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The Ultimate Guide to Writing Cold Emails That Get Replies (How-To, Best Practices, and Templates Included!)

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What is a cold email?

A cold email is a sales email sent to a potential buyer who the seller has no prior relationship with. Sales reps gather email addresses through online research, and target businesses and prospects that fit their ideal customer profile. 

Cold emails are an effective way to make your name known, especially in the B2B space. And it’s probably one of the first lead generation methods you’ll use as you’re starting out. Cold email marketing, when done well, can get your foot in the door and lead to long-lasting client relationships. 

Unfortunately (fortunately for you), cold emails often suck. They’re bland as plain toast, or they’re littered with grammar and spelling errors, or look like they’ve been copied and pasted to hundreds of other recipients.

Check out our Hall of Shame for the worst cold emails we’ve ever seen (a masterclass in what not to do).

While most cold emails are terrible, it’s good news for you. Because even improving your cold email strategy by a tiny fraction can put you a head above the rest. Read on to learn how you can boost your cold email outreach.

What makes a good cold email?

First and foremost, a good cold email is thoughtful and well-researched. There’s no such thing as a good cold email to the wrong person at a company. Or to anybody at the wrong company.

A good cold email reflects the fact that the salesperson has researched the prospect’s company enough to grasp the general business model and has at least popped onto the prospect’s LinkedIn or Twitter profile. Personalized content shows that the salesperson is actually interested in helping the prospect improve their business rather than just making a quick buck. 

Often, a good cold email isn’t cold at all—it’s just the first sales interaction you have with a prospect, after one or more touches from marketing.

Related: The complete guide to researching sales prospects

How to write an effective cold email for sales

Still, as you might expect, writing a good cold email takes more than targeting the right audience for it. It puts you on the first step to success, sure, but you still have some work to do before you can paste your message in the email body and hit send. 

While there are infinite methods for finding success in cold emails, these basic steps will help you understand what works and how to improve your cold email campaign with every new email you send.

1. Research your audience

Knowing your audience is crucial to providing them with a relevant and engaging cold email. When you’re reaching out to someone through an email, you’re opening the door to a partnership. 

Before they can accept you as a partner, however, they have to see how you can benefit them. Consider answering these questions:

  • What do these brands stand for?
  • How does your company relate to their interests?
  • Where can you find common ground?
  • How can you appeal to a brand’s business model?

Good research is only the beginning. Next, you’ll want to craft an email that accomplishes three things:

  1. Your prospect opens your email 
  2. They read your email to the end
  3. They do the desired action (click a link, send a reply, etc.)

You can achieve these objectives with the strategic optimization of crucial email elements, which we’ll cover below

2. Craft an engaging subject line

Your subject line is the first interaction you’ll have with your reader, and an engaging subject line can increase email open rates. Effective cold emails take full advantage of the subject line space.

The two goals of your subject line are to capture the attention of your recipient and to encourage them to open the email. Keep these two goals in mind as you craft your subject line.

Your subject line should be flashy enough to draw your recipient’s attention but personable enough to relate to them and show them you care about their response. 

Be sure to create intrigue with an attention-grabbing statement or question. Keep it concise—they should be able to see the entire subject line when they open their inbox. Use the subject line to give the reader some insight into what the email is about. 

The wrong subject line can cause your email to go directly to someone’s spam folder, so it’s essential that you put some thought into it. 

Another thing to note about subject lines is that many email platforms like Gmail, Yahoo, and others have their own spam filters, and certain trigger words and phrases can send your email to a spam box before it even reaches the recipient. As you construct your perfect subject line, avoid phrases like:

  • Best
  • Click here
  • Pay
  • Make money

3. Personalize your greeting

Begin the body of your email with a personalized greeting. Addressing the recipient with their first name is essential. More generalized hellos indicate that you’re sending out a mass email, and the reader may lose interest immediately.

Including their name demonstrates that you crafted the email specifically for them and know who you are talking to.

