Cold emails: how to get replies

by | Nov 27, 2021

Cold emails are common tools in business development. But they’re not easy to write. Learn how to write good cold emails that get replies.

Cold emails are an essential tool for business developers. Every day we contact many different stakeholders trying to get their attention. But sadly, only a small percentage actually catches the attention. We lack creativity, we don’t know if we are appropriate and we end up using templates that rarely work.

In fact, one big problem with cold emails is exactly the ocean of templates available online. They promise huge reply rates and they all seem very catchy. Except that if everyone uses the same template, they very soon stop being effective.

So, how can we write good cold emails, without using templates?

Keep reading to learn simple tips to improve your cold emails and get more replies.

1 – Cold emails should have a catchy subject line

The first thing you need to do to write cold emails that get replies is to focus on the subject line. Besides their name, the subject line is the first thing your recipients will see. Depending on it recipient decides whether the email is legit or not and whether they should open it.

Therefore, a poor email headline could get your email deleted or even sent directly to the spam folder. That’s why it’s important to master writing your email’s headline.

When writing your subject line, think of something creative and out of the box. Your emails should stand out from the crowd and if you use common or boring subject lines you will miss an opportunity to get replies.

There are certain elements that help you get a good open rate:

  1. Use the name of your recipient
  2. Write the company name of your recipient
  3. Mention something very specific about the person/company
  4. Give a compliment
  5. Add fun emojis

All these things help you get replies because they make the other person feel special. You need to remember that we all receive tons of emails every day, mostly, sales-y or spammy. Therefore the best way to get replies is by having a unique approach and refraining from using template subject lines.

Your new motto should be: personalize, personalize, personalize!

Ok, but how do you come up with creative, personalized subject lines?

Let’s use a practical example and let’s imagine you want to contact me to propose me an amazing software to automate our LinkedIn outreach.

Your first step will be to research me and our company in detail. Look for my LinkedIn profile, scroll through my updates and interests. If you can’t find anything, Google my name and look for something that genuinely interests you.

In my case, you will find this recent post about an important milestone we achieved at The BD School. You can use such posts as a hook to connect with me, you will show me that you took the time to research me.

the business development school - example of cold email outreach

These are some headlines that you could use when sending me an email:

  • Amazing milestone Lucia 🚀
  • Congrats on the 100K, Lucia 👏
  • Nice to see The BD School grow
  • Thanks for such great content Lucia

These subject lines are very personal and they make me curious to know more about you and the reasons why you’re sending me an email.

Besides making it personal and relevant to your stakeholders, keep in mind the following best practices:

  1. Don’t use capital letters because it may seem like you’re shouting at the receiver
  2. Keep the subject line short
  3. Avoid using clickbait because you will end up leaving a bad impression
  4. Make sure you spell the name and the company name correctly
  5. Focus on writing a headline with a friendly tone
  6. Avoid trigger words to keep your emails out of the spam folder

2 – Cold emails must be short and easy to read

Effective cold emails are short, to the point, and very easy to read. It takes some practice before you get really good at it, but in the meantime, you can use our 6L Framework.

It stands for 6 Lines and that’s basically the length you should aim for when writing cold emails. Of course, it’s not only about the number of lines but what’s in these lines. And that’s what makes this framework easy and effective.

This is how you use it:

  • 1: greetings
  • 2-3: catchy hook about your recipient
  • 4-5: share your value proposition
  • 6: call to action

Let’s put it into practice and take as an example a company that sells a LinkedIn outreach tool that wants to connect with me. Using the 6L Frameworks, you would have an email that looks similar to this one below:

As you can see, the email is very light and it doesn’t really feel like a sales email. Instead, it feels personalized, relevant and the call to action doesn’t make me feel pressured.

When writing cold emails, keep in mind these other best practices:

  1. Write short and clear paragraphs
  2. Separate them with blank lines
  3. Format your email to make it as simple as possible for the recipients
  4. If you write longer emails explain at the beginning how many sections there will be
  5. Use bullet points

Practice a lot and after you sent about 100 emails, you can start building your own templates. At that point, you will know what are the value propositions and call to actions that perform best. So you can standardize Line 4 to 6, while you should always customize Line 2 and 3.

3 – Use a Call to Action

The call to action (CTA) is an instruction that you give to your reader with the goal of provoking an immediate response. It’s extremely important because it’s the element of your email that can bring you closer to your stakeholders.

The CTA should be effortless and make the life of your recipient easier. So you should give very simple instructions that the person can follow almost automatically.

There are many types of CTAs, however, after sending more than 1000 emails over the past year we learned that the most effective are light and leave the choice to the reader.

In our case the top-performing call to action are:

  1. I’d be happy to get to know each other, would you be open to that?
  2. I’d like to know more about COMPANY NAME, let me know when you have some time
  3. If you have some time soon, I’d be happy to get a virtual coffee
  4. Would you be available for a call to get to know each other?

