There are many reasons why you might need to send a cold email as a marketer. The fact that it is so commonly used in B2B communications means that it is something that most of us simply cannot avoid doing at some stage in our careers — or while building our businesses.
That said, cold emailing often makes even the most hardened marketer or salesperson feel a little uncomfortable; there is something a little unnerving about reaching out to a total stranger who you have never communicated with in the past.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Cold emailing is still an effective sales and marketing tactic when done right.
The problem is just that many don't get it right.
Cold email is an art. And you need to know how to get the most from the tactic for it to be effective, as well as to prevent uninterested recipients marking your mail as spam.
And let's be clear on one point — cold emailing isn't spam. Not when done properly.
Just because you have never communicated with someone in the past doesn't mean that you can't add value to them and that you don't have something of value to offer them.
Yet all too often, cold communication is considered spam simply due to the number who don't do it right.
In this guide, you will learn how to do cold emailing the right way, whether that is as a marketer or a salesperson, and walk away with a series of different templates that you can utilize for your own cold communication. Here is what this cold email guide will cover:
- What Is Cold Emailing?
- The Golden Rules of Crafting the Perfect Cold Email
- Cold Email Templates that Convert
- 1. Guest Post Outreach
- 2. Pitching to The Press Outreach
- 3. Resource Link Building Outreach
- 4. Outreach Follow Up
- 5. Influencer Collaboration
- 6. Value-Add Sales Pitch
- 7. Do Me a Favor Email
- What Is Legal When Sending Cold Emails?
What Is Cold Emailing?
You are probably familiar with cold calling. You know, where a telemarketer or salesperson calls you up and tries to sell you something, get you to complete a survey, or something similar.
Once a lot more common than it is now, but there is a good chance you remember it well.
You can probably count on one hand the number of times when you actually took action from such a call. And those where you did were most likely calls that addressed a current need of yours or added some sort of value and gave you a reason to listen to what they had to say.
Remember this — it is all about adding value.
We will come back to this later.
Quite simply, cold emailing is when you reach out (by email) to someone who you have never had previous communication with. It is like cold calling but by email.
There are a number of reasons people send cold emails; here are some of the most common reasons:
- Link building outreach (including guest posting, resource link building, and digital PR)
- Sales prospecting
- Influencer marketing
- Seeking mentoring
- Asking a favor from someone (appearing on your podcast, sharing tips for your round-up, etc.)
The most important thing to grasp when running a cold email campaign is how to do it, rather than why.
By understanding what drives success, what just frustrates recipients, and what pretty much guarantees that your email will be deleted without being read, you can tailor your emails accordingly.
The 7 Golden Rules of Crafting the Perfect Cold Email
While it would be wrong to say that there is only one right way to put together a cold email, there are definitely things that you need to make sure you consider.
Cold emailing isn't an exact science, and that is the beauty of the tactic — there are best-practices you should adhere to and things that you need to make sure you avoid.
Choose Your Prospects Carefully
You should not be using a 'spray and pray' approach to any form of marketing, let alone cold emailing. Spray and pray is where your 'strategy' is to send as many emails as possible and hope that a small number stick and are responded to.
- This is spam; it is not a marketing tactic, but a surefire way to damage your reputation.
- It is also why cold emailing gets a bad name.
It is important to take the time to carefully build up a relevant list of prospects whose inclusion you can justify.
For every contact that you add to a prospecting list, you need to know why they should be there and how they would benefit from the content of your email.
This also gets you thinking about the tactic from their perspective, not yours.
How will they benefit from your email? Don't focus on you.
Prioritize Getting Your Subject Line Right
If your subject line is weak, you can be sure your email will go straight to trash.
In fact, it is safe to say that your email's subject line is the most important part of any cold email. If your subject line isn't engaging, your email isn't going to be opened and read.
And if your email isn't being read, the recipient isn't going to be taking any action.
Be sure to prioritize getting your subject line right. Avoid subject lines that sound spammy or look like a blatant sales attempt and focus on adding value.
Personalize Your Emails
No one wants to feel like they are receiving the same email as hundreds of others, especially when you are offering something deemed to be "exclusive."
You need to make sure that you are personalizing your emails, at least to some degree.
