How to Write a Cold Email That Generates Sales (Our Bullet-Proof Formula to Cold Emailing)

How to Write a Cold Email That Generates Sales

Cold emailing is an effective way to reach out to potential customers and promote your products or services.

It can be a powerful tool for sales, but it’s important to approach it in the right way.

A well-written cold email can help you establish a connection with potential customers and convince them to learn more about your product or service. 

However, crafting the perfect cold email takes strategy, planning, and attention to detail.

In this blog post, we’ll provide tips and best practices on how to write a cold email that we have perfected at Nerdy Joe over the years.

We’ll also discuss why sending cold emails isn’t just about making money; it’s also about building relationships with potential customers who might become long-term clients.

To keep in mind: This is not a blog post to read if you want to send cold emails to a sales list or blast your audience with random offers.

We believe every prospect has unique needs, and therefore two prospects shall not receive the same message. 

Why sending cold emails is not just about making money

Conducting a cold email campaign can be a way for businesses to generate leads and make money, but it’s not the only reason to send them. 

Cold emails can also be used to establish connections and build relationships with potential clients or partners, gather market research and customer feedback, and promote events or products.

You should approach cold emailing with a clear strategy and goals in mind. Simply sending emails in the hopes of making a quick sale is unlikely to be effective, as it can come across as spammy or aggressive. 

Also, sometimes, it can take a few follow-ups and cold email sequences to see any substantial results.

So, instead of rushing prospects into deals — they’ll probably ignore it — focus on building genuine connections with them and offering value through the content of your cold emails.

It’s also important to remember that cold emailing can be time-consuming and may not always yield results.

It’s important to track your results and adjust your approach as needed to ensure that your efforts are paying off.

10 steps to write cold emails that generate sales

Here are the steps you need to take to write an excellent cold email that generates sales. Keep in mind that this is the process we follow to write our cold emails at Nerdy Joe.

Step 1: Create click-worthy cold email subject lines

The cold email subject line is the first thing the reader will see, so it’s important to make it compelling. You want to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to open the email. 

Great cold email subject lines should be brief, specific, and relevant to the reader. Here are a few tips on how to write compelling subject lines for your cold emails.

  • Personalize it: The first element that gets your email opened is the relevance of the subject line to the prospects. Personalized subject lines are 22% more likely to be opened than generic ones. Poorly written subject line will leave your email unanswered.

You need to show prospects that you researched and targeted them with a specific offer. You can personalize the subject line with prospects’ first names based on their job title, demographics, software uses, etc.

  • Use the power of curiosity: Curiosity makes your prospects want to discover more. It gets them excited about what you want to say, and they will likely click. There are many ways you can do this. You can ask an intriguing question. Bring out a relevant fact. The sky’s the limit. 
  • Leverage FOMO: Since you are making an offer, you can also try creating a sense of urgency to get your prospects to act rapidly. If you do it right, people will click to see what you have to say or offer them. No one likes to miss out on something valuable. 
  • Keep it simple: Don’t use all caps, and don’t use exclamation points (unless you’re asking someone out on a date). These are quick ways to get your emails flagged by spam filters and end up in the junk box. 
  • Keep it short: Long subject lines never do well. Also, long subject lines always have a poor rendering in most recipients’ email box providers (especially if they use mobile devices).
  • Make it make sense: Sometimes, to be brief, you may want to try the subject with a few words. It can be a great idea, but mostly they’re evasive and vague, and as a result, the recipient fails to understand them. 
  • Use no emojis: Emojis are off-limits. While they can be a helpful way to add personality and emotion to your subject lines, they are not always appropriate in all contexts. In some cases, they may not be clear or may be interpreted differently by different people. Also, they can be too casual for cold emails. 

Step 2: Commence the cold email with an icebreaker

You are probably wondering, icebreakers, what are those? 

Most marketers and sales reps start their cold emails with simple greeting opening lines. That means the phrases they use to open the email fall somewhere between the realms of the following:

  • Allow me to introduce myself.
  • Good afternoon.
  • Good morning.
  • How are you?
  • I hope this email finds you well.
  • I hope you enjoyed your weekend.
  • I hope you’re doing well.
  • I hope you’re having a great week.

