5 Best Practices for Writing Cold Emails That Get Responses

Cold email marketing has been one of the most widely used customer acquisition strategies among digital marketers in the past few years

Updated on November 28, 2023
5 Best Practices for Writing Cold Emails That Get Responses

Cold email marketing has been one of the most widely used customer acquisition strategies among digital marketers in the past few years. Perhaps because of this increasing ubiquity, getting results from cold email outreach is becoming harder with each passing year. But that doesn’t change the fact that cold emailing works. A well-crafted email is still a powerful technique for building solid and profitable relationships for B2B and e-commerce business.

Whether you’re new to outbound marketing or just want to sharpen your outreach game, this guide will introduce you to the fundamentals of cold emailing for B2B and e-commerce businesses and teach you the best practices on how to write a cold email that converts in 2024.

 What is cold emailing?

Cold emailing is an outbound marketing strategy that involves reaching out to potential customers you have no previous transactions or relationships with using email. A cold email is a conversation starter, kind of like your first handshake with someone you wish to do business with.

Because the audience of a cold email is a stranger to your business, your messaging should take a different approach. Your handshake email should introduce your business to these potential partners while remaining relevant to their interests.

Inc shares a great example of a cold email written by the founder of Facmata Dhruv Ghulati. That particular email landed Ghulati $500,000 funding from investor Mark Cuban.

Statistics on cold emails

Cold emails have been around for almost as long as people used emails. Hence, there’s a wealth of data on the effectiveness of cold emails as a marketing strategy. 

So, here are some of the most important ones.

  • An estimated 293 billion emails are sent and received every day (Statista 2019).
  • The third most influential information source for B2Bs is email (BaseOne via Imagination).
  • About 90% of B2B marketers consider email engagement their top metric for measuring content performance (Content Marketing Institute 2020, 30).
  • The average open rate of cold emails for all industries is 21.33% (Mailchimp).
  • Around 69% of people report emails as spam based on subject lines alone (Invesp).
  • Taking the time to write personalized email subject lines can double your response rate (Yes Lifecycle Marketing via Data Axle, 2017).
  • A/B split testing can boost open rates by 49% (Lead Lantern).
  • Longer email outreach campaigns with 4 to 7 emails have a higher response rate than shorter campaigns (Woodpecker 2022).
  • Cold emails with 50 to 125 words are optimal (Boomerang 2016).
  • Sending more follow-up emails can increase the response rate by a triple (Propeller 2018).
  • Email subject lines with 36 to 50 characters have higher open rates than those with fewer or more characters (Smartwriter.ai 2021).
  • The global average open rate for promotional emails was 21.3% in 2020 (SuperOffice 2021).

Cold emails then and now

You could get away with the bare minimum in the old days of cold email outreach. People used to simply bulk send a templated pitch to a list of recipients without bothering about customization. One email was enough for everyone. 

This got the job done until more businesses caught up with this trend in recent years. As more businesses became familiar with the tactic, people’s inboxes were flooded by the same generic emails, driving fewer open rates and clicks.

The market has since changed, and in 2022, building relationships is in vogue. It’s no longer about writing a three-paragraph hit-or-miss template that speaks to everyone and no one at the same time. Moving forward, success in B2B cold emailing depends on your sincere willingness to learn about your prospect and find out how a potential partnership can benefit both parties.

How to write effective cold emails

To write a cold email that elicits a response, keep in mind the following best practices.

1 – Segment your recipients

Divide your email recipients into segments or smaller groups that will allow you to create a more targeted campaign. Segmentation has been proven effective not only for email marketing but also for online advertising, personalization, and more.

If your leads data allows it, segmenting your contacts based on the following categories can lead to higher open and click rates and low unsubscription and complaint rates.

  • Location. Use geographical data to send out your cold emails based on the time your recipients are most active.
  • Demographics. Use age and gender categories, employment setup, and technologies to tailor a pitch that resonates with recipients.
  • Niche. Find out about their unifying interests or characteristics to help you craft a more relevant message.

2 – Write clickable subject lines

There’s no use having the most engaging email pitch in the world if your recipient will mark your message spam before they even click on it.

An effective cold email should generate interest at first glance by using a compelling subject line that generates clicks.

Here are essential tips for creating effective subject lines:

  • The fewer words, the better. Limit your subject line to 50 characters or less.
  • Don’t say it all right there. Make it interesting by tossing in an element of mystery.
  • So, include your recipient’s name on the subject line. This will lend your email a more personalized, well-thought-out tone.

3 – Keep your email body short and sweet

So, the average office worker receives around 121 emails per day. Approximately half of these will be tossed out, while others will only receive a skim-through.

Most people don’t like reading long emails and in the cold email department, making that assumption is the safe bet. So keep your email body snappy and on point. Drive your point home in as few words as possible by capturing the value of your proposition in short and concise paragraphs.

Ideally, a paragraph should have two to three sentences with unpretentious words and simple sentences.

4 – Use a single call to action (CTA)

Asking your recipient to do three things in your email is a risky task. You don’t want to sound like you’re asking too much. After all, it can also be confusing.

Instead, ask them to do one thing, and make sure your message funnels down to that one action. Make your CTA as straightforward as possible, and leave no room for confusion.

5 – Personalize

Although it takes time, it pays well to do your bit of research and find out about who you’re trying to engage with. A trained eye can easily spot a cooked email in as little as five seconds. But it’s also easy to pick up one that is genuine.

So put effort into tailoring a message for your recipients. As they say, good things take time. Your sincerity will reflect in your messaging.

Your turn

Make these tips handy for your next cold email marketing outreach. If you don’t want to exhaust your leads on trial-and-error, get experts to get the job done and make the best bang for your buck. Email marketing is a wise investment with a high turnover when done right.

As a strategy, email is here to stay. But the field continues to evolve. What used to work no longer bodes well in today’s email-inundated market. If you want to make the best out of your leads, you need to rethink how you approach cold emails.