How to Master Cold Email Copywriting

Cold email copywriting is simple, but it’s anything but easy.

You’re basically trying to start a conversation with a stranger.

So you’re trying to get interest in what you’re offering, in the shortest amount of words possible, without giving too much away.

Let’s dive in to how to master cold email copywriting.

Keep Cold Emails Short

Obviously you want to experiment.

You’ll only get solid, repeatable results if you test many copywriting angles.

But, in general, short messages perform better.

Your prospects should be able to read the entire message without scrolling on their smartphone.

That gives you a bit of flexibility, so experiment a lot and find the right length and content for your niche and value proposition.

Personalize Your Cold Emails

I can’t stress this enough…

A lot of what makes “spam” spam these days, is a lack of personalization.

If people feel that you’re bulk emailing and automating outreach blindly with no personalization – you are almost sure to get marked as spam.

Get marked as spam enough times and you destroy your sending reputation, hit spam folder, and have to ultimately start over.

Add a Personalized First Line

The best form of personalization is a “first line” or “first line intro”.

It basically looks like this:

Hi {first_name}, {highly_personalized_first_line}

You want this to be truly personalized, i.e. impossible to be automated.

  • At the basic level, this looks like mentioning a local sports team, or university they went to.
  • At the advanced level, this looks like celebrating a recent award they won, a client case study they posted, or agreeing with a recent social media post.

Read our other article on first line personalization for more info, but keep in mind this will make or break your campaigns.

Don’t be lazy!

P.S. Also Works Well

In addition to a first line, a last line or “P.S.” before or after your signature can be a great touch.

P.S. congrats on the recent award, you’re doing great work!

Keep your personalizations natural and non-salesy always.

Also getting too personal can be creepy. Keep it to public, professional stuff (don’t mention their dog fluffy and how you really want a dog…).

Be Precise with Targeting or Use the Waterfall Technique

Targeting can go in 2 directions. You have to pick one for your situation.

Precise Targeting or “Hyper Targeted”

When you know the exact job role you’re selling to (i.e. I sell supply chain audits to supply chain managers), you want to be as precise with your targeting as possible.

You can speak to their exact pain points and provide useful value upfront.

You can ask directly if a call makes sense.

This method is very effective, especially with case studies and proof that you’ve helped similar roles within similar companies before.

The Waterfall Technique

Now, sometimes you don’t know the exact role you’re going after.

Maybe roles vary in the industry you’re targeting and there’s no clear way to know who to reach out to.

This is very common.

This causes many people to conclude that “cold email doesn’t work”.

You need the Waterfall Technique.

Courtesy of Salesforce

Basically, you’re going to send an email with a more general call to action to several roles at the same company.

The call to action is “do you know who I should talk to?” or “do you know someone who would be interested in this?”.

You want to get passed on to the proper person for the value proposition that you’re offering.

This can be extremely powerful because, for example, if the CEO gets the email, knows it’s Joe Blow that you should talk to, and he cc’s him in his reply – it’s now Joe Blow’s job to talk to you.

I think you get the picture.

Trickle down from the top to the right person to get buy-in and build allies, then help them get budget approval back at the top.

This works incredibly well.

Create a Great Call to Action (CTA)

Your email can be fantastic all the way through and fail at the call to action.

We’ve got a great article about calls to action that will help you improve and find ideas to test.

Basically you want to:

  • Minimize the ask
  • Make it easy to say “yes”

Make it as easy as possible for them to say “yes”. One yes turns into a closed deal faster than you might think.

Find common ground, explore their pains, get feedback, and treat them like a real human being in a real conversation.

Put yourself in their shoes and ask for something small that they’d be stupid not to agree to (or instead of asking, give…).

Show Case Studies

Nothing screams “I know what I’m doing and I can help you!” more than past client case studies in the same or similar niche that show you got them quantifiable results.

This is universal across any industry.

Case studies sell better than all the “salesy copy” in the world would.

If you don’t have case studies – GO GET THEM.

I recommend starting with some kind of pay per performance, skin the game type offer to get your first clients (“I only make money if you do”) to get the case studies.

You can also work for free until you have at least 1-2 that you can use in your outreach.

This is so critical.

People will NOT hire you if you don’t have proof that you can achieve the results they want (and you should know the kind of results they want too!).

It can be as simple as a sentence that says “we got [result] for [company_in_your_niche] and I’m 100% confident we can do the same or better for you:.

It can be as complicated as offering to link to case study videos where you show them the exact process you executed to get them from A to Z.

Either way, this is the best hook you have at your disposal.

Show don’t tell whenever possible.

Your Email Signature

When you’re automating cold email, deliverability should be in the back of your mind always.

In that spirit, it’s important to keep your signature simple (don’t slap a bunch of HTML and images there).

However, this is a highly debated topic and worth testing.

Perfect Email Signature #1

Just a basic salutation, your name, role, company name – and that’s it.

No images, no links.

This will definitely get delivered the most. You’re not including anything that any email service provider doesn’t like – just the basic info so they can vet you.

They will most likely type in your email domain into their browser to check you out (make sure you redirect your cold email domain to your main site or a landing page just for the campaign!).

Perfect Email Signature #2

Now, there’s something to be said for a nice photo and a LinkedIn link to make you comfortable that this is a real human being writing you a cold email.

While this may destroy deliverability (depends on the rest of your message, how personalized it is, etc.), this can be very effective in the right situation.

I recommend testing these two methods after you get your reply rate above 5-10%.

Poke the Pain

Do you know what your ideal client is struggling with, that you can directly help them with?

If you don’t – find out quick.

Poking specific pain points can actually push prospects over the edge (to replying to you) very quickly.

You can then explain how you solve for those pain points in a unique way, and add value.

This should always be a part of your ideal client profile research.


Cold email copywriting is not the easiest thing in the world.

You want to intrigue, but not pitch.

You want to explain, but do it in the shortest possible way.

You want to build trust, but you want to make it easy to read and not too complicated.

The best way to get started is to take a deep breath, get creative, and just write and send.

Don’t sweat it too much, just start to see what reactions look like.

Send 50-100 emails at a time, highly segmented, and see if you’re getting any traction.

If you’re getting absolutely nothing – you need to change your strategy.

If you’re getting something – you need to use your intuition and a little bit of data to figure out what’s resonating (best is to just ASK on the sales call, “what resonated with you from my email?”).

Whatever you do, don’t give up. What works in cold email will work even better in ads and organic content.

So strive to test and optimize until you can send 100 emails and book 2-5 meetings. That’s a starting point.

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