When sending a cold email, you want to increase the chances that the recipient will read it in full as much as possible. Every little detail, including the greeting, will matter.


Write less email, get more replies.

Are you falling off your prospects’ radars? With Nutshell’s personal email sequences, we’ll remember the follow-up for you.


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4. Write a concise opening

The goal of your greeting and opening line is to make a great first impression by establishing relevance and engaging your reader immediately. The introduction should establish the context of your email and set the tone for the rest of the message. 

Use the introduction of your email to introduce yourself and your company. Be clear about what your business does and your role within its mission. Include why you’re reaching out to the reader on behalf of your company. 

Stating the purpose early on signifies that you respect the reader’s time. By piquing their interest at the beginning, you can improve the chances that they continue reading and move one step closer to taking the desired action at the end of your email.

5. Compliment your prospect

In the following paragraph(s), offer the reader a specific compliment or observation about their company or products. Incorporating this note into your message is important because it allows you to demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about their business and have done your research. 

Applauding their efforts is a great way to make your message more personal and establish a human connection between you and the reader. Everyone enjoys receiving recognition and praise for their hard work. Complimenting them helps you show how genuinely interested you are in their operation and why you want to be a part of it.

Keep your goal for the message in mind. If you want to partner on a charitable effort, compliment the philanthropic work their company has done. If you’re hoping to become their new supplier, commend them on their quality products.

6. Present a compelling value proposition

Once you’ve established your connection to the reader’s business, you need to present a case for why and how your company can benefit their operation. 

Including a value proposition is essential because you’re not asking them for a favor, per se. Instead, you are connecting with the reader because you have something to offer them that will enhance their company. 

Briefly describe your product or services and directly relate them to the reader’s business. The key is to demonstrate how your business can address a specific need or pain point for their company. Tell them how you can be of value to them, whether you offer quick turnaround times or great value for the price of your goods.

7. Strengthen your case with social proof

In the value proposition, you’re telling the email recipient how you can help them. In the next section, you show them the social proof. Provide evidence of how your services have been beneficial in helping other companies within a similar niche or industry. 

Providing social proof helps you to establish credibility and demonstrate your business’s successful track record. 

Without incorporating social proof into your cold email, you are essentially telling the reader that working with your business could potentially benefit them. You want to show them how confident you are that you can help. 

Offering evidence of your past accomplishments is always a good idea because you can eliminate some of their doubts. Maybe you quote a testimonial or reference some stats your sales team has gathered.

8. Include a call to action

Wrap up your email with a clear call to action. No matter what action you want your recipient to take, keep two things in mind:

  • The action should be singular. When your reader has two many choices to make at the end of your email, it’s likely they won’t make any. Send them a calendar link to schedule a meeting, send them a link to a landing page, or ask them to reply to your email. Whatever you want them to do, focus on ONE THING only.
  • Make your CTA a no-brainer. Make it as easy as possible for your prospect to agree to the action you want them to take. Asking them to schedule a 30-minute meeting might be too overwhelming, but asking them to check out a 5-minute presentation you’ve made for them? Much easier, with less commitment on their part. 

The other important thing in an effective cold email is to include a CTA in the first place. If you forego a call to action, your email will be too open-ended, and the reader will likely feel less driven to take the next steps. Incorporating this directive at the end of your message is a must. 

Avoid starting the email by asking for a call before the recipient understands your point of view and purpose for reaching out, though. The best examples of B2B cold emails entice the reader first and ask them to take action at the very end.

Cold email best practices

Outside of your email structure and elements, here are a few best practices you want to keep in mind when crafting your next cold email.

Keep it short and sweet

As with all online copy, people want to read something short, simple, and digestible. If they open your email and are met with a large block of text and lots of complicated jargon, your email is more likely to end up in their trash folder than urge them to follow through on your call to action (CTA). 

On the inside of the email, you should include very short body copy—essentially your elevator pitch. No one has time to read a novel. This copy should employ all that research you did and mention why you are interested in working with this person in particular. 

