Cold Email Checklist: What to Keep in Mind When Writing a Cold Email

Cold Email Checklist: What to Keep in Mind When Writing a Cold Email
Vlastimil Vodička
December 14, 2021

Cold emailing is when you send a direct email to a prospective client with whom you do not yet have a relationship.

The concept is to craft an email based on your ideal client persona to establish rapport in your first message and build a relationship. The email content should be relevant to the prospect's demographic and psychographic, and it should create awareness, interest, and desire in your business and encourage further communication with your company.

Does cold emailing work?

Companies often underutilize cold emailing, but it can be an effective and profitable sales strategy and, if done correctly, can produce good ROI.

When you're starting out planning cold emails for your company, it can be overwhelming. Where do you start? How much information do you need? How do you craft a cold email, so it doesn't get moved to the spam folder?

Well, it's easier than you might think. You know there are prospects out there that do not know about your product or service, and you may have the perfect solution for them. But if they don't know about your company, it's a dead-end road. So cold emails can be an effective way to reach your ideal clients and grow your business.

Cold emailing doesn't have to be gimmicky, though all the 'secret' email tricks espoused on the internet may have you thinking otherwise. It's a logical, strategic process that takes a little planning to figure out how to get a prospect to take action.

Once you know how to craft cold emails, you can use this marketing strategy to increase your client base. It is a bit of an art form, so we've put together a cold email checklist to help make it a little easier for you to get started.

25 Top Tips For Writing Cold Emails That Work

1. Write a catchy subject line

Having an attention-grabbing subject line is essential, and it's a fine line between engaging curiosity and descending into spam.

Keep it short. A subject line should be around 41-50 characters. Typically, shorter subject lines get opened more often. Consider that a subject line becomes shortened on a mobile phone, so you want to make sure the recipient can read it.

Experiment with subject lines to see what works best. For example, Lead Genius increased open rates by 50% when they changed their subject line from "Your sales process" to "I found you through [mutual connection name]."

2. Keep the first email short, ideally no more than 100 words

Cold emails between 50 – 100 words get higher reply rates, according to Boomerang's study of 40 million emails.

Add value to the recipient. Give them a reason to read the email and get to the point as quickly as possible so the reader's interest doesn't wander.

Remember, you're competing with hundreds of other emails in the recipient's inbox, so be different to the masses. Nobody has time to read long rambling emails, and you are more likely to create a response with fewer words.

3. Use a personalized approach

Never use Dear Sir/Madam or similar. It's boring and screams "spammy sales pitch."

Anything generic is best avoided. At the very least, find out the prospect's name and use it in the email.

Businesses receive so many cold emails with a corporate tone, so to receive a warm, human email with personality is refreshing and encourages trust and rapport.

If you can find a little information on the recipient's recent activity, mention that early in the email, such as, "I really enjoyed reading your article on the lifecycle of giant land snails on LinkedIn."

We live in an information age. There's no excuse for sending generic cold emails (like most other companies do). Adopt an ABM (account-based marketing) approach for all of your cold emailing efforts, and you stand a better chance of an excellent return for your time.

4. Use short sentences and paragraphs

Eye scanning tests prove that human beings scan text for relevance, and we all do it. When we're faced with a wall of text, our brain switches off, and we lose concentration.

Keep your sentences no longer than twenty-six words and your paragraphs limited to a maximum of three sentences. Vary the length of sentences to avoid monotonous sections.

The white space between paragraphs makes it much easier to read and digest.

5. Keep your CTA simple

There are several reasons to keep a CTA simple.

Firstly, you don't want to bombard the recipient with multiple choices because it makes it much harder for them to decide (called the paradox of choice).  When we have a multitude of options, we tend to delay taking action.

Secondly, if you have too many links, the email could be flagged as spam.

Structure your email content to funnel down strategically to a specific and appropriate point for a call to action.

6. Insert a few GIFs or emojis

You may think it inappropriate to insert emojis and gifs when you are connecting with B2B prospects.

But, the secret is, it creates an emotional connection, clarifies your message and encourages humor, which leads to authentic responses.

For instance, you could end your email with "I am here to help, so let me know if there is anything you need" and add a cheeky wink emoji at the end. It personalizes the message and shows the recipient a bit of warmth and personality in your approach.

Avoid using too many special characters such as semicolons, dashes, punctuation marks etc.

7. Follow up

Did you know that over 44% of companies fail to follow up after the first email?

That's just plain crazy and a missed opportunity.

80% of sales that come from cold emailing take an average of 5-7 follow-ups. People are busy. They forget to respond, and it's normal for emails to get overlooked. But once someone has seen your message a few times, it starts to feel familiar. You are gaining trust and rapport. With each email, you may be closer to the sale.