There are a number of ways that you can do this, including segmenting your prospect list into tightly targeted groups who share the same problem or have a commonality between them.
At the very least, be sure to personalize by name and their business or publication, as well as showcasing why you believe they could benefit from what you have to offer.
Introduce Yourself Properly
The whole concept of cold emailing means that your recipients don't know who you are. They have had no prior communication with you, so it is important that you properly introduce yourself.
- Why should someone listen to what you have to say?
- What is your experience, and how does that relate to their current pain points or frustrations?
- Why should they trust you?
At this stage, you are a total stranger, so you need to break the ice and build trust quickly. But this is harder to do than it sounds. Building trust, at least partially, by email, isn't easy.
One of the most effective ways that you can do this is by including social proof and giving the recipient something they can connect with, whether that's namedropping a common connection, showcasing recent social engagements, or even press mentions.
The more you can do to build trust early on in your email, the better your success rate will be.
Identify and Demonstrate a Pain Point
Unless you can create a hook that encourages the recipient to read your email right through, you will lose them.
You need to identify and demonstrate a pain point that your prospect has, before going on to showcasing how you can help them to overcome this. This is very much a 'what's in it for them?' approach, and unless you can show this, you may struggle to gain traction from your efforts.
This, in reality, is the ultimate ice breaker. And when you can successfully demonstrate how you can help overcome a problem, you have got a foot in the door.
Focus On Their Benefits, Not Yours
It is all about them, not you.
Don't make the mistake of writing a cold email that raves about how good you are at what you do, how good your service is, or even how great your latest piece of content is.
No one cares.
OK, well, maybe they do, but not straight away. Straight-up sales pitches rarely work, and they are usually not the right approach to cold emailing.
By focusing on the benefits that exist for your prospects, and focusing upon their needs and not your own, you immediately position yourself in a different light.
Be there to help, not to sell (yet).
Keep It Short and Sweet
We are all busy people, and no one has time to read an essay that has come as a cold email.
Whether doing link building outreach, connecting with influencers, or trying to generate leads, you need to keep your emails short and to the point.
Don't overcomplicate things, and don't waffle. Get straight to the point and focus on getting your value across quickly before you lose their attention.
7 Cold Email Templates That Convert
So we reviewed the dos and don'ts, but how about the actual email itself?
We are pretty sure what you are actually looking for is examples and templates that you can go and customize for your own campaigns.
We have put together seven cold email templates that are proven to work.
Take them, edit them, try them out on your own campaigns using the tips above, and then let us know how they work for you.
1. Guest Post Outreach Email Template
There is a good chance that, if you are doing link building, you will be sending outreach emails to try and land guest posts, but all too often, guest post pitches get ignored.
And there is a reason for it; most aren't very engaging and have minimal effort put into them, and it shows.
Remember, cold emailing should make it about them, not you. What will a publication get from sharing your content with their audience? Focus on conveying that, rather than taking an approach of thinking what you will gain from it.
Try this template to land more guest posts:
An industry expert wants to share their insights with your audience...
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.
I'm [Name], the [Job Role] at [Company]. I have more than [X Years] experience in the industry and, over that time, have built up a specialist experience in [Specialism].
I'm getting in touch to open up a discussion around an opportunity for us to collaborate and add value to your readers.
I had a few ideas for insight-driven articles that I think your readers would love; all backed by my knowledge and expertise.
The topic ideas that I had are:
- [Idea 1]
- [Idea 2]
- [Idea 3]
This could be a great opportunity for your readers to read a fresh perspective on these topics from someone with years of experience.
You can see some examples of other articles I've written here:
- [Example 1]
- [Example 2]
- [Example 3]
Of course, I'm happy to also discuss any other ideas that you have, even if that's giving expert comments for pieces of content you're already working on.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
2. Pitching to The Press Outreach Email Template
There is a good chance that, as a link builder, you are using digital PR as just one of your chosen tactics to earn links from the press.
Having a great story is (maybe more than) half the battle, but getting your pitch to the press right is just as important.
After all, there is no value in a great campaign that no one sees.
You need to get your pitch right to convince a journalist to cover your campaign (and link to it).
