A Guide to Cold Email Campaigns: How to Write Effective Messages

It's no secret that cold emailing is difficult, and while it's the most overused (and sometimes lazy) channel these days, it doesn't have to be impossible. It's a great way to reach new prospects and, if you've done your research, to find qualified leads. But to make it work, you've to to send the right message to the right person at the right time. Be different, try new things, and don't be afraid to stand out with images and gifs.

Know Your Audience

When you’re emailing a market, it’s important to use email client functionality to determine your audience. A good starting point is to use your keyword search to find who you’re writing to, this will guide you to whom you should send your cold email to. If you have a website, you’ll want to update that with a list of your landing pages that you can attach to your cold email. You’ll also want to contact your search engines so they can assist you in showing more relevant links to you when someone is doing their search. Use the Recipients’ Name: It’s common practice to use the recipient’s name when you are emailing a list. This gives them a sense of security that their privacy is being protected.

Guiding Principles

Know your audience. It’s really easy to overlook your audience in this sort of campaign because you’re just considering you as a lead, not in comparison with other leads who would love a response. Know what you’re offering before you start. This might mean offering to do free trials, or trial balloons. The trick is, the more closely you can match your audience to the right offer, the more likely you are to reach the right people. Avoid as many header fields as possible. This means you don’t put your URL, your contact information or your offer in the header at all. Write less copy as possible. Email may be considered the ultimate form of persuasion, but you can’t compete with a personal email, even if you use one or two “open with” sentences in an email. Use gifs.


Talk to them on their own turf. Cold email marketing doesn’t work like other marketing. You will start with a specific product or topic, but your goal is to get their attention before you sell to them. It’s a whole different game. Start by creating an eye-catching email subject line. At first, you should experiment to see which subject line works better than others. Set your subject line based on the specific person you’re targeting. If you’re writing to a business person at an agency, start with a subject line such as “Problem Solved” and focus on them solving a real-life problem. If you’re writing to a customer service agent, use subject lines such as “We notice you’re having issues with our product, would you like us to check it out and solve the problem right away?


Send a “last email check-in” note reminding recipients of your existence. Then, as soon as you have a new contact, start the sequence by sending a “warm” message – a short, friendly email. This helps to maintain a connection, but doesn’t require a follow-up. The subject line should be “Contact!” You don’t need to send all your cold emails this way, but be sure to follow this format. This will remind them that you are an active presence and, more importantly, will ensure they remember you for future correspondence. After the first warm message, start sending “cool” emails. As soon as you get an email in response, immediately send another one. This pattern will force you to be more proactive about establishing contact, and your contacts won’t forget you.


If you have already given up on cold emails and decided to use more traditional methods of lead generation, don’t fall into the trap of being blind and going with the crowd. There’s no law saying that it has to be the old way. There’s no law saying that it has to be the old way. Never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and experiment. Success is about embracing change and pushing boundaries. It is much easier to find the right path when you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.