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How To Write Cold Emails That Get People To Actually Reply

It's no secret. You probably hear the words "cold email," and scoff under your breath.

Because everyone knows that cold emails have a reputation ― they don't work.

And as an unsurprising turn of events, as modern tech and advancements flooded us with better options, cold emails became less and less used.

But what if I told you that cold emails aren't dead? 

That when used correctly, they convey your message perfectly to your best possible prospects?

Unlike other avenues, like social media posts, or advertisements, cold emails offer you a chance to engage with your prospects and customers alike.

With cold emails, you can directly explain your offer, keep things casual, and even link to anything you want, all without sabotaging your main CTA. 

So let's talk about how to write cold emails that get people to actually reply and highlight the 10 cold email types you should be using, when and how.

Let's get started.

 

Cold Emails In This Day And Age?

How to Write Cold Emails That Get People to Actually Reply

There are social media platforms like LinkedIn (great for B2B), advertisements, and a million other options in our digitally connected world... Why would anyone still use email for cold lead generation? 

Because it's direct, it gives you a space to say what you need to say without adhering to a million regulations (Facebook ads), and it's simple. Everyone has an email address.

In fact, changing your email address is a hassle, so once you have someone's contact information, you technically have a way to contact them... for a very long time.

So, this begs the question...

What are people doing wrong?

Several things:

  1. They're not leading with compelling, enticing subject lines.
  2. They're using general greetings that don't single out the reader.
  3. They're using one-size-fits-all templates that make their copy robotic and stiff.
  4. They're meshing a million different ideas into one message, frantically.
  5. And they're not making the message about the readers.

If you want your cold emails to actually get replies, you need to write something worth replying to. 

It's time to stop giving cold emails a bad rep. They're a good way to say whatever you need to, with no real restriction. But it's that lack of hand-holding that makes them hard to master.

 

10 Proven Cold Email Types That Work

How to Write Cold Emails That Get People to Actually Reply

So, let's get this out of the way...

If you skip the rest of this post and find the jewels you're looking for, don't miss this one:

Templates are the best, most sure-fire way to doom your email open rates.

That's because they assume your audience and everyone else's are the exact same.

Instead, try using some of the best, proven email types. These types of emails are among some of the most open, most replied to, and most efficient in building an audience. 

Each one serves a unique purpose, so I'll detail exactly when to use then, how, and why.

 

#1 - The Meet & Greet

Why Does It Work?

This type of email works because it has a very simple objective: to make first contact with a new prospect. As long as you offer something super valuable for free, you're good.

When Does It Apply?

When you're meeting new people only. Not to point out the obvious, but if you already met someone, even briefly, this type of email doesn't really apply.

High-Level Tips

  • Always use their specific name, not a general greeting. Butter them up in the first sentence, but make it honest. Anything too sweet, or far-reaching, and you lose their interest.
  • Transition from this into your free offer. The transition needs to be smooth, so it helps if your first sentence relates to your offer in some way.
  • Keep it short and sweet. It's acceptable to explain your offer in 2-3 sentences at most, but don't push it much farther than that. Focus on the aspects of that would be the most relevant to your audience.
  • When you close the email, add in your information, such as your name, title, and links to your website or popular social media changes. This should all be in your signature anyway.

 

#2 - A Little About Us

Why Does It Work?

The about us email tends to be a little boring, a little self-serving, but there is a time and a place. When done well, it can generate sales.

When Does It Apply?

This is usually a good second or third email. Leading with this email won't help your cause since it's all about you. Remember, you should be offering value upfront first. A show of goodwill tends to win people over.

High-Level Tips

  • Again, start off by complementing the prospect. Don't go overboard.
  • Use social proof in this email. This is your chance to link to your portfolio or testimonial pages.
  • Set a CTA at the end, but make it specific. "If you'd like a copy, please let me know by the 15th, so I can plan accordingly." This sets a timeframe and expectation.

#3 - Big Ideas, Benefits & Hooks

Why Does It Work?

