We’ve all had to write, or at the very least read, a cold email before. Whether you’re trying to reach out to a potential customer or client, make contact with a prospective employer or employee, or connect with someone to extend your professional or personal network, you’re familiar with sending cold emails.
When sending a cold email, you’re reaching out to a stranger, asking for their attention and a response. Writing cold emails isn’t easy to do and can be very time consuming. But there are a few best practices to keep in mind.
1. Do Your Research
First, research the individuals you’re reaching out to, to make sure they’re likely to be interested in what you have to offer. Essentially, make sure you have targeted leads, or you’ll end up wasting a lot of your time (and others’ time) and potentially giving the wrong people the wrong impression of your brand.
Once you know your prospects and what they care about, discover what specific information you can include in your email that’s tailored to them, their experiences, and what they care about. This will allow you to personalize your message. This also shows that you genuinely care about reaching them specifically and that you’re not sending out impersonal emails to a large group of prospects. Prospects will be much more likely to respond to a message that resonates with them on a personal level.
2. Validate Who You Are and Why You’re Reaching Out
In your cold emails, insert a note about who you are and why you’re interested in your prospect. Offer some sort of proof that what you’re requesting is genuine and that it will be beneficial to your prospect. Offer testimonials or some other form of social proof and validation or offer real-world results that can be verified. Remember, you’re the stranger, so you need to give your prospects a reason to trust you. For example, you can mention that a friend or colleague suggested you reach out to your prospect based on their history, or insert customer testimonials about your offerings, or mention results from a real case study that will be helpful for them to know about.
Note that you shouldn’t simply write an email that only promotes your own expertise and how awesome you are, especially if it has no real relevance to your message or your prospect. Let others, and things you’ve worked on, become all the validation you need.
In addition, be sure to insert a note about why you’re reaching out to your prospect and no one else. Be as specific as possible and personalize your message. Do they have experience no one else has? Are they a member of a group you’re interested in joining? Are they from the same small town you’re from? In his seminal work, Give and Take, Adam Grant discovered that when people feel they have nothing unique to contribute, they will feel very little responsibility to help. So, don’t just include details about why you’re reaching out to your prospects, include details about why you’re reaching out to them.
3. Always Mention Mutual Connections and Commonalities
When you’re doing your research about your prospects, you’ll uncover connections you have with them. Always mention these connections in your cold emails. Whether it’s a person, a region, a club, a hobby, a challenge, a skill, or something else that you have in common, mention the interesting mutual connections and commonalities that you have with your prospects in the first few sentences of your cold emails. People are more likely to respond to a cold email if they feel as if they have something in common with you and your goals.
4. Keep Things Light-Hearted, Show Gratitude, and Be Humble
Ensure that you’re being unassuming in your cold emails. Be a human and understand you’re writing to other live humans. Always keep your cold emails as light-hearted as possible and ensure they’re not too demanding, negative, or pushy.
And always express your gratitude to your recipient, especially if they read your whole email. And recognize that you’re reaching out to a stranger to ask them for something, so be as humble as possible and don’t only talk about yourself or what it is that you want or need.
5. Give Something Before You Ask for Something
People are more willing to give you something or respond to your email if you give them something first. This is because human beings at their basic core believe in and consistently practice reciprocity. For example, in your cold email, you could provide helpful links or attachments to exclusive research no one else has access to and links to helpful videos, or you could offer your time and expertise in return for your prospects’ help. Offering something first with no strings attached is a great way to set your prospect at ease and to build trust.
6. Keep Your Message Concise and Actionable
No one is interested in reading paragraphs of text from a stranger that beat around the bush and aren’t concise. If your cold email isn’t brief, it won’t be read. And whatever you do, don’t leave it up to your prospects to figure out their next steps. Provide options for specific actions that they can take to follow up with you, set up a meeting, complete a survey, etc.
7. Refine Your Subject Lines
When writing the subject lines of your cold emails, make sure that they are appealing to your prospects. But also make sure that they accurately represent the content of your cold emails. Otherwise, you could alienate or annoy recipients who open an email expecting one thing yet receive information about something completely different.
Overall, it’s vital to recognize that sending cold emails is never about instantaneously closing sales and landing deals. It’s about figuring out who your more viable prospects are and learning more about how you can better connect with them so you can offer them something they’re already seeking or needing.