How to Write Effective Cold Emails to Gain Clients

How to Write Effective Cold Emails to Gain Clients

| 3 minutes

A professional chef comes home from a long shift and checks his email. He finds two messages waiting for him, both from unfamiliar senders.

The first email addresses him by name, compliments his work, and raises the local beef supply issues that have been affecting local restaurants.

The sender explains how she works for a produce supplier with no such issues. She would like to arrange a quick call to discuss the possibility of taking over as the restaurant’s meat supplier.

The chef books a call with her via a link in the email. Next, he opens the second email:

Dear Mr. {lastname},
We would be delighted to welcome you to our Beginners’ Basics online cooking course starting from just $59.99! ...

Both of these are examples of cold emails. In fact, both were possibly sent to multiple people. However, one is an example of how to write an effective cold email, and the other is simply poorly-targeted spam.

Cold emailing can be a fantastic marketing tool when it is done properly, and an invasive nuisance when it isn’t.

That’s why it is important to learn the steps to writing effective cold emails to gain clients for your business.

What are cold emails?

To put it simply, cold emails are emails sent to recipients who haven’t previously contacted the sender. Now, this can happen in many different situations: from a superfan emailing their favorite popstar, to a corporation sending out 100,000 emails to a list of purchased contacts.

Cold emailing encompasses a wide spectrum, but we are here to discuss cold emails that are sent, legally, from companies to potential clients or collaborators with the intention of gaining business.

How to write effective cold emails to gain clients

You could write a book about how to write successful cold emails. In fact, we have! You can access it here. But if you don’t feel like reading a book right now, we have summarized 7 steps to writing effective cold emails to gain clients:

1) Target your audience

There is no point writing a single word if you haven’t identified a target group who potentially have a real interest in your products or services.

Prospecting is the process of searching for clients or customers for your goods or services. It is the essential first step to writing successful cold emails.

Without deciding exactly who will be receiving your emails, you cannot effectively write copy that will resonate with them.

The key to cold emailing is convincing your audience that, although they haven’t previously reached out to you, you have done your research about them and you are contacting them because you have something they genuinely might want or need.

You are likely to be blacklisted if you don’t target your audience. So, it is imperative to make sure you are emailing the right people.

Depending on your service or product, it is usually best to focus on the job roles and geographic location of your ideal clients, search for their publicly-available business emails, and build your email list from there.

Manual prospecting is preferable when you have a smaller intended audience, but for a larger audience, there are multiple software tools for prospecting.

2) Optimize your subject lines

Your subject line is the most important sentence in your entire cold email campaign.

This is because it is the difference between your targets opening the emails, or leaving them to slide down their inbox, unopened, with your offer never even being considered.

There are several things to consider when writing subject lines but there are a few things you should make sure you are focusing on:

  • Keeping it short
  • Identifying the key info that will make them click
  • Making them curious to know more
  • Avoid spammy words

As a general rule, you should be aiming for 4-8 words in your subject lines. It may seem difficult to get anything across in so few words but it’s possible if you don’t try to cram your whole message into your subject.

Here are some bad examples: 

You won’t BELIEVE this FREE way to make MONEY An opportunity you won’t be able to resist...
We would like to offer you an audit on your current digital marketing strategies 

And here are some good ones:

Connect with your ideal clients
A small issue with your website, {name} Do you want to collaborate?

As you can see, the second good example uses a personalized variable. This can be great when used correctly, but disastrous when used incorrectly. Remember our chef at the beginning? Nobody wants to be called Mr. {last name} and they will likely mark your message as spam if they are.

It is also important to understand that subject lines are not an exact science. You should A/B split your subject lines, so you can see what’s getting people to open your emails and what isn’t.

3) Personalize your copy

Make your cold emails as personalized as they can be.

You don’t want your recipients to feel like they have been thrown into a list of people with similar demographic information, so you need to do your best to make them feel like they haven’t (even if they actually have).

Now, depending on the size of your audience, this may be relatively simple, or extremely difficult.

If you are aiming to email 2000 people, you won’t be able to research every target and write them a personalized intro and subject line. However, if you’re emailing 10 people, you can and you should.

No matter what the size of your audience is, some degree of personalization will be possible: if you’re messaging 500 electricians, do some research: how do electricians speak to each other? And what can you include in your emails that makes each of them feel like you have specifically reached out to them?

The fact of the matter is more personalization equals more results, so get creative and do what you can.

4) Make it about them, not you

No matter how amazing your business may be, your potential clients want to hear about what’s in it for them.

You are here to identify their problems and how they can be overcome, not brag about how everyone loves your business.

Imagine yourself receiving the email. What would you want to hear? How would you like to be spoken to?

Identify the problem you are looking to solve for your audience, bring that to the forefront of your emails, and then let them know how you will help.

Wherever possible, take out the ‘I’s and ‘we’s and replace them with ‘you’ and ‘your company’ because, after all, it’s about them not you.

5) Tell a story

You have a very limited time to capture the attention of your prospects, so it is imperative that you make your emails interesting.

Now, this is not a suggestion that you should send them a novella. However, you should make sure you aren’t repeating points or writing redundant information.

Every sentence should say something new about your product or service, and be written in a way that flows naturally.

Particularly if you are sending an email campaign of multiple messages, it is likely your recipients’ interest will wane and they will stop opening your emails.

However, if you keep them interested and include new information in each email, they may continue opening them. Bullet points should be used sparingly. On one hand, they are an effective tool to get across a lot of information quickly and in a structured way. But they are also disruptive, break up the flow of the message and make you sound less human. A general rule of thumb is to only use them where you would naturally list something in speech.

6) Provide a clear call to action

“If you are inter ested, you can book a call, email me back, click this link, give me a call, or send an owl to my house”.

It might seem like a good idea to give your prospects a lot of different options to get in touch with you. After all, this gives them the opportunity to pick the option that suits them, doesn’t it?

Well, yes, but it also makes everything much less clear for them and for you.

Without a clear call to action, many prospects will likely do nothing, regardless of whether they are interested in your business.

Whether it’s a link to book a demo with you, a phone number to call, or a link to your product page, keep it simple. And only give them one option.

You can A/B split multiple CTAs but, with just one per email, the recipient has a clear direction to follow.

If someone reads your email without knowing exactly what you want them to do, you are doing something wrong.

It is also best practice to avoid your CTA being via a program that your prospects might not use. Even something as ubiquitous as Skype might and turn them off from reaching out to you.

7) Follow up

Some people will not read email. Some will read it and decide they are not interested. And some will like your email and make a mental note to reach out to you later... and then forget.

Every one of these groups contains people who are still potential clients for your business. So, it is important that you do not stop at just one email.

We have written some great tips about how to write a follow up email, which we recommend you check out. But the most important thing is that you are sending them.

Not many people have a perfectly organized inbox and detailed reminders of who they need to get back to.

So, send some reminders and give more information to pique their interest. You will greatly improve your chances of success if you don’t give up immediately.

Do be aware, though, there is a flip side to this. It is also important to avoid spamming prospects with emails. This could turn them off your business for life and damage the reputation of your company. At Zebra, we generally feel comfortable sending two or three follow ups. 

With these tips, you will be on your way to writing effective cold emails to gain your company clients.

If you are looking to run a large cold email campaign, or would like to outsource to make sure you are sending the best possible emails to a large and highly-targeted audience, book a call with us at Zebra Digital. Cold email campaigns are our specialty and we would be happy to help you bring clients to your business. 

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