Using Cold Email for Lead Generation: Everything You Need To Know

The competitive nature of businesses today has forced companies to invest less in conventional marketing strategies and more in email lead generation. Formerly, companies would advertise on media such as radio and TV without targeting a specific customer niche. 

This is no longer the case, with customization in marketing and advertising proving very successful. Among the newest invention is cold emailing prospects, and the conversions are quite remarkably high compared to the former techniques. 

So what is cold emailing all about, and is it the ideal value proposition method for businesses? Master cold email lead generation: Learn the essentials, from writing the perfect message to landing clients, with this comprehensive guide.

What is Cold Emailing?

A cold sales email is primarily an email communication that a marketer sends to an anonymous recipient who doesn't have a prior relationship with the company. Its cardinal aim is to instigate an engagement with a prospect for future business. 

While it's a simple professional email, a cold sales email format is unique as it should politely encourage the recipient to consider the business offer without appearing intrusive. Therefore, you must use tact when sending the sales email to the target audience, as they will likely brush it off as spam. 

Cold sales email is more effective in reaching customers than common digital marketing strategies such as SEO and PR campaigning. So what is the proper format for a well-written cold email? 

  • A cold email should be so customized/personalized to the target audience that there’s no room for the recipient to feel like it wasn't intended for them.
  • Also, simplicity is key. Nobody wants to waste their valuable time reading large prosaic statements from a sender they don’t even know. 
  • Finally, it should have an element of outright clarity. The reader should be familiar with what you’re selling in a few sentences. 

Why should you use Cold Emailing for Lead Generation?

A prospect is an individual who will want to do business with you when you engage them for the first time. But do sales reps using cold-email-for-lead-generation stand a chance of converting prospects into customers? 

Definitely, there are numerous benefits you’ll reap immediately after your emails hit the prospect’s inbox. Also, the method comes with loads of upsides, as we’ll outline below: 

Cost Effective

Businesses are increasingly looking for ways to lower marketing and operation costs. Mainstream advertising is expensive compared to alternatives, such as writing cold emails to a more specific target audience

Email writing is easy, and sales reps don’t have to spend much time sending them. They simply need to have a customizable email template and edit it to suit the target audience for the day. 

Moreover, any business, no matter its size, can use this technique which is a win for startups struggling to break even. 


Scaling marketing is no mean feat and requires quite a considerable investment, but with cold email templates, everything is a breeze. Companies can serve an extensively large prospect base especially given that today, there’s a vast array of automation tools. 

All a company must do is create the right email subject lines for the various audiences it wants to access and send the emails in masses. Follow-up is also straightforward with cold emailing compared to other advertising modes. 

Easy to Monitor

Monitoring the reach and success of a marketing campaign is not a walk in the park, especially when using a method that doesn't target a particular audience. Nonetheless, with cold emails, it is easy to track the response of customers. 

Also, a company can easily track the type of messages receiving the highest number of clicks. This means that any improvement to the process will be based on statistical evidence. This significantly helps in streamlining marketing. 

Targeted Marketing

Cold email writing requires you to create a profile of the type of prospects that you want to generate leads from. This is highly important as it ensures resources are channeled towards the right recipients, increasing lead conversion rates. 

Given that businesses serve the right audience, the response rates are impressive. Also, it allows a company to send follow-up emails to this select group without breaking a sweat, increasing the chances of conversion. 


You have a great chance of generating a lead if you send an advert or offer to the most appropriate person rather than advertising generically. This is precisely what a cold email enables you to do. 

It facilitates sending personalized messages to the target audience, which is imperative in improving customer engagement. In turn, this translates to increased reach and sales. 

Create Trustworthy Relationships

Anyone would want to engage with a company that guarantees value and genuine solutions to their problems. Therefore, if the cold email is in the right format and promises expert solutions, it will draw the prospects onboard. 

Sending a message to unknown persons may seem intrusive. But with proper research, marketers are assured of positive customer responses. This sets the ground for long-term relations with these clients and an opportunity to cross-sell other products. 

Develop an Ideal Customer Profile

Selling without an Ideal customer profile (ICP) is akin to running in the dark without knowing what to expect. 

Consumers and b2b enterprises are taking less time to decide what best suits their needs, which means that companies that operate unthinkingly are bracing for doom. 

So what is an ideal customer profile as it relates to b2b email lead generation

An ICP is an enterprise/customer that stands to gain the largest share of benefits from the product your company is selling. Hence, ICPs represent the customer base that any business intends to serve and those that directly benefit from your products. 

Why an Ideal Customer Profile matters?

The market is getting murkier for companies that don’t have a defined customer base as consumers are increasingly becoming more selective. Also, intense competition in all businesses means those lacking ICPs are left lurking in a sales wilderness. 

This is because an ICP is also cardinal to informing on the right target companies in the case of b2bs. Specificity in this regard is hugely critical as it ensures a company fulfills the particular demands of the target buyer. 

Also, with an ICP, a company will give real value to the clients, without which they are likely to consider the business next door offering similar products as you.  

Steps to Create an Ideal Customer Profile

  • Check who has been your most recurrent customers. They are back for a reason; they find value in your products. So it makes sense to sell to them as they already trust your services. 
  • Also, find the customers with whom you have had the largest business deals, and you actually retained. 
  • Search online for individual reviews of products similar to what you’re selling. Focus on those dissatisfied with the services they obtained from a competitor. These are prospective clients you can engage with in the long term if you send them great cold emails. 
  • Lastly, your clients who have purchased additional products and services are part of the ideal customer profile. 

Draft A Compelling Cold Email Message

You need to craft a detailed yet direct cold email message. So do you have basic email writing skills? 

Well, if you know the basics, there are more tweaks you will need to make to the structure of your email to make it appear trustworthy and valuable to the recipients.

Write a Trustable ‘From’ Line

When sending a formal email, you barely focus on tinkering with the ‘From’ line. Nonetheless, this is very important in the case of cold email writing. Primarily, this is because the first part that anyone checks after getting an anonymous email in this section. 

If you don’t create a ‘From’ line that inspires confidence, you risk having the prospects delete it at first sight or even flag it as spam. And they’ll be justified if they do this primarily because they barely know the sender. 

So what are some of the best ‘From’ lines to use? You can include the two names of the sender and this way, it won’t appear fishy. However, it’d look more commanding if you included the role and your company, like in the example below. 

From: John Doe, Head of Sales, Acme Corporation. 

When writing a ‘From’ line, the rule of thumb is to create the tone you’ll use throughout the cold email. Also, you must consider how the recipients will likely receive the email if its ‘From’ line is worded in a particular format. 

Create a Compelling Subject Line

While we have emphasized the significance of a ‘From’ line in the above section, the email subject line is equally significant in striking confidence to the recipient at a first impression. 

Many companies that lack impressive email marketing lead generation rates fail because of a poorly written subject line. 

So what entails a perfect subject line? 

  • First, it must be so concise that it outright communicates to the recipient that he/she wants to read the entire email. 
  • Also, since you’re sending the email to a stranger, it would be best to personalize the subject line so that they do not doubt that it is them that you were indeed writing to. The best personalization mode is to put the receiver's name on the subject line. 
  • It should summarize the intention of sending the cold email in a few words. Avoid ambiguity, which may prompt the prospect to regard the email as spam.
  • Nonetheless, don’t yet put everything out in the open. Let the prospect gain an interest in discovering more from the subject line
  • Your subject line should offer solutions to a problem you think the recipient is facing. This will inspire confidence in the prospect and make you look like a problem solver rather than a nuisance. 
  • Never clickbait prospects with your subject line. Whatever you include in this part should be the central theme of your message below. Otherwise, you risk coming out as a fraud.
  • Lastly, don’t sound like a bot that sends millions of generic emails to strangers. Let your subject line have a feeling of a human tone behind it. It should sound as if you’re communicating directly with the subject.  

We emphasize conciseness because most people read emails on their mobile devices. Hence, it names to be small enough to fit on a smartphone/tablet screen but at the same time communicate the message.

Here are some examples of great subject lines. 

Corey, How Our Solution Can Improve Your Internet Safety. 

Why You Need to Switch ISPs Very Soon

Have a Great Cold Email Introduction

After the invitation to have your prospect enter the main part of the email, you’re not done yet. The introduction matters so much that if you get it wrong, the cold email recipient may close the email quickly, never to read it again. Or worse, you’ll be flagged as spam or even blocked. 

So is writing a cold email introduction similar to drafting any other email whereby you first focus on introducing yourself? Well, if you think so, we have a surprise for you. 

The introduction part is unique as it's when you need to focus more on the recipient rather than you. It's the time to confirm to them that the message you’re sending them is not a mistake but was rather reserved for them. 

You need to flatter the prospect real quick here, and if you’re good enough at this, you can be sure that they’ll read your message to the end. 

Here is an example. 

Hey Corey, I’ve just seen your Twitter post on the lack of dependable internet solutions in Michigan. I love your analysis of the issue; I think we can help make things better. 

From this part, you realize that getting the proper email format right for a cold mail requires you to do due diligence on the prospects you’re reaching out to. Avoid having an inflexible email template that you simply edit without considering the prospects' different needs. 

Lastly, keep it all simple, but if you have more information on the prospect and the problem they need to be solved, you can expound a little. 

Main Message Body

The prospect is now deep into it, and they are more curious to see if you can help, as you