Article

7 cold email templates that skyrocket response rates

Getting a prospect to respond to a cold email isn’t always easy. Our template playbook can help.

By Josh Bean, Director, Marketing

Published November 30, 2020
Last updated December 4, 2020

Be honest: How many times have you sent a cold email straight to your spam folder?

Maybe the value proposition was buried too deep in the email body, or you simply shrugged off the salesperson sending it.

This type of reaction to cold email outreach isn’t uncommon. In fact, it happens all the time.

People are quick to assume cold emailing means spammers disguised as sales reps. That’s why there’s a real art to crafting an effective cold email that holds a prospect’s attention.

The very best cold emails share some common traits. If you want to boost open rates and reply rates to land your ideal customer, you might want to minimize your own Gmail browser and listen up.

1. The “quick question” cold email template

Use this template when you aren’t sure if you have the right point of contact. You’ve done your research, found a big-fish company your product or service would be perfect for, but can’t identify the right person to email.

Keep this email as short as possible and get to the point quickly. The less time your reader has to commit, the more likely they’ll take a quick moment to respond. That said, make sure you properly introduce yourself before asking for any information.

Template

Good afternoon {first name},

My name is {first name} and I represent {company}.

Could you tell me who handles decisions in the {sales/customer relationship/product buying} department and how I may connect with them?

Thank you in advance,

{insert email signature here}

Why this template skyrockets response rates

The “quick question” template has a high response rate because it asks very little of your recipient. You aren’t trying to sell anything; all you’re asking for is an email address or phone number. This is effective because people are more likely to respond to a request that requires little to no effort on their part.

Additionally, acknowledging that you’re unsure of whether or not you have the right contact helps humanize your email, making the recipient more likely to empathize with you and want to help.

When to use it

This cold email template is useful when reaching out to a larger company that doesn’t have a clear point of contact. Use it to ensure you’ve got the contact information for the right person before taking the time to craft the perfect pitch.

2. The “third-party connection” cold email template

Let’s say you know the right point of contact, but you’re having trouble reaching them directly or getting a response.

LinkedIn and Twitter are great resources for finding employees that aren’t quite company decision-makers. You can use their contact information and this third-party cold email template to gain access to your prospect indirectly.

Template

Hi {first name},

I came across your name on {source} and was wondering if you could help me out.

I have a solution for {industry problem or pain point} that I think {company name} could really benefit from, but I’m having trouble connecting.

Who is the right person to discuss this opportunity with, and how may I reach them?

I appreciate your time.

{insert email signature here}

Why this template skyrockets response rates

Lower-level employees are more likely to present a profitable opportunity to their employer in the hopes it moves them further up the chain of command.

In this scenario, your email is their opportunity to do just that – which makes a response likely. Calling out an employee by name puts pressure on them to get your message to the right person. No one wants to be the employee who dropped the ball on a great opportunity.

When to use it

The third-party template is a cold email strategy used to gain access to hard-to-reach prospects via lower-level employees. Use this template when you’re struggling to reach or get a response from your prospect directly.

3. The “PAS” cold email template

The “PAS” cold email template is a three-part formula:

  1. Problem

    Identify a problem specific to the customer you’re cold emailing. Twitter, Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other user-driven sites are ideal for pinpointing a problem your recipient may be struggling with.

  2. Agitate

    Now that you’ve identified the problem, poke at it a little. Try and evoke an emotional response from the reader by reinforcing why their problem is so frustrating.

  3. Solve

    Offer a solution to the problem. The goal is to convince the reader that your product/service is a no-brainer solution that makes all their problems go away. Make sure this section includes a clear and low-commitment CTA.

The template below is designed for a salesperson selling a CRM solution, but it can be easily modified for other products.

Template

Hi {first name},

I noticed your company has some negative reviews about poor customer service.

It’s incredibly frustrating to lose customers because of lost tickets, lack of tools, and disorganization in the support department.

{Product name} integrates all of your customer data into one centralized place, allowing you to easily track, manage, and measure customer interactions, no matter the channel.

