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How to Write a Cold Email: A Step-By-Step Guide

Updated: Jun 18

As a salesperson in the digital world, you may have asked yourself: "How exactly does one craft a cold email that not only gets opened but also garners a response?".

Believe it or not, cold emailing is less about selling yourself out of the blue and more about initiating meaningful conversations from scratch.

Tip: Explore "Cold email meaning".

This guide is your blueprint to mastering the craft of cold emailing, regardless of your goal.

If you want to land your dream job, clinch that all-important sale, expand your professional network, or partner with another industry player, the essence of cold emailing remains the same – making that first impression count, building a connection, and progressively warming up your leads.

Here, we'll walk you through the art and science of cold emailing in seven digestible steps.

From pinpointing your target audience with laser precision to signing off in a way that leaves your recipients wanting more, we've got you covered.

We'll share tips, tricks, and best practices that have stood the test of time, alongside what to avoid to keep your emails from the dreaded spam folder.

Buckle up as we dive into the world of cold emailing, and take a look at:

how to write cold emails

How to write a cold email

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get right into it and go into detail on the 7 steps you need to follow to write cold emails like a seasoned pro:

Step 1: Building your target audience

Before crafting the first word of your cold email, you need to pinpoint who exactly your message is intended for.

This step goes beyond simple identification and involves a deep dive into understanding the individuals who make up your audience, with things such as their roles, industries, challenges, and how your offering can resonate with them.

The aim is to personalize your approach so effectively that each recipient feels the message was handcrafted exclusively for them.

With 80% of people surveyed preferring sales reps to contact them through email, building the right audience is a great first step to getting the responses you want.

Here are several strategies to help you build a targeted audience:

  • Use LinkedIn for deep dives into professional backgrounds: LinkedIn allows you to explore potential contacts by industry, role, and even mutual connections. This insight is gold when personalizing your emails.

  • Utilize industry forums and online communities: Places where your target audience congregates online can offer insights into the challenges they face and the solutions they seek.

  • Attend industry events and webinars: These gatherings are not just for learning; they're a goldmine for networking and understanding the current hot topics within your target market.

  • Find new email addresses with tools like Beyond just finding email addresses, some tools can offer information about company structures and roles, allowing for more targeted outreach.

  • Analyze competitors’ audiences: Understanding who your competitors are targeting can provide good leads for the types of people who might be interested in your offering.

  • Segment your audience: Not all your recipients are the same. Segmenting your audience allows for even more personalized messaging, increasing the likelihood of engagement.

Carefully constructing and deeply understanding your target audience sets the stage for your cold emails to land in the right inboxes, initiating the first step toward meaningful dialogue.

Step 2: Crafting your subject line

The subject line is the gateway to your cold email, wielding the power to entice recipients to open and read your message.

The subject is your first impression, and in the world of email, you rarely get a second chance to make one.

Have a look at these strategies to craft an engaging cold subject line:

  • Keep it brief and intriguing: Aim for a word count that is concise yet captivating, guiding the recipient's curiosity towards opening the email.

  • Personalize whenever possible: Including the recipient's name or a specific reference to their company can significantly increase open rates – studies show that personalization increases the likelihood of your email being opened by 22%.

  • Spark curiosity without being misleading: Your subject line should pique interest but remain honest and relevant to the email's content.

  • Use action verbs: Starting your subject line with an action verb can make it more compelling and drive the recipient to open the email.

  • Avoid spam triggers: Words like "free," "guarantee," or excessive use of exclamation points can send your email straight to the spam folder. You can check the spammy-ness of your emails using our free spam words checker!

  • Test and refine: Don't hesitate to test different subject lines to see what jives best with your audience. What works for one segment may not work for another.

Your subject line is your first (and sometimes only) opportunity to make an impression. Make it count by writing a line that conveys value and invokes curiosity.

Step 3: Make a relevant greeting

The greeting of your cold email sets the tone for your message and can significantly impact how the rest of your email is perceived.

A well-chosen greeting can make your email feel personal and engaging from the very first line.

  • Use the recipient's name: Addressing the recipient by name adds a personal touch that can grab their attention and show that you've taken the time to specially write the email for them.

