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The 6 Best Cold Emails Ever Sent – And Why They Worked

Sujan Patel

March 19th, 2019

best cold email examples

Cold email templates are a great way to learn the basics of email copywriting as you build your campaigns. But wouldn’t it be even better to learn from proven cold email success stories that drove everything from website backlinks to booked meetings, and more?

To help get you started on the right path, I’ve rounded up six examples of the best cold emails marketers and salespeople have ever sent – as well as the factors that made them work. Read through the examples below, and then put their lessons to work to maximize the impact of your cold email campaigns.

1. The “Congrats On the New Role” Email That Got a Prospect to Ask for a Meeting

Contributor: Caroline Ostrander, Manager, Freemium Services at HubSpot

Scenario: I wanted to connect with a prospect who had just started in their role, reaching out immediately to offer congratulations and build rapport.

The result? The prospect ended up asking for a meeting.

Here’s the email I used:

Why It Works

This email has many factors that make it successful. It:

  • Leverages a trigger event of the prospect getting a new job.
  • Has an interesting and familiar-looking subject line to improve the open rate.
  • References previous efforts trying to help the company and mentions co-worker’s names.
  • Relates to the prospect by suggesting that taking a new role is stressful.
  • Very lightly introduces my expertise.
  • Does NOT ask for a time on the prospect’s calendar and instead asks an open-ended question designed to get a response.
  • When the prospect replies, that’s a good time to suggest a meeting. To reduce the back-and-forth emails, I use HubSpot Meetings. This makes it easy for the prospect to schedule a call by picking a time from my schedule that works best for both of us.

2. The “Quote Request” Email That Created Expert Connections

Contributor: Ryan Robinson, Writer/Content Marketer at ryrob.com

Scenario: We wanted to use our blog over at Close as a way to provide upfront value before asking for anything in return from our prospect, for either a partnership or other hands-on collaboration.

The most effective email I’ve ever sent was built around this tactic. Our process is as follows:

  1. Ask for a quote from the startup founder, exec or business influencer to include in an upcoming article they’d want to weigh in on.
  2. Publish our blog post utilizing their quote and start promoting it heavily.
  3. Reach back out to update and thank them for contributing to the post.
  4. Highlight early success in that email (number of social shares, traffic, any features on publications).

We’ve prominently highlighted our partnership prospect in an article sent out to our blog audience and email list. This gives us a lot more credibility when we make our ask of a deeper collaboration, whether that’s a partnership, participation in a podcast or virtual summit, promotional ask or otherwise.

Why It Works

This cold emailing strategy works so well because we take the approach of providing value in our initial cold emails (rather than immediately asking the recipient to take an action that’s primarily for our own benefit).

3. The “Unorthodox Application” Email That Landed a Job

Contributor: Raul Galera, Partner Manager at Anafore (the company behind ReferralCandy and CandyBar)

Scenario: Back in August 2016, I had just turned 25. I saw that ReferralCandy was hiring for a “remote OK” sales position on AngelList. I was interested, but although I had worked at startups, I had no experience in SaaS or even in the e-commerce industry.

So at a first glance, I was probably not their ideal candidate. I knew that if I went through the traditional path of submitting my CV/Linkedin profile via AngelList, my application was probably going to get ignored.

Instead, I decided to write a personalized cold email to Dinesh Raju, ReferralCandy’s CEO, with a brief description of my experience, skills and – most importantly – what I could do for ReferralCandy. This email had a huge impact on my professional (and personal) life because it got me the job.

Why It Works

Each section of this email was carefully crafted to drive results. Here’s what I did in each:

  • Subject line and first paragraph: Summary of the email – Leave aside for a moment the fact that I forgot to finish my sentence – your referral program software*. My first paragraph was just a summary of what the email was to going to be about. I introduced myself and mentioned the reason I was reaching out. Dinesh might have been impressed that I managed to find his email and how to reach out to him.
  • Second paragraph: Make things clear – I got straight to the point and briefly mentioned: 1) the positions I was interested in, and 2) why I was a good fit for them. I don’t like to waste anyone’s time, so whenever I’m writing a cold sales email, I try to make sure that the person on the other side of the screen can see my intentions at a first glance. Again, this was potentially an audition for my real job.
  • Third paragraph: Call to action – This is the most important part of any sales email. We all know the basics: include only one call to action, make sure it’s easy to understand and make sure your recipient knows exactly what they need to do if they want to move forward. In my case, I gave my recipient several ways to get in touch with me, but I could have also asked for their availability or suggested a few times for a potential call.

I finished my call to action with an invitation to “work together.” This is something I always recommend when drafting a cold email, especially if you’re looking for a job: give before you get, and show the recipient what you can do for them.

This is nothing new, and any cold email guide will tell you the same thing, but it’s very important to phrase it so you really stand out from the crowd. In this case, I needed to stand out from “other people looking for a job at ReferralCandy,” and the way I chose to do that was to “offer help” instead of just “asking for a job.”

  • Fourth paragraph: Other relevant information – If the reader has made it this far in the email, I can assume they’re somewhat interested in what they’re reading. So I added a small section with more information. The sales outreach cold email equivalent of this would be a link to a relevant case study or blog post that talks about a specific problem that affects your prospect, and how you can fix it.