At the end of the day, you should really believe that your service will help them and know exactly why it will. Being able to put that into words in a cold email will make you appear more trustworthy to your prospect.

Personalize your message

When you check your emails, are you more likely to follow through with an email that robotically tells you information about a brand, or one that appeals to you, asking you questions and making you feel like you’re a part of the brand’s vision? For most people, this is an easy answer. 

A personalized message often evokes an emotional response, leaving recipients feeling as though they owe the writer some kind of response for taking the time to reach out to them directly.

Follow up with interested leads

Once you’ve sent your first cold email, you’ve done the work to start warming up your lead. Even if they don’t respond after the first message, follow up with them. 

There are many reasons why people may not respond to the first outreach. A second contact shows them you’re serious about working with their brand and may put pressure on them to get back to you. 

Learn how to warm up leads step by step

In this sample cold outreach campaign, you’ll discover exactly what you need to do to create a coordinated, layered cold outbound strategy. Download it today and start heating up your cold leads!


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Common mistakes to avoid when sending cold emails

While these tips tell you exactly what to put in your cold emails, there are still a few things you’ll need to watch out for when editing, reviewing, and sending out your final draft. These common mistakes in emails can cost you big time in lost revenue and consumer participation.

Not using an appropriate email address

While it’s true many people will simply look at the sender’s name and subject line before launching into the email, the larger your contact base is, the better chance you’ll have people who glance at the email address, too. It’s at the top of every email you send, so even if people aren’t actively looking for it, they may see it by chance.

An inappropriate email address may be funny to a few of your customers, but to many, it will look unprofessional and careless. It may cause them to question your dedication to brand integrity, and by extension, their business as a customer.

Outside of human eyes, your email address is another factor email platforms use to filter out spam. An email address with a lot of miscellaneous letters and numbers may register as a bot to these automatic filters. Even the person receiving your email may see an unrelated address attached to it and mark your email as spam, thinking it is a hoax trying to take their money.

The email address sending out your cold email outreach should always be an address affiliated with your brand. When possible, it should originate from a sales representative rather than an automated or information-based address. This adds an extra element of personability, showing your recipients that you care about them as an individual, not just a number in your sales process.

Failing to include contact information

Today, most cold emails are automated. Take a look at your own inbox and see how many business emails you’ve received with some variation of “no reply” right within the email address. Because of that, people are unlikely to respond to your messages unless you attach specific contact information within the email’s body.

When you forget or miss adding a contact email address, phone number, or website, you may be passing on dozens of opportunities to engage with potential business partners. Even if they want to reach out to you, you haven’t given them a convenient way to do so. When you’re trying to connect with busy professionals or individuals, you may lose their attention the second they navigate away from your email.

Not testing emails before sending them out

Depending on the system you use to compose and edit your emails, the final result may look drastically different from your original design. Even the most well-written email can fall victim to improper formatting, leaving recipients unable to read parts of or even the entire message. Optimizing your email becomes even more important when you consider your recipients will likely read it on a variety of devices, including laptops, phones, and tablets. 

To prevent this from happening, set up an email account to test your messages before you send them out to the masses. You can send every email to this account so you can view it the way your actual recipients will see it and fix any errors before moving forward.

Overlooking personalization

If you have a long list of leads to reach out to, it can be daunting to personalize each cold email you send. Many people may choose to cut corners by making their email content as generic as possible so they can send the same email to hundreds of contacts quickly.

Such emails will likely get ignored. Stand out from the crowd by taking the time to personalize your message. Using the recipient’s name and company details is a good start. Taking 5-10 minutes to look through their online presence and mentioning your observations in the email body is a way you can go the extra mile to warm the prospect to your message.

If you’re still worried about meeting your quota, here are some tips to send personalized emails on a short time budget:

  • Give yourself a time limit to look through company and individual information to use for personalization. Research can often lead you down a rabbit hole if you’re not careful. But if you set a timer, you’ll be forced to focus on only the crucial details before writing your email.
  • Take advantage of time-batching to send personalized emails. List out the companies and individuals you’d like to send cold emails to, then add a time block to your schedule to batch your personalization research. Then, when you get to the email writing, you’ll have research for each company on hand to make the process much quicker.

Ignoring follow-up sequences

Even if your prospect read and enjoyed your first cold email, they will likely forget about it in the sea of more pressing work commitments. Marketers who don’t follow up will likely have an almost 100% fail rate.

The lead is often won in the follow-up. Create a sequence of follow-up emails you can send intermittently after your first message to gently remind your prospect of your offer.

Need more leads?

Invest in professional marketing services from WebFX and kick your company’s growth into high gear.


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Bonus B2B email tips to boost your opens and click-throughs

Before we head into the expert-approved cold email templates, here are some bonus tips for maximizing your cold outreach campaign effectiveness. If anything’s been repeated, that’s because we don’t want you to forget it ;).

  • The email should come from a specific salesperson rather than a company. Cold emails are all about making personal connections with prospects, and the first opportunity a salesperson has to form that connection is in the “from” line.
  • In addition to truly caring about your prospect’s goals, you can build trust with your prospect by naming any big clients you have that your prospect may know. You could also mention having an impressive number of clients. Don’t brag—just make it clear to your prospect that you and the company you’re working for are legitimate.
  • Be sure that you have a clear CTA in your email. Tell your prospect precisely what action you want them to take next, and make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Do you want them to fill out a form? Give them a link directly to that form. (Or better yet, embed the form straight into your email.)
  • Finally, keep in mind that part of having a clear CTA is having only one CTA. Don’t ask someone to respond to you and fill out a form. Pick one. The upside of having only one CTA is that it will help you keep your email short and to the point as well.

16 cold email templates that sales experts swear by

When you’re building or refining your own email prospecting strategy, it helps to see first-hand how others have done it successfully. 

We asked 16 sales and marketing experts: “What’s the best cold email you’ve ever received or sent, and why did it work?” Here’s what they’ve shared.

1. The compliment / benefit / time / help email

example of a cold B2B sales email that is brief and includes a compliment

Zachary Rose, CEO at Zack Academy, writes:

Here’s my hindsight dissection of why this email resonated with me:

  • He started out by telling me how awesome I am, and who doesn’t want to hear that?! A COMPLIMENT that is indirect and concise goes a long way.
  • In two sentences he summed up his entire operation and made it 5th-grade-easy for me to understand their model and how I could BENEFIT from working with them.
  • He set the expectation of how much TIME I would need to invest to learn more about how we could work together.
  • HELP is something every human has a soft spot for. We love being helped and we love doing the helping. It makes both people in the transaction feel important.

To summarize: COMPLIMENT, BENEFIT, TIME, and HELP are what made this email pop. I responded within three days and have been a client ever since.

2. The “two things you should fix” email

An example of a cold B2B sales email that highlights two things the reader should fix

Forster Perelsztejn, Head of Acquisition at Overloop, says:

Writing sales emails is my job, so I’m not easily impressed. But this email I got not so long ago was a masterpiece of targeting and scalability. Because that’s what a good sales email template is all about: scaling a tedious process while getting it just right.

Why is this email awesome?

  1. The subject line is personalized and establishes a link between people from both companies
  2. The first sentence establishes a clear link between you and the company
  3. Matt inserts a humorous line, which is always good if it’s short and in good taste
  4. He gets to the point and singles out your company while teasing the why
  5. He offers value and personalization by mentioning improvement possibilities
  6. The call to action is clear and easy to respond to

Note: Sumo is big enough that they don’t have to worry about providing social proof in the first email, which might not be your case if you’re a smaller company.

3. The bear gif email

An example of a cold B2B sales email with a gif

Jonathan Grana, Co-founder & CEO at Interseller, says…

This template has approximately a 16% reply rate as the last message in a sequence. Very often these emails will result in a meeting or to being forwarded to the decision maker.

