Cold emailing is an essential part of many businesses. Unfortunately, not everyone knows exactly how to do it best.

    Luckily, Mailbutler is here to help! There are specific ways you can personalize cold emails without spending too much time on each one.

    This post will go over how exactly you should target and prepare for cold outreach; how you can write great, converting email copy; and how to move forward after you have sent your emails out.

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    Emailing people who don’t know you is a challenge

    Cold outreach emails are some of the toughest to get engagement from. You compete with every other sales or marketing person in the world for someone’s time, and you also run the risk of coming across as a spammer.

    So are cold emails worth it? Do they draw any attention or interest from readers at all? Well, they definitely are worthwhile – if you do them correctly.

    You may have considered automating your emails through services designed for people looking for leads.

    Automated emails are useful when you need to address a broad audience, like newsletters, for example (as long as people have agreed to receive them).

    However, cold emails need a personal touch to be successful: you need to show the reader why you could really hit it off.

    Take your time to target your cold emails

    For your target: Sometimes the question of “who” is not easy to answer. Ask yourself why someone would be interested in your service or product, instead.

    Look to the people or companies who are already interested in your product and think about why they were drawn to my service in the first place.

    Then, answer the “why?” question to identify your target group’s needs and what they have in common (i.e. companies in a particular industry x, have a need or problem y).

    Your service or product is valuable to them because it fulfills this need.

    Narrowing down your outreach list to the right people (even if it means fewer emails or calls made in total), and including a high level of personalization, will drastically increase your success rate.

    Now you have to find the groups or companies that are in your target group.

    (A great way of doing this is by searching or online portals or platforms where companies in your target group might be listed.)

    Make a list of 50 companies as a first. Beginning with a list of just fifty breaks up your emailing into a more manageable chunk.

    List the company name, contact info, and the contact person, if that name is available, and the website of these new leads.

    Don’t worry yet about doing too much research on each one. Just answer the question: are they a match? Do they have a reason to need my service? Would they benefit from it?

    Tailor your communication to your target’s needs

    You had to answer the “why?” question with some sense of your target group’s needs. For all of these 50 companies in your list, write down what particular feature or element of your product is it they would benefit from.

    If you have a service with multiple features, just choose one or two relevant focuses. Short, concise emails are always better than long, meandering treatises that your recipient won’t take the time to read.

    Make sure to consider what type of communication would be best for the specific company you’re writing to, depending on their industry.

    If your contact is a startup or tech company, consider using emojis, for example. Put yourself in your recipient’s shoes to craft the best outreach email you can.

    Now write the email!

    For a new cold email, start by creating a message template that includes the information that is relevant for all the 50 targets.

    This strategy saves me a lot of time and helps me avoid errors, as I don’t have to write the same things over and over again, which can lead to mistakes.

    Make a template

    There’s no definitive way to write the best template, but there are some best practices that can save you time in the future.

    1. Write your subject line. It should be short and personal. For example: “Elisa here with an offer for you.” Experiment with this to find which sales pitch you think performs best.
    2. Add the core of your message. What is your product? What are the benefits of using it? Capture the reader’s attention by showing them you’re respected as an expert at what you do!
    3. Add a call-to-action (CTA) at the end. Don’t expect much from it – you may need to follow up with them multiple times. But a CTA is more likely to trigger and guide their engagement.
      Some examples I use: “register here,” or “want to talk?” This CTA can also be included in your email signature, rather than in your body copy.

    With Mailbutler Templates, you can set placeholder words or sentences which you can easily fill in whenever you insert the template in your compose window. Learn more about the Mailbutler Email Templates feature here.

    Make the message personal

    The introductory lines before the core of your message help your reader to feel that you are speaking to them. Go back to your list and look at the profile of the recipient of the email.

    Ask yourself: what grabbed your attention when you were looking at their particular profile? What could you mention that you have in common? How can you build an individualized connection?

    Extra tip: Nothing is more annoying than an email that is supposedly personal, but is obviously generic.

    Take the time to really personalize your first sentence. “I saw your profile – it’s amazing!” is not enough.

    If you did think that and are desperate to write it, add why you think it’s so great.

    Sign off on your cold emails

    A great email signature is really useful. A signature can tell your reader so much about you in a compact, good-looking space. You can add a picture, your contact information and even your company logo all at the bottom of your email.

    Make sure your signature is readable and useful. Sales are all about relationships.

    The signature is a memorable and convenient way to help your reader know that there is a person behind the words they are looking at.

    That can help them trust you, and feel that they are important.  You can read about some best practices for email signatures here.

    An example: a kindergarten teacher once wrote me an email.