Some even take it a little further, and include the prospect’s first name somewhere in the line, then call it personalized greetings. 

  • How are you, Ibrahim?
  • I hope this email finds you well, Ernest. 
  • Good afternoon, Funmi. 
  • Allow me to introduce myself, Justin. 

But yes. At the end of the day, we can all agree that these are simple greetings. I don’t know how you’d feel, but I’d feel the same about either of those opening lines (be it with my name or without it). It’s a greeting, and that’s it. 

The point is not to say that these sentences don’t work or that something is wrong with them. What we mean is that they are poor.

For a deeper explanation of why we do icebreakers instead, let’s consider why we do them in the first place. 

Why do we do icebreakers instead?

In most cases, the prospects or leads you will target with cold emails do not know anything about you or your product. So, your success depends on capturing their full attention and making a good first impression.

To do this:

  1. First, you need to begin your cold emails with something unexpected and relevant to their unique personality so that you can hook the prospect to read your cold email. 
  2. You need a phrase that makes your leads feel valued and makes the statement that you did your homework before reaching out to them. 
  3. You need an opening line that helps you quickly build rapport with your prospects and conditions them to be more receptive to your cold email or what you have to say. 

And because of this, simple greetings simply can’t cut it. That’s why we do icebreakers. 

Icebreakers are opening line sentences integrated at the beginning of your cold email to facilitate interaction with your prospects. We use them to break the ice between our clients and prospects in order to connect with them and make them more open to receiving the message. 

Instead of simple greeting phrases, we bring interesting facts and personalized elements about the prospects to personalize the first few lines of the cold emails and make them more impactful.

Here is how we do it at our lead generation agency before launching our cold email campaigns. 

How we proceed to write icebreaker opening lines that our prospects love

We start by checking prospects’ activities on social platforms and popular online communities. 

In most cases, LinkedIn Inmail and Twitter work for most B2B professionals. 

Next, we look at their latest activities, their company’s activity, or anything else. The idea is to find a recent interesting aspect or element from their life and spark it at the beginning of the message to smoothen the conversation. 

So, we look at things like posts, likes, comments, recent promotions, job recommendations, impressive career paths, a share, a mention, a selfie, the company website, and whatever data we can talk about to create a unique first touch.

If there’s something specific about the person or situation that makes them stand out from other people—whether it be their personality or some aspect of their job—you can use this information as well. You could also compliment someone on their work or skill set.

Sure, it’s only a few lines and does not seem much like it, but it truly boosts your credibility as a marketer (or a cold emailer), and prospects can easily take an interest in what you have to tell them and read through.

Here is an example of how we keep it all in a spreadsheet before the campaign.

Now, here’s what it looks like in real life. I pitched CoSchedule’s the Head of Content, Ben Sailer, and asked him if I could write for them.

Here’s what he replied 1 hour later.

Step 3: Bring it back to the matter and validate yourself

Now that you’ve made a connection, your goal is to bring it back to the matter and validate yourself. 

This is where you get serious and start talking business. Ideally, whatever approach you use, you want your prospect to know the purpose of your outreach and what you are bringing to their table.

You can do this by mentioning the problem in a way that shows you understand what they’re facing or what could be improved in their current lifestyle:

  • “I understand that {{this}} is an important issue for your company. Our {{XYZ}}…’’
  • “Quick question, how do you feel about {{XYZ}}? We’ve had great success with our product and would love for you guys to try it out.”

Whatever approach you use, make sure that it explains why you’re reaching out and how your product or service can solve the reader’s problem or meet their needs. 

Don’t assume that the reader already knows what you’re offering or how it can help them. Instead, be clear and concise about the value you’re offering.

Here’s an example where we used a case study to pitch a VP of Marketing at a Crypto company. Here’s how it turned out.

Step 4: Drill down on the prospect’s pain points 

Now it’s time to drill down and offer value. You should be able to cite specific examples of how your product or service will help them overcome their pain point.

Mentioning their paint points is the best way to make your email valuable and your offer relevant to them. 