  • Professional yet friendly tone: Depending on your industry and the recipient's role, "Hi [name]," "Hello [name]," or "Dear [name]" can strike the right balance between professionalism and approachability.

  • Consider the company culture: If you're emailing someone at a more casual startup, a simple "Hi" might be appropriate. For more traditional industries, "Dear" could be better suited.

  • Avoid overly familiar greetings: While being friendly is good, using greetings like "Hey" or "Howdy" with someone you've never contacted before can come off as too casual or unprofessional.

  • Use a respectful generic greeting: In cases where you can't find the recipient's name, opt for a general yet respectful greeting like "Dear [Role/Title]" or "Hello [Company Name] team."

A thoughtful greeting demonstrates respect and sets a positive tone for the rest of your cold email.

Step 4: Keep the content short and to the point

Brevity is your ally in the cold emailing world.

Keeping your cold email concise and to the point respects the recipient's time and increases the likelihood of a response – cold emails that are just 3 to 4 lines long have a 50% higher response rate!

Here's how to craft content that's both engaging and succinct:

  • Lead with the most important information: Don't bury the lead. Your opening sentences should immediately convey the email's purpose and why it matters to the recipient. Tip: Create captivating email hooks!

  • Use bullet points or short paragraphs: Breaking up your content makes it easier to read and digest, especially for recipients scanning the email on mobile devices.

  • Focus on one primary message or ask: A focused email is more effective than one that tries to cover too much ground. Decide on your main objective and build your content around it.

  • Highlight key benefits: Instead of detailing every feature of your product or service, focus on the most relevant benefits to the recipient.

  • End with a clear call-to-action (CTA): Your CTA should be straightforward, guiding the recipient on what to do next in a clear and concise manner. It can be “visit this page”, “buy now”, “contact us”, or anything like that prompts the reader to take action.

The goal of your cold email isn't to provide a comprehensive overview of your offer but to spark interest and encourage further dialogue.

Keeping your content focused and brief shows that you value the recipient's time and are considerate of their busy schedule.

Step 5: Address the pain points

Identifying and addressing the recipient's specific challenges or "pain points" in your cold email shows your understanding of their needs, and positions your offer as a potential solution.

  • Research your recipient: Before writing your email, spend time understanding the recipient's industry, role, and possible challenges they face. This research can often be done through their company website, industry forums, or social media profiles.

  • Be empathetic: Show that you understand the difficulties they might be experiencing. Phrases like "I understand how challenging it can be to..." can show empathy and build a connection.

  • Show why you’re the solution: Link your offering directly to how it can alleviate their specific pain points. Make it clear how your product or service can make their life easier or more productive.

  • Use real-life examples: Briefly mention case studies or testimonials that demonstrate how you've successfully addressed similar challenges for others.

  • Keep it relatable: Be sure that the way you discuss pain points and solutions is directly relevant to the recipient's level of expertise and their company's scale.

Addressing pain points shows that you’ve done your homework as well as helps to create a more compelling and personalized email that stands out in a crowded inbox.

Step 6: Add value and a call-to-action

Every cold email should offer value to the recipient, paving the way for a clear call-to-action (CTA) that guides them on what to do next.

Here’s how to incorporate these critical elements:

  • Provide immediate value: Offer something of value upfront, such as a free resource, a helpful tip, or an insightful piece of content related to their industry or challenges.

  • Be specific about the value: Clearly articulate how engaging with your email will benefit the recipient. Whether it's saving time, reducing costs, or improving efficiency, make the value proposition clear.

  • Craft a compelling CTA: Your CTA should be straightforward and tell the recipient exactly what action you want them to take next. Whether it's scheduling a call, signing up for a demo, or simply replying to the email, make it clear and easy to follow.

  • Make the next steps easy: If you’re asking for a meeting, suggest a specific time or link to your calendar. If you’re offering a resource, include a direct link. Remove as many barriers as possible to make it easy for them to say yes.

Combining a strong value proposition with a clear CTA can significantly increase your chances of getting a positive response to your cold email.

Step 7: Email closure and signature

The closure of your email and your signature play essential roles in leaving a lasting impression and providing your recipient with the necessary information to take action or learn more about you.

  • Choose a professional closing: End your email with a polite and professional closure such as "Best regards," "Sincerely," or "Warmly," followed by your name. The choice of words can subtly influence the tone of your email and should align with the overall professionalism of your message.

