Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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Cold emails are intimidating — there’s no doubt about it. But at the same time, they can also be an effective tool, whether you’re trying to market a product or land a job. 

In today’s world, email is one of the primary forms of communication, and this vital tool, a message you send having little to no contact prior. It can be a useful way of establishing and growing work-related relationships; you’re initiating unsolicited contact in order to “woo” this person into doing some sort of business with you.

If you’re wondering, “Isn’t that kind of spammy?” you’re not alone. But there is a way of preventing your contact from immediately pressing delete and making your cold email sincere and effective. 

The 5 components of every successful cold email 

Successful cold emails are short and to the point. They also have compelling subject lines, along with the five components we’ve outlined below.

1. A well-researched hook 

Aside from the subject line, your intro is the most important means of grabbing your reader’s attention. That’s why it’s called a hook — it’s there to “hook” your recipient. Without an opening that draws them in, they’re unlikely to keep reading, and you’ve lost your audience.

To craft a hook that will show your recipient that your message is worth their time, you should spend some time researching them to find out what might appeal to them. For example, if you’re pitching a new product or service, find a way to connect it to interests you know they have. Or, using a compelling anecdote that will strike a chord with them. This personalizing touch will not only hook them, but it will show them that you’ve taken the time to learn about them and want to connect on a personal level.

2. A statement that validates who you are and why you’re talking

Why should the recipient care about getting this message from you? In order to establish a connection, you need to explain who you are and why you’re someone they should be interested in getting to know. 

After all, when you send a cold email, it means you’re probably not already on the recipient’s radar. Given how many messages most of us receive on a daily basis — many of which are junk and don’t matter to us — the recipient needs to know upfront that this email comes from a credible source and deserves their attention.

For example, you might mention a connection you share. Perhaps you’ve worked at the same or similar organizations, or maybe you even have acquaintances or colleagues in common. If you don’t have these connections, you can still establish common ground and explain (succinctly) why the reader should care who you are.

3. A way to relieve your reader’s pain point

This is the most important part of your email: how you’re going to serve your audience. This is what marketing and sales are all about — solving a problem people have. Otherwise, why should they be invested in what you are offering?

In other words, at this point in your cold email, you should explain to your reader what purpose you can serve for them. This requires nuance and an understanding of your market. Of course, you’ve probably done the legwork to research the audience for your product or service and their particular needs — after all, this is the very reason why you and your business developed this. Your pitch should speak to those needs and wants. 

Not all problems are obvious on the surface, so you may need to dig a little bit to really identify with the issues that are plaguing your reader. And if the thing you’re offering isn’t an absolutely necessity for the audience, you can still speak to underlying issues they’re trying to fix. For example, if you’re pitching diet cheesecake, while this isn’t completely necessary for anyone, perhaps they’re having trouble satisfying their sweet tooth while sticking to their sugar-free diet. No, it’s not central to their life, but it will make them a little happier.

4. A clear call to action (CTA)

Now, what do you want your recipient to do once they’ve read your cold email? This might not be immediately obvious, so you need to spell it out with a clear CTA. You might want your reader to buy the product or service your selling, but your CTA could also be something like arranging a meeting or discussion, hiring you as a consultant or employee or something else entirely. 

Whatever it is, say so. Be specific. Instead of saying “Let’s hop on the phone at your convenience,” it’s better to say, “Email me with some times you’re available for a phone call next week.” When you ask isn’t vague, it’s more actionable. It’s also easier for the recipient to respond directly, rather than putting it off for “sometime” later. Short, direct and to the point is the way to go.

To draw more attention to the CTA, make it a button or another kind of standout graphic or image. This can also help make the CTA more accessible.

5. A sincere thank you 

Finally, don’t forget the critical step of showing appreciation for the reader’s time. Whether or not they do what you want, they’ve still shown you the respect of reading through an entire (hopefully relatively short) email from someone they don’t know — they’ve gotten to the end, after all.

Expressing your gratitude also helps them feel good about themselves, which will nudge them in the direction of helping you by responding to your CTA. Everybody likes to feel appreciated, it having the sense that someone is thankful for something they’ve done will help them develop a connection with you and feel more warmly toward you.

You don’t need to overdo it, here — in fact, going overboard will come off as a little desperate and odd. Just a simple “Thanks so much for your help!” or “I really appreciate your consideration” will do. As with the rest of your email, keep it clear and concise. At the same, go a step beyond merely signing off with “Thanks, [your name].” That comes off as a bit perfunctory. 

Yes, sending cold emails can be a little (or a lot) scary. But they can still be a powerful, effective tool to have in your arsenal — one that can help you get what you want. Remember that some of your recipients will say “Thanks, but no thanks” or ignore your email altogether. That’s to be expected. But the ones that do pay off will make it well worth the risk and effort.