How to write a funny cold email

Dogs bark, cows moo, horses neigh, and poorly crafted cold emails get thrown in the trash after ten seconds. Genuine personalisation and “advice emails” are good ways round this, but if you are working from a list of several thousand you’re going to be forced to send everyone the same default template.


Templated emails are the hardest to write. People can smell them a mile away. The classic mistakes are:

1. following a painfully predictable pattern

2. offering no upfront value

3. displaying the emotional range of a teaspoon

As templated emails go, Gusto’s isn’t a bad effort:

Gusto Dog Cold Email


I’ve mentioned this a few times, but calling out the awkwardness of your own cold email is always a solid start. It’s a display of emotional intelligence and helps humanise you.


The vast majority of cold email templates follow the same embarrassing pattern:

Do you want to use my new bullshit app.
Statistics indicate it reduces churn by 90%.
Happy to jump on a call if you want to discuss further.

This is the equivalent of walking up to a girl in a bar and saying:

Do you want to sleep with me tonight.
Statistics indicate I last longer than 90% of other men.
Happy to jump on a call if you want to discuss further.

You’re going to get a slap in the face.

When opening cold emails people’s defences are up. They’re going to block any salsey, robotic pitches every day of the week and twice on a Sunday. You have to prove that you’re a real life living, laughing, loving human.

There’s 3 easy ways to do this:

1. Personalisation

2. Offer genuine value for free

3. Make them smile

Before any pitch it’s essential you do at least one of the three above steps.

In Gusto’s case, the picture of Finnley the dog puts a smile on faces. It’s disarming. And that buys your pitch some time.


I’m also a fan of asking the recipient to score their “current payroll provider” before going into the pitch.

Asking someone directly to switch payroll provider, the default response will always be no. But first, forcing them to think back to their current provider, you’re more likely to uncover a pain point. This move is straight out of a behavioral psychology textbook.


To be honest, I think the remainder of the email is pretty useless.

The call to action is vague and unclear. There’s no information on how to instigate that, “quick conversation”. Something like:

Would love your thoughts, even if you think Gusto’s a load of rubbish! I’m around all next week, so feel free to reply or give me a call on +44 7463 686533 …

would be an improvement. When cold emailing you need to make the CTA as simple as possible to follow.

And the last four lines look like a waste of words to me. But that’s another story.

If you’re looking for some more cold email inspiration:

1) I like this advice email example

2) Art of Emails has some great templates

3) This article is a great guide for following up on cold emails.

Thanks to Ahrefs for sponsoring. I rely on them to grow my own search traffic.