How to Write Cold Emails That Get Responses

If you’ve ever thought about cold emailing as a way to generate leads for your business, read on. I’m going to show you how to write cold emails that get responses (at least from me).

How to write cold emails that get responses

How many cold emails does your business email account get each week? Do you respond to any of them? Generally I don’t. I’m a mom running a business, and I just don’t have the extra time to let those in!

But one cold email from a young woman last week did intrigue me, and I wrote back. I’m not sure why. I didn’t need her copywriting services and her cold email wasn’t perfect. But it had a genuineness about it that made me want to reach out and help her cold emailing process.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I would come across as helpful, as was my intention, or as condescending. I mean, even when I know what to do, I still make all kinds of mistakes, so I wondered, who was I to jump in and give her advice? But I figured if no one did, she’d still be sending out the same letter with no responses, and not sure why it wasn’t working.

FYI, this post reads very much like it’s about me. That’s because I found it the easiest way to get my thoughts across. But it’s really about you and what you need to do if you want to send out cold emails that get responses. (good responses!)

The complete wrong way to go

That young woman wasn’t the only person to send me cold emails last week. I also received multiple emails telling me about broken links on my website. I do open these – I mean, if there is a broken link that I haven’t caught, I want to know. 

I usually don’t bother digging into the cold emails themselves, I just hit delete or spam and move on. But I know a few people who read my blog wanted info about cold emailing, and so here’s the scoop!

How to get your emails sent to the spam folder

There must be a course out there with a cold-emailing template, or one company doing this for many bloggers. The emails I get from different people are nearly identical. 

First, they start with a compliment about your website. Then, they mention that they saw a broken link while they were reading. And, hey, guess what? They just happen to have a recent article that would work instead of the broken link, would I consider linking to their article instead?

And when I didn’t respond, the emailer followed up with a “gentle reminder” and has phrases like “excited to hear your thoughts” and “thanks for the opportunity.” Not as bad as some, but annoying all the same. I don’t need a gentle reminder from someone I’m ignoring. There really is no opportunity.

The worst of these, though, will follow up in a more aggressive manner and try to make me feel guilty for not replying quickly, or like I’m missing out on something wonderful. Spam.

Warning signs 

The first warning sign was the email address with a domain that led to a HostGator “Getting Started” page. Next, it was clear in the “compliment” that the writer hadn’t even looked at my site. And worst of all, the article suggested as a replacement for the broken link wasn’t remotely relevant to my article. I don’t think they even read the full sentence that the link was in.

The only redeeming factor was that the link they wanted me to use was to a real site, and led to a real article. But the article slug (the part of the URL with the name of the article) didn’t match the title or content of the article AT ALL! 

Really, how could this possibly be working for folks?

How the copywriter got me to respond to her email

I’ve been thinking about how to write this to explain why I opened the email, protect the innocent, and give enough details to help you succeed with cold emails.

It boils down to the fact that the email I got was from someone who appeared genuine and had a legitimate business. 

She was straight forward, and didn’t try to flatter, but did point out some specifics that I had done properly on my website. In a way that made it obvious she had really looked at it.

I am missing an about page at the time of this writing (I know, I know!), and she offered to help me with it. While I didn’t need her help right now, I appreciated the way she offered and I wanted to help her out.

Below are some pointers I gave her about cold emailing, plus a few more that I think are important. One big note – these are what will get me to bite. They are not what I do – I only rarely cold email or cold call, and when I do, it’s networking rather than making offers.

How to write a cold email 

These won’t necessarily get you business. But, they will help you stand out, and help you appear in your best light.

1| Know who you’re reaching out to

If you’re hoping to get me as a client, actually look at my business, website, and/or social media and make it obvious that you’ve done so. I really don’t think it’s worth your time to send out emails if you’re not willing to do this. The quality of client you get from sending out 100s of generic emails isn’t going to be very high if you get any at all.

2| Use a business email address

Please, please, please send your emails from an address that sounds like a business. Not “party-girl-9284” or “go-dawgs” It needs to be your name. Or your business name. 

Even better, if you can send from a business domain instead of a free account, do so. That business domain should also link to a real web page. No “” if you can help it. I know it’s handy and I use my own gmail account for too much. But, when your email is cold, the recipient is likely to assume it’s spam.

And if you’re offering to do something technical, no “” or other outdated accounts. 

3| A relevant subject line

Do not trick people into opening emails. That’s just tacky and leaves the recipient with a bad feeling. Make me understand that you’re a real person, not a bot, and not sending out a mass-email.                               

4| Example of your work

Impress me by including a great example of something you’ve done. It can be for someone else, or something from your own business. But make it great and introduce it well. “I’ve built this about page for XYZ Company and they’ve had double the inquiries since it was published: [link].”

Be warned, I’m likely to go check out your web page if I’m at all interested. If your own materials are lackluster, why would I think you would be able to do better for me? 

We ALL have trouble with this. Me included. This website doesn’t look just like I want it to. We all fall prey to “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” at some time or another. But if you’re sending out solicitations, make sure the area you’re asking to work on is top notch in your own materials. 

5| Give before asking

When you give the recipient something of value before asking for something in return, you’re broadcasting your intention to be helpful rather than greedy. While there’s a lot of talk about reciprocity – that people might feel they need to give back to you as well, in a cold-email situation, I’m not sure that is very strong.

If you offer something that is directly related to me and to the service you’re offering, you’re allowing me to imagine how helpful you can be. If you combine this with your work example, I can get a complete picture. I know I find that to be a super-powerful combination.

Some things you can easily give: more than a few sentences about improving someone’s site/situation, a link to a relevant free download, a video, a link to an epic, informative article that you’ve written. 

6| Follow up in a non-threatening and non-creepy way

Following up is good, but can head off the rails pretty easily. Don’t make me feel bad or guilty for not reading an advertising email from someone I don’t know. Don’t act like we’re best friends or that you think I’m the most awesome person in the world if we don’t know each other.

Sure, you can be upbeat, but leave creepy at home. 

Instead, reach out again. You can refer to the article you linked to, or send a follow up one. You can ask if I’m still working on X. Keep it short, pleasant, and helpful. Eventually, I’ll notice I’m getting emails from a specific person and I’ll check them out.

I may not need the services offered, but you’ll be in mind because of the effective way you’ve been emailing me.

That said, if you get a reply that says, please stop emailing, I’m not interested. Take the hint. Don’t follow up again on that one!

Next Steps

If you are using cold emails to find leads, take a look at this list and see how your emails compare. Being genuine, relevant, and real takes a lot more time, but it also can build actual networks. 

I realize this opens me up to receiving more cold emails. But if they’re done properly, I’m okay with that!

Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash 


  1. Colleen Gratzer on April 18, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    This is so on point, Kate! I loathe getting those “just checking in” emails. Great tips for writing a good cold email.

    • Kate Smith on April 19, 2021 at 1:44 pm

      @Colleen, thanks!

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