We also tried sending our calendar link to let the reader book calls with us, but we noticed that it doesn’t really work for cold emails. On the other hand, this CTA works very well for inbound leads that are already interested in our product.

Other best practices for effective CTAs are:

  1. Include only one CTA per email
  2. Formulate the CTA as a question
  3. Specify a date and time for a possible meeting
  4. Use action oriented words
  5. Send valuable assets and ask to download them

4 – Proofread your cold emails

Errors and mistakes can easily happen when writing an email and that’s something you should avoid at all costs. They will make you look sloppy, unprofessional and it hurts your success rate. Therefore, you have to make sure that your email is as clean as possible before sending it.

There’s a fun episode of Superstore where the manager, Glenn gives practical tips about sending emails. He suggests Amy use a simple mnemonic device called ACEST: Always Check Everything Seven Times. Obviously, seven times is an exaggeration, but you should definitely check at least 2 or 3 times

These are some things you need to double-check when writing cold emails:

  1. The name of the reader is correct
  2. You wrote the exact brand company name
  3. Check for punctuation errors
  4. If you write dates or specific info, make sure it’s accurate

In addition to manually checking your email, you can also use the extension called Grammarly. It will highlight every grammar and punctuation mistake, so your email will be spotless. Only at that point, you’re ready to send it out!

5 – Follow up

The point of writing a strong first cold email as we did so far, is to increase your chances of success in just one step. But, it’s not realistic to think that one email will make a difference in your business development job.

Our cold outreach sequence includes several touchpoints across multiple channels and when we looked at the data we noticed something interesting. Most of the people would reply to the first email which we write following the same process I just explained to you. However, 18.75% of the recipients got back to us when we sent the fourth email.

Most deals are not made during the first point of contact. Therefore, in order to win more deals, you should always follow up. Otherwise, you’re losing many potential partners and customers. So, create a strong follow-up plan to get your potential customers on board.

Summary of cold emails best practices:

  1. Research your reader
  2. Write a catchy subject line
  3. Keep your emails short and easy to read
  4. Use a call to action
  5. Avoid mistakes at all costs
  6. Prepare a followup strategy

Subscribe to our YouTube channel where we share hacks and tips to help you become a more successful business development pro.

Join our Cold Outreach Bootcamp to learn tactics to generate more leads!

Cold emails are common tools in business development. But they’re not easy to write. Learn how to write good cold emails that get replies.

Cold emails are an essential tool for business developers. Every day we contact many different stakeholders trying to get their attention. But sadly, only a small percentage actually catches the attention. We lack creativity, we don’t know if we are appropriate and we end up using templates that rarely work.

In fact, one big problem with cold emails is exactly the ocean of templates available online. They promise huge reply rates and they all seem very catchy. Except that if everyone uses the same template, they very soon stop being effective.

So, how can we write good cold emails, without using templates?

Keep reading to learn simple tips to improve your cold emails and get more replies.

1 – Cold emails should have a catchy subject line

The first thing you need to do to write cold emails that get replies is to focus on the subject line. Besides their name, the subject line is the first thing your recipients will see. Depending on it recipient decides whether the email is legit or not and whether they should open it.

Therefore, a poor email headline could get your email deleted or even sent directly to the spam folder. That’s why it’s important to master writing your email’s headline.

When writing your subject line, think of something creative and out of the box. Your emails should stand out from the crowd and if you use common or boring subject lines you will miss an opportunity to get replies.

There are certain elements that help you get a good open rate:

  1. Use the name of your recipient
  2. Write the company name of your recipient
  3. Mention something very specific about the person/company
  4. Give a compliment
  5. Add fun emojis

All these things help you get replies because they make the other person feel special. You need to remember that we all receive tons of emails every day, mostly, sales-y or spammy. Therefore the best way to get replies is by having a unique approach and refraining from using template subject lines.

Your new motto should be: personalize, personalize, personalize!

Ok, but how do you come up with creative, personalized subject lines?

Let’s use a practical example and let’s imagine you want to contact me to propose me an amazing software to automate our LinkedIn outreach.

Your first step will be to research me and our company in detail. Look for my LinkedIn profile, scroll through my updates and interests. If you can’t find anything, Google my name and look for something that genuinely interests you.

In my case, you will find this recent post about an important milestone we achieved at The BD School. You can use such posts as a hook to connect with me, you will show me that you took the time to research me.

the business development school - example of cold email outreach

These are some headlines that you could use when sending me an email:

  • Amazing milestone Lucia 🚀
  • Congrats on the 100K, Lucia 👏
  • Nice to see The BD School grow
  • Thanks for such great content Lucia

These subject lines are very personal and they make me curious to know more about you and the reasons why you’re sending me an email.

