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min read

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

headshot of Hannah Beadling
Hannah Beadling
May 6, 2022
A woman using her phone in front of a laptop to write cold emails

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. 

Average Cold Email Response Rate

According to Clearbit, when done right, cold emails can achieve 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% cold email open rate is a benchmark or goal 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. 

Related: What is Cold Emailing

Qualify Target 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 to book a demo & learn how to build your audience list with Seamless.AI. 

Create Compelling Subject Lines

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. 

10 Email Subject Line Optimization Tips:

The subject line holds the key to grabbing the attention of your audience and driving them to open your message. Crafting compelling and persuasive subject lines is essential to maximize sales and conversions.

The Personalized Approach

:"{{First Name}}, Exclusive Offer Inside Just for You!" Personalization is a proven tactic that can significantly boost open rates and engagement. By addressing your subscribers by their first name, you create a sense of familiarity and make them feel valued. Combine personalization with an enticing offer to generate a sense of exclusivity and drive immediate interest.

The Urgency Factor

"Only 24 Hours Left: Don't Miss Out on Our Limited-Time Sale!" Creating a sense of urgency in your subject lines compels subscribers to take immediate action. Highlighting time-limited offers or limited stock availability triggers a fear of missing out (FOMO), urging recipients to open your email and make a purchase before it's too late.

The Curiosity Hook

"Discover the Secret to Effortless Weight Loss" Curiosity is a powerful psychological trigger. By teasing an intriguing benefit or promising a solution to a common problem, you can spark curiosity and entice recipients to open your email to learn more. However, make sure your email content fulfills the promise made in the subject line to maintain trust and credibility.

The Benefit-Oriented Subject Line

"Boost Your Productivity by 50% with Our Time Management Tips" Clearly stating the benefit or value proposition in the subject line captures attention and resonates with your audience. Focus on the specific benefits your product or service offers and convey them concisely in the subject line to entice recipients to explore further.

The Social Proof Technique

"Join 10,000 Satisfied Customers - See What They're Saying!" Leverage the power of social proof by mentioning satisfied customers or positive reviews in your subject line. People are more likely to trust and engage with a brand when they see that others have had a positive experience. Highlighting social proof can generate curiosity and build credibility, leading to increased sales.

The Exclusive Offer

"VIP Access: 50% Off for Our Loyal Customers Only!" Everyone loves to feel special. Offering an exclusive deal or discount to a specific segment of your email list fosters a sense of exclusivity and loyalty. This strategy can encourage recipients to open your email, eager to take advantage of the limited-time offer.

The Storytelling Approach

"From Struggling to Success: How I Doubled My Income in 6 Months" Weaving a compelling story in your subject line can captivate recipients' attention and make them curious about the journey or insights you have to share. By hinting at a compelling narrative, you create a desire to know more, increasing the likelihood of email opens and engagement.

The Question Technique

"Are You Ready for the Ultimate Home Renovation Project?" Posing a thought-provoking question in your subject line engages readers and encourages them to pause and reflect. The question should align with their desires, challenges, or aspirations, making them more inclined to open your email to discover the answer or solution.

The Benefit + Scarcity Combination

"Unlock Exclusive Benefits: Limited Spots Available!" Combine the allure of exclusive benefits with scarcity to create a powerful subject line. By emphasizing limited availability or spots, you create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, compelling subscribers to act quickly before the opportunity slips away.

The Personal Achievement Angle

"Reach New Heights: Master the Art of Public Speaking" Appealing to subscribers' aspirations and desire for personal growth can be highly effective. Craft subject lines that promise to help them achieve their goals or overcome challenges, positioning your product or service as a valuable resource that can aid their journey.

Remember to test and analyze the performance of different subject lines to continually optimize your email marketing campaigns and achieve remarkable results.

Related: Best Prospecting Software

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. 

10 Email Tips to Avoid:

Sending promotional sales emails is an effective way to engage with potential customers, showcase your products or services, and drive conversions. However, it's important to approach email marketing strategically and avoid common pitfalls that can hinder your success. In this blog post, we'll explore 10 things you should avoid when sending promotional sales emails to ensure your campaigns are effective and well-received.

Overwhelming Length

Long, wordy emails are often ignored or skimmed over by recipients. Avoid overwhelming your audience with lengthy paragraphs and complex information. Instead, focus on concise and clear messaging that captures attention and gets your point across quickly.

Lack of Personalization

Generic, impersonal emails can easily be dismissed as spam. Take the time to personalize your emails by addressing recipients by their name and tailoring your content to their specific needs or pain points. Personalization demonstrates that you value the recipient as an individual and increases the likelihood of engagement.

Pushy Sales Language

Avoid using aggressive or pushy sales language in your promotional emails. Instead, aim for a conversational tone that focuses on building a relationship and providing value. People respond better to genuine communication that addresses their needs rather than being bombarded with aggressive sales pitches.

Neglecting Mobile Optimization

With the majority of emails being read on mobile devices, it's crucial to optimize your emails for mobile viewing. Neglecting mobile optimization can lead to a poor user experience, causing recipients to quickly delete or ignore your emails. Ensure your emails are responsive and visually appealing across different screen sizes.

Ignoring Call-to-Action (CTA)

A clear and compelling call-to-action is essential for guiding recipients to take the desired action. Avoid burying your CTA within your email or making it unclear and ambiguous. Make your CTA stand out by using prominent buttons or hyperlinks, and provide a concise explanation of the benefits of taking action.

Lack of Segmentation

Sending the same email to your entire contact list can result in low engagement rates and missed opportunities. Segment your email list based on factors such as demographics, purchase history, or previous interactions to tailor your messages to specific groups. This approach allows for more targeted and relevant content, increasing the chances of conversion.

Poor Proofreading and Grammar

Grammatical errors and typos can damage your credibility and professionalism. Proofread your emails carefully before sending them to ensure they are error-free. Consider using grammar-checking tools or asking a colleague to review your content to catch any mistakes you may have missed.

Excessive Frequency

Bombarding recipients with frequent emails can lead to unsubscribes or recipients marking your emails as spam. Respect your audience's inbox by maintaining a reasonable frequency of communication. Consider the nature of your product or service, industry norms, and the preferences of your target audience when determining how often to send promotional emails.

Neglecting A/B Testing

A/B testing allows you to optimize your email campaigns by comparing different elements, such as subject lines, email content, or CTAs, to see which version performs better. Neglecting A/B testing means missing out on valuable insights that can improve your email open rates, click-through rates, and overall campaign success.

Forgetting to Follow Up

Following up with prospects who have shown interest in your previous emails is crucial for nurturing relationships and driving conversions. Don't neglect this important step in the sales process. Plan and schedule timely follow-up emails to stay on your prospects' radar and address any questions or concerns they may have.

By avoiding these common pitfalls when sending promotional sales emails, you can increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and drive better results. Focus on personalization, concise messaging, mobile optimization, and delivering value to your audience. Continuously test and refine your approach to ensure your emails are engaging, relevant, and compelling. With these strategies in place, you'll be on your way to building stronger relationships with your prospects and achieving your sales goals.

Related: 5 Email Marketing Hacks to Skyrocket Your Sales

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” 

Related: 17 B2B Email Outreach Templates

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! 

Related: How to use B2B Intent Data