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How to Write a Cold Sales Email that Gets Responses

Think how long it takes you to write and send 100 cold emails. Unless you’re using some sort of email automation software, I’m guessing it takes you a while.

Now, think about how many responses you’re likely to get from those 100 emails. Is it ten? Five? Three?

Seems like a lot of effort for not much reward, right?

But even if you’re only getting on average three responses per 100 emails sent, you’re still doing better than most. Much better, in fact, because the average cold email response rate is a measly 1%.

That’s right: for every 100 cold emails sent, you can expect to receive one solitary reply. The other 99 might as well have been printed out, bundled up and blasted into space for all the good they’ve done you.

Clearly, something needs to change. Here’s how to write cold sales emails that actually generate responses:

Start By Getting Your Email List in Order

Let’s start with a bit of housekeeping. You could be the Shakespeare of email writers, but if your email list is a mess, you still won’t get any replies.

The key is to build a list that’s likely to be interested in what you have to say. If you’ve already created a detailed buyer profile, this process shouldn’t be too difficult. A quick look at LinkedIn and/or the company’s About Us page should answer most of your questions. And if you don’t have a buyer profile, you should definitely make one. Do it now!

Essentially, you should be looking to do as much qualification as possible before deciding whether to send someone a cold email. While not an exhaustive list, you’ll want to know that they’re:

  • In the right location
  • Of the right level of seniority
  • Likely to have a need for your product
  • Likely to have the budget for your product

7 Cold Email Copywriting Formulas That Get Results

Now that your metaphorical email house is in order, it’s time for the fun stuff: crafting compelling messages that are impossible to ignore.

The trick here is to strike a balance between personalization and repetition. You don’t want to have to write a brand new message from scratch every time, but you also don’t want to come across as impersonal. After all, everyone wants to feel special!

That’s where copywriting formulas come in. They’ll give your productivity a huge boost, while ensuring that your messages are focused on all the right areas. Here are ten of my favorites:

1. Before-After-Bridge

This is all about detailing a problem that exists in your prospect’s industry, then describing how fantastic things would be if that problem didn’t exist. Finally, you offer a solution – presumably something related to your product.

Here’s how it looks in practice:

Hi [name],

For every 100 cold emails you send, you’ll only get one reply. That’s a lot of effort for little reward.

Now imagine achieving 10X the responses in half the time.

Sounds too good to be true? With Mailshake, you can make it a reality.

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so I can explain more?

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2. Features-Advantages-Benefits

Simple but effective, this copywriting formula involves detailing two or three key features of your product, explaining why they’re helpful, and then detailing exactly what this means for your prospect.

Here’s how it works:

Hi [name],

Mailshake offers personalized, scalable sales prospecting.

It allows you to send personalized cold emails at scale and set tasks to engage with prospects via phone and social media, all in one sequence, on one dashboard.

That means you save time and have complete visibility over results.

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so I can explain more?

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3. The 5 Basic Objections

Almost every time a prospect doesn’t buy from you, it’s because of one (or more) of these five reasons:

  1. I don’t have enough time
  2. I don’t have enough money
  3. It won’t work for me
  4. I don’t believe you
  5. I don’t need it

I’m not suggesting you should aim to overcome all of those objections every time you send an email – you’ll likely come across as overly defensive if you try to do so. But you should definitely keep them in mind when writing your email copy. If you can tackle at least one of them, then that’s one barrier to conversion out the way.

Here’s how to do it:

Hi [name],

Mailshake makes it easy for you to scale and automate your email outreach. I can prove it – all I need is a five-minute phone call.

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so I can explain more?

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4. The Cliffhanger Ending

No one can resist a cliffhanger finale – it’s basically hard-coded into us to demand closure. When we don’t get it, we need to know more.

Here’s how to take advantage of this principle in your cold emails:

Hi [name],

One of our clients, GrowthScore, used Mailshake to send its latest e-book to prospects.

Within 72 hours, they’d generated 500 leads.