It’s important to show some personality in your emails to remind people that there is a human on the other end of that thread, but make sure to avoid the cliche of eaten by alligators.

4. The good reviews email

A B2B cold sales email that highlights positive reviews

Laura Burget, Business Development at Influitive, says:

This template works great as a first touch in the commercial segment, largely, I believe, because of how specific the identification of the pain point is, as well as the customization.

Screenshots are a fantastic way to show that you have done your homework and also communicates a story quickly for a prospect, allowing us to not just send over a wall of text.

Also, including some of their competitors who are customers of ours is another great way to grab their attention.

My approach is always to come in with an opinion/observation of a prospect’s current state, and then offer up insight into how we can help them hit their targets and grow their business.

5. The rap video email

Cold B2B sales email with a rap video

Jeremy Leveille, Sr. Business Development Specialist at LeadIQ, says…

I sent this email to a super targeted list of prospects in Atlanta. Here’s the video I sent them.

I booked a meeting using that email. Here’s what they said:

The email is all about targeting sales leaders in Atlanta who meet our ideal customer profile— the type of account most likely to buy from us and get value from our product. This would be tech companies with between 50-500 employees, based in the U.S.

It’s an Atlanta theme. I’m lip syncing the song, “Welcome to Atlanta” while wearing an Atlanta Hawks throwback jersey, then I have a quick value prop that adds value but is conversational, concise and non-salesy and end it by name dropping two customers we have in Atlanta—since the prospect is also in Atlanta they probably know those companies.

Related: 9 simple tips for using personalized videos in your cold emails

Bonus cold email tip #1:

“I’m not sure of the best cold email I ever received, but I’ll tell you what’s worked lately—a well thought-out, well researched, simple and concise question.”

It starts a conversation instead of going in for the kill right away, it’s easy for me to respond to which is low effort, and it shows you did your research so it’s relevant.

Let the conversation and pitch flow from there. It’s as easy as just starting with a simple question. Better yet, make it a flattering question or something close to an area they enjoy, and build the relationship first while simultaneously getting qualifying info.

Max Altschuler, Founder & CEO of Sales Hacker

6. The “you’re a big deal” email

A B2B cold email that says you're kind of a big deal

Josh Slone, Content Marketing Manager at LeadFuze, says…

One of the best recent cold emails we received was a great example of B2B personalization. Here are five reasons why I loved it and one critique:

Number One: The subject line and the first sentence pair nicely to prompt the open. With the majority of email users being able to read the first several words of your actual email, this sender knew that we would not only see the subject line, but also “…you’re kind of a big deal.”

Number Two: The sender knows his audience. A SaaS startup is (likely) going to appreciate a good gif. Ron Burgundy is a hilarious, yet thoughtful choice that continues the “big deal” theme.

Number Three: The “big deal” theme itself. Mentioning your customers more than you mention yourself is a rule that is broken all the time in cold email outreach. This email starts with LeadFuze and ends with how LeadFuze + my company could equal great results.

Number Four: The proof. Just saying something isn’t enough. This has an image that shows us at #1, proving it. I can say you’re awesome all day, but if I can’t make that compliment touch reality in some way, it’s worthless smoke.

Number Five: The way the benefit was introduced. “I don’t have a single customer at #1 that isn’t utilizing their positioning across all of their marketing channels.” Nice.

One Critique: Going straight for the call. If it’s a cold email, your goal is a response. You do that by offering something the reader (if interested) can’t refuse. Any market-leading B2B company wants to know what they can do to build on their success, but many won’t want to hop on a call right away. Something that enticed the reader to click the reply button (a case study or webinar) would have been more welcome.

7. The Starbucks gift card email

An example of a B2B cold email with a gift card

Dave Parsons, Field Marketing Manager at Donatos Pizza, says…

What’s funny about the above email is that I immediately went and checked my mailbox, and lo and behold, there was the Starbucks card. So I replied to Molly with:

OK, Molly… I just got my mail today and wouldn’t you know it there was the Starbucks card.