Would you like to hear more about how {product name} can turn those negative reviews into loyal, satisfied customers?

{insert email signature here}

Why this template skyrockets response rates

The opening line of this email example is personalized and shows the reader you’ve done your research. More importantly, pointing out a flaw or problem your reader has is highly motivating. They don’t want others to know their company’s weaknesses, which is why the PAS formula has such a high response rate. Your reader will be desperate to fix the problem, and they’ll have an easy solution right in front of them.

When to use it

Make sure you’ve done your research before using a PAS email. It’s most effective once you’ve clearly identified a prospect’s pain point to which you can offer a no-brainer solution in response.

4. The “AIDA” cold email template

Social proof, data, and intrigue are what make the AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) formula successful. It’s kind of like being that friend who talks to you after a rough day at work and says, “Hey, I totally get it.”

Let’s look at an example of a cold email using the AIDA template backed by real data.

Template

Hi {first name},

What if a {product/service} could help you {solve a problem}?

In one year’s time, we helped {company name} achieve a {x%} increase in sales after implementing {your product name}.

In addition to an increase in sales, {your product name} helped {company name} improve their overall workflow, increase efficiency, reduce response rate time, and improve customer satisfaction from {A% to B%}.

I’d love to talk to you about how {your product name} could help your company increase sales and improve workflow. Do you have time to connect this week?

{insert email signature here}

Why this template skyrockets response rates

The data and social proof you provide in your message should be relevant to your cold email prospect. If your prospect is part of a company that sells SEO metrics software, for example, your use case should reflect a similar brand model.

The opening line should intrigue your lead with a thought-provoking and attractive scenario (attention). The second line is designed to keep the reader interested by offering a tidbit of social proof or data that supports your opening statement (interest). Next, pique your lead’s desire by offering even more social proof (desire).

The “attention,” “interest,” and “desire” parts of AIDA will keep your reader hooked throughout the email. After you get your reader to say, “Okay, I'm convinced,” the last piece of the formula (action) should address the question “What do I do next?”

When to use it

Use the AIDA approach when your cold email prospect represents a data-driven brand because they’ll be interested in the data and social proof. Find out what’s important to your prospect on a professional level. If your product or service is a match for that prospect, presenting attractive data from a successful use case will motivate your reader to respond.

5. The “straight to business” cold email template

Sometimes the direct approach is the best approach. This is especially true for busy executives and no-nonsense brands. Get right to the point by identifying a scenario or problem common to your prospect. Without any added fluff, present the reader with concrete data that proves your product or service is the logical solution.

While the template below is specific to a CRM solution, it can be tweaked for any type of organization.

Template

Hi {first name},

Is your customer support system actually losing you money?

We’ve helped large companies like yours lower support costs by {x%} and improve overall sales by {xy%} in less than a year.

All we did was integrate their entire company-wide support system into one efficient, easy-to-manage workflow called {product/service name}.

It’s quick and easy to set up and requires no onboarding at all. Do you have time this week to discuss how {product/service name} could boost your sales?

{insert email signature here}

Why this template skyrockets response rates

The opening line is the perfect intro hook for a busy prospect: short, attention-grabbing, and engaging.

In this case, the cold email caters specifically to the no-nonsense mind of your prospect. You get straight to the point, provide proof, and leave your prospect with a low-commitment CTA that fits their schedule.

When to use it

This approach is highly effective for eliciting responses from busy professionals with flooded inboxes. It quickly answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” and provides proof to back it up.

6. The “paint a picture” cold email template

This cold email is all about getting your potential prospect to visualize how sweet life could be with your product or service.

Convince a prospect that your product or service will directly improve their world by showing them what their life currently looks like without it. Make sure whatever scenario you present is realistic to your prospect.

Next, paint a picture of that same scenario, only this time with your product or service. What’s changed? How has your solution made their life so much better?

Template

Hi {first name},

Nothing is more frustrating than losing a great candidate because you can’t find their resume, interview history, or contact information.

Imagine a world where all of that information is organized in one simple, easy-to-find place. {Product/service name} is that place.