  • Keep your signature informative but succinct: Your email signature is an opportunity to provide your recipient with your contact information and other relevant details without cluttering the body of your email. Include your full name, title, company name, and contact details. Optionally, you can add links to your LinkedIn profile, company website, or other professional platforms.

  • Use social proof where appropriate: If applicable, your signature can include a brief mention of a notable achievement, endorsement, or a link to a case study that reinforces your credibility.

  • Avoid overwhelming visuals: While it’s tempting to include logos, social icons, or even certifications in your signature, too many visuals can be distracting and may affect the deliverability of your email. Stick to text and simple formatting for maximum compatibility and professionalism.

A well-crafted email closure and signature should wrap up your email nicely, and give the reader ways to research and contact you or your team.

Best practices for writing cold emails

Now that you’ve got the steps for writing an email, what about some of the best practices you should keep in mind while writing?

Show personality and personalize

Infusing your cold emails with personality and personalization can significantly increase your chances of getting a response.

When you show personality, you transform your email from a generic message into a personal conversation.

Adjusting your message to closely match the recipient's unique circumstances, needs, and interests takes personalization beyond the simple inclusion of their name.

Research your recipient thoroughly to find a connection point, whether it’s a recent company achievement, a shared interest, or a mutual connection.

This approach demonstrates that you’ve invested time in them, making them more likely to invest time in you.

Persistent but not spammy

Persistence is key in cold emailing, with email chains of 4-7 messages having nearly triple the response rate, but there's a fine line between being persistent and becoming spammy.

Following up on your initial email is important, as it can often take several touchpoints before receiving a response.

However, it’s important to do so respectfully and thoughtfully.

Space your follow-up emails appropriately, just a few days between messages, and always add value with each new touchpoint.

This could be in the form of new insights, relevant content, or a gentle reminder of how you can address their pain points.

Remember, the goal is to build a relationship and demonstrate your value, not to overwhelm or annoy your recipient.

Warm up your emails and verify your email list

Gradually enhancing your sender reputation is essential to make sure your messages make their way to the intended inboxes, rather than ending up as spam. using a tool like Warmup Inbox simplifies this endeavor.

Here's how it works:

  1. Begin with a few daily emails, incrementally increasing the volume.

  2. Engage positively with replies, showing email providers your active engagement.

  3. Automate the warm-up process with Warmup Inbox, methodically boosting your reputation as a credible sender.

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Similarly, verifying your email list holds equal importance, ensuring that every address is both valid and active, which minimizes bounce rates and solidifies your sender's reputation.

EmailListVerify comes into play here, offering a straightforward solution:

  1. Check the validity and activity of each email on your list.

  2. Reduce bounce rates significantly, a key factor in upholding a strong sender reputation.

  3. Regularly cleanse your list using EmailListVerify, removing any inactive or incorrect email addresses.

Send emails at the right time and day

Timing can significantly impact the effectiveness of your cold email campaign.

Research suggests that cold emails sent on Mondays had the highest open rate of 22%, followed by Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (that’s convenient!).

Early mornings, between 6-9 AM EST, are often the best times to send emails, as people are starting their workday and are more likely to check their inboxes.

However, these trends can vary depending on your industry and the specific habits of your target audience.

Consider conducting A/B tests to determine the optimal sending time and day for your emails, catering your strategy to when your recipients are most likely to engage.

Always follow up

Follow-ups are a critical component of a successful cold email strategy, reinforcing your initial message and demonstrating your commitment to establishing a connection.

However, the key to effective follow-ups lies in striking the right balance – being persistent without being intrusive.

Here are some guidelines to make your follow-ups hit the mark:

  • Timing is crucial: Wait for 1-2 days after your initial email before sending a follow-up. This gives the recipient enough time to respond to your first message without feeling pressured.

  • Add value with each follow-up: Instead of simply reminding the recipient of your previous email, offer additional information, share a relevant article, or provide a new insight that enhances the value of your communication.

  • Limit the number of follow-ups: Generally, sending two to four follow-up emails is a good rule of thumb. Beyond this, if you haven't received a response, it's respectful to assume the recipient is not interested and move on.

