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April 25, 2024

The Ultimate Cold Email Guide: Best Practices And Tools

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Some people may have told you that cold email is dead.

But what if they’re wrong?

While statistics vary from source to source, they all agree on something: cold email marketing delivers excellent ROI.

In fact, Optinmonster, in their comparison of email marketing vs social media, reveal that email outperforms social media marketing by miles when it comes to sales.

If done right, cold email can be a really effective way to generate sales leads and drive conversions.

In this post, we take you through 10 cold email best practices, as well as our favorite email tools to ease your workload.

Keep on reading if you know the basics of cold emailing, but need help with making it scale.

Let’s get started!

1. Contact the right person

Don’t send your emails to a long line of generic company email addresses (for example info@) if you can help it. Every spammer in the world has already done that before, and the email account is most probably unmonitored or sending most incoming emails to spam.

At best they’re checked regularly, but it won’t be by the person you need to speak to. There’s the chance your email will end up being forwarded to the wrong department, filed away, or even deleted.

Instead, you want to find your stormtrooper.


Take some time to find out exactly who would be the best person to send your email to. Who is the decision-maker in the company you’re trying to do business with?

By finding the email address of the decision-maker you greatly increase the chances of your email getting seen.

It shows you’re not just sending your message out to everyone, but you’re carefully selecting those that you want to do business with.

Want some tips on finding relevant email addresses? HubSpot has some great advice on how you can find any email address simply.

2. Don’t send the same email to everyone

Most companies receive a lot of unsolicited emails from people offering their products and services.

While not all of these emails may actually get read, it’s likely that the people receiving them have a really good eye for spotting relevant emails.

A valuable, interesting, and personalized email demands a little more attention; a second glance.

Generic mass emails, on the other hand, put people off. Templates are fine to use, but that doesn’t mean those templates can’t be made unique for each individual recipient. Make sure you add copy/images that relate to them and only them to show that they aren’t just another company to you.

If you can, it’s always better to start your email off with custom content to make a good impression from the beginning. For example, instead of speaking about your business straight away, you could start the email by congratulating them on a recent achievement, or perhaps by mentioning a certain aspect of their website, products, or services that you like.

This way, you show them that you have genuinely done your research about them and their business. Then you can start talking about yours.

3. Write an awesome subject line

The subject line of your email can be the difference between someone opening it or sending it to the trash. In other words, a well-written email subject can save the day.

Here are few things you can do to write a subject line that’ll get you noticed:

Use first name and company name in the subject line

Including your recipient’s first name in the subject line is a great way to add instant personalization to a cold email.

According to Communicator Corp, personalization is a guaranteed way to reduce email unsubscribes, increase the number of clicks, and lead to a higher open rate.

In fact, automated emails which include personalization have a 75% higher open rate than those that don’t.

However, this is a tactic used by many companies. So how do you stand out from the rest? Personalize that a little bit more!

As well as using their first name, try incorporating their company name, or the name of any mutual connections, into the subject line too.

Ask a question

It’s also very effective to ask the recipient a simple question in the subject line.

When people read a question, they will automatically answer it in their heads; meaning your email requires attention straight away.

Of course, it’s also very important for a subject line to give an indication of what the email is about. A question is a concise, clear way to do that.

For example, if you are selling design services, you could write: “Anna, does [company name] need a hand with design work?”

This is straight to the point and is clearly aimed at only them. They’re therefore much more likely to click on it if their answer to your question is ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’!

Keep it short

Last but not least, keeping your subject line within the email provider’s subject line view is key.

Think about it: if a subject line is cut off with “…”, do you bother opening the email?

It’s all about finding the right balance between one that’s short enough to fit within the subject line view, but also be long enough to be informative, engaging, and compelling.

Getting it right is a tricky task. There are lots of different ideas about what the ideal subject length is. Marketers have, after all, been arguing about it since the very first email was sent.

However, the beauty of email marketing is that you can run A/B testing. Try out some different email subject lines to different segments of your email list, and see what happens! You’ll soon find out what your own, unique audience is most receptive to.

4. Show personality

Listen up: this is perhaps one of the top pieces of advice to take note of when it comes to cold email marketing.

When you’re cold calling, you can use your tone of voice, enjoy a back-and-forth rapport, and even share jokes during your phone conversation.

However, when you send a cold email, you just have your written words to win them over. It’s essentially a one-way conversation.

It’s super important, then, to try and create some of that personality that you would show with a phone call.

Ok, so maybe you can’t go Ozzy Osbourne on them. But you can do the following:

Acknowledge that you’re sending a cold email

For instance, you could draw attention to the fact that you are aware of the bad rap that cold calling/cold email can get.

Within the email itself, perhaps include something like, ‘Sorry, I realize this is a cold email, but I simply had to get in touch!’