So, start by looking at your prospect’s pain points and needs. Look at the challenges they face that your offer can help with.

Analyze their business goals or the lifestyle they are chasing and how your product or service fits into that. 

From there, depending on the product you’re selling, you can find specific use cases of your product and offer that will be relevant to your prospect in your cold email strategy. From there, you can proceed to write the value section in your email body as follow:

  • Use cases: Unique situations where your offering will be the most meaningful and relatable to your target audience. It covers their pain points or aligns with their business or lifestyle goals.
  • Benefits: Your target audience can see how adopting your product will impact their life from reading the email body. The value you are bringing to their table or, simply, the lifestyle they will have after integrating your product or using your service.
  • Examples: Real-life case scenario of your product in action or how it has done for someone with the same need and goals as your prospect.

Bullet points and numbered lists are a great way to write this part. It’ll also make your email more readable and easier to scan. 

So, use them to highlight your product or service’s key features and benefits. This will help the reader quickly understand the value of what you’re offering and why they should be interested.

Here’s an example. In this cold email, we pitched a Head of Marketing at a B2B Marketing Agency and we focused on their specific pain point.

And here’s his reply.

Note: Struggling to fill your calendar with sales-qualified meetings? For $799/month, we’ll book 5 meetings with sales-ready prospects for you every month. Book a 15-minute consultation now.

Step 5: Personalize the cold email message

A personalized cold email is the most effective. If you have been doing everything so far, your email should be personalized already.

Because from a personalized subject line, an icebreaker that’s specific and speaks to your prospect, and their pain points and mentions of use cases based on those and their goals, your email is up for excellent personalization already. 

Now, you just need to bring it home with a few tactics. This boils down to manually adding a few personal touches to the cold email to make the statement that you are not just another marketer sending email bulk to a list of prospects. 

Here is an excellent example of an email that’s specific and relevant to a single person.

The idea here is to include a few personal elements about your recipients inside the email. In most cases, you can do it from your cold email software.

Here are a few things you can use in this context:

  • Their company 
  • Their current job position
  • Their competitors
  • Their past positions 
  • Their previous companies
  • Their first name
  • A common connection
  • Etcetera

Step 6: End with a great call to action 

A call to action is a statement that tells the reader what you want them to do next. They help boost your reply rate and instruct the prospect on what to do next. 

Also, since you are looking to sell something or connect in some way with the prospect through the cold email, it only makes sense to include a clear CTA in your cold email outreach message. 

Depending on your goal, the right next step in your funnel or simply what you’re selling, this could be setting up a call to discuss the product further, visiting your website to learn more, or filling out a form to request a quote. Make it clear and easy for the reader to take the next step. 

Here are some CTA examples you can use in your cold emails. 

  • Get 50% off now
  • Learn more about {{XYZ}}
  • Are you interested in {{your_offer}}?
  • Will this work for you?
  • Book your next appointment
  • Start your free trial.
  • Can you please put me in touch with the right person?
  • Get results now
  • Start now. Get results.
  • Is this a priority issue you want to resolve?

Also, be proactive with the CTA, as it may give your prospect the extra kick they need to take action.

For example, when you ask them when they’re interested in a call, be sure to include a link they can use to access your calendar and set up the call easily. If you want them to take a step towards your brand, give them a preview, etc. 

Step 7: Test and optimize

Once you’ve written your cold email, it’s a good idea to test it and see how it performs. Send it to a small group of people or people you work with and see how many of them open it and click on it. 

Based on the results, you can make changes and try again. This process of testing and optimizing is basically A/B testing, and it can help you refine your email and improve its effectiveness.

Step 8: Follow up

It’s not uncommon for cold emails to go unanswered — especially if you target a busy person. If you don’t hear back from the reader after sending your cold email, it’s a good idea to follow up.

Following up on cold emails is important because it can increase your chances of getting a response and ultimately achieving your goals. 

Some reasons to follow up on a cold email include:

  • To remind the recipient of your email: If your initial email was lost or forgotten, a follow-up can serve as a reminder to win the prospect’s attention and get on their radar.
  • To provide additional information: If you sent an initial email and the recipient expressed interest but asked for more information, a follow-up can provide the additional details they need to make a decision.
  • To overcome objections or address concerns: If the recipient raised objections or had concerns about your initial email, a follow-up can provide further explanation or address those issues.
  • To build a relationship: Even if the recipient is not interested in your initial offer, following up can help you establish a relationship and stay top of mind for future opportunities.

When following up on a cold email, it’s important to be respectful of the recipient’s time and to be clear about the purpose of your follow-up. 

Here are some tips for following up effectively:

  1. Keep it short: Your follow-up email should be brief and to the point.
  2. Personalize the message: Add personal elements about the recipients and refer to specific details from your initial email to show that you’re paying attention and value their time.
  3. Offer value: Consider offering additional resources or information that may be useful to the recipient.
  4. Be patient: It’s important to give the recipient enough time to respond before following up. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least a week before sending a follow-up email.
  5. Use a clear subject line: A clear, concise subject line will help the recipient understand the purpose of your email and make it more likely that they will open and read it.
Note: Struggling to fill your calendar with sales-qualified meetings? For $799/month, we’ll book 5 meetings with sales-ready prospects for you every month. Book a 15-minute consultation now.

7 tips to improve your cold email and set yourself up for success

Here are a few tips to improve your cold email and set yourself up for success and close your prospect. 

Don’t be aggressive in your cold email (offer or sales pitch)

As a sales rep or a marketer, whatever you sell through cold outreach, it’s generally not a good idea to be aggressive in your cold messages. And there are a couple of reasons why. 

Firstly, being aggressive in a cold email can make it seem like you are just trying to sell something without considering the recipient’s needs or interests.

This can make your email feel impersonal and may lead the recipient to mark it as spam or ignore it altogether.

Also, if you come across as pushy or aggressive in your cold emails, it can damage your reputation and make it harder to establish relationships with potential clients or partners.

And lastly, being aggressive in a cold email is unlikely to lead to a successful outcome as it decreases your chances of success. Instead, it’s important to approach cold emailing with a focus on building genuine connections and offering value to the recipient.

It’s generally a better approach to be respectful and considerate in your cold emails, focusing on building relationships and offering value rather than trying to make a hard sell.

This can help you establish trust and credibility with the prospect and increase your chances of success.

Optimize your cold email for deliverability

Start by getting the technical stuff right before launching your cold email campaign. Technical elements such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC can all hinder your cold email deliverability when not set up well. 

Also, be sure to avoid email spam trigger words in your cold emails or subject lines. Always keep things simple and ensure your email copy doesn’t include too many images, HTML, or other content that can be seen as spam. 

Get your cold email signature right

Your email signature and the way you sign off are also key elements that contribute to how your prospect feel about you when they’re done reading your cold emails.

Having a good subject line is great for a successful cold emails, but signing off the right helps ensure a brand recall and improve the reader’s experience. Here are some tips for getting your cold email signature right:

  • Keep it simple: Your signature should be easy to read and not cluttered with too much information — especially since this is your first cold email campaign.
  • Include your name and title: Make it clear who you are and what you do, as this will help the recipient understand your role and how you can potentially help them.
  • Include your contact information: Make sure to include your email address, phone number, and any other relevant contact information, such as a LinkedIn profile or website.
  • Use a professional font and layout: Choose a clean, professional font and layout for your signature to give a good impression.
  • Be consistent: Use the same signature for all your cold emails to establish consistency and make it easy for the recipient to contact you as they know it’s the same email sender.

It’s also a good idea to review and update your signature periodically to ensure that it reflects your current position and contact information.

Avoid formal languages

You also need to avoid using formal language like “Dear” or “Ms.” If you use these opening line greetings, it might seem like you’re trying too hard to be professional—and that could make people uncomfortable.

It’s better if you can use normal names instead of titles when writing cold emails because it shows that there’s no need for formalities between yourself and your cold leads (you’re just talking directly with them).

Build rapport in the first sentence

The first sentence of your email should build rapport. This can be done by being friendly but not too familiar. You want to show that you’re a human being and not just some automated system sending out emails at random.