Besides making it personal and relevant to your stakeholders, keep in mind the following best practices:

  1. Don’t use capital letters because it may seem like you’re shouting at the receiver
  2. Keep the subject line short
  3. Avoid using clickbait because you will end up leaving a bad impression
  4. Make sure you spell the name and the company name correctly
  5. Focus on writing a headline with a friendly tone
  6. Avoid trigger words to keep your emails out of the spam folder

2 – Cold emails must be short and easy to read

Effective cold emails are short, to the point, and very easy to read. It takes some practice before you get really good at it, but in the meantime, you can use our 6L Framework.

It stands for 6 Lines and that’s basically the length you should aim for when writing cold emails. Of course, it’s not only about the number of lines but what’s in these lines. And that’s what makes this framework easy and effective.

This is how you use it:

  • 1: greetings
  • 2-3: catchy hook about your recipient
  • 4-5: share your value proposition
  • 6: call to action

Let’s put it into practice and take as an example a company that sells a LinkedIn outreach tool that wants to connect with me. Using the 6L Frameworks, you would have an email that looks similar to this one below:

As you can see, the email is very light and it doesn’t really feel like a sales email. Instead, it feels personalized, relevant and the call to action doesn’t make me feel pressured.

When writing cold emails, keep in mind these other best practices:

  1. Write short and clear paragraphs
  2. Separate them with blank lines
  3. Format your email to make it as simple as possible for the recipients
  4. If you write longer emails explain at the beginning how many sections there will be
  5. Use bullet points

Practice a lot and after you sent about 100 emails, you can start building your own templates. At that point, you will know what are the value propositions and call to actions that perform best. So you can standardize Line 4 to 6, while you should always customize Line 2 and 3.

3 – Use a Call to Action

The call to action (CTA) is an instruction that you give to your reader with the goal of provoking an immediate response. It’s extremely important because it’s the element of your email that can bring you closer to your stakeholders.

The CTA should be effortless and make the life of your recipient easier. So you should give very simple instructions that the person can follow almost automatically.

There are many types of CTAs, however, after sending more than 1000 emails over the past year we learned that the most effective are light and leave the choice to the reader.

In our case the top-performing call to action are:

  1. I’d be happy to get to know each other, would you be open to that?
  2. I’d like to know more about COMPANY NAME, let me know when you have some time
  3. If you have some time soon, I’d be happy to get a virtual coffee
  4. Would you be available for a call to get to know each other?

We also tried sending our calendar link to let the reader book calls with us, but we noticed that it doesn’t really work for cold emails. On the other hand, this CTA works very well for inbound leads that are already interested in our product.

Other best practices for effective CTAs are:

  1. Include only one CTA per email
  2. Formulate the CTA as a question
  3. Specify a date and time for a possible meeting
  4. Use action oriented words
  5. Send valuable assets and ask to download them

4 – Proofread your cold emails

Errors and mistakes can easily happen when writing an email and that’s something you should avoid at all costs. They will make you look sloppy, unprofessional and it hurts your success rate. Therefore, you have to make sure that your email is as clean as possible before sending it.

There’s a fun episode of Superstore where the manager, Glenn gives practical tips about sending emails. He suggests Amy use a simple mnemonic device called ACEST: Always Check Everything Seven Times. Obviously, seven times is an exaggeration, but you should definitely check at least 2 or 3 times

These are some things you need to double-check when writing cold emails:

  1. The name of the reader is correct
  2. You wrote the exact brand company name
  3. Check for punctuation errors
  4. If you write dates or specific info, make sure it’s accurate

In addition to manually checking your email, you can also use the extension called Grammarly. It will highlight every grammar and punctuation mistake, so your email will be spotless. Only at that point, you’re ready to send it out!

5 – Follow up

The point of writing a strong first cold email as we did so far, is to increase your chances of success in just one step. But, it’s not realistic to think that one email will make a difference in your business development job.

Our cold outreach sequence includes several touchpoints across multiple channels and when we looked at the data we noticed something interesting. Most of the people would reply to the first email which we write following the same process I just explained to you. However, 18.75% of the recipients got back to us when we sent the fourth email.

Most deals are not made during the first point of contact. Therefore, in order to win more deals, you should always follow up. Otherwise, you’re losing many potential partners and customers. So, create a strong follow-up plan to get your potential customers on board.

Summary of cold emails best practices:

  1. Research your reader
  2. Write a catchy subject line
  3. Keep your emails short and easy to read
  4. Use a call to action
  5. Avoid mistakes at all costs
  6. Prepare a followup strategy

Subscribe to our YouTube channel where we share hacks and tips to help you become a more successful business development pro.

Join our Cold Outreach Bootcamp to learn tactics to generate more leads!

Sign up for weekly content, tips, and strategies on business development!

Author

Lucia Piseddu

Founder at The BD School

The thing I love the most in business development is its creative process. My job is to help people unleash their potential and become great at business development.

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