This makes you sound more human. You’re an entrepreneur trying to market your business, not a robot mass-emailing by the thousands!

Make your copy easy to read

Try and keep your message short, to the point, and easy to understand. A common guideline is to keep it within 50-125 words.

If you were speaking to someone on the phone, you wouldn’t talk and talk for minutes at a time without waiting for them to respond.

The same applies here. In your initial email, you don’t really need to explain the whole background to your business or product. You just need to quickly outline what it is that you’re getting in touch for and how you can help them.

Everything else can be discussed at a later date if the recipient is interested. It’s also important to keep sentences short, keep paragraphs concise, and don’t use any unnecessary words, keywords or jargon.

When someone is reading your email, they may be at work or on the go. Either way, it’s unlikely that they’re going to be in a situation where they’re sitting down to read something right there and then.

So, if the email body is easily scannable, they’re far more likely to read and really consider your email.

95% is about them

Another tip to create a cold email that’s personable is to make it 95% about them, and just 5% about you.

What we mean here is don’t just write a generic message about what you do. Instead, explain how what they do can be improved/made easier with your service.

While your email is about your product, you need to be speaking about the benefits that they will receive rather than the features of what you provide.

For example, let’s say you’re a photographer offering your services to an ecommerce company. In your email, don’t speak about your camera equipment or your editing process. Instead, you could point out:

  • The extra sales the E-commerce company will receive from having attractive product images on their website
  • How much more professional and trustworthy their company will become
  • How they can compete with others in their industry

Pro tip: the photographer could also name a few competitors that have a stunning images to give them an idea of what they could achieve.

5. Finish your email with a call to action

A cold email without a call to action is like a birthday party with no cake. Sad, sad times.

Make sure it’s super easy for your audience to learn more, set up a call or ask you a question. Either direct them to enquire about your offering directly or, to be even more personable, ask a closing question.

For example, you could finish off your email by asking if you can send over some samples, your price list, or set up a call.

Your aim here is to encourage engagement, even if your prospect isn’t sure if they’re interested yet.

6. How informative is your email signature?

An informative, professional email signature is a way for people to check you out before they make a commitment to respond - to try before they buy, if you will.

Think of this as your client window shopping on a Saturday afternoon. You want them to take one quick glance and know that you’re open for business.

They may want to check out your website or socials before answering, so put your web address and social media links in there too.

It’s also a good idea to include your logo and any other key information or company news. This is a good way to extend the message of who your company is without needing to use up space in the actual email.

7. Proofread your email

Don’t send the email the minute you’ve finished writing it.

If the email is full of typos, or you’ve accidentally left someone else’s name in the email (yes, this happens!), chances are you’ve lost your client.

Go off and do something else for a while, come back and then proofread it with fresh eyes.

8. Make your email different from the rest

Did you know that we currently send around 126 trillion emails every year?

That’s a lot of emails.

So even if you do follow all of the advice above, how will you avoid boring your prospects to death?

Tell them a story

According to OneSpot, 92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like a story.

Now, while you may not initially think of a cold email as an ad, it actually is in many ways.

You’re putting your offer (whether directly or indirectly) in front of a prospect, which is essentially what an ad is for.

So how do we work storytelling into our cold email campaigns?

In an interview with Terry Dean (who once made over $96,000 from just one email!), he says there are 5 different types of stories you can use:

The Case Study story

Case studies are a great way to gain credibility.

Get in touch with customers and ask what results they achieved from working with you/your business.

You can then use their words to start building your story.

The Reason Why story

If you’re having a sale/special offer, explain the reason behind the offer.

For example, this month you’re offering 25% off because it’s the company’s 25th anniversary.

The Origin story

Describe why it is that the company exists.

Was there a gap in the market? Did you need what you offer but couldn’t find it anywhere, so decided to build it yourself?

This enables the reader to get to know you, understand your values, and discover what unique offer you bring all at once.

The Vision story

This is a way for you to share your vision for your industry. How do you picture it evolving and changing for the better in the near future?

And, of course, how you can help be part of that change.

The Rapport Building story

Less focused on direct selling, this is more about connecting with your prospect on a personal level.

Think about what you may have in common.

Are you local so share the same weather/news? Do you both work in marketing? You could tell a story about a television advertisement that you recently liked (or loathed).

The story doesn’t have to take up most of the email. It doesn’t even have to take up a whole paragraph.

Even just adding a throw-away line at the end of a sentence, in your introduction, or even as a P.S. is enough to make sure your email will be different from anything else they’ve read that day – and that’s the way to stand out.

9. Be persistent

It’s really important to keep track of who you’ve emailed and where in your sales journey you are with each prospect.

