What is Cold Email? The Complete Guide to What Works

Learn what works with expert tips, templates, and examples to transform your outreach and drive results

Rory Sadler
November 24, 2023
February 24, 2024
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Learn what works with expert tips, templates, and examples to transform your outreach and drive results

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Remember the days of unsolicited calls or leaflets? So-called "cold calls" were the mainstay of many marketing companies.

Some of you may have responded to such campaigns; however, the majority didn't.

If most people don’t engage, do cold outreach campaigns even work? The answer is yes!

Cold email is the modern iteration of this timeless sales technique. As part of this tactic, marketing teams go for quantity over quality – assuming that if they send enough emails to enough people, they'll see a sizeable number of replies. This couldn't be more wrong!

Below, we cover how, through a short yet powerful cold email message, you can hook a potential client's interest, generating leads and driving conversions.

In this guide:

  • What is Cold Email?
  • Does Cold Email Work?
  • How to Launch a Cold Email Outreach Campaign
  • Cold Email Templates and Examples

What is Cold Email?

Cold emails refer to a sales technique where marketing teams send an email to a contact without having any prior relationship or connection. In the email, the marketing team hopes to grab the contact's interest, prompting them to reply and engage with the company further.

Considering almost all transactions are built on trust, cold emails may seem like a risky prospect. After all, if you bombard hundreds (even thousands) of potential leads with an annoying, aggravating email, you could do more damage than you think. You remove a big chunk of future customers from your market.

However, the reverse is also true – a highly personalised, impeccably written email that details precisely how your company can help boost their business works wonders.

Try these 25 Cold Outreach Tips To Help Skyrocket Your Leads

Does Cold Email Work?

Absolutely! It just depends on what your business goals are. If you're overloaded with leads and your main priority is to convert these leads into customers, cold email isn't for you.

However, if you've launched a new business or you're in a growth phase, identifying potential customers and sending a cold email can build brand awareness and spark engagement.

Consider these goals and scenarios:

  • Lead Generation. Cold emailing enables targeted outreach to potential customers, increasing the chances of converting leads into sales
  • Networking. Provides a direct line to industry professionals and potential mentors, opening doors for collaborations and knowledge exchange
  • Link Building. Facilitates outreach to website owners or content creators, which is crucial for improving SEO and web presence
  • Business Partnerships. Offers a direct and formal approach to proposing collaborations or partnerships with other businesses or entrepreneurs

Don't just take my word for it. There's a wealth of evidence supporting cold outreach's efficacy:

  • 80% of people prefer sales reps to contact them via email. People don't have time to answer endless calls; emails give them time to reply at their leisure
  • A/B testing subject lines can increase open rates by 49%. Potential changes include subject topic, company name, sender name, or sending times
  • Cold email generates an ROI of up to 4,400% (greater than any other channel)

How to Launch a Cold Email Outreach Campaign

Don't assume cold outreach doesn't work. It does! The problem is the poor quality of most campaigns. Follow these tips to supercharge your next cold campaign and see results:

1. Personalise Your Message

Personalisation is key. First, your subject line should be personalised to your recipient. Like the headline of an article, unless your subject line hooks, you won't get any clicks. Advice often revolves around using a person or company's name.

That's important! However, the question or hook of your subject line should revolve around a customer's pain points – even better if you can include numbers (that boosts open rates by 113%).

  • Emily, Struggling with Low Sales? Our Solution Can Increase Your Revenue by 30%!
  • John, Reduce Your Marketing Costs by 30% with Our Proven Strategies!
  • TechCorp: Solve Your IT Efficiency Issues and Slash Costs by 40%!

2. Identify High-Value Recipients

Sending an email to a low-level employee is unlikely to spark action, nor is bombarding random people with junk mail. Part of email's effectiveness is the ability to target specific people with a specific message and create a winning prospecting list.

Want to generate a complete database of potential recipients? Need to find a decision maker's contact details in seconds? Try these tools:

Specialises in finding and verifying professional email addresses, with features like domain search and email verification to aid in targeted outreach.


Tracks and identifies companies visiting your website, providing contact information and visitor behaviour insights for effective lead generation.