Try this template to earn links from the press with your campaign asset:
(We are basing this on a data-driven city comparison asset, but you can switch up the structure for other campaign formats):
New study reveals that X is the most popular city in the world for Y...
A brand new study, launched today, has revealed that [X is the most popular city in the world for Y.]
The research, conducted by [Company] studied a number of factors, including [Factor 1, Factor 2 & Factor 3] to reveal insights around the cities around the world where [Y] is the most popular.
You can find the full research here: [Link]
The research found that the 5 most popular cities for [Y] are:
- City 1
- City 2
- City 3
- City 4
- City 5
And the 5 least popular cities are:
- City 1
- City 2
- City 3
- City 4
- City 5
I thought this could make a great feature for your readers, and, given that you regularly write about [Topic] thought it may be of interest to you.
If I can help in any way, offer expert insights or quotes to alongside the research, please let me know.
3. Resource Link Building Outreach Email Template
A resource could be a piece of content that you have created, your business itself, an event, or even a person.
If you have something of value that could be used as a resource by an audience, you will likely be pitching it to try to build links with it.
But how do you maximize success? By adding value.
Try this template out:
[Resource] could add great value to your readers...
I'm getting in touch today to introduce you to [resource], which I think could be of real value to your readers.
[Summary of what the resource is]
You can view the [Resource] yourself at: [Link]
I noticed that you link out to a number of other really great resources on [URL of page that links out], and thought that this could be great to sit alongside these.
I thought that this might be of real interest and useful to your readers because:
- Reason 1
- Reason 2
- Reason 3
If you need any more information from me, please just let me know. You know where I am.
4. Outreach Follow Up Email Template
You have sent an outreach email but heard nothing back.
Here is a template that you can use to follow up on your original email:
Re: [Your original subject line]
I was just wondering whether you'd had a chance to take a look at the below that I sent across the other day?
I appreciate that your inbox will be busy, but I just wanted to loop back in as I think that this could be great for you because [Value add].
5. Influencer Collaboration Email Template
If you want to work with influencers to elevate your brand's reach to the next level, you need to convince them that you are a brand worth working with.
Try this template to convince an industry influencer to promote your products or services:
Are you open to a collaboration with [Company]?
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.
I'm [Name], the [Job Role] at [Company]. I look after our influencer partnerships and wanted to explore an opportunity for us to work together.
[Info about company]
We've been following your content on [Platform] for some time and believe that you would be perfect for us to collaborate with. I think our audiences really align and we'd love to explore ways in which we could work together.
We really liked [example post / collaboration] that you worked on with [other brand] and would love to discuss doing something similar.
Is this something that you would be interested in?
6. Value-Add Sales Pitch Email Template
The reality is that most salespeople will need to use cold emailing to generate new business at some stage of their careers. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But you need to approach it carefully and write a convincing email. Try this template:
How we helped businesses like yours to achieve [X]...
I've got a pretty good feeling that, based upon my experience working with other businesses in the [Sector] industry, that you're probably struggling with [Challenge].
You are not alone and, in fact, it is something that I have been working with businesses to overcome for the past [X] years.
[Add insights into your experience]
I wanted to let you know that, this week, we published a FREE guide that our team has put together that shares insights into how you can [what it includes].
I thought this might be of interest for you to take a look over and for you to see how our approach compares to what you are currently doing.
You can find the guide here: [Link]
You may also be interested to take a look over a few of our recent case studies that show how we helped businesses just like yours to achieve [goal].
Please let me know what you think, or if you'd like to arrange a call to chat further.
7. Do Me a Favor Email Template
Whether you want to ask an industry-leader to appear on your podcast, ask someone to act as your mentor, or ask pretty much any other favor, there is a right and a wrong way to ask for someone to give you their time.
You need to convince them that it is worth it and that they should choose to give their time to you over someone else.
Here is a great thread on Twitter started by Joel Klettke that gives a great insight into the mindset you need to take here.
Bad pitch: "Hi, I've put literally no thought or effort in, but I'd love a handout. Can I pick your brain?"— Joel Klettke (@JoelKlettke) May 23, 2020
Great pitch: "Hi, I've carefully researched X. I've done Y and Z to try and solve this myself. I've got two specific Q's I know you can answer, given your experience."