In most cases, clients will have to be emailed again and again before they actually make a purchase. But stick with it!

This will involve a mixture of speedy follow-ups, email re-sends, and a tight email list.

Let’s discuss these a little further.

Automate your follow-up

If you have quite a large email list, it does make a lot of sense to automate your follow up.

This way, you can make sure you’re keeping the conversation going with your prospects- even those who have not yet responded.

Automated follow-ups will also ensure that you are sending at the best time intervals and time of day possible to get the best results.

Related: Our Guide to Email Marketing Automation Services

Re-send emails

Don’t be afraid to re-target those prospects that haven’t opened your email yet. This doesn’t always mean they’re not interested.

Sometimes, it takes 3, 4, even 5 emails to finally get an open- but it’s worth the perseverance!

Pro tip: If you’re re-sending, make sure you use a different subject line each time. Sometimes, different words/length/tone for a certain client can make all the difference.

Clean up your email list regularly

You may notice that, after a while, your email list has some addresses that are no longer relevant.

In this case, it’s sensible to spend some time now and again to clean up your list to remove these.

This means that you don’t end up spending tons of time and effort emailing companies that you almost certainly know won’t be interested in your offering.

Not only this, you could even save money on your email software subscriptions too, as many of them base their price on the number of subscribers to your email list.

10. Keep track of performance

A very important part of a winning email strategy is knowing what your audience wants. If they’re not jumping up and down for more, then what can you change to make that happen?

Are they more receptive to shorter subject lines? Are emails sent in the morning receiving better open rates? What's your reply rate?

The only way to figure this out is by working alongside your analytics and testing out different approaches.

Many of the email marketing platforms that we list in just a few moments offer analytics tools to help you optimize your campaigns.

Cold Email Tools

After reading about what it takes to build a good cold email strategy, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed.

But don’t worry! There is plenty of cold email software out there to help you find prospects, verify their emails, automate your follow-ups, and track analytics in just a few steps.

Here are some of our favorites:

To find and verify prospects


Before you send your emails out, this tool can help you to find and verify the email addresses and job titles of your prospects.

Once you have your cold email outreach list, Prospect enables you to create either individual emails or email sequences that are automatically set up for sending. What’s more, it provides analyzing and tracking options too.



NeverBounce gives you real-time email verification for any amount of prospects.

You simply upload your email list, and a new validated list is provided. This is handy should you have a typo in your database or if a prospect’s email address has changed.


Contactout homepage.png

ContactOut is a web browser extension that displays a popup for social media profiles such as LinkedIn. The popup will display the email and phone numbers of your prospects as shown in the image above.

Related: How Many Business Owners Are Advertising on LinkedIn?

Voila Norbert


This tool gives you 50 free credits to find corporate email addresses – either individually or in bulk.



FindThatLead allows you to validate your prospect’s email in seconds by adding the name, last name, and company domain into their search tool.

To send emails and automate follow-ups



This email productivity software allows you to schedule emails to send at optimal times and snooze messages.

It also gives you read receipts and follow up reminders if someone doesn’t respond to your email.

The highlights of Outreach include: inbox upgrades, email templates for faster communication, and open/click tracking. A word of warning, it’s not cheap and it’s mostly targeted at larger companies.


This is a simple solution where you can generate leads, build relationships, and promote content with your Google account.

MailShake also offers automatic follow ups and enables you to schedule follow-ups or emails triggered by link clicks.

Highly recommended if you’re looking for a complete, yet affordable solution to streamline your cold email process.


This tool works with any mail server and provides a follow-up service for all of your emails.

HubSpot CRM


HubSpot CRM enables you to organize, track, and nurture your leads and customers for free.

No matter how large your team is, you can use Hubspot CRM for up to 1,000,000 contacts, users and storage. It will also handle sending emails from templates and following up. Some of the functionality you’ll have to pay for, but it’s all worth it.

Related: Full-Service White Label Marketing Tools



This is a really simple yet effective follow-up tool.

All you need to do is write the amount of days you want to follow up in before the @ in their email address (e.g. ‘ in the ‘bcc’ field of an email.

You can also forward your pending emails to times where you would rather read them (e.g.



This follow-up tool sends automated emails to your email lists that are customized to appear as if you sent the email yourself.

It also enables you to track and analyze all of your follow-up emails every easily.

Related: White Label Email Marketing Tools

Key takeaway – what you can do today

Email not only provides a really effective way of advertising your business to relevant prospects, but there is a whole host of nifty tools that can help make your campaigns both easy and effective.

To get started right now, think of 10 prospects you’d like to work with. Use one of the email finder or email validation tools mentioned above and start building your mailing list.

Then, using our tips on writing a good email, you can start creating your cold email strategy – remember, tell your customers a story, be unique, customize every email and follow up!

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