    She was using Mailbutler customized signatures, which included a beautiful picture, appealing colors, and a trustworthy quote about what children are in this world.

    She made me think that I would trust her with my children and I wrote to her that I cared about what she did. This is how we bonded and she became a happy customer.

    Sometimes, a quote can take up unnecessary information, as we have written in some of our guides to writing signatures; however, occasionally, they can work!

    There are no hard and fast rules.

    Track your cold emails

    Track your cold emails and turn guessing into knowing

    One of the biggest challenges in sales is how to recognize a hot lead and know exactly when to write or call again.

    This judgment takes trained intuition; especially with emails, you don’t have signs of emotion, of enthusiasm or concern – like you do when in a call – to help you know how to proceed. So how do you follow up on hot leads with emails?

    Tracking your emails is enabled by default with Mailbutler. With this feature, you can see who has opened your email, how often they have done so, and even where they opened it from.

    This helps you identify who would be interested, and from that group, the high-potential hot leads that are the proverbial low-hanging fruit. It can also help to show you when the best time to send your email is by tracking when your messages are opened by your recipients.

    If you find Friday to be good, then it’s better to send emails then. But what if you don’t work on your emails on Friday? You can use Mailbutler’s Send Later feature to schedule your email to send whenever you like, even if you’re offline.

    Finally, Mailbutler’s Per Recipient Tracking feature lets you see exactly who has opened your message when you send an email to multiple recipients.

    This means if you’re batch-emailing to multiple colleagues or even clients, you can see precisely who you need to follow up with. This feature is only available for those using an iCloud or IMAP email address in Apple Mail.

    Organize your cold email communication

    Now you know when the best time to reach your lead is, it’s important you don’t forget to send that follow-up email.

    Of course, you could always schedule an email to send at a specific point in the future – say, a week later – but the problem with this is that your lead might have replied in the meantime, meaning you’re doubling up on your messaging unnecessarily, which can put a potential client off.

    A great solution is to set a follow-up task. With Mailbutler, you can set a follow-up reminder quickly and easily by using the Tasks feature so you never forgot to message that important client again. If the person responds in the meantime, the reminder is deleted; if not, you receive a notification to write another email. You can also automatically set follow-up tasks on all your outgoing emails by using clever automation.

    Finally, if you use a task manager such as Apple Reminders, you can sometimes integrate them with your emails so that tasks from your inbox are included in your task manager and updates work both ways.

    Mailbutler can do this with Apple Reminders, for example, so you can save yourself the time of manually writing all your to-dos in two apps.

    Cold emailing nine-point plan

    That’s all there is. Here is a checklist that condenses the process of sending cold emails:

    1. Ask yourself why someone would benefit from your product
    2. Based on your answer, look for leads that fit this profile
    3. Make a list of all of your targets
    4. Determine one or two characteristics of the lead that makes them a good fit
    5. Make a message template for the body of your email and your subject line
    6. Personalize your messages
    7. Create a professional and appealing email signature
    8. Enable tracking and set follow-up tasks before you hit send
    9. Finally, use Mailbutler to make the whole process of cold emailing much easier!

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    FAQ

    What makes a good cold email?

    A good cold email is one that contains the sender’s real name and contact information (company name, job title at the said company, company website, email address, active social media profiles, phone number, etc.).

    Effective cold emails also include an interesting conversation starter, a specific request, and, of course, personalized content. Despite what some people think, good cold emails don’t have to have a commercial motive.

    How do you stand out on a cold email?

    To get your recipient to take the desired action, you need to craft a powerful cold email that will make you stand out from the crowd. Here’s how you can accomplish this:

    • Add your recipient’s name to the subject line
    • Include a relevant stat in the subject line
    • Show your recipient your humanity by expressing your feelings about reaching out
    • Mention a common contact
    • Explain to your recipient how you can help them solve their pain points
    • Share a success story about how your product or service has helped others without giving away all the details
    • Suggest a conversation to provide more in-depth insights

    You can implement as many of these tips as you like.

    How many cold emails should I send per day?

    To avoid getting your email account shut down, you need to make sure to send a maximum of 200 cold emails on a daily basis, counting your follow-up messages as well. If your email account is relatively new, you might want to send much fewer cold emails per day.

    Is it OK to cold email?

    When done right, cold emailing is perfectly acceptable. Proper cold emails aren’t spam messages for a number of reasons, including:

    • Cold emails include the sender’s real name, while spam messages use fake names
    • Cold emails contain contact information, while spam messages don’t
    • Cold emails tend to be personalized, while spam messages are generic
    • Cold emails start conversations, while spam messages typically target direct purchases

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