4. The Creative “Success Check-In” Email That Got Several Prospects to Book a Meeting

Contributor: Taylor Dumouchel, Marketing Strategist at Peak Sales Recruiting

Scenario: My colleague and Head of Sales Enablement, Andrea Nellestyn, wanted to collaborate on a creative project to capture the attention of her target account list.

The account list included hiring managers who were seeking to recruit top-level sales executives (our expertise) through traditional recruiting methods such as job ads. We know how difficult and time-consuming it can be to sift through hundreds of unqualified resumes captured through job ads, so we decided to hit on those pain points through a creative channel – a personalized video.

The result? Our response rate increase by 83% and we booked several meetings.

Here’s an example of one of the emails we used:

Why It Works

This email does a lot well. It:

  • Has a hyper-personalized and timely subject line including first name and company to attract attention and increase open rates.
  • References an existing job ad and common pain points the company may be experiencing in their recruiting efforts.
  • Leverages the use of a personalized video thumbnail with the prospect’s name, indicating that this is a personalized video, not a cookie-cutter “explainer” video.
  • Touches on how Peak can help sales leaders, specifically, attract top sales talent in their specific city.
  • Asks lightly to discuss the current hiring strategy’s success. It doesn’t try to sell services immediately.
  • Offers the option of booking a meeting directly in Andrea’s calendar.

5. The “Flattering Ask” Email That Helped Build Backlinks

Contributor: Mark Lindquist, Marketing Strategist at Mailshake

Scenario: I wanted to execute a link-building strategy to promote content for a client of mine, Pandadoc. The goal, as it is with any outreach we do to promote content, was to build relationships with the people we were connecting with.

We had over a 90% open rate and ~66% reply rate on this outreach. As far as I can tell, the success rate was due to a combination of having a clearly valuable offer, making it easy for the recipient to take advantage of it, and being concise and clear in our copy.

One of our goals for this client was to build relationships with other content creators in our space. There are a ton of sales blogs out there run by companies that aren’t competitors but target the same customers, so working with these companies on co-marketing initiatives made a lot of sense for the client at the time, given that we were a relatively undeveloped blog.

The outreach we did was based on the idea that the easiest way to connect with someone is to give them something of value and ask for nothing in return. The easiest, most scalable way we could do that was to offer a link to their site and a positive overview of them on our blog.

The article was effectively a listicle on ‘top sales blogs’. The outreach email looked like this:

Why It Works

There are several elements that make this email especially successful:

  • Personalization – I used Mailshake to do the outreach, which allows you to upload a .csv with text replacement fields, and replace elements of your email with personalization. In the email, anything surrounded by {{brackets}} was replaced with copy specific to the person or the blog. This extends to the subject line, too. I tell them exactly what I’ll be talking about in the email, and use their blog name to catch their eye.
  • Straight to the point – On the first line, I say exactly what I’m doing and why I’m reaching out, along with a bit of flattery. On the second line, I tell them exactly what I want from them. This also makes the email easy to skim. There’s lots of white space, and not a ton of words.
  • Low-friction ask – All I ask from them is a 2-3 sentence description of their blog (which many of them probably already have as boilerplate info), and a link to their best article.
  • Obvious value – Beyond the flattery/coverage of being included on a top blogs list, this is the easiest backlink these blogs will ever get. That’s the idea of asking for a link to their best blog post as well – they can give me an article they’re trying to promote, so they even get an extra piece of value.

6. The “Hyper-Targeted Outreach” Email That Helped Land New Clients

Contributor: Laura Lopuch, Writer, writing for Copyhackers

Scenario: As a new freelance writer, Laura sent 328 cold emails to potential customers, resulting in a 56% open rate and a positive reply rate of 9%. As a result, she was able to grow her business by 1,400% in four months.

The following is an example of the cold emails she sent, along with the response received from one of her prospects:

Why It Works

In her Copyhacker article, Laura explains how important research was to her process. Specifically, she researched:

  • The person she was emailing (aka her reader).
  • Their job position.
  • How long they’ve been in that position.
  • Recent news/accomplishments about that person (aka flattery).
  • Recent news about their company (aka flattery).
  • Any new projects their company is working on releasing or has just released.
  • Info about them that’s directly related to her offer.

With this information, Laura was able to make her messages relevant to her recipients. Not only could she personalize her messages to the correct purpose, but she also took what she assumed her recipients’ business goals were into consideration to create a more impactful email. Her advice: “Do the heavy-lifting and put your message into context for your reader. Forget all the detail, and frame the conversation to focus it.”

Writing Your Own Cold Email

Use these templates as inspiration. Don’t copy them outright – not just because plagiarism is wrong, but because the specific combinations of factors that made these messages work for their senders probably don’t apply to you.

Instead, look at the different points noted above in the “Why It Works” sections. Apply the lessons found there to your own cold email messages – no matter what industry you’re in or what your CTA is.

Got another cold email template you love? Leave me a note below sharing it:

About the author

Sujan Patel

Sujan is the co-founder of Mailshake. He is a marketer and entrepreneur with over 14 years of marketing experience. Sujan has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Sales Force, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

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