If you’re in sales, sending cold emails is a part of your life. Whether you’re a sales rep following up on cold leads, a freelancer trying to connect with new clients or a sales manager thinking holistically about your lead generation approach: creating cold emails that convert is essential.
Given that most business professionals send and receive around 121 emails a day, creating great cold email copy is your best bet at cutting through the noise. Whether you’re sending sales emails in bulk or to a specific contact, the most effective cold emails are highly personalized to the recipient and the result of thoughtful research. By connecting your cold email strategy to a holistic research process, you can streamline your writing for greater impact and generate better email response rates.
In this post, you’ll learn how to take a simple, strategic, and repeatable approach to writing cold email copy that converts.
Tie your cold email strategy to your business goals
Before we start writing amazing cold email copy, we need to consider the big picture. Understanding why you’re sending a cold email is the essential first step to writing compelling email copy that converts. Here are some common business goals associated with cold emails:
- Generate immediate sales
- Set up a meeting
- Gather feedback
- Offer a specific product/service
- Generate website sign-ups
Doing cold email outreach well means connecting that process to meaningful business goals. This is true for two reasons:
A non-negotiable in writing cold emails is clarity. Understanding your sales objectives will help you avoid adding fluff and make clear, concise calls-to-action (CTAs).
“Did it work?” is the most important assessment question when you’re sending cold emails. Understanding your business goals will give you meaningful metrics to determine if the email was successful. Examples of potential metrics are revenue generated, leads generated, products sold, and meetings scheduled.
Connecting cold emails to business goals is the difference between having a cold email strategy and sending a bunch of one-off emails, hoping something good comes from it. If you’re not sure what your business goals or sales objectives are, this is an excellent time to ask your manager. It shows that you’re strategically thinking about the outcome of your work and will give you a chance to grow in your understanding of your company’s sales objectives.
If you’re a sales manager and your sales reps aren’t thinking in these terms, this is an excellent opportunity to rethink how you train and hire sales reps.
Understanding the business goal that you’re trying to accomplish will help you plan your copy with the end in mind, and ultimately lead to a higher success rate for your cold emails.
Research, research, research
Research is the cornerstone of writing cold email copy that converts. There’s no way to write compelling cold emails without detailed research into the people you’re reaching out to, their companies, and current events happening that might be impacting their industries.
Doing good research gives you the ability to personalize your cold email copy. It provides context to your requests and shows that you put in the time and effort to get to know your contacts.
In this section you’ll learn:
- Why personalization will always matter
- How to research the person you’re reaching out to
- How to find meaningful information related to their company
Why personalization will always matter
Personalization makes your cold email stand out. Period. Personalized emails generate 6x higher transaction rates and produce notably better open rates.
We’re reaching out to busy people, but utilizing personalization tools like email segmentation, including dynamic content in the body of your email, creating automated email journeys based on personal data and crafting personally relevant subject lines can bolster cold email engagement.
A crucial element in cold email personalization is contextualizing your copy for product/market fit. This means personalizing the value-add to the specific needs of a company based on its size, persona or intent signals.
In the real world, a lack of personalization communicates disinterest. We come across as pushy and tone deaf to the potential customer’s context. Personalization puts the pain points of your recipients front in center and increases the likelihood that your cold email will generate a positive response.
How to research your contact
There are a few ways to find information you need to personalize your email copy. The key is finding the right tools for the right job. Researching your recipients will generally fall into two categories: learning about their body of work and finding their email address.
1. Learn about their body of work
Aside from the basics of getting their name and job title right, understanding your contact’s work, their industry, and their pain points is imperative for cold email research. Four tools for researching your contact’s body of work are:
Company website. This is probably the most intuitive option. Look at the company’s website for an organizational chart, employee bios, and team contact information.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool if you already know the name of the person you want to email. Assuming they keep their profile up to date, LinkedIn can verify that the person you’re connecting with is still in the role that you’ve been told. If you can see work responsibilities take note of these for when you’re writing copy. This level of detail will help you speak directly to their potential pain points.
Twitter. This will be industry dependent, but Twitter can be a fast and easy way to confirm current job status, gain insight into industry pain points and learn about the person’s line of work.
Personal website. If your contact has a personal website, you’re in luck. Personal websites are often a treasure trove of insights into how your contact thinks about their industry. You may even find articles they’ve written that you can use as social proof when writing your email.
It’s important to make sure that your cold email is connecting with a decision-maker, and that should become clear in this process. If you’re having trouble determining the right person to talk to, it’s better to email the highest ranking person in the company. If they love your cold email, it’s likely that they’ll refer the information to the correct person.
2. Find their email
If you don’t already have the emails of your contacts, there are plenty of free tools to help you find that information. Listed below are some of the best free options, but there are also paid services that you may consider using.
Emailgenerator.io. This is a great tool if you’re just not sure about what the right email address is. By inputting the contact’s name and company domain, this tool will generate over 50 options of potential emails.
Mailtester.com. If you’re using a tool like
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is still one of the best ways to verify someone’s professional email. Look up your contact to see if they’ve shared their email on their profile.
Company website. Looking through the company directory on their own website will sometimes do the trick, especially with smaller businesses.
Social media. Occasionally, you’ll run across people who put their email account in their social media profiles. This is more common on Twitter.
Google. A good old-fashioned Google search can sometimes point you to a company’s email list or show you prominent places where the person’s email information is publicly listed.