This type of email works because it's all heavy on proof. It's essentially a chain of facts, sources, and benefits. It's the perfect way to build credibility and convert even the toughest of prospects.

When Does It Apply?

Again, this is a good email to use somewhere in the middle to end of the campaign. You don't want to lead with a sale immediately out of the gate, so hold off on using this until then.

High-Level Tips

  • Use your best proof. For most business owners, that's not on their landing page, website, or anywhere on social media. That's in their data, their metrics. Dig deep to find the compelling proof that actually shocks and converts.
  • When listing benefits, don't settle for surface-level either. The best benefits are the ones that make someone's life genuinely easier or better in a significant way. 
  • Don't toot your own horn. Remember, this is about them, your prospects. Every point you make needs to correlate back to them.

 

#4 - Attention, Interest, And Desire

Why Does It Work?

This type of email works because it's all about the prospect. It hooks them from the start with something relevant and then makes it personal to drive interest and desire. As long as you ask for a response at the end, with a CTA, you're good.

When Does It Apply?

This is a pretty solid third email, or somewhere toward the middle of the campaign since its objective is to captivate the readers using buildable information.

It would be too much too soon for a first or second email, but too little too late for anything at the end of the campaign.

High-Level Tips

  • Make sure you have a solid hook at the very beginning of the email. Think visual copy, emotion (use heart-wrenching points to remind them of their pain), and shocking details (shatter their beliefs in something crucial).
  • In order to amp up desire, use illustrative language to draw attention to your offer. What are you offering them that no one else is? How will their lives change after using it?

 

#5 - Problem, Tension, And Solution

How to Write Cold Emails That Get People to Actually Reply

Why Does It Work?

Identify their problem, twist the knife into the wound, and then provide a solution. If it sounds basic and overused, that's because it is, but you know what?

It still works. It meets a basic, fundamental need for people to have their problems solved, so this email type isn't going anywhere.

When Does It Apply?

This is one of those emails that works as the second or third email in a campaign. The first email should always be more of a meet and greet. When you use this email too soon, it comes off as a pushy sale and alienates your prospects.

High-Level Tips

  • Don't present the problem in a vague, surface-level way. Your aim here should be to call out the seriousness of their situation. Think of a few of the side effects of this problem. What does this problem affect?
  • Once you've used enough vivid detail to describe their current situation, present your offer in a hopeful light. Ensure they believe your offer is the only option. It needs to be the very best for their specific situation. 
  • Your offer needs to be specific, so add a disqualifying statement. Good copy uses detailed statements to ensure qualified leads are the only ones converting. "If you've been x, y, and z, then <offer> is for you. It has the blank to make your blank blank."

 

#6 - Brief, Honest, And Simple

Why Does It Work?

This is a short, direct email that gets the point across in a no-fuss way. No gimmicks, no real tactics, just an offer presented in the most relevant way possible.

It really works in situations where you've already emailed them about the offer since it's more of a reminder or gentle nudge.

When Does It Apply?

This is the perfect end-of-campaign email. It doesn't need to be the last one (it can be), but close to it. Just don't use this formula to present your offer for the first time. This is all about reminding them that your offer is available.

High-Level Tips

  • Jump right into the point without any tricks or cleverness. Be as direct as possible.
  • Keep it short. As it turns out, short emails result in quicker response time, so don't ramble on and on.
  • Since you're keeping this one short and sweet, make sure to only focus on information that actually matters. Don't waste the word count on features. Jump into deep benefits with loads of value.

 

#7 - Quick Referral

How to Write Cold Emails That Get People to Actually Reply

Why Does It Work?

Consider this another version of the Meet & Greet email, the difference being that you're asking for something instead of giving something out for free.

While it sounds counterintuitive ― asking for something upfront ― it's a great way to ensure you don't pitch to irrelevant leads.

When Does It Apply?

This is a good first email, whether as part of a campaign, or standalone. 

High-Level Tips

  • Don't send this email out to random prospects. Make sure you're not sending out a marketing email to a programming department.
  • When you get a response, don't keep people waiting for too long. This is a new lead, someone with potential interest, so try to reply within 24 hours, tops.