  • End on a polite note: If it's your final follow-up and you still haven't received a response, politely acknowledge the recipient's busy schedule and let them know this will be your last email. Offer them an easy way to reach out in the future should their situation change.

By following these guidelines, your follow-up emails can serve as gentle nudges that keep the conversation going, increasing your chances of getting a response while maintaining a positive relationship with your recipient.

What you should avoid when cold emailing someone

While there are a lot of good things to do, there are also some things you should avoid whenever possible.

Generalizing the recipient

One common mistake in cold emailing is failing to personalize your message, leading to generic emails that fail to resonate with the recipient.

Avoid using template language that could apply to anyone. Instead, tailor your email to reflect the recipient's specific interests, challenges, and industry context.

Show that you've taken the time to research and understand their unique situation, making them feel valued and more likely to engage with your message.

Being too salesy or aggressive

While the ultimate goal of many cold emails might be to sell a product or service, approaching the conversation too aggressively can be off-putting.

Avoid hard-selling techniques or focusing too much on your needs rather than the recipient's.

Instead, focus on building a relationship and providing value.

Demonstrate how you can solve a problem or improve their situation, and let the sale come naturally as the relationship progresses.

Sending emails without a clear goal or CTA

Every cold email should have a clear purpose and a straightforward CTA that guides the recipient on what to do next.

Avoid vague language or leaving the recipient wondering about the email's intent.

Whether you want them to schedule a call, read an article, or simply reply with their thoughts, make your CTA clear and easy to follow.

A well-defined goal and CTA can significantly increase your chances of getting a positive response.

Neglecting to follow up

Assuming that a lack of response to your initial email means disinterest can lead to missed opportunities.

Many recipients are simply too busy or overlook emails in their crowded inboxes.

Failing to follow up means potentially missing out on engaging with interested sales prospects.

Respectfully following up shows persistence and can often lead to responses from recipients who were interested but hadn't had the chance to reply earlier.

Cold emails use cases & examples

Cold emails can serve a variety of purposes depending on your goals.

Here's how to approach cold emailing for different scenarios, including one example for each use case.

Cold emails for a job

When seeking employment opportunities, your cold email should convey your interest in the company and highlight how your skills and experiences align with their goals.

Here is an example:

Subject: Enthusiastic Marketing Grad Eager to Contribute to [Company's] Success

Dear [Hiring manager's name],

I recently came across [Company]'s impressive launch of [Product/Service], and it resonated with my passion for innovative marketing strategies and my recent academic achievements in marketing.

I'm keen to explore how my background in digital marketing campaigns and my fresh perspective can contribute to the continued success and growth of [Company].

Thank you for considering my outreach. I would be thrilled to discuss how I can add value to your team.

Best regards,

[Your name]

[Your contact information/LinkedIn]

Cold emails for salespeople

Sales-focused cold emails should quickly capture the recipient's interest by addressing their potential needs and how your product or service provides a solution.

Here is an example:

Subject: Boost [Company]'s ROI with Our Cutting-Edge SaaS Solution

Hi [Recipient's name],

As someone deeply committed to optimizing business processes, I couldn't help but notice your recent initiative [Reference to a company initiative]. 

At [Your Company], we've developed a SaaS solution that has helped companies like yours increase their operational efficiency by up to 30%.

Could we schedule a 15-minute call next week to discuss potential synergies?


[Your name]

[Your website/other social links]

Cold emails for SEO outreach

For SEO (Search Engine Optimization), marketers can use cold emails to propose their services by demonstrating their understanding of the recipient's current online presence and offering actionable insights.

Here is an example:

Subject: Unlocking [Company]'s Full SEO Potential

Hello [Recipient's name],

I've been following [Company]'s growth and noticed some untapped SEO potential that could significantly increase your visibility and traffic. 

By refining your keyword strategy and enhancing your backlink profile, there's a clear path to boosting your rankings.

Would you be open to a brief chat about guest posts along with some link exchange and a few on-page quick wins we could work on on your website?

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

[Your website]

Cold emails for networking

Networking cold emails should establish common ground and express a genuine interest in learning from or collaborating with the recipient.

Here is an example:

Subject: Mutual Interests in Sustainable Business Practices

Dear [Recipient's name],

Your recent work on sustainable business innovations caught my eye, and I'm truly inspired by your approach. 