Find meaningful company information
It’s important to place your contact research within the larger context of their company.
Are there significant industry changes afoot?
Current sales figures that you can access?
A recent statement from the CEO about the company’s new direction? All of these are helpful points that can strengthen how you engage with your contact through your cold email.
- Company blog
This is a great way to see current conversations within the
- LinkedIn search
Run a quick search to see what the company is posting about.
There’s no need to go overboard in your research here because if you’ve been detailed in your contact search, you’ve probably already uncovered much of the data you need. This part of the process is more about making sure there’s no glaring event happening in the company that would impact your copy.
At first, researching may feel meticulous. Putting a system in place up front is difficult, but as you piece together a focused process, you research time should decrease.
How to write cold email copy that converts
Now that you’ve determined how your cold emails are connected to specific business goals and you’ve completed research on your contacts, you’re ready to write that email.
In this section, we’ll detail the four segments of a great cold email:
To better illustrate the writing process, let’s use an example: Imagine you’re a sales rep for a growing SEO software startup, Rank’Em.
As a SaaS company, you’re hoping to generate leads who will provide recurring revenue via subscription. You’re writing to Robert Gladly, the CEO of Guzzle, a meal replacement shake company. In your initial research, you’ve noticed that Guzzle is struggling to land the first page of Google, and that their search volume is low. Rank’Em offers a free SEO audit that you think would be a great first step.
Throughout each email segment, we’ll build the perfect cold email to Robert.
Getting the subject line right is vital to an opened email. Given the sheer volume of email that business professionals receive, a compelling subject line will get you noticed. Great subject lines are clear, actionable and personalized through segmentation. Here’s how:
- Clear. This is not the place for cryptic messaging. It’s really important that you don’t use phrases and sentence structures that are nonsense: “Want to make EZ $$ now?!?!” That approach is likely to violate FTC regulations on spam. If we’re emailing to connect, that needs to be clear and easy to understand.
- Actionable. If you’re asking for something specific, this should be clear in your subject line. Think of the subject line as the smallest common denominator of your CTA.
- Personalized through segmentation. Statistics show that personalized email subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Utilize your research to make segmented subject lines for your recipients based on common personal data groupings (business size, geographic locations, etc).
The opening lines of the cold email is where your research is really going to come in handy. It’s important to demonstrate that you know the person’s name, company name, and that you can communicate their pain points in a relatable way. If you’re emailing to one person, links to their industry related work can create a strong sense of personalization.
To nail your opening line, you must focus is on them, not you. This email is about your contact, their pain points, and their work. Keeping your cold email ‘contact centered’ sets you up for a more meaningful CTA later in the email or in a follow-up.
The best cold emails center on your contact and their business goals. Take an educated guess about specific pain points and illustrate a common connection between their goals and how your product or service can help accomplish them.
We only offer a solution after showing that we understand what the recipient needs. It’s the responsibility of the person sending the email to communicate why and how they are uniquely positioned to provide a solution.
Call to action (CTA)
The closing of your cold email should always have a call to action. CTAs should contain a specific request and be easy to understand. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for our contacts to say ‘yes’ to whatever’s next. Examples of CTAs might be a phone call, an invitation to a webinar, permission to email the PDF of a case study or offering a quote via PandaDoc quoting software.
Put it all together and we have a cold email that looks like this:
Subject line: Guzzle isn’t on the first page of Google, need help?
Did you know that Guzzle isn’t showing up on the first page of Google? This happens to websites for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that they aren’t optimized for search.
For growing companies like Guzzle, generating website traffic and becoming easily ‘findable’ is essential. Rank’Em’s free SEO audit could be a helpful next step to identify what changes Guzzle could make to generate better traffic and perform better in Google’s page rankings for keywords like ‘meal replacement shakes’ and ‘food tech’.
Call to action: Can we schedule a 10-minute meeting to talk through what Rank’Em’s free SEO audit can do to get Guzzle on the path to better website traffic?
If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know.
In this example we’ve personalized our email copy through company name, recipient name, displaying a detailed understanding of a specific pain point, and connecting that pain point to the right product/market fit for our hypothetical company.
It’s important to note is that these elements could be altered for personalization with the rest of the email body remaining essentially the same. This means we’ve now got a cold email template that can be used again and again.
Create multiple cold email templates
When you’re writing personalized cold emails, it’s essential that we to become comfortable with experimentation. The template example provided above is great, but it’ll get even better with testing. Cold email copy that converts is a process.
Using the email structure of subject line, opening lines, email body, and call to action, you can create multiple cold email templates using ideal customer personas to anticipate potential needs, concerns, and pain points. Be sure to account for how this data will impact each part of your email.
Developing multiple templates that reflect the data you’ve collected on your ideal customer will deepen your email marketing and enhance cold email reply rates.
They said ‘Yes’, now what?
As you generate leads and new sales through your cold email efforts, it’s important to keep in mind the value of user friendly and secure sales documentation as a part of your cold email strategy. PandaDoc allows sales reps to easily develop proposals, manage contracts, and obtain electronic signatures — all vital elements in finalizing cold email conversions.
Great cold emails are a process. Writing cold email copy that converts requires smart research, personalized email copy, a call to action that is the right product/market fit, timely follow-up emails, and good measurement systems to determine the success of your campaigns.