Designed for B2B email outreach, offers email scraping services from LinkedIn profiles and websites, streamlining the process of building email lists for targeted business communication.

3. Send a Follow-Up Email

Sent one email and received no reply? Maybe they were busy. Maybe they forgot to send a response. The solution? Send another email.

Don't be discouraged by a lack of response from a prospect. Always send a friendly follow-up email prompting them to reply to you. According to Backlinko, creating a workflow of multiple follow-ups can double your response rate.

In fact, cold email campaigns with 4 to 7 emails per sequence see three times more responses compared to campaigns with less than 4 emails.

Your follow-up email could even sweeten the deal. Consider adding an offer if you're particularly convinced a prospect could be worth a lot of money long term.

You might also like: What is Prospecting in Sales? Strategies, Examples, and Tips

4. Get to the Point

Too many cold emails beat around the bush. Remember, you're a guest in a person's inbox; you're not writing a 19th-century novel. The sooner you can get to the point and end the email, the better. Your email should convey:

  • Clearly state the purpose of the email early on
  • Provide a concise value proposition or offer
  • Include a straightforward call to action
  • Avoid unnecessary details or lengthy explanations
  • Respect the recipient's time by being brief yet informative

5. Include a Simple Next Step

The problem with a lot of cold email examples is the lack of a clear call-to-action (CTA). Or, even if a CTA is included, it isn't impactful enough.

Remember, you have no previous relationship with this individual. It's imperative (for your conversion rate) that you build a working business relationship as soon as possible. You want to go from strangers to potential partners.

How do you achieve this? Well, a lot of businesses ask prospects to book a consultation. That's a promising idea – however, it takes up a prospect's valuable time. Little wonder so few prospects follow through on this CTA.

trumpet has the solution. Our digital sales room (DSR) is the perfect cold outreach platform. Include a hyperlink in an email, and let your prospect browse this personalised space at their leisure. Being 100% trackable, you receive a notification if they enter the virtual room and what actions they perform.

Based on these buyer insights, you can begin to funnel the prospect through the buyer's journey – answering any questions they may have. Oh, and because it integrates seamlessly with the biggest CRMs, you can populate the DSR with buyer-specific information.

Our "Pods" have a 76% higher open rate than a PDF proposal, and we reduce the sales cycle by 40% (from outreach to close). That's why we call it a "one-link buyer journey."

It removes all pressure from the prospect and means your email can avoid the hard sell. All you need to do is get them to click the link and then let the digital sales room do the rest.

Cold Email Templates and Examples

Cold emails are the lynchpin of an effective sales and marketing strategy – but only if they're executed correctly. Review these cold email templates and examples to skyrocket your outreach efforts:

For Lead Generation in Retail:

Subject: "John, Revolutionise Your Retail Strategy with Our AI Solutions"

Body: "Hello John, I'm Alex from TechInnovate. I've been following your retail chain's growth and see a fantastic opportunity for us to collaborate. Our AI-driven analytics have helped similar businesses enhance customer experience and boost sales by up to 30%. Could we schedule a call next week to explore this further?"

Networking with a Tech Professional:

Subject: "Samantha, Let's Explore AI Advancements Together!"

Body: "Hi Samantha, I'm Maya, a fellow AI enthusiast and developer. Your recent article on machine learning was insightful and aligns perfectly with my current project at AI Ventures. I'd love to exchange ideas and discuss potential collaborations. How about a virtual meetup this Friday?"

Proposing a Business Partnership in Software Development:

Subject: "Mark, Collaborate with Us for Next-Gen Software Solutions"

Body: "Dear Mark, I'm Ryan from DevSolutions. Your company's innovative approach to software aligns with our mission. I believe a partnership could lead to groundbreaking advancements. Are you available for a brief meeting next week to discuss this exciting opportunity?"

Check out 4 trumpet templates to level up your pitching

Pack a Cold Email Punch with trumpet

Want a powerful follow-up to your cold email campaign?

There's only one solution: trumpet. Take your cold outreach to the next level and turn cold prospects into loyal customers with our digital sales rooms.

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