Try this template out for success, based around a request to land podcast guests:
[Name], I'd love to have you as a guest on [Podcast]...
I know you're busy, so I'll cut straight to the chase...
I am [Name], the host of [Podcast].
Every week, we interview industry experts and talk to them for 30 minutes to get their take on [Topic].
I would love to have you on as a guest.
I have followed your work for a few years, and think that you could add real value to our [Number of] listeners.
In fact, why don't you check out some of our recent episodes to get a feel for the show? You can find them here: [Link]
All we'd need is 30 minutes of your time over [Skype / Zoom / Hangouts] and I'd circulate the discussion points the week before.
Are you interested?
I'm flexible on the time that we do this; I'll fit around your schedule. Just let me know when might work for you.
Of course, if you are not available, that is totally fine and I hope you still get a chance to check out the podcast.
If you have got any questions, just let me know.
8. Link Reclamation Email Template
If you have found that your brand has been mentioned online but there is no link, you need to reach out and ask for this to be added.
The main thing to remember here is that you need to focus on adding value to users; there has to be a reason for the link to be added, besides you just feeling you deserve it (as harsh as that sounds).
Here is a great video on turning brand mentions into links to learn more, but try this template out:
[Name], I'd love to have you as a guest on [Podcast]...
I’m getting in touch regarding an article published on [publication], with the title of “[article title]” - It was written based on research conducted by my client, [client].
It was fantastic to see that the research was of interest, thank you for the coverage. It’s really appreciated.
I was wondering, however, if it would be possible for you to add a link to the research page itself?
This would enable readers to [demonstrate the editorial value here] and to view the original research and associated data in more depth, as well as provide full credit to my client for their work.
Here are the relevant links:
Article: [link to the publication’s article]
Research: [link to the research / linkable asset]
If you have any questions or I can help in any way, please feel free to get in touch.
What Is Legal When Sending Cold Emails?
Of course, one final thing to address is the legalities surrounding cold emails.
You are probably wondering what you can and can't do when it comes to reaching out to cold prospects.
The good news is that the answer to this is pretty simple, and well outlined by Prospect.io, who states that:
Is it legal? Yes, it is, in most cases, but you need to follow a few rules.
There are also different rules to follow depending upon where you are based and who you are reaching out to.
The legislation that cold emailing falls under in the US is the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) act.
To abide by this legislation when sending cold emails, you need to make sure that:
- You provide an easy and obvious way to unsubscribe from future communication (this doesn't need to be a button, and can be a line that asks them to let you know if they'd prefer not to be contacted again).
- That you honor unsubscribe requests within 10 days.
- You must provide a legitimate physical address alongside communication.
- Subject lines must be relevant.
- You must not send an email to a harvested email address.
In Canada, it is the CASL (Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation) that you need to abide by.
And this is where things are very different than in the USA.
To send someone an email, you need to have either oral or written permission. Implied consent is not sufficient. That means you need to get a referral from a common connection or cold call and ask for their permission to send an email.
It is Australia's Spam Act that governs cold emailing in Australia, and this reads:
Under the Spam Act, it is illegal for unsolicited commercial electronic messages that have an Australian link to be sent, or cause to be sent. A message has an Australian link if it originates or was commissioned in Australia, or originates overseas but has been sent to an address accessed in Australia.
However, implied consent is acceptable in Australia, meaning that you can still send cold emails if a contact's email address is publicly displayed alongside their job role, and the content of your email relates specifically to their duties within this.
You have no doubt heard all about GDPR. It governs personal information, and cold emails are most typically sent for B2B purposes.
So long as an easy opt-out is provided, B2B cold email communication is legal, but you need to make sure that the content is targeted to people who you would expect to find it useful.
Put Your Prospects Need First and Don't Spam
Of course, if you adhere to best-practices and put your prospects first, you shouldn't need to worry about breaking legislation in most instances.
Concentrate on adding value, offer a clear option to opt-out, and build relationships before trying to hard-sell.
There comes a time when we all need to send cold emails as part of our jobs, but it doesn't need to be as daunting as it often feels.
Armed with the right templates and an understanding of best-practice approaches, you can make cold emailing work for you and see success off the back of it.