Want to know how they did it?

If you’re free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times], we can discuss this further.

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5. Write for One Person, Not Thousands

Legendary advertiser Fairfax Cone did a better job than most of defining superb copywriting when he explained: “Good advertising is written from one person to another.”

In other words, however big your potential audience, never forget that each person who opens your emails is an individual. They have their own priorities and pain points. It’s up to you to tap into them.

Here’s what I mean:

Hi [name],

You’re spending too long on cold outreach. You wish you could do more, faster.

With Mailshake, you can. Our software lets you send personalized cold emails at scale and set tasks to engage with prospects via phone and social media, all in one sequence, on one dashboard.

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so I can explain more?

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6. ACCA

Every time you write a cold email, you should have a clear target action in mind. Never make the reader second-guess how you want them to proceed. The ACCA formula is a great tool for this, because it’s super actionable. ACCA stands for:

  • Awareness: Outline the situation or problem
  • Comprehension: Explain how it affects your prospect, and how you have the solution
  • Conviction: Create a desire for the solution you’re offering
  • Action: Call to action

Here’s how to put this formula to work:

Hi [name],

For every 100 cold emails you send, you’ll only get one reply.

You’re working hard and not seeing the results.

That’s why thousands of salespeople are using Mailshake to personalize cold emails at scale.

Want to find out how we can save you time on email outreach? Let me know if you’re free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so we can discuss this further.

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7. “So What?”

Kids would make brilliant cold emailers. Why? Because they’re always asking “so what?”

Every time you write a sentence, ask yourself the same question. In other words, why would the recipient care about the thing you’ve written? It’ll keep your copy punchy and actionable.

Here’s the difference this practice can make:

Hi [name],

Mailshake makes it easy for you to scale and automate your email outreach.

It saves you time. And it makes your emails personalized, which generates more responses.

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so I can explain more?

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8. The String Of Pearls

Right now, brands are obsessed with “storytelling”. But this isn’t some airy marketing buzzword; crafting compelling stories gets real results.

That’s what the “String Of Pearls” formula is all about – weaving together two or three persuasive examples of your product in action to create one attention-grabbing email.

Here’s an example:

Hi [name],

Sales professionals like you are using Mailshake to send better emails.

We helped GrowthScore generate 500 emails in 72 hours. We helped Sol Orwell achieve a 72% response rate on cold email. And we can do the same for you.

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so I can explain more?

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9. Be Specific (But Give Nothing Away)

Similar to the Cliffhanger Ending technique, this copywriting formula is all about teasing the reader into learning more. Give them a tantalizing line of copy that goes into specifics while still allowing you to keep your cards close to your chest. It’s not easy to do – but it works.

Here’s a sample for your review:

Hi [name],

We’re Mailshake, and we supercharge cold email outreach.

Our clients are achieving cold email response rates of 72%.

Sounds good, right?

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] so I can explain more about what we do?

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10. The OATH Formula

Another kick-ass method to keep your cold emails laser-focused is to consider the four stages of audience awareness:

  • Oblivious: Completely unaware of you
  • Apathetic: Aware of you, but disinterested
  • Thinking: Potentially interested in what you have to say
  • Hurting: In desperate need of a solution that you can offer

Figure out which of these four stages your prospect falls into and use this insight to hone your copy.

Here’s an example targeting the “oblivious” stage:

Hi [name],

We’re Mailshake. You might not have heard of us, but we help people like you craft personalized emails faster.

Less time. Higher response rates. More sales.

Are you free for a call tomorrow at [give 2 possible times] to discuss how Mailshake can help you?

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Ultimately, copywriting formulas aren’t a “cheat.”

They’re not about creating the illusion of personalization.

Instead, they’re a way to remind yourself of the information that your audience actually want to read, and to structure your emails in the best possible way. Give them a try – I guarantee you’ll never look back.

Have you used any of these cold email copywriting formulas? How did you make them relevant to your own brand? And what results did you see? Let me know in the comments below: