How to Write a Cold Email to Potential Clients – 10 Tips for Success

Writing cold emails to potential clients is an effective lead generation method. In fact, as many as 72% of customers state email as their preferred way of business communication. That said, cold emailing also often gets a bad rap. From Nigerian princes and weight loss hacks to countless investment scams, spam filters have their job cut out for them.

And while they now effectively block 75% of actual spam daily, sometimes even legitimate messages get flagged. So, how do you start an outreach campaign without risking banishment from your prospect’s inbox? More importantly, how do you get people to want to read your cold emails?

Start with the basics

If you’re starting from ground zero, you’ll need to set up your account for success before you jump into warming it up. Assuming you already have a custom domain, make sure to also authenticate your account using:

  1. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) to create a record in your DNS (Domain Name System). This way, the recipient’s email service provider can immediately check the credibility of the sender’s domain.
  2. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Email) to add a digital signature security layer to your email messages. Using this authentication technique will allow the recipient to verify the sender’s address and make sure it wasn’t forged.
  3. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) to make use of your SPF and DKIM records. With DMARC, the receiver’s service provider will be able to see that no suspicious activities were associated with your email.
  4. Digital security 101: never open attachments if you don’t know the sender. So, if you’re sending out cold emails, avoid adding any documents unless you want your message to get instantly deleted. A lot of scammers out there use fake documents for phishing and you don’t need that kind of reputation.

Once you have the basics down, it’s time to create a warm-up plan. And since your new address has no history of traffic, you’ll need to start slowly. Establishing a conversation with friends and colleagues is a good start that will help you ramp up the volume of emails over time. However, keep in mind that the ones you receive are as important as the ones you send. In other words, make sure to vary email providers and also get some replies.

The importance of warming up your account

Not warming up your email account before an outreach campaign is like showing up for a job interview with no preparation. More often than not, things will go wrong. So, if you’re wondering what email warm-up is, you’ve come to the right place.

In short, warming up your account is one of the basics of conversational commerce – you need to do it if you don’t want to immediately end up in the spam folder.

One very important thing to note here is that new email accounts aren’t the only ones that can benefit from this process. For example, if you have an old account with a bad reputation caused by previous emails, this might be the way to save it. 

In general, your email sending reputation depends on multiple factors, such as:

  • sending frequency
  • email quality
  • open and reply rates
  • bounce rate
  • spam complaints

No matter how old your account is, it’s a good idea to gradually increase sending before starting a high-volume campaign. That way, you’re minimizing deliverability issues and making sure your messages end up where they should – in your prospect’s inbox.

It’s important to get a good response from your potential clients and NPS email benefits can help you do just that. This type of message may inspire people in some way, shape, or form which will translate into more sales for businesses who use them as part of their branding strategy.

sending email in bulk

10 tips for a successful cold email outreach campaign

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to take a look at other factors that influence your campaign’s success. Next time you write a cold email to a potential client, consider the following tips.

1. Personalize your outreach

When we say “personalize”, we don’t mean manually sending individual cold emails to each potential customer. Besides being time-consuming, that strategy would be just senseless with today’s automation tools. Instead, go for simple customer data you can incorporate into the emails. For example, kick that “Dear valued customer” to the curb and use first names. Besides making your prospects feel special, it will also boost your transaction rates by six times.

Another reason you should personalize your cold emails is the fact that nobody asked to be contacted in the first place. So, if you contact them anyway, there should at least be something useful in it for them. Otherwise, you risk getting your message flagged for spam. Depending on the automation tool you use, you can automatically add elements such as:

  • recipient’s name
  • company name
  • job position
  • personalized paragraphs
  • images
  • links

2. Don’t trigger the spam filter

Since over 62 billion emails sent daily are spam, it’s no wonder service providers put strict rules in place. And seeing that content is a must-have in any email, spam filters get triggered by spam words. Now, this doesn’t mean your message will go right to junk if you use one forbidden word – it’s more of a volume thing. The more spam words your email (including the subject line) has, the more likely it is to never see the inbox.

3. Stay away from attachments

Internet safety 101: never open attachments if you don’t know the sender. So, if you’re sending out cold emails, avoid adding any documents unless you want your message to get instantly deleted. A lot of scammers out there use fake documents for phishing and you don’t need that kind of reputation.

4. Track your metrics

If you’re looking to improve your cold email campaigns, your metrics are the first place you should check. For example, if your open rate is low, it might be time to reconsider your subject line. If it’s your click-through rate, then you need a better call to action. And if you have a lot of bounced emails, you need to take a closer look at your mailing list.That said, your goal metrics will largely depend on the industry. For example, while the overall open rate average across all industries is around 20%, it’s slightly lower in retail. So, to have a better idea of what you should be aiming at, make sure to check the data for your specific area of expertise.

average email metrics across industries

5. Spellcheck your content

If you think about what most scammers have in common, there’s one thing that comes to mind: bad grammar. Since the main goal is to get to as many people as possible, online scammers often resort to machine translation. As you might have guessed, this practice often leads to nonsense sentences. In other words, too many grammar mistakes equals a triggered spam filter.

And while a typo or two won’t necessarily get you on the spam filter blacklist, the situation will be much different when it comes to people. Research has shown that language mistakes negatively affect your image to the point where prospects don’t trust you. So, next time you write a cold email to a potential client, check your grammar before you click on the send button.

6. Maintain balance

While adding images is a good way to break up the text, going overboard can have a negative effect on your campaign. Since algorithms can’t detect the content of the images, using too many may be seen as a trick to bypass the filters. So, if you want to make sure your messages reach the inbox, balance them out with the amount of text.

7. Segment your mailing list

If you’re among the 53% of marketers who don’t target specific audiences, this is your sign to start. You could have the best-written email campaign in the entire world, but it won’t make much of a difference if your audience simply isn’t interested. 

Besides being a waste of time, targeting the wrong people can also negatively impact your open rates. Now, if you go back to the beginning of this article, you’ll notice that it’s one of the factors that determines your overall reputation. See where we’re going with this?

And while creating a sound mailing list might take more time than sending the same email to everyone, it pays off more in the long run. Statistics have shown that targeted emails have 39% higher open rates. 

Seeing that people who aren’t interested in your product are less likely to buy it, this also means your conversion chances go up with the open rate. To help you get started, here are a few categories you can segment your audience by:

  • Industry. No matter whether you focus on selling to businesses or consumers, knowing which industry they’re in can help you get the best out of your efforts. For example, compared to a software company, a doctor will be more interested in medical devices.
  • Sales funnel stage. Knowing the level of your potential customers’ interest can guide your cold email campaigns. For instance, the customers who are ready to buy your product will be more interested in product demos than the ones on top of the sales funnel.
  • Company size is another good guideline for writing cold emails to potential customers. Whereas a corporation is more likely to be interested in advanced collaboration tools, a small team might not need them.

8. Optimize for mobile devices

Today, the number of emails opened on mobile devices is as high as 61%. More importantly, marketing emails opened on mobile convert four times better than desktop. So, to make sure you’re getting a piece of that cake:

  • Implement responsive design so your emails look great no matter the device the user opens them on. That way, you’re ensuring a quality user experience regardless of the size of the screen.
  • Make your CTA easy to click on. Since screens vary in size (and so do human fingers), consider using a button instead of text links. Besides adding more structure to your email design, it’s also more user-friendly.
  • Consider the snippet when creating a subject line and thinking about the introduction to your email. Less space on a mobile screen also means you have fewer words to intrigue the potential customer at your disposal. Use them wisely and make them count.
using mobile to check email

9. Make a good first impression

Think of your subject line as the make-or-break factor in your cold emailing campaigns. Since it’s the first thing the potential customer will pay attention to, it’s also what will help them determine if opening it is worth their time. As scary as it sounds, there is a method for creating a great subject line:

  • It’s not you, it’s the customer. In other words, try to appeal to their needs or their curiosity.
  • Write like a human. Using overly formal language can kill a subject line, so aim for friendly and natural instead. If you’re not sure how to do this, a good rule of thumb is to imagine you’re writing to a friend.
  • No clickbait, please. Your subject line should always be connected to the content of your email. Otherwise, you risk annoying your customer and making them feel misled.

