33 Cold Email Best Practices That Every Marketer Should Know - ScopeLeads
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33 Cold Email Best Practices That Every Marketer Should Know

Looking for cold email tips that you can use to increase the effectiveness of your cold email campaigns?

You’re in the right place.

We’ve done the dirty work, and spent hours pouring over just about every single cold email guide that we could find online…

And the result of that is this blog post, where we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of 33 cold email best practices for you.

More specifically, here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

  • 33 cold email best practices to skyrocket the effectiveness of your campaigns
  • How to make sense of conflicting cold email best practices
  • 9 cold email Do’s & Don’ts to keep in mind

Alright, let’s get this show on the road!

33 Cold Email Tips and Best Practices

In this section, we’ll walk you through the 33 cold email tips and best practices we’ve found online. Think of this as a TL;DR or a Cliffs Notes section that you can refer to.

If you want to learn more about each tip or best practice, head over to our Cold Email Guide — that’s where you’ll be able to read about these in more detail.

Best practices for researching and finding prospects

1) Create a customer persona

2) If you’re buying a list, make sure it’s high quality

3) To find someone’s email, check social media (including Tweet history) and company/personal websites, use online tools, or simply Google the email

Best practices for email subject lines

4) Personalize your email subject line

5) Keep your email subject line short OR make it very long

6) Make your subject line vague, not specific

Best practices for email body

7) Personalize your email body

8) Keep your copy short and to the point

9) Show your personality

10) Be light-hearted or humorous

11) Format and break up your text appropriately

12) Focus on product benefits instead of features

13) Focus on what’s in it for your lead

14) Avoid images

15) Demonstrate credibility

16) Anticipate and eliminate any objections your lead might have

17) Include a P.S.

18) Close with a question

19) Include a Call To Action

20) Include contact details in your email signature

Best practices to avoid being caught in spam filters

21) Start your first campaign with an email address on a different domain (so that you don’t risk ruining the reputation of your company/domain when you experiment with your cold emails)

22) Set up SPF and DKIM records

23) Set up “from” field and real personal data

24) Warm up your new email address

25) Verify your prospects’ email addresses

26) Choose your words carefully (avoid “trigger” words)

27) Limit the number of images and HTML

28) Know your email provider’s sending limits

Best practices for optimizing your campaign

29) Segment your prospects

30) Follow up as many times as needed

31) A/B test your emails

32) Ask for referrals from existing clients

33) Find the best time to cold email

Again, while these may seem general, they provide a good overview of pretty much everything you should keep in mind before you hit send. For more details, check out our detailed tips guides here and here.

The Dos and Don’ts of Cold Emailing

Every time I review a campaign, I find something that I flinch at. Cringe-worthy. I know it simply won’t work. So I compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts based on what you should avoid, and what you should be doing for sure in every email.

Use these cold email tips as a general guideline and a basis for you to get started, but do experiment and see what works best for you as well.

Do: State why you are emailing right away

When you’re sending a cold email, you’re basically emailing a stranger.

Remember, this person doesn’t know you, and they’re NOT obliged to read or reply your email.

So don’t take it for granted that your lead will read through your entire email and devote a good 5-10 minutes to considering your offer.

Instead, assume that they’ll only spare you ten seconds, and make sure you get your point across in those initial 10 seconds.

Here’s a negative example:

Hi {Name}, I know this email comes out of the blue, but I was hoping to reach out to you. I saw that you’re currently running a membership site for bloggers who want to learn how to monetize their website, and I think that my company’s tool might come in handy for you…

And a positive one:
Hi {Name}, The reason I’m emailing you is because my company produces a user retention tool for membership sites such as {Site’sName}, and I’m confident we can help you reduce churn by up to 20% — like we’ve done for some of your competitors X,Y,Z.

You get the point!

Do: Include social proof of how you’re a good fit

Now, if you work for or own a reputable company, you probably don’t need to rely on social proof.

For instance, if you cold email someone who’s looking to change their CRM, and you’re from Salesforce, they’ll probably be open to hearing you out.

If you’re working for a relatively unknown company (or your own startup), then that’s a different story.

You’ve got to establish credibility and prove that you’re not going to waste your lead’s time — and that’s where social proof comes in.

Now, the easiest way of establishing social proof is to talk about the companies you’ve worked with in the past.

Bonus if these companies are in the same industry that your lead is in, and DOUBLE bonus if these companies are direct competitors of your lead.

So, you might say: “We’ve worked with companies such as ABC and DEF — we helped both of these guys increase XYZ by X% within just 3 months, and we’re confident we can do the same for you.”

Straightforward enough, right?

Do: Include a call to action

Include. A Call. To. Action. Please include a call to action (CTA) in your emails!

So many times I see emails just ending without a CTA, or a simple “thank you” after explaining what you do. You have to tell the prospect to actually do something with your email or they won’t do anything! And no, saying “let me know if you’re interested” does not count.

Here’s a list of CTAs that you can consider using:

  • Reply and tell me XYZ
  • Do you have 10 minutes this week or next to explore? (question demands response)
  • Sign up for our webinar
  • Sign up for a product demo
  • Sign up for a free trial
  • Schedule a call
  • Click here to schedule a consultation
  • Download our eBook
  • Download our whitepaper
  • Download our case studies
  • Click here to buy!

Regardless of which CTA you use, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for your lead to take this action.

For instance, if your CTA is for your lead to sign up for a product demo, don’t ask them to navigate to their account dashboard and click on the “Product demo” button.

Instead, include a link in your email that brings them straight to the sign-up page.

If your CTA is for your lead to schedule a consultation, don’t ask them to propose 3 timings and get back to you.

Instead, include a link to an online scheduling tool so that your lead can see your available time slots, and book a slot.

Remember: the more complex or time-consuming your CTA seems to be, the lower the chances of your lead following through with that action.

In fact, if you want to utilize a “low-maintenance” CTA that gives you a high chance of your lead replying, simply prompt them with a question at the end of your email.

For instance:

“PS: It looks like you have two goals — to increase retention rate and to work on getting more brand advocates. Which would you say is your primary goal?”

Do: Optimize your email signature

Most marketers and sales reps don’t put much thought into their email signature. That’s a mistake!

So, how do you create an awesome email signature? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

First, you want to make it as easy for your lead to contact you as possible, so include your contact details in your email signature.

That said, don’t go overboard, like how this guy does:

Next, include a picture in your email signature.

This will make you stand out in a sea of other marketers/sales reps trying to connect with your lead.

(Make sure you use a professionally-taken picture, though, otherwise you might just find yourself standing out in the wrong way.)

Last but not least, you can also include a CTA in your email signature.

Here’s an example (ignore the website- see next point):

Yes, you’ve already got a CTA in your email body, but squeezing another one in with your email signature doesn’t hurt!

Want to start optimizing your email signature?

Here are a few tools you can use: WiseStamp, ZippySig, and HubSpot’s Email Signature Template Generator.

Don’t: Include a link to your website

This might seem counter-intuitive, but DON’T include a link to your website in your cold emails.

Why not?

Well, if you link to your website, your lead might pop on over to your website, give it a cursory glance, and then decide that you’re not a good fit.

Game over.

If you don’t link to your website, however, your lead might respond with a quick: “Tell me more”.

This gives you the chance to steer the conversation in the right direction. For example, you can:

  • Mention what amazing results you’ve achieved for your other clients
  • Point your lead to convincing case studies featuring businesses in their industry
  • Talk about a specific use case of your product (one that’s relevant to their most pressing need or concern).

Think of it this way:

The #1 rule when it comes to running PPC ads is — never direct visitors to your homepage.

Why? Because your homepage is generic, contains a ton of links, and chances are that your visitors will exit before they find what they’re looking for.

Instead, you should direct your visitors to a landing page that’s hyper-focused, and tailored to
your visitor.

When it comes to cold emailing, the same thing goes.

Don’t link back to your website and let your lead wander around your site, trying to search for relevant content.

Instead try and get them to commit to a conversation, so that you can tailor your pitch and approach to them.

Don’t: Use CC

Next up on our list of cold email tips is — don’t CC anyone in your cold emails.

Firstly, CC-ing people in your emails might set off spam filters, and land your email in the
dreaded Spam folder.

On top of that, if you send an email to someone and CC someone else in that same email, both
might assume that the other will respond.

As you might imagine, this is counter-productive… more often than not, what happens is that no
one responds.

Don’t: Use attachments

Another Don’t on our list of cold email tips is: don’t use attachments.

Why should you steer clear of attachments?

First, these are a hassle for your lead to open/download/save.

On top of that, consider the fact that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email providers don’t favor email attachments.

More specifically:
An ISP may mark an attachment as spam before your lead gets to open it, or their email provider (Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, etc) might block the attachment.

Instead of including attachments in your cold emails, we recommend using links instead.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your links are HTTPS links
  • Make sure your links are well-structured, and look legitimate (www.companyname.com/success-stories-clientname looks WAY better than www.companyname.com/3432-11/martha-says-boost-revenue#512-blog)
  • Never paste a “naked link”(just the website.com). Instead, hi-light a bit of text like the name of the website or “click here” and then hyperlink those words.

Don’t: Give too much information

If your lead opens your cold email, and they’re greeted by a wall of text, guess what they’ll do?

Yup- they’ll send it straight to trash.

So, when you’re sending a cold email, don’t overwhelm your lead with a long essay. Be brief and succinct, and give them enough information just to pique their interest.

At this point, you might be thinking:
Don’t I have a better chance of converting my lead if I explain my product’s benefits in detail?

Well, here’s the thing: it’s tough to close a lead with just ONE email.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s impossible. But unless you have a revolutionary, game changing product, chances are you’re not going to get your lead to say “I’m in!” with just ONE cold email.

So, don’t worry about explaining every single product feature to your lead in that first email.

Just keep it short and sweet, and get them intrigued.

Don’t: Beg or be too aggressive

When it comes to cold emails, we find that most marketers’ approaches tend to fall on opposite
ends of the spectrum.

In other words: they either beg, or they’re too aggressive.

Now, if you’re bending over backwards to please your lead, and you’re too subservient in your tone, that won’t work.

You’re indicating to your lead that they have all the power in the relationship, and this signals to them that they can walk all over you (ie: take forever to answer, ask for extension after extension of a free trial, etc).

On the other hand, you don’t want to be too aggressive and domineering either.

After all, you don’t want to come across cocky or arrogant. This makes you unlikeable, which in turn makes it hard for you to build rapport with your lead.

The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle — be polite and respectful, but establish boundaries appropriately, and don’t let your lead take you for a ride.

What’s up with all the conflicting best practices?

Now, after we sat down and read through all the cold email guides we could find online, we realized one thing…

There are plenty of guides which feature conflicting cold email best practices.

For instance, when it comes to subject lines:

  • Some guides say that shorter subject lines are more effective than longer ones.
  • Some guides say that short and long subject lines are equally effective.
  • Some guides say that subject lines should either be very short or very long.

Confusing, much?

Now, when you come across conflicting cold email tips or best practices, here’s what you do:

First, evaluate the reliability of the sources.

If the publication says they’ve collated their own data and analyzed it, probe further — did they conduct a sizeable survey involving 1,000 respondents? Or did they just ask 50 people for their opinions, before calling it a day?

On top of that, you can also test out the various best practices for yourself. (In this case: try both short and long subject lines, and see what works best for you!)

Generally speaking, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that you can apply to cold emails; you’ll have to tweak your strategy to suit your industry and customers.

Here’s the bottom line:

You can read up on all the best practices you want, but at the end of the day, you should run your own tests and draw your own conclusions.

A final word on cold email tips and best practices

Andddd that’s a wrap! Those are all the cold email tips I’ve got for you.

To recap, here are the Do’s & Don’ts that you should keep in mind:

  • Do: State why you’re emailing right away
  • Do: Include social proof of how you’re a good fit
  • Do: Include a call to action
  • Do: Optimize your email signature
  • Don’t: Include a link to your website
  • Don’t: Use CC
  • Don’t: Use attachments
  • Don’t: Give too much information
  • Don’t: Beg or be salesy

Like we discussed in our cold email guide, it’s not that cold emails don’t work… chances are that you’re just doing them wrong.

So make sure you follow these Do’s & Don’ts, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a ton of replies from the start. Keep testing different strategies and techniques; you’ll slowly perfect your cold email pitch!

Now, if you need some inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of cold email case studies in Cold Emails That Get Responses.

These case studies outline the exact cold email methods that marketers have used to great success (one of these guys is getting an impressive 29% response rate with his cold emails) — so they’re worth checking out.

See you on the other side! 😉

Lior Ohayon

Founder and CEO of ScopeLeads, Lior dabbles with cold emailing once in a while but mostly spends time writing about himself in third-person.

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