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Best Practices To Maximize Cold Email Responses


by Lucy Literado, VP of Marketing at Reply

Cold email is a massively popular way of reaching out to potential customers and clients. It costs very little but can bring great results. However, because of its popularity, it’s getting harder to stand out from all the other emails.

At Reply we help people automate their email while still keeping them personal. Over the years, we’ve seen first hand what goes into a successful campaign and picked up some cold email tips to help you out. Here are the best practices for how to send a cold email that gets a response.

Send it to the right person.

Because cold email is so easy and cheap, plenty of email marketers use a spray-and-pray approach. They email anyone with a pulse, telling themselves it’s all a numbers game. After all, why email 100 people when you could email 1,000?

Then they wonder why their messages are flagged as spam.

Instead, send targetted emails to people who’d benefit the most from your product/service.

Rather than writing a bland email that’s trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll be able to write a highly relevant, personal message, which is much more likely to get a response.

10 targetted emails are better than 10,000 random ones.

Make a good first impression.

With hundreds of emails clogging up their inbox, people will make split-second judgments on whether your email is worth opening or not. The most important factor is your subject line. Does it offer a compelling reason to open the email?

A good subject line for cold email conveys the benefits of the contents in a clear and concise manner. Good results come from personalized subjects, referring to the recipient, their challenges, and/or their company. If at all possible, mentioning a trusted mutual connection (e.g. John Doe said to get in touch’) is a great way to get your email opened.

While you might be tempted to come up with something witty or clever, clarity is more important. Curiosity can definitely be powerful, but if you’re not careful it can come across as click-bait.

You certainly shouldn’t be trying to ‘trick’ the recipient into opening your email (such as misleadingly adding RE: or FWD: to your subject lines). Even if you succeed in getting them to open the email, nobody likes to feel like they’ve been played.

Don’t: FWD: You won’t believe what’s inside…

Do: How do you deal with [relevant problem] at [company]?

Bonus tip: Use cold email software to split test your subject lines and see exactly what works best for your specific audience.

What’s in it for me?

I still receive cold emails which start with a long-winded introduction to the company, including when they were founded, what awards they’ve received and their mission statement.

How much do you think the recipient really care about any of that?

To write an email that gets a response, you need to have a laser-like focus on your prospect and what they care about. For every sentence in your email, put yourself in their shoes and ask: ‘so what?’ Brutally cut away anything that isn’t obviously adding value to the recipient.

Rather than going on about your company, spell out how you can help your recipient with their goals and their challenges.

When the reader sees an email offers them specific benefits, they’re much more likely to read and respond.

Finish with a clear, realistic call-to-action.

Every email needs a purpose. What do you hope to achieve with your email? What would you like your prospect to do after reading it? Whatever your goal, don’t assume your prospects can read your mind. Spell out what you want them to do with a clear, call-to-action (CTA).

It has to be realistic. As much as you’d like your prospect to immediately sign up for your product/service, to become a lifelong customer and send you buckets of cash, it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Rather than making a massive request with your CTA, aim for something more reasonable. In most cases, asking a question and starting a conversation is a great objective for a first email, and much more likely to get results.

Try finishing your email with something like: “How do you deal with [relevant challenge] in your business?”

Fight the temptation to have multiple CTAs in your email. If you’re asking your recipient to respond to your email, forward it to their networks, follow you on social media, and take a survey, they’re likely to end up doing nothing.

It’s true, it’s getting harder to stand out with cold email, but it’s not impossible. By following the best practices you can still get great results and maximize your responses.


Lucy Literado is VP of Marketing at Reply. Lucy is #3 employee in Reply with 8+ years of experience in different fields of B2B Marketing. Her main areas of focus are SEO, Content Marketing, Analytics, CRO and a bit of PPC for SaaS companies. 


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