So, I decided to go use it and then do some research on your company while I enjoyed a Java Chip Frappuccino.  I watched the video about what you guys do and then scrolled through as many pages on the website as possible to see what I could find out about this brilliant person who lured me in with free coffee.  LOL

Anyway, I’ll summarize by saying that if you were to connect with someone at Donatos about this, it would be Erin Corrigan, our digital manager.  Our company is in the beginning stages of developing a loyalty program that will work with our in-house POS and website, so I’m not sure what direction we will end up going and also how that works with outside vendors.

Just wanted to give you a response and thank you for the coffee.


She totally lured me in and got the information that she wanted, all for a $5 Starbucks gift card and a first class stamp. Well done, Molly!

8. The friendly / flattery / relevant email

A B2B cold email that's friendly, flattering and relevant to the reader

Laura V. Lopuch, Email Conversion Engineer at, says…

This is the cold email format that I used to attract a $20,000 client for my business, and get another client a 33% uplift in replies on their recent cold email campaign.

This cold email worked really well, thanks to three key points:

  1. Friendly: Cold emails fall prey to the stiff, formal biz talk. That makes your cold email reader want to gag. We’re social beings and we want to connect with a breathing, live person! Let your cold email reader see your personality in your email and chances are, they’ll reply. In this email, I used friendly, casual language.
  2. Flattery: This email starts off with a compliment to warm up my reader, showing that I’m a pro because I did my research on his company. This isn’t a fly-by-night cold email. This is a highly-targeted, relevant cold email, making it more persuasive.
  3. Relevant: In paragraphs #4 and 5, I explain how I benefit and help them accomplish their business goals. My reader doesn’t have to connect the dots between what I do and how it’s relevant to him and his job, because I explain exactly how I can make his job easier or make him look awesome to his boss.

Leave your marketing to the pros

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9. The ferret email

Jon Buchan, Director of Charm Offensive, says:

So many cold email approaches fail because they go straight to persuasion.

The very first line starts with something like, “We’re the best people in the world at X…We’ve worked with X client and our groundbreaking X technology is a world’s first…”

YUCK! Of course, that gets deleted!

Your job is to sell the idea that a call or meeting with you is not a bad idea. Not to give every little detail—or to sell your entire offering in one go. Those steps come later.

Dave Trott talks about this when discussing effective advertising. Imagine for a moment that you wanted your other half to make you a cup of tea or coffee. First, you need to make impact.

“CATH!” That gets her attention.

The communication is next. “Cath, will you make me a cup of tea?”

However, that’s not very persuasive. So how about: “If you make me a cup of tea, I’ll take the trash out.”

The same rule applies to cold emails or any form of effective advertising. You need to make impact first. Then communicate. Then persuade.

You need to stand out.

Your prospect likely gets a ton of other letters and emails (and cold calls)—and they all look and read the same.

You need to make IMPACT. Without that, it doesn’t matter how good your communication is. It doesn’t matter how persuasive you are. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is.

Most people think persuasion is the most important. They focus on using specific words and formulas and forget they’re writing to a human.

But you’re not trying to beat a machine at chess.

You need to get a reaction. A bite. A nod. A smile. A laugh.

You need people to actually see and read and listen before you can communicate and persuade.

Being able to cut through—especially if it’s done in a unique or clever way—is persuasive in itself.

10. The “no extra work” email

A cold B2B email that promises no extra work for the reader

Greg d’Aboville, Head of Growth at WisePops, says…

Here’s what we liked about the email:

  • The email’s target was precise: we did use Groove
  • The email is personalized: they used our first name and company name throughout the email
  • Their copy is very good: we experienced the problems they mentioned in their email
  • They reassured us about the transition and the pricing

We tried their solution right away!

