The art of writing a cold email that converts isn’t as easy as it seems. But luckily, there are powerful, actionable tips that can teach you how to write a cold email, help you structure your copy, and improve cold email reply rates.
Because the nature of cold email affects every aspect of the email copy, this article will cover tips and provide examples as we go further into the email structure. We’ll go through every element:
Element 1. Sender name
Your email “From” name is the first thing a recipient sees when opening their inbox. And with 42% of people claiming they check the sender name first to decide whether to open an email, it should instill trust and look solid.
To make yourself look trustworthy enough to convince the recipient, you can do a few things:
Establish a direct association with your company or product
This will be an instant reminder of what the email is about. You can use your personal name, but don’t use it alone. Some of the most popular combos are:
- Holly from [Company Name]
- Kele at [Company Name]
- [Company Name] [Department]
- [Company Name]
Keep the sender name short
Most mobile devices and computers only display up to 30 characters. Anything longer will be cut off, and your clients simply won’t see it.
Don’t change the sender name (too often)
It can confuse recipients and damage the trust you’ve gained. If you absolutely have to, it’s better to switch between the options we’ve offered above, saving the logical link with the company’s name.
Don’t send sales emails from a “no-reply” address
No-reply should be used strictly for transactional, verification, change-your-password emails, and the like. Your email “From” address is your lead’s only means of contacting you after the cold email. Leave it open for communication.
Make sure the sender name is similar to the sender email address
This should go without saying, but make sure your cold email from Kate is not sent from email@example.com address.
Consider using a generic sender name
Generic email “From” names like Team [Company] perform better, as the click-to-open and the click-through rates are 26% and 38% higher compared to emails with personalized sender names.
Element 2. Subject line
A cold email subject line affects your open rate the most, with 35% of email recipients claiming they open emails based on the subject line alone.
There are a couple of ways you can create the best subject lines for cold emails. Here’s how:
Keep the subject line short
Don’t forget about mobile optimization – for example, iPhones cut off subject lines that are over 32 characters. Subject lines under 10 words show a better open rate (0-5 words – 16%, 6-10 words – 21%). Besides, millennials (who are dominating all industries right now) have an attention span that is below 2 seconds, so make sure your subject line can catch their attention within this time frame.
Keep the subject line relevant to the email content
If the subject line doesn’t reflect the message inside, it can be seen as misleading. So, if you need to combine multiple points in one email, find a common thread to include in the subject line.
62% of emails are opened because of personalized subject lines. Add personalization variables to your email subject lines, and always have a plan B in place. For example, in case there’s no name associated with the recipient’s address, add replacement words (like “there” in a “Hey [[NAME]_replacement],” turning it into “Hey there”).
Use the most important words in the beginning
Start with the most significant information so that your recipients can see it on any device.
Add power and trigger words
Power words trigger an emotional response in people. You can find more in our list of emotional trigger words and phrases that can help you convey an emotion easier and convert faster.
Never bait or give false promises
Creating a clickbait email subject line might boost the open rate, but it will also increase your spam report rate. Don’t play with people’s trust.
Don’t use capitalization
This is a rather old and ineffective way to stand out in the recipient’s inbox. A capitalized subject line, or even a part of it, will look unprofessional and spammy, especially in B2B communication.
Try using emojis
It has been proven that emojis in email subject lines increase the open rate, but only if they fit in. It’s a good idea to use emojis for specific mailings, like the ones dedicated to holidays. However, always make sure emojis will be met positively by your target audience.
Don’t start a sentence that will be finished in the email body
Though it may seem to be intriguing, people prefer not to receive such emails. They try to minimize the time it takes them to check their emails and use subject lines to evaluate whether an email is relevant.
Avoid spam trigger words
To pass through spam filters, make sure your subject line doesn’t contain spam trigger words. We have collected the list of 550+ spam trigger words, so you can check which ones are better not to use.
Element 3. Preheader
Preheader is a piece of text visible right after the subject line in your inbox or at the top of the email template when the message is opened. It’s usually either left unused or wildly underused. But by experimenting and optimizing the preheader text, open rates can be boosted by 45%.
Now that we’ve covered the preheader value, let’s investigate its best practices:
Don’t leave it blank
Or else it will be replaced with the content that is on top of the message. It may also stay blank, taking away an opportunity to show something more than just a subject line to a recipient who is still deciding whether to open your email.
Keep it short
Preheader length varies depending on the OS, device, the length of the subject line, etc. Generally, it should be between 40-130 characters long. However, most mobile devices only display up to 55 characters.
Don’t repeat yourself
Both the subject line and the preheader will be displayed side by side. Use this space to tell more about the email and intrigue the recipient.
Continue the subject line idea
One email, one goal. If your subject line is about inviting the recipient to a conference, your preheader should confirm it, not introduce a completely different offer.
Insert a call-to-open
Make sure both subject line and preheader engage the prospect to open an email.