Do you have time this week for a quick demo to see how it works?

{insert email signature here}

Why this template skyrockets response rates

The “paint a picture” cold sales email template is a shortcut to getting your prospect to convert as quickly as possible. If they can envision a better, easier, or more productive life with your product or service, they’ll only have one question left: “Where do I sign up?”

When to use it

Cold emails are only effective if the product or service you’re presenting makes sense to the reader. They need to know how it will directly benefit them.

Some people may have a harder time understanding how your product or service works in a practical sense. This cold email answers that question with a real-world example that every brand should have in its arsenal.

7. The “something useful” cold email template

Everyone loves receiving valuable and useful resources for free. Cold emailing is the perfect platform to start building a relationship with prospects by giving them something valuable without asking for anything in return.

A good place to start is doing some initial research on your prospect. What are they sharing on social media? What are they interested in learning about? Use that information in your message to hook the reader.

Template

Hi {first name},

I stumbled upon a post you wrote on {social media site} about {topic or post}. I thought your points were spot on!

{Insert main takeaways from the piece and how the points the recipient made about the piece were helpful.}

Did you see {article} by {name} on a similar topic?

{insert email signature here}

Why this template skyrockets response rates

Again, everyone loves to receive valuable resources for free. Plus, praise and flattery can go a long way toward getting a positive response from your prospect.

Finally, you aren’t asking for anything in return. You’re just both excited about the same things and are starting what could be a profitable relationship for both of you. Humans inherently like to connect with one another over shared interests, which is why this template has such a high response rate.

When to use it

We recommend using this template if you know that your recipient is going to be a hard sell or is more likely to do business with someone they already have a relationship with. This template helps you get there and establish rapport with your prospect.

3 elements every cold email should include

Now that you’ve seen some examples of cold email templates, it’s time to look into the most important ingredients they use.

Cold calling random people might’ve been an effective sales strategy back in the ‘80s, but it went out of style as soon as neon spandex did.

The best marketing and sales teams don’t just slap together cold email copy and hope for the best. They carefully design their outbound sales email messages to boost prospecting efforts in a calculated way.

Research

Good luck pulling off any email marketing campaign without research.

Research can quite literally make or break your cold email efforts. If you have little to no insight into who your ideal customer is, how are you going to get their attention? Before you even think about sending your first email to a potential prospect, you should already know who they are.

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That’s where buyer personas come into play. Crafting specific profiles that give you details about who your ideal customers are is critical. Do they work at a startup? Are they B2B SaaS users? Would they benefit from a case study link or webinar invite?

The more you uncover about your potential prospect in the research phase, the easier it will be to craft a cold email that catches their attention.

Personalization

How many times have you gotten the generic “Hey there!” in a mediocre sales email?

It just doesn’t work.

Personalization can have big gains for your cold email lead generation efforts. The average open rate of a personalized cold email is 10% higher than a non-personalized one. Yes, the simple addition of a name is that powerful.

Think about your cold email subject lines. Are they directly addressing an individual? If not, you’re missing a big opportunity to put your prospect at ease. Using their name makes it feel like whatever you have in that email message is just for them. You go from simply sending out a super salesy email sequence to building a personal customer relationship.

Value

Adding value might be the most important piece of information to keep in mind when writing cold emails.

A lot of people think a discount code is adding value. It might be. But it also might not be at all. It really depends on what your prospect is looking for. Maybe they want a phone call to talk more about your product/service. Maybe they want to be directed to a landing page that offers more information. Maybe they want to see an influencer share their thoughts on your product or service on YouTube.

Elementary as it sounds, value really is in the eye of the beholder. Marketers and salespeople need to understand that. It’s up to you to find out what value means to your prospect and offer some variation of that in your cold email.

Start cold emailing your prospects today

Remember, cold emailing prospects takes patience. The more time you put into doing the groundwork up front, the better your cold emails will turn out. Don’t rush the sales process. Focus on getting your prospect to trust you first, and the sales opportunity will come together naturally.

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