Cold Email Marketing 101

Cold Email Marketing 101
Alex Kachalov Alex Kachalov 02 february 2024, 08:15 203
For beginners

A cold email is an email you send to someone who has no prior connection with you or your business. At first glance, the concept of cold emails falls into the very definition of spam. However, in certain cases, which we’ve discussed in our previous article, cold emails are perfectly legal. Just be sure to follow the cold emailing best practices, which we will dive into below.

Cold Emails vs. Spam

Cold emails are legal only when done right. You need to adhere to the rules and regulations about email marketing, or your message will be regarded as spam.

Cold emails must be relevant, personalized, and targeted. They must come from a verifiable source, and you should identify yourself clearly in the message. You are required to provide your name, office address, phone number, social media links, and any other information that the reader can follow to verify your business.

You should clearly state your reason for contacting the customer in a cold email. The individual or business you’re contacting should have a legitimate need for your services.

Finally, all cold emails should be personalized for each recipient. Sending out bulk messages means email clients will likely detect and mark them as spam.

Why Cold Email Marketing is Complicated

Cold email marketing entails contacting prospects who don’t know you yet. This form of marketing has come a long way since the early days of email. Back in those good old days, cold emails were more effective because email was a relatively new technology adopted by a few businesses. People were more willing to listen to strangers contacting them over email.

However, as email gained popularity, copy-paste messages and spam became a major problem. Email pitches flooded people and businesses, desensitizing them in the process. Users no longer tolerate spam, and it’s your sole responsibility to conduct cold mailings in such a manner that none of your recipients has a reason to issue a spam complaint.

Best Practices to Write Compliant Cold Emails That Work

You already know about cold emails, their legality, and how they work. We have talked about the simple aspects like avoiding clickbait subject lines and spammy content, but there are many more rules to follow. Now, it’s time to learn about the best practices to send cold emails that work.

Research is paramount

While it may be tempting to email to as many prospects as possible, do not do that. Your research should not come down to finding an excuse to send someone a cold email; instead, you must be sure that the person you’re contacting is really interested in your offer.

You might be enticed to use mass mailing templates because it seems easier, but it wouldn’t bring you good results. Take your time to study every prospect and craft a cold email that speaks directly to them. It takes much more time and effort but brings great results.

Take care to study your recipients’ interests and needs. Do not miss the opportunity to contact your prospects on trade events and exhibits. Follow them on social networks and engage in online dialogs. This way, you may obtain their explicit permission for emailing or at least be able to refer to previous interaction with you.

Do not accumulate a large number of contacts before sending cold emails. It’s best to send small batches at short intervals, but make the contents more personalized and relevant.

Boost your sender score in advance

Email providers and reputation services assign sending scores to every domain and IP address they receive emails from. You can’t just set up a server and start sending many messages shortly after, or email clients might be reluctant to accept your emails. You’ll need time to build a healthy reputation for your domain and mail server’s IP addresses before sending messages en masse. This is especially true for cold emails, which are more likely to be reported as spam – and this unfortunate event would immediately affect your score. If it’s already low, this may result in blacklisting.

Email warm-up is how you build a good score to improve your email deliverability rate. Start by sending a small number of cold emails and gradually increase it. Respond to incoming emails and converse with customers in email threads. These activities let email clients know you’re a legitimate sender, not a spammer.

Once you’ve built a healthy reputation, you can start sending more emails. You can monitor your domain reputation using the most popular measurement tools like Sender Score, Google Postmaster Tools, TrustedSource, BarracudaCentral, etc. You’ll be able to increase the number of cold emails as your reputation grows.

Email service providers (ESPs) usually offer warm-up routines when you purchase dedicated IP addresses from them. A dedicated address is the best way to build a solid reputation, totally isolated from other clients of the same ESP. You may even use separate IPs for different types of emails for extra safety if things go wrong.

Revise your prospect list regularly

You should frequently revise the list of your email prospects and remove addresses with little or no engagement. Remember that you’re messaging someone who doesn’t know you yet. If the prospect doesn’t reply to several messages, it’s advisable to set them aside and focus on other addresses you may get a response from.

Trying to persuade prospects who refuse to engage with you can be annoying. It can cause the prospect to report your domain for spam, derailing your sending reputation.

You should constantly check your lists for invalid addresses. The prospect may have left their workplace and deleted their mailbox. They might have changed their address and abandoned the old one on your list.

You may revise your prospect mailing list monthly or weekly, but never let a few months pass without cleaning your prospect list.

Personalization is key

Email personalization implies using the recipient’s data to send a more targeted message. Your cold email must treat the recipient individually to make them feel esteemed and, in turn, more likely to respond. Personalization could be as simple as mentioning the recipient’s name or saying something related to their location. You can mention how you found the prospect: “I read about your project on this blog and think it looks interesting, but here are some problems that you need to solve.”