Element 4. Greeting
Greetings. Hi. Hey! Or maybe Dear Sir or Madam… Dare we say, howdy? There are so many ways to greet a prospect. But do simple greetings result in better conversions?
The following tips can help you write a friendly and appropriate greeting:
Do start cold emails with a greeting
Drop it only when responding to the recipient’s positive reply within a short time to make it look more like a friendly dialogue. And even then, it could only be done after having established a certain relationship with the lead.
Do consider the relationship with recipients
Greetings set the tone for further communication. Know your audience. If your prospects are old-school business people, they will hardly appreciate familiarity. At the same time, professionals in their 20s can be bored into inaction by a “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Don’t use gendered language
Banned by top firms, gendered salutations like “Dear Sirs” can be petty, exclusive, and offensive. Besides, they show you didn’t do your research. The gender-neutral language will let you come across as polite and avoid any mishaps in addressing the prospect.
Do personalize your greeting
While this shouldn’t be the only personalized element of your email, mentioning the recipient’s name in the very beginning will show them that you know who you’re talking to. Ignoring this element might make your offer seem too dry and generic.
Don’t use exclamations
Too many exclamations might come across as overwhelming. It’s better to use one in your email body instead of the greeting.
Do double-check the name of the person you’re addressing
Details like these are extremely easy to overlook, and you don’t want to end up paying for a tiny mistake with a good potential client gone.
Best greeting ideas
It’s impossible to choose the actual best greeting that will suit any person in any position. So have a look at the table of the most popular greetings and select one that suits your cold email best.
Element 5. Body
The subject line and preheader were so catchy that the recipients had opened your email. Your greeting was attractive enough, and they decided to read the text through. Now, the email body is the thing that can either boost sales or ruin an email campaign.
Here are some pieces of advice that can help you write a persuasive copy:
Know your customers
Every detail matters: geographics, business type, position, gender, age, buying motives, and others. This is why you should create a buyer persona, know their pain points, needs, and desires, as well as be aware of how to appeal to them.
Adjust your language and tone
Use the professional email language. If you know that you are writing to an experienced CEO, try to avoid colloquialisms and slang acronyms. Hardly any business person will be happy to see such an email from a potential partner. Just look at the example below:
Keep it short
The best email length is between 50 and 125 words. According to research, the least number of recipients respond to 500-word emails (15%), while emails consisting of 200-250 words show a higher response rate (19%).
Our advice is to make your emails a one-minute read. Try to stick to email marketing statistics and don’t make your copy longer than 250 words. Also, you can conduct an A/B test to find out what email length works for you.
Get to the point quickly
Don’t write unnecessary long introductory parts. Quickly get to the things that are of greatest value to the prospects.
Avoid spam trigger words
Spam words are the things to avoid as they decrease email deliverability and open rates. Spam detection mechanisms use smart algorithms that track everything about you and your email, including SMTP server information, domain information, links, pictures, and more.
Focus on value and benefits, not features
Of course, your prospects should be aware of the features your service provides. But they can find this info on your website. You’d better show them the benefits they will get if they choose your particular product.
Add a bit of color
Every color has its influence on people, calls them to do a certain action, and evokes feelings. Learn the psychology of colors in email marketing and design emails like a pro. You can use:
- red for CTA;
- yellow and orange to provide a sense of cheapness;
- green to soothe readers;
- or purple to create a sense of luxury and creativity.
Too many colors look like a mess, two are enough: one color – for the text itself (or the background) and another one – for the CTA to attract attention to the most important spot of the text.
Add an Unsubscribe button at the end of an email
Make sure the recipients have the opportunity to not get any emails from you in case the email doesn’t correspond to their needs. Not giving subscribers a way to opt-out is guaranteed to land the sender on the spam list very fast.
Decide what attachments to use (if any)
Attaching a video in an email can increase CTR by up to 300%. Using videos, you can easily attract prospects, catch their attention, and gain respect. With visual support, people will grasp the information much faster.
You can either attach them or paste a link in the email body. In both cases, it will be displayed correctly. Other ways out are a GIF, a picture with a link to your YouTube channel, or a cinemagraph.
Pictures can be used as an alternative to videos. The advantages of images are simple: a human brain conceives visual information 60,000 times faster than a textual one, and it makes the plain text look better.
But pictures can make you lose: some of the ESPs don’t display them by default, and spam filters may activate if you use too many images. It’s up to you whether to insert pictures, but if you’ve made up your mind to use them, these pieces of advice might come in handy:
- don’t attach too many images, one is enough;
- be ready with a fallback text in case the image doesn’t display in the recipients’ ESP;
- create your own images for the email campaign (you can try such free services as Canva or Crello).
Links are an easy way to improve CTR and increase conversion rates. This is why every marketer should include them in their emails. Using links, you push customers to click on them, go to your website, and make a deal.