Close the email by thanking the reader

End the cold email by thanking the reader for their time and providing your contact information. This is a polite way to end the email and makes it easy for the reader to get in touch with you if they’re interested in learning more.

Keep the cold email brief and to the point.

No one wants to read a long, rambling email, especially when they don’t know you. Stick to the most important points and leave out any unnecessary details.

Aim for a cold email that’s around 200-300 words, or roughly the length of this paragraph.

20 cold email templates you can use for inspiration to write a cold email

Here are cold email templates that you can use as a starting point to come up with your own.

These templates are based on different angles you can take to write cold sales emails you can send your prospects. 

Template 1:  The Value Proposition cold email

Here you focus on highlighting the value that your software or tool product can provide to the recipient.

Template 2: The Personalized Approach cold email

This cold email template focuses on making a connection with the recipient by personalizing the cold email to their specific needs or challenges.

The goal is to make the email relevant and compelling so that they open it, read, and take your desired action. 

{{Your Name}}

Template 3: The Testimonial or The Social Proof cold email

This cold email template focuses on using customer testimonials to demonstrate the effectiveness of your product.

Template 4: The Case Study cold email

This template focuses on using a case study to demonstrate the effectiveness of your SaaS product.

Template 5: The Free Trial or Demo cold email

This template focuses on offering a free trial or demo of your product to the recipient in order to get them interested about it and hook them to buy.

Template 6: The Exclusive Offer cold email

This cold email template focuses on making the recipient feel special by offering them an exclusive deal or offer.

Template 7: The Referral cold email

This cold email example focuses on using a referral or introduction from a mutual connection to build credibility and establish a connection with the recipient.

Template 8: The Limited Time Offer cold email

This template focuses on creating a sense of urgency by offering a limited time deal or promotion.

Template 9: The Industry Expert cold email

This template focuses on positioning yourself or your company as an industry expert and offering valuable insights or resources to the recipient.

Template 10: The “Just Checking In” Follow-Up cold email

This template can be used for following up on a previous email or touchpoint with the recipient.

Template 11: The “New Product Launch” Announcement cold email

This template can be used to announce the launch of a new eCommerce product and generate interest from potential customers.

Template 12: The “Best-Selling” Product cold email

This template focuses on highlighting the popularity and success of a specific eCommerce product.

Template 13: The “Exclusive Offer” for VIP Customers cold email

This template focuses on making the recipient feel special by offering them an exclusive deal or offer.

Template 14: The “Customer Testimonial” Cold Email

This template focuses on using customer testimonials to demonstrate the effectiveness of your ecommerce product.

Template 15: Solve a problem

Using this cold email format will help you identify a problem that your recipient may be facing, and offer a solution through your product or service.

Template 16: Build rapport and offer

Find common ground or shared interests with your recipient, and use this to establish a connection and build rapport.

Template 17: Ask for advice and introduce your product

Show that you value your recipient’s expertise by asking for their advice or guidance on a specific topic.

Template 18: Invite to a sales event

Invite your recipient to attend an event or webinar that you think they would be interested in.

Template 19: Offer a sample to try out

If you have a product or service, consider offering a free service or sample to give your recipient a chance to try it out.

Template 20: The “personal story” cold email

If you want to share a personal story or experience that relates to your product or service and how it has helped you or someone you know, this is the combo of the right cold email template and compelling subject line that you need to get prospects interested.

Key takeaways

  • In your cold email, the first paragraph should be compelling, grab your reader’s attention, and set up what comes next.
    The second should build on that premise by adding more value or information that makes it worth their time to continue reading your message (or click through).
  • You also need to understand what makes your brand unique and capitalize on that in your first few sentences so people know what they’re getting into when they open your email.
  • Remember, your cold email needs to be highly personalized and focused on one specific person. It should not be generic. Personalized cold emails always win. You should also include a call-to-action in your message that clearly tells the recipient what they need to do after reading your cold email.

Note: Struggling to fill your calendar with sales-qualified meetings? For $799/month, we’ll book 5 meetings with sales-ready prospects for you every month. Book a consultation call now.

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