Don't give up. The success is in the follow-up.

8. Proofread your cold email

Always check you have the details correct, including recipient name and job title. Check the grammar and spelling and read out loud before sending. If the email flows when read aloud, the recipient will find it easy to read.

Alternatively, ask a colleague to proofread your emails.

9. Have an enticing offer

You might craft the most fantastic email, but the recipient feels no compulsion to take action if your offer is limp.

Have an attractive and straightforward call to action that is relevant to your recipient. You might add a short testimonial about an existing client using your product or service to add social proof to your proposal.

10. Speak in the first person

Avoid overuse of speaking about you and your company, using words such as "I" and "we." It's preferable to use words like "you" and "your." Speaking in the first person makes the recipient feel that you are talking to them directly.

11. Talk about benefits

Touch on the benefits of your offer and avoid just listing features. Relate the benefits directly to the recipient, and don't overdo it. Just add a few benefits where appropriate.

12. Too fancy templates

Yes, it's nice to produce a glossy email template, but there's no need.

A nicely crafted text-based email can produce good results.

A template can also look too generic, as if you've sent out the same email to everyone. The trick is to make your email so well crafted that the recipient feels you have taken the time to sit and write an email specifically to them.

13. An overload of Ideas

Your cold emails should always provide value, but it's easy to get carried away with information overload.

Have one clear goal for each email that leads your prospect on a progressive and enjoyable journey. If you keep switching your message, the recipient may feel overwhelmed or confused, never leading to a positive outcome.

14. The message is too weak

It's understandable to be nervous and fear rejection. But your cold emails need to be a balance of warmth and confidence.

Typically a hesitant approach is when you add a precursor to your sentences such as "I know you're busy, but" or "I am sorry to bother you."

The fact is, the recipient knows you are trying to create a sale, so there's no reason to hide it. Get to the point, and be confident with your message because the prospect is either interested or not.

15. Avoid using your own domain

You may likely make mistakes at first, so using your primary domain for cold emails is a bit of a risk. The last thing you want is to be put on a spam list. Do some research on an alternative that still looks professional but doesn't risk your primary domain.

16. Never use a free email account for cold emails

It may be tempting to use your free email account for cold outreach. But it's best avoided because these emails are quickly blocked if you make a mistake. It doesn't look professional either.

Set up your cold emailing campaign with an email contact provider or use Outlook or Office 365.

17. Set up SPF and DKIM for your domain

If you fail to set up SPF (sender policy framework) or DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail for Office 365), your emails will end up in the spam folder.

18. Use a service to check email deliverability

It's essential to check the email deliverability, remove bounced emails, and assess unsubscribe levels.

You can avoid a high bounce rate by verifying your email list before sending out the emails.

19. Never buy an email list

Contacting a purchased email list is a shortcut to nowhere. If other companies purchased this list, you're competing for the same prospects and could be flagged as spam. Take the time to prepare your list with research, and it will reap dividends.

20. Avoid sending similar content

Craft every email with unique content, not least because similar content can get flagged as spam. But it also keeps it interesting for the recipient.

You can split test your emails with variations to see which content produces the best results from your list.

21. Avoid adding images in the first email

Your first email will probably be the shortest, so adding images can unbalance the text to image ratio, resulting in the email plummeting straight into the spam box. As you increase the word count in your follow up emails, you can consider adding a suitable image.

22. Limit your links to one per email

If you intend to track links, it's best not to use a link shortening service such as, because this increases the odds of your email going to the spam folder.

Use a description instead of adding the URL. So you might use the description text as "Our Website" and add the URL as the link to the text. Doing it this way helps to avoid the link considered as phishing.

23. Limit outbound emails to less than 50 contacts per day

A mass of outbound emails won't produce better results.

If you keep your send-outs low, you can expect an average 20% reply rate. It's better to send out 50 emails five days a week than to send 250 emails in one day.

Consistency is the key to avoid your emails being flagged.

24. Send emails to individuals

Don't send mail to generic emails, such as info@, admin@ etc. Find a direct address for a person in the business and use that to increase open rates. And always send to business emails rather than personal emails.

25. Don't sell on the first email

Here's the last tip, but it's not the least important.

Many companies get cold emailing wrong. They think it's about getting the sale as quickly as possible in that first email. But nothing will annoy a prospect more than a hard sell when they do not know you.

You have to develop a relationship with the prospect first, so the recipients trust and engage with your content.


The success of your cold emailing depends on the groundwork you do.

Lay the foundation for great results by spending time researching your prospects information.

Nurture the relationship and play the long game. A poorly put together email campaign is costly and a waste of effort, so do what others fail to do. Focus on doing it right, not doing it quickly.

Adhere to the 25 tips in this cold email checklist, and you can look forward to growing your list of customers.

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