Write effective cold emails

1. Create an ideal customer profile (ICP) to help you create relevant, tailored messages.

Survey and interview your existing customers to collect accurate, concrete data. Include basic company information like team size and structure to help with strategy and targeting. Include demographic information like the recipient’s average age and education level to mirror their tone and word choice.

2. Build a list of prospects by finding the companies that your ICP is likely to work at and searching for employees with the ICP's job title.

Find matching companies using a database like Crunchbase. If your ideal customer is in the technology sector, monitor TechCrunch or TechRepublic for headlines on new and growing companies. Open a company profile on LinkedIn, click on the Employees who work here link, and search for the job title of the person you want to reach. Find a person’s email address using a tool like Hunter.

3. Write subject lines that are 3 to 5 words long, concise, clear, and easy to read on mobile.

For example, a good email subject line might be, Final copywriting challenge today (and grand prize!). The main message is concise at four words, but still manages to include a bonus hook. Avoid adding RE: or FWD: because it is misleading and may break CAN-SPAM regulations.

4. Identify pain points that you can solve for each recipient and send them offers or information that helps.

Use your ICP data to find pain points. For example, if your recipient needs to upgrade their computer hardware, send a 20% discount for their next purchase. If they’re worried about filling a sales position in their organization, send them a link to your whitepaper on recruitment.

5. Personalize your cold emails with more than just a {first.name} merge tag.

Pick out certain things you’ve read about the company, such as a feature in a news publication, to prove you’ve done your homework. For example, include a link to a custom video introducing yourself and referring to the company/prospect by name.

6. Write emails that are between 80 and 100 words long, with a clear call to action in each.

Your email should be long enough to get the reader interested in your message, but not long enough to cause overwhelm or inconvenience to your recipient. Remember, you can add more information to a landing page or link. Give the recipient a clear action to take next. For example, Read the blog post, Download your free ebook, Sign up for demo, or Can I send you a one-pager?

7. Send 3 to 4 follow-up emails to remind people who forgot to respond to take action, with a modified CTA.

Space the follow-ups out over the course of two weeks to avoid frustrating the recipient. Give a new action to take next. For example, use your followup to ask if there’s someone else in the organization you should be emailing instead.