11. The partnership email

An example of a cold B2B email that proposes a partnership

Laurentiu Bancu, Marketing Manager at Paymo, says…

Here’s why this email worked:

  • It was an email about our target market: “creative freelance professionals”
  • Even if people lie about their numbers sometimes, 220,000 was a very attractive figure
  • It’s obvious that the guy sending me the email did his homework: “managing projects” is an issue for the freelancers and Paymo is in the business of helping people manage their projects
  • The sender, Damien, didn’t try to sell me something from the get-go; he proposed a partnership

12. The short and direct email

Ben Slater, VP Growth at Beamery, says:

Here’s why it worked:

Short, to the point and relevant, this email hit on the pains that a Head of Marketing typically has (i.e., lead generation), provides a solution and gives reference points to our industry (HR Tech).

Relevance is the key here. People often spend hours personalizing emails, but something that is relevant to a prospect’s pain will always win out.

Bonus cold email tip #2:

The best cold email I received was super simple. I had gotten a few emails from a rep and ignored them. Then one day, I got the following:

“pretty please”

That’s all it said. It was simple, human, and creative. I took the call based on creativity. Honestly, I was not his ideal customer profile and I told him. I let him know what I do, sales training, and told him he had carte blanche to call me any time to ask for sales advice. He’s done it a few times. It’s been a nice business relationship.

Richard Harris, Owner of The Harris Consulting Group

Gregory Golinski, SEO Manager at YourParkingSpace, writes:

I thought it was so funny and crazy, that it made me want to add them to our page. Of course, this outreach email wouldn’t work with everybody. You can’t send this kind of email to a governmental organization, for instance.

But in some cases, humor can be a powerful tool. You just need to know who you’re speaking to.

Ben Goldstein, Former VP of Marketing at Nutshell, says:

Anyone who does content marketing for a living understands what a pain in the ass it can be to secure backlinks to your content from reputable sites. As a result, it’s a task that often gets neglected. (Creating new content is far more exciting than going around begging people to link to it, after all.)

So if someone comes to me offering a backlink, and it’ll only cost me two minutes of my life, I’m jumping on it. That’s the idea behind this email, anyway—and so far, it’s worked pretty well.

There are two reasons this email template has been so successful for me:

  1. I make my ask as simple as humanly possible. I explain where I’d like my link to appear—not just on which page, but where on that page, specifically—and I provide a suggested line for how it should be presented. Cut-and-paste. Boom.
  2. I give the recipient a say in how I’ll reciprocate. As I mention in the email, I’ll link back to any content they choose, and I explain how we can work together to give that backlink the most impact. And again, I’m taking as much effort off of their plate as possible.

So, two minutes to gain something you might pay an “SEO consultant” $650 for—who’s going to say no to that?

15. The newsletter reply email

Ruben Gamez, Founder of SignWell, says…

The best cold email I’ve ever sent got me featured on The approach was actually pretty simple. This was a while ago but at the time we released some interesting research on winning vs. losing sales proposals.

Instead of sending the typical cold email I sent a real email reply as a newsletter subscriber/reader to a few sites where I wanted to get covered. (In the example above, I replied to an Inc. newsletter, so the subject line was theirs.)

It was a very short email that starts with praise, includes targeted tease (he’s a sales guy, so the research was very relevant), and only asks for feedback. Here was his response:

Interestingly enough, just a few days ago I received this exact style of cold email pitching a guest post on our blog. I get a ton of cold emails for guest posts but usually don’t say yes. In this case, it was such a good pitch I had to say yes. It felt warm—even though it was completely cold.

16. The “perfect match” article pitch email

Most people tell you to pitch a few ideas to an editor. I can’t come up with ideas for my life. Because I’m a writer, I always start with a piece I have written already and then look around for places where it might be a good fit for their audience.

It doesn’t matter if you have the piece already or not—it matters that you have a MATCH.

There has to be a match between what you’ve written (and how it’s written), what that outlet produces, and what their audience wants.

There is no way to shortcut this. You need to be familiar with what that outlet publishes and what kind of audience they target. My readers and subscribers tend to be more educated, so I look for publications that clearly target a well-read crowd who self-identify as smart and cultured.

