How to Write an Irresistible Cold Email That Makes Prospects Hit ‘Reply’

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Hannah Beadling
May 6, 2022
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min read

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When it comes to reaching a large audience in your target market, cold email is often the first step most marketers and salespeople take.  

Although other channels, like cold calling, are much more personal than email they can all be incredibly time consuming in ways that email isn’t. Drafting scripts, dialing prospects, leaving voicemails, and (if you’re lucky) getting to have a conversation with a prospect– all eat up precious selling time. 

Additionally, because email is all virtual, you’re less likely to scare a prospect off with a bad, off the cuff joke or a delivery that the prospect finds off-putting. These are very real possibilities when you pick up the phone. 

According to Clearbit, when done right, cold emails can receive a 44% response rate.

While responses don’t always generate sales, a 44% response rate can translate to tons of warm leads and opportunities to sell! 

While 44% is a benchmark you can set for yourself, the average response rate for cold emails is a meager 1%. Yeah, you read that right. We’ll repeat that again: Most cold emails are only receiving a 1% response rate.  

So if there are so many benefits and opportunities with cold email, why are the average performance rates so low, and how can you set yourself apart from the noise? 

Keep reading because we did the research and gathered some key strategies you can start implementing today to craft a super strong cold email that’s so targeted, relevant, and value-driven, your prospects won’t be able to resist hitting the ‘Reply’ button. 

Identify & Qualify Your Audience

Qualifying your audience is a very important step before you send a cold email. Typically you want a decent sized list of prospects to start with, and it’s best to cast your net wide. The more prospects you contact, the higher your odds of success are. 

But even though you want to reach out to a number of prospects, you don’t want to reach out to a number of different personas. Trying to create a message that strikes a nerve across several different industries means you’re either going to end up with watered down, generic copy that’s going to hit the Trash folder or you’re going to end up with specific, targeted copy that lands in the wrong inboxes– people that have no need for your product.

Both outcomes will produce the same result— you’ll still be stuck in the same position with zero progress made.

In addition to identifying your target persona or personas, you want to make sure you’re qualifying your audience. Sending out emails without taking the steps to properly qualify will do more harm than good and you will  land in the spam inbox. 

So yes, you want a large list to send to, but don’t sacrifice precision to get it. If you send an email to a bunch of randos that would never need your product in a million years, you’re just going to end up in the dreaded 1% Zone. Do your research and narrow your list down to people in positions, places, roles, industries, and/or markets that you know need your product. 

Click here & learn how to build your audience list with Seamless.AI. 

Create Compelling Subject Lines That HAVE To Be Opened

The subject line is prime real estate because it’s the very first thing the reader will see. It’s the literal 2 seconds your prospect takes to decide whether to open your email and learn more or delete your email forever. Do NOT miss your chance to hook their attention! 

Because the subject line is so crucial, it’s not the time to be boring, wordy or desperate and spammy. The subject line needs to stand out, but be careful to avoid spam trigger words that could decrease your email reputation and kill sales. Here’s a helpful list of words that trigger spam filters

You also don’t want to write a subject line that’s misleading. This would be like writing,“your special birthday surprise!” as a subject line for an end of the month deal. If a prospect reads your subject line, and it’s so provocative that they click your email and find out your real message is completely unrelated,  they’re going to feel like they’ve been duped, and they won’t want to do business with you. 

Instead, look at the subject line like an appetizer. An appetizer whets the appetite and gets you excited for the main dish. A strong subject line works the same way. It provokes the reader and gets them intrigued and ready for the message, where you deliver maximum value. 

So start your relationship with the prospect on a good note, and avoid subject lines that are completely disconnected from the actual content of the message. 

Pique Curiosity With A Personalized Message 

One of your major goals with cold emails is to generate interest and get the prospect to take action. A surefire way to pique your prospect’s interest is to speak to their problems. In other words, personalize your copy! Make your prospect feel seen by identifying the problems they’ve been struggling with, and then add value by providing a solution to that problem. 

Be thorough with your research on the issues the prospect or the broader niche is facing. You might even ask someone in your target audience about the challenges they personally face so you can get an insider’s perspective. All this work will help you better tailor the pitch as much as you can. 

Don’t be afraid to get personal here with your commentary on the prospect’s greatest pains because the more personal you can get, the more compelled they are going to be to do something about that problem and engage with you. 

Let's say for instance that your prospects are recruiters, and the main obstacle they can’t seem to overcome is reaching ideal candidates. In a couple sentences, acknowledge that pain and empathize with them to show that you’re aware of the problem, then swoop in to save the day! This hooks them and builds rapport. 

Here’s an example of personalized messaging: 

“Hey Emily - it’s a pain to contact a PERFECT candidate you found on LinkedIn. There’s no way to quickly find their info. 

Now you can find emails and direct dials for anyone on LinkedIn with one click of the “find” button on their profile. Download the Seamless Chrome extensions and watch the magic.

Click here to see for yourself & cut down on recruiting time!

Hannah from Seamless.AI” 

Let’s Put It All Together Now!

These three parts: qualifying your audience, writing a fire subject line, and piquing curiosity with a personalized message–these should all work together in your email strategy cohesively, like a s’more. When you sit down to write an email and  leave one ingredient out, you’re going to have an incomplete s’more and an incomplete email that will hit the Trash folder. 

Neglecting one of these categories means risking a 1% reply rate. So always remember to choose your audience carefully and write a tailored email that reflects the big issues keeping them from becoming the greatest version of themselves. 

Email marketing may require less labor than other sales pitching methods, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “one size fits all” type of outreach. Ultimately, emailing is about establishing and nurturing a relationship & it takes the right audience, subject line, and message to achieve. 

We hope our advice helps, and let us know if you make it to the 44% reply rate! 

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