10. Be transparent

A sure-fire way for getting into the spam folder is not being clear about who you are. When you write a cold email to a potential client, make sure that your sender information is clear. This includes your:

That way, your potential customer can be sure that the message came from a legitimate business. In addition to that, you could also be violating regulations if those elements aren’t in place.

The best tools for cold emails

Now that you know how to write a successful cold email to a potential client, you’re probably wondering how to speed up the process. Luckily, there are so many email marketing tools available these days that it’s almost impossible not to find what you need. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of our favorites.

1. Mailchimp

Thanks to its simplicity and features, Mailchimp has become one of the most popular email automation tools. With its free-forever plan, it’s a perfect solution for businesses with small contact lists. However, if you’re looking for a tool that can support advanced campaigns, one of these other alternatives could be better for you.

2. ActiveCampaign

If you’re looking for software with powerful automation options, ActiveCampaign might be the one for you. Besides offering over 850 integrations, it also lets you fully personalize your messages.

3. Drip

Designed for e-commerce, Drip offers sophisticated list segmentation and highly personalized emails. Based on the user behavior on your website, it allows you to set triggers for timely follow-ups and hyper-targeting.

4. HubSpot

When it comes to all-in-one marketing solutions, HubSpot is definitely the way to go. The platform allows you to centralize everything from emails and social media to blog posts so you can track all your activities in one place.

5. Better Proposals

Contrary to popular belief, our software is not meant only for the buying stage. Yes, it’s called Better Proposals, but it offers more than one kind of document. So, if you want to amaze potential customers with a beautifully designed and responsive brochure, look no further. The best part? Sending your brochures through Better Proposals means you also get tracking analytics. You can finally say goodbye to guesswork and know exactly how many potential clients viewed your marketing materials.

Cold email templates

Now that we’ve got the theory down, you’re probably wondering what a successful cold email template looks like in practice. Take a look at the following scenarios and adapt the templates to your needs.

When you aren’t 100% sure you’re contacting the right person

Hi [person’s first name],

My name is [your name] and I [what you do at your company]. We think you might be interested in [what your company has to offer].

I’d like to speak with someone from [their company] who is responsible for [making decisions on something that’s relevant to your product]. I am contacting you because, based on your online profile, you appear to be the right person to connect with.

Would you be open for a short call on 2023 to discuss how [what your company has to offer] can benefit your business? If not you, can you please point me in the right direction?

Thanks for your help!


[your name]

When you already have experience working with similar companies

Hi [person’s first name],

My name is [your name] and I [what you do at your company]. We’ve been working with businesses like [their company name] on [what your company has to offer] for [how long] with amazing results.

Are you by any chance available for a short exploratory call on 2023 to see how this can bring value to your business?


[your name]

When somebody else referred them to you

Hi [person’s first name],

I wanted to reach out because [explain who gave you their contact information and why].

Here at [your company’s name], we help teams like yours to [what value your company brings]. We do this by [how you do it].

I’d love to discuss the unique benefits of our [what you’re selling] for [name of their company]. Are you available for a quick chat on 2023?

Looking forward to it,

[your name]

What not to write in your cold email

It’s common for cold emails to start with “sorry to bother you” or something along those lines. That said, if you’re still using that as an opener, step away from the keyboard. Starting your email off with an apology implies that you’ve done something wrong. At the same time, you’re trying to bring more value to your prospect’s business, which isn’t something you should apologize for. See the contradiction?

Speaking of popular openers, another one to avoid is the dreaded “hope this email finds you well”. While it might have seemed clever a few years back, it’s now so overused that it’s become a meme.

how the email found me meme

Wrapping up

No matter how many times you start an outreach campaign, one thing is certain: the one-size-fits-all approach just won’t cut it. Instead, if you want your cold emails to be a success, short and personalized messages are the way to go. So, next time you have to write a cold email to a potential client, follow these ten simple tips. Together with good automation software, they’re guaranteed to help you write an offer your prospects can’t refuse. Sign up for our free trial and see how Better Proposals can help grow your business.

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