I'm currently exploring ways to implement similar strategies in my role at [Your Company] and would love to exchange ideas and learn from your experiences.

Might you have time for a coffee chat next week?


[Your name]

[Your contact information]

Cold emails for research

When reaching out for research purposes, clearly state the aim of your research and why the recipient's input is valuable.

Here is an example:

Subject: Seeking Your Expertise for Industry Trend Report

Hi [Recipient's name],

I'm compiling a report on emerging trends in [Industry] and would highly value your insights given your expertise and contributions to the field. 

Your participation would involve a short interview at your convenience, aiming to shed light on future industry directions.

Would you be available for a 20-minute discussion in the coming weeks?

Thank you,

[Your name]

[Your contact]

Cold emails for a partnership

Partnership cold emails should outline the potential benefits of the partnership and suggest a preliminary discussion to explore possibilities.

Here is an example:

Subject: Exploring Partnership Opportunities Between [Your Company] and [Their Company]

Dear [Recipient's name],

As leaders in our respective niches, I believe there's a fantastic opportunity for [Your Company] and [Their Company] to collaborate and create mutual value. 

I've identified several areas where our goals align and am eager to discuss how we can leverage these for our shared success.

Could we set aside some time next week for a preliminary conversation?

Looking forward to the possibility,

[Your name]

[Your contact]

Follow-up Email Templates & Examples

Crafting effective follow-up emails is crucial in maintaining engagement and nudging your recipients toward the desired action.

Here are templates and examples to help you follow up respectfully and effectively.

Template for a follow-up after no response

Subject: Just Floating to the Top of Your Inbox

Hi [Recipient's name],

I hope this message finds you well. I recently reached out regarding [reason for the initial email] and wanted to make sure it didn't get lost in the shuffle. 

I understand how busy things can get, and I believe [your offer/request] could genuinely add value by [briefly restate the benefit]. Would it be possible to discuss this further? I’m happy to provide more information or answer any questions you might have.

Looking forward to your feedback,

[Your Name]

Example for Following Up After a Networking Event

Subject: Great Connecting at [Event Name]

Dear [Recipient's Name],

It was a pleasure meeting you at [event]. I really enjoyed our conversation about [topic discussed] and the insightful perspectives you shared. 

As I mentioned, I’m keen to learn more about [Specific Interest] and explore potential collaboration opportunities between [Your Company] and [Their Company].

Could we schedule a call or meet for coffee to continue our discussion? I’m available [provide two-time options], but I can adjust to fit your schedule.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Template for a Gentle Reminder Follow-up

Subject: A Quick Follow-up on [Subject/Proposal Name]

Hello [Recipient's name],

I wanted to touch base regarding the [subject/proposal] I sent over a couple of weeks ago. Your input would be invaluable, and I’m eager to hear your thoughts or any feedback you might have.

If you’ve been swamped and haven’t had a chance to review it, no worries at all! I understand how it goes. 

Just let me know if there’s a better time or if there’s someone else on your team I should reach out to instead.

Appreciate your time,

[Your Name]

Example for a follow-up offering additional value

Subject: More Insights on [Value Proposition]

Hi [Recipient's name],

Following up on my last email, I came across this [article/report/tool] that aligns with our previous discussion on [topic]. 

I thought of you immediately and wanted to share, as it provides some compelling insights into [relevant information].

Here’s the link to check it out: [insert link]

I hope you find it as interesting as I did. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.


[Your Name]

These templates and examples can be customized to fit your specific situation and needs.

The key to successfully using cold email templates for follow-up is to remain respectful, provide additional value with each interaction, and make it easy for the recipient to take the next step.

B2b cold email templates can also be considered when following up.


Mastering the art of cold emailing is a powerful skill that can open doors to numerous opportunities. And with the help of email warmup services, you can get the most out of the process.

By following the steps and best practices outlined in this guide, you're well on your way to crafting cold emails and cold email sequences that not only get noticed but also elicit responses.

Keep in mind that the goal of cold emailing is to build relationships and provide value.

Stay patient, and persistent, and always be willing to adapt and improve your approach based on feedback and results.


Start landing in more inboxes. 
Use Warmup Inbox to improve your sender reputation and increase your deliverability.

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