But don’t think that lots of links in the text will lead you directly to success. The more links you insert into the email, the higher the chance the email will land in the Spam folder instead of Inbox, and the more suspicious the email is to ESP.
Choose the font
Times New Roman? Courier New? Or probably Arial? When it comes to the font, it’s better to stick to the classics or conduct an A/B test to find out which one your recipients are more favorable towards.
Here’s the list of 10 email web safe fonts that are the most popular and widely used (the list was kindly provided by Stripo):
Of course, you can create your corporate font and make your emails stand out in the prospects’ inbox. But be careful with them and check if they are displayed correctly in every ESP and on every device. Unfortunately, web fonts are not supported by most ESPs; the exceptions are:
- AOL mail
- iOS Mail
- Apple Mail
- Android (default mail client, not Gmail app)
- Outlook 2000
- Outlook.com app
If you still decide to use your corporate or web font, make sure you’ve chosen the best fallback typeface (the one that will be displayed in the ESP if it can’t display your font).
Pieces of advice are a great idea, but you may need some bright examples to have a better insight into what and how to write.
* Any resemblance to real people or businesses is purely coincidental.
1. Software for mobile app development:
2. Software for website promotion:
3. Software for cold email automation:
Element 6. Call-to-action
Call-to-action (CTA) is a word or a word combination used to create an immediate response. As a rule, this significant part of an email is placed in the end. It provokes readers to click on it and, as a result, get what they want. Some of the examples include “Click here,” “Buy now,” and “Subscribe.”
Here are a few tips for creating an effective CTA:
Write one CTA
Two or more CTAs drive the recipients from the main goal, confuse them, and make them less eager to click. Emails with a single CTA can increase clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%.
Keep it short
To write “Subscribe now. Read more. Download for free” in one CTA button isn’t the best idea, as it will be either extremely large or unreadable because of the small font.
Use large fonts
Make the CTA visible and easy-to-read and click.
Design the CTA
A simple “Click here” with a link attached performs worse than a bright button, and it merges with the general email background.
Make it stand out
If the whole email is in blue, then use red for CTA. It will stand out and attract readers’ attention.
Address a recipient
Add the possessive pronoun “your,” e.g., “Download your ebook.”
Create a sense of urgency
Persuade the prospects to click right now, not in a day or two, e.g., “Download your ebook now.”
Use the rounded CTA button with italicized text
The rounded button won’t improve the CTR but can reduce the unsubscribe rate by 25%.
Element 7. Sign-off
Sign-off (or you can call it simply a farewell) is the conclusion of an email. This particular piece of any message bears and expresses the desire for further seeing, cooperation, and gratitude.
According to HuffPost, the most popular sign-offs are thanks (62%), name or initials (46%), sincerely (44%), love (28%), and regards (22%). The most annoying sign-off is “peace” (21%).
Many things can be said about which sign-offs are good or bad. This is why I’ve decided to summarize possible ideas and mark them as “preferable,” “acceptable,” and “non-acceptable.” You can choose any of them with definite prospects in mind.
Here are some tips for writing the best sign-off:
Mince the words. Think about whether you would be happy to see “CU soon” in the sign-off from a business partner or a subscriber. Write the words you believe to be professional and avoid colloquialisms, slang, and taboos.
Avoid caps and exclamation marks
They convey the idea of being shouted at.
Don’t use emojis
Though emojis in the subject line can increase the open rate, in the sign-off, they are out of place. They are unprofessional and informal.
Check for mistakes
No one likes mistakes and misspellings.
Reread once again
Is the message tone appropriate? Are there no mistakes? Great! Move on to the next step – signature.
Element 8. Signature
An email signature is the closing part of an email that provides the recipient with your personal information: name, business phone number, email address, website URL, and others. Quite often, senders add social networks links into their signatures. Sometimes, people insert a witty or funny quotation, but to me, it’s unprofessional.
The importance of signature can’t be underestimated:
- More than half of marketers use a signature in their emails (52%).
- Emails with photo signatures gain 32% more replies than those without it.
Tips for writing a prominent signature:
Keep colors simple
The simpler, the better. No cacophony of colors.
Stick to 7 lines
Fewer lines won’t provide the prospects with full information about you. More lines will be too cluttered.
Add your photo
This way, you will win favor and prove that you are a reliable person.
Provide recipients with the company information
The company name and website are enough.
Write contact information
Make it easy to contact you and stay in touch.
Include social network icons
Prove that you are a real person with personal pages (or, what is even better, with working professional pages).
Wrapping it up
Now you know how to write a good cold email to potential clients and call yourself a professional cold email marketer. You can compose the best subject lines for cold emails that can improve the open rate, greet people in a professional way, add well-performing CTAs that improve the CTR, say a professional good-bye, and have the best email signature.
If I’ve missed any tips, write in the comments and share some more pieces of advice you’d like to add to this article.