15 Tips to Master the Art of Cold Emailing

cold emailing

Sending cold emails can be risky business. Not only are you putting yourself out there, but there’s a good chance that your email won’t even be opened, read, or responded to. However, while luck plays a huge factor in the art of the cold email, there are ways to increase your chances of getting a response.

We asked 15 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC):

“What is one key element in cold emailing that you should include to increase the chances of getting a response? (Please reference an example if you have one.)”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

Make It About the Customer

“It is tempting to share all of the accolades, all of the advancements, all of the reasons why they should choose you over your competitors. But that makes the email about “me me me.” Instead, focus on the customer, what you know they need or want or why your products are a good fit for them. ‘I’ve read articles about your company and your commitment to Made in the USA products, let’s talk about…’” ~ Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design

Keep It Short and Sweet

“You should explain everything that you want in the first two sentences. Literally everything you truly want in the first five to seven words. This makes it easy for the recipient to get everything you need without wasting hours of their life.” ~ Peter Daisyme, Hosting

Find Commonality

“Try and find something you share with the person you are contacting. In my case, I’ve had success checking LinkedIn and seeing if they share a contact, a group, interest or are from the same university. It’s an easy way to build rapport and possibly get them to read the rest of the email.” ~Andrew ThomasSkyBell Technologies, Inc.

Keep the Subject Line Under 50 Characters

“MailChimp shares statistics about what qualities make emails more likely to be opened, and an easy one that you should always include is that the subject line needs to be 50 characters or less. This also forces you to be succinct and capture the recipient’s attention. If you can say something interesting and brief, you’re more likely to capture the recipient’s attention and increase open rates.” ~ Dave NevogtHubstaff.com

Don’t Oversell

“Nobody wants to be sold something right away in a cold email — a lot of spammers tend to do this and you don’t want to be associated with them. Try to introduce yourself and do a soft pitch, focusing more on the prospective than yourself. Lastly, nobody wants to read a wall of text in a cold email, so keep everything short and simple!” ~ Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production

Add Value First

The best way to develop strong business relationships is proactively think of ways to help others. A cold email is much more likely to catch the attention of the recipient if you find a way to add value to them first. You’ll be amazed by how much you help yourself by first thinking of ways to help others.” ~ Doug BendBend Law Group, PC

Ask a Question

“Not getting responses from a cold email? Try including a question that highlights your knowledge of the recipient’s company and requests a response. This will make the email more personal and initiates engagement in conversation. You can try asking if the company is interested in investing time in a new business tactic, and then invite them to reply to get more information about your offerings.” ~ Doreen BlochPoshly Inc.

Acknowledge the Cold Email

“Everyone knows a cold email when they see it — so go out of your way to seem human and real when doing so. One way to do this is by acknowledging the fact that while it may be a cold email, you genuinely care about their feedback. Make each recipient feel wanted. That way, they’ll genuinely feel like their opinion means something to you, and hopefully it’ll solicit a response.” ~ Jason Shah, Do

Make It a Win-Win

“It might be a cold email, but you don’t want to sound cold. Be personable and state the facts. Why are you contacting them? What’s in it for them? Make it clear that you’re offering a win-win. If the email is all about you and what you need, it’ll seem selfish. Make sure your email is focused on delivering value by letting them know what you have to offer, and what the benefits are for them.” ~ Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

Make Sure You Have the Right Person

“You should end your emails by asking if the recipient is the correct person in the company to handle your request. For instance, you can say, ‘If you are the appropriate person to discuss this with, can we jump on a quick call next week? If not, whom do you suggest I reach out to?’” ~ Justin BeegelInfographic World, Inc.

Customize the Intro

“I always customize the first line based on research that I know about the person. For example, if I know that they are a Knicks fan, I’ll start by asking, ‘Did you see the Knicks game on Saturday?’ or ‘Congrats on speaking at the healthcare conference in Phoenix!’ Works like a charm.” ~ Tamara NallThe Leading Niche

Show That You Can Solve a Problem

“Besides sounding human and being personal, the email should quickly address a problem and how we can help solve it. The email shouldn’t make the recipient connect the dots — it should make it easy for them to see value in whatever is being presented. If the recipient sees how further communication would make life easier for them, they’ll want to respond.” ~ Angela HarlessAcrobatAnt

Put Their First Name in the Subject Line

“When I put their first name in the subject, I get an 83 percent open rate and a 14 percent response rate. Pretty decent compared to most cold emails.” ~ Eric SiuSingle Grain

Propose a Specific Time to Talk

“It is much easier for me to set up a time to speak with someone when they propose a time frame that they are free to talk. It eliminates the back and forth on setting a time that works for both parties. Example: I am free tomorrow between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. EST. Please let me know when you are free within that time frame to go over our new service.” ~ Jayna CookeEVENTup

Don’t Be Desperate

“Play it cool and project confidence, not desperation. If your product or service is of value and the targets genuinely have a need for it, your efforts should reflect that. Cold emails or sales tactics that seem overly eager or desperate can be a major red flag for potential customers. If your business is desperate for clients, how good can it be?” ~ Rich PaleseEvoJets

Email Marketing Photo via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

16 Reactions
  1. No. 16 – Actually send it yourself. Whenever I get those cold emails I assume (usually correctly) that some assistant or program sent the email. Even if I respond I usually end up spending the next email or the first part of a conversation explaining who I am and why I might need their product/service. No thanks.

  2. It also helps to qualify your cold prospects into a category before e-mailing them cause it will make the e-mail more personal.

    • Spot on! I personally use Quickmail.io + yesware. Seriously, it works wonders.

      • So many people are doing cold e-mailing without knowing about the good practices. It is nice for you to point these out for this will not only prevent annoying e-mails but also increase the conversion rate of such e-mails.

  3. What about the not so SMALL matter of the new privacy law in Canada that prohibits email communication unless you get permission first? Doesn’t this put cold emailing as a marketing tool on the side burner?

    • I am not so sure about that. I am wondering if it is can really be banned if you are merely sending an email to communicate and not really ask anything in return.

  4. Great points, especially the customization one. The more specific to the recipient, the better. If anyone is looking for some cold email templates as examples to get started, I put together an exhaustive list of 100+ sales email templates here: https://attach.io/sales-email-templates/

    The important part is that you use these as inspiration to craft your own, again going back to customization.

  5. When you send an email, do you use a company looking email address (john@company.com) or do you use a personal or customer looking email address (john@gmail.com)


  6. You are right about making it short. It always makes me angry when someone sends me a long message out of the blue and I don’t even know the person to begin with.

  7. Cold emailing can be somewhat scary in the sense that you may not get any reply. But it works if you know how to craft your message right.

  8. I’m impressed!
    Each response shared by a young entrepreneur shows they think before requesting from someone they don’t yet know.
    Most points mentioned in these responses are included in the 6-step email formula I was taught. What works is similar to other effective content marketing – personalized, clear, specific, meaningful, succinct and humanized.
    One point I’d add is empathy – communicate as if you’re seeing through the eyes (perspective) of the recipient.

  9. So much of your advice points to the importance of personalization. When you’re cold emailing somebody, you need to stand out – and the key is personalization. Personalization in your research of their company, personalization in they tone that you use to email them, personalization in what you can offer them. Putting yourself in their shoes. We recently wrote a post on our blog about improving email open rates and response rates (for cold emails, and also for bulk and transactional emails), and personalization is so important, we’ve given it its own section – http://www.kotive.com/email-writing-tips/#personalization

  10. normally it will go to my junk mail folder.

  11. You need to connect first. This will convert cold emails to warm prospects. I agree about making it short and you should make sure to show that you are not sending the message randomly.