Your cold emails should read like you’re talking to the recipient personally. Speak about problems you think the person faces and how you can help solve them. Let’s say you’re an ecommerce consultant and observe an online store that doesn’t work well enough; message the recipient about the flaws in their store and how you can help eliminate them.

Subject lines: What makes a cold lead to open your email?

The subject line is the first and may be the only thing your cold email recipients see. You need to use creative subject lines to catch their attention quickly.

It's advisable to write your email before creating the subject line. This way, you can craft your subject line around the message body, not vice versa. If you start with the subject line, you may find it difficult to compose a good message that fits it.

What’s in a good cold email subject line?

A good cold email subject line should be:

  • Clear and precise: The recipient should understand what the message is about at first glance. Don’t beat around the bush; go straight to the point.
  • Personalized: You can personalize the subject line in several ways, e.g., including the recipient’s name. “Dear [Recipient’s first name]” or “Hi! [Recipient’s first name]” are good ways to draw attention and increase your open rates.
  • Short: Your subject line should be short enough to fit into most email clients’ layout grid.

In all, follow the C.U.R.V.E. approach for your subject lines. C.U.R.V.E. stands for Curiosity, Urgency, Relevance, Value, and Emotion. Your subject line should emphasize at least two of these five characteristics to get good open rates.

Don’t use clickbait subject lines

We’ve advised to use creative subject lines that draw user attention. Yet, keep away from anything that resembles clickbait. The subject line must match the email body; there’s no use drawing the recipient’s attention to something they can’t find after opening the message.

Clickbait will likely annoy users and cause them to ignore the message. Some may report your domain for spam and block further messages. Avoiding clickbait helps keep your messages out of spam folders.

The “From” field and its contents

The “from” name the recipient sees on your message greatly matters. This factor seems trivial and easy to forget, but it’s actually critical.

Ensure you state your name and company in the "from" field, letting the recipient know who they’re receiving a pitch from. Examples include:

  • Kevin, CEO at [Company Name]
  • Abigail, [Company Name]
  • [Company Name]
  • Customer Support at [Company Name]

Keep the “from” name as short as possible; most smartphones and desktops display no more than 30 characters in notifications. Avoid changing the sender name often, as it may confuse prospects and dampen the trust you have built before then.

Ensure the sender name matches the email address. For instance, if you use “Bob from [Company Name],” the address should be

The next rule seems obvious but is worth mentioning anyway: always use addresses to which the recipient can reply.

Preview text in cold emails

Preview text refers to the text that appears under the subject line in the user's inbox. It usually has a lighter color than the subject line. Think of it as the teaser for your email.

Preview text doesn't get as much attention from marketers as subject lines, but it's equally important. If you don’t write preview text, the recipient’s email client may pick up random parts of the email, potentially confusing them.

Your preview text should be short and straight to the point. Use a few words to tell the recipient about your offer. Follow the same C.U.R.V.E. approach as subject lines to get good results.

Right Scheduling

The timing of your emails matters a lot. You need to send emails within the time frame where the recipients will likely read them, considering their location. For example, if you’re based in India and pitching to an American business, your time zones are many hours apart. It might be afternoon at your place, but deep in the night in your recipient’s state in America. The good news is that you can schedule emails to land in the recipient’s mailbox at the right time.

It’s advisable to avoid sales pitches on weekends, especially when pitching to businesses. Many people ignore their corporate emails on weekends and may be reluctant to respond to sales pitches when they open them on Monday.

Follow-ups: automated and non-automated responses

Follow-ups are critical when sending cold emails. A prospect may not respond to your first sales pitch but might respond to the second, third, or fourth. You can use automated follow-ups for your sales pitches or do it manually; the key is to space them effectively. Wait two or three days before sending a follow-up.

After 3 to 5 emails and no response, you should stop messaging a prospect, as they’re likely not interested and may report you for spam.

Use the accumulated data to improve your cold email campaigns

Cold email sales pitches are a continuous process. There’s no single blueprint for success. You have to continually adapt to see what works best.

When imbibing these best practices, note what works for you and what doesn’t. Monitor critical data like your open, click-through, and response rates. You’ll use this data to create the best cold email recipes for your business and get higher sales.


Here are the basic considerations regarding cold email marketing. We’ve explained what it entails, its legal aspects, and the general best practices for sending cold emails. Follow our tips, and your cold emailing efforts will likely bring great results. But you should always keep in mind that cold emailing demands a more careful approach than other email marketing activities.

Remember to choose a reliable email service provider (ESP) for your cold emailing campaigns. UniOne is one such provider that guarantees a high deliverability rate as long as you adhere to anti-spam regulations and best practices.

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