 

#8 - Making Connections

Why Does It Work?

This is another way to introduce yourself without using cliché statements or templates. It's a simple introduction, with the sole purpose of being helpful in exchange for some back-and-forth communication.

When Does It Apply?

This makes a great first or second email. Anywhere else in a campaign, and it throws everything off. 

High-Level Tips

  • Remember, your objective should be to build a solid connection here. Don't just link to your content and call it a day. Share valuable, relatable information.
  • In the same vein, if you don't know your audience, you won't know what's relatable. So use social media platforms to see what your target audience has been sharing or posting.

#9 - No Response Followup

Why Does It Work?

Contrary to popular belief, sometimes you get ignored without meaning to. People are busy these days. Hobbies, long work hours, commute times, traffic, coffee runs... It adds up.

So these reminder emails really make a difference between getting lost in the shuffle and actually getting a reply back.

When Does It Apply?

This email only applies after you've reached out once, or twice. They can be used to gently nudge people toward that reply button. But if it happens a third time, you should heighten urgency by clearly stating that you won't be emailing them again.

High-Level Tips

  • Keep this short and simple. Simply greet them warmly, state your intention, and write your CTA. Then close.
  • When reminding them of your intention, don't be sassy. Reminding them you already emailed them before should be reserved for the last try (your third time trying to contact them). Until then, just explain why you're emailing.
  • Keep the CTA simple too. "Let me know if I can help" works well, or any other variations.

 

#10 - Your Present, Possible Future & Transportation

Why Does It Work?

This type of email is very simple. It basically says "You're here, this is where you could be, and this is how you can get there." When crafted correctly, it helps prospects imagine themselves in a position of success.

The trick lies in helping them visualize your solution as the ultimate tool to achieving what they want.

When Does It Apply?

This is a good email to send in the middle to end of a campaign. By this point, you've established who you are, you've offered upfront value, and built trust.

High-Level Tips

  • Visual copy is your best friend. Readers should be captivated by the scene you're describing. Powerful cues like "imagine this," or "picture this for a second," have a way of triggering people's imagination.
  • When you present their future, make sure that it's relevant. Just because you're selling nutrition plans, and want people to imagine themselves as thin and strong, it doesn't mean that's relevant.
  • Take a look at all your research, all your data. If their goal is to actually learn healthy habits that they can use for the rest of their lives to maintain their weight and mental clarity then... the copy used to describe your solution should reflect that instead.

 

The 10 Cold Email Tips To Follow

How to Write Cold Emails That Get People to Actually Reply

Now that we've taken a look at 10 of the most effective email types, it's time to actually instill some tactical knowledge. The following tips are cold email gems. Using them will give you an advantage few other cold email writers have (most of them use templates).

 

Compelling Subject Lines 

Think of subject lines as retail window displays. Unless that display looks good, you're not going into the store. The same rule applies to emails, so it needs to be good.

The hard part? It needs to be 7 words or less so that it's easily visible in an inbox. Longer lines get cut off.

So, try sticking to pattern interrupts (more on this next), and hooks. Think shocking statements, teases, unexpected word patterns, and even jokes, as long as it's on-brand. 

 

Pattern Interrupt

There's no better way to get people's attention than with something that makes them stop in their tracks. So, start by writing something unexpected. 

For instance, changing one of the nouns or verbs in a saying makes it similar, yet new. The original sentiment is there, but people immediately get hung up on the new word.

This helps you get their attention, so you can use the first real body sentence to evoke a positive emotion, or establish credibility.

 

Tell A Story 

It's true what they say, stories sell, so establish some common ground with a story you know resonates with your target audience.

Show them that you understand their problem and pain because you've been there. Then, get them to trust you by stating things they agree with. This helps them view you as one of them.

Finally, dive into the actual content (agenda and pitch).

 

Getting Personal

Ah, the personalized emails. See, this is the reason why templates don't work: one email written for 100+ people is generalized, overly ambitious, and vague ― and that doesn't sell.