Once I have my article and my publication, I search for the “masthead” so I can get the names of the editors. Sometimes their emails are public, other times I need to stalk them on LinkedIn, Rapportive, Twitter, and their website.

8 out of 10 times, I can find their email. If I can’t, I move on deciding it wasn’t meant to be.

This time, I was shocked to discover Ryan Holiday was the editor of the section I wanted to pitch. This was awesome since I’m a fan but also terrible since I’m a fan.

As I drafted my pitch, I forced myself to answer: What’s in it for them? Why would an editor care about an unknown writer and WANT this piece?

What’s the #1 thing a publication wants? VIEWERS.

I had to convince them that I could deliver. I have basically no audience so that wasn’t going to work. I had to think outside the box.

I made sure to earmark all the places in my article that the Observer could add backlinks to their own pieces—saving them a LOT of time and indicating I’d done my homework.

These editors are busy and are used to being screamed at and spoken to by entitled PR people who don’t do their homework. So I added this line at the end:“If you think it’s not a good fit, not a problem, I will find it a home elsewhere. It’s a privilege to get the opportunity to write you.”

Ryan never responded. But his editorial assistant did, saying Ryan had passed along my piece and they wanted to publish it—which was good enough for me.

They got back to me within a day and the piece went live. I sent a Thank You email to Ryan expressing my gratitude for being admitted and used Ramit Sethi’s “No response necessary” tip (and I meant it).

I got this in response:

“My pleasure. Hit us up if you have more


Before you send your own cold email, ask yourself…

You’ve nailed down the basic components of your cold email. You got inspiration from our expert-approved examples and templates. You’ve written out the best cold email to engage your ideal prospect.

Before you send your email (exponentially increase your opens and CTRs), take a beat and examine it. Here are a few things to ask yourself before you hit ‘send.’

“Is it obvious that I researched my prospect and their company?”

Even if you know who you’re contacting, you want to make it obvious that they know that you know. By including some relevant information, they’ll really feel like your email is addressed to them and isn’t just another solicitation. It should be apparent that you’ve done a thorough job researching them, and that you firmly believe your offer is a good fit for them.

Pro tip: Your prospect research will help you figure out whether or not you’re actually targeting the best possible person.

“Is my message concise, and is it easy for my prospect to respond?”

You don’t want to send a lengthy message that describes your product from top to bottom. Trim your message so that your offer and relevant information are clearly-worded, and then add an easy CTA at the end.

“How do you currently solve problem x?” is much stronger than “Looking forward to hearing from you.”

“Can I actually help them?”

There are so many reasons why an offer may not be a good fit for a company. If you don’t completely believe that your offer will make your prospects’ lives better, don’t send that email!

You’ll be creating unnecessary work for yourself (or your teammates) by stuffing leads into the pipeline who are going to eventually disqualify. Save yourself the trouble.

“Do I have any social proof?”

Social proof can be a simple and relevant piece of information like a quote or logo from a customer or partner company. This endorsement will help your prospect realize that you’re the real deal.

social proof with the real deal gif
Just like this.

Scan your message for an opportunity to include a detail about a customer, particularly one that will resonate with your prospect, like a customer similar to them. Although social proof isn’t always an option, it will go a long way with your prospect if done correctly.

Take your cold emails to the next level with Nutshell Campaigns

The truth is that there is still a lot of improvement to be made to cold emails in general, but there are definitely a few stand-outs to be found. With so much new technology available to sales organizations today, there’s no reason for reps to keep sending plain, ineffective cold emails.

Add some sizzle with automated email personalization and video, and you’ll have a much better shot at getting a prospect to stop and pay attention.

From automating your sales process to streamlining your emails and uniting your sales team, our CRM has the tools to help your business reach the next level. When you switch to Nutshell, you’ll enjoy the ease of use and the benefits of our award-winning customer support.

Interested in learning more? Contact Nutshell or start your 14-day free trial today!

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