Instead, try greeting people with their actual names, to show you took the time to email them personally. Opening lines may not seem like much, but they set the tone from the start for your readers.

 

Use Analogies 

When in doubt, use an analogy your audience understands. It should speak to their interests, age group, culture, and experience. If it hits the mark, it'll build trust. Otherwise, it'll have the opposite effect.

So for instance, my target audience is business owners. Most of them are heavily interested in exercise and wellness, so they would understand if I said: "Much like physical fitness, copywriting takes time, effort, and patience."

 

Provoke The How 

How to Write Cold Emails That Get People to Actually Reply

Have you ever read something that made you ask "But... how?"Well, that's exactly what you want to do in your emails. It gets people's attention. 

Start by opening a main loop, something that's not immediately resolved, or answered. Questions work, as long as you don't answer them until the end. Follow them up with stories instead, especially if they contain pattern interrupts (unexpected twist). 

 

Benefits & Value

Look through your email and count how many times you use the words "I" and "We." If you're using them more than 3 times, your email is skewing toward "me, me, me" country.

Remember, this is about them. What's in it for them? If it helps stay on track, your email body should cover at least one of these three things:

  1. Their problem
  2. The solution they've been looking for (yours)
  3. And how their life will change because of it

 

Break Complex Information Into Steps 

Anytime you have a set of instructions to convey, you run the risk of making it seem complicated for someone out there.

The best approach is to break information into steps ― 3 if you can manage, but it will all depend on your offer specifics. 

Just a cautionary note here, 2 steps seem super short, and 5 is overly long and will severely decrease your conversion rate. The 3-4 step range is the best.

 

Singular Focus

One CTA, just one ― that's all it takes. If you want them to book a time to talk to you, link them to your calendar. If you want a reply, let them know you want them to hit that reply button.

Don't make it vague, and don't follow the CTA up with 1,000 other things you want them to do.

A pro tip here though: cold emails convert better when you ask for a reply in the first email. When all you're shooting for is a response, you set the barrier of entry as low as possible. It's a smart, low-risk approach.

 

Conversational Tone

The worst thing you could ever do is write formal emails. Formal is usually boring, unrelatable, tedious, and frankly, low-converting.

For most of us, reading emails is a chore enough as it is. The least you can do is write in a conversational tone that at least makes it entertaining to read.

So use lowercase in subject lines, write 1-2 sentence paragraphs, and crack a joke or two. Keep things short and sweet, to 50 words or less, if you can. 

 

Writing Cold Emails That Count

How to Write Cold Emails That Get People to Actually Reply

The moral of the story is a simple one: cold emails aren't dead, nor do they deserve to be. Sure, they're not used as often as they used to be, but that's technically not a result of cold emails themselves...It's all about how they're executed and used. 

If you can write compelling, clear copy that keeps things perfectly balanced between conversational and informative, you're likely going to be successful. 

All it takes is a solid understanding of email types that work, when and how. If you know that, you can carefully pinpoint the right approach each and every time.

Those tips and tricks — those are icing on the cake. They're designed to help boost open and conversion rates, but without a proper framework, they're not quite enough.

But if all of this seems too complicated or time-consuming, don't worry. Successful business owners just like you outsource their copy all the time to experienced copywriters. If you need help, take a look at our portfolio. We're always ready to lend a hand.

Want higher conversions on your landing pages, sales letters, emails, or ads? It might be time for you to work with an expert copywriter. I’ve driven tens of millions of dollars in revenue for hundreds of clients over the past 10 years — including some of the largest B2B companies and digital brands in America.

Using my words, I’ll tap into your prospects’ deepest desires, deploy my menagerie of psychological sales triggers, and prime them for the sale. The result? More wins for your business and more revenue and profits in your pocket. Sound interesting to you? Click HERE to learn more about my copywriting work and see if we’re a good match.

 

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About Daniel Doan

Daniel "Banana" Doan is a direct-response copywriter with over a decade of expertise writing words that bridge the gap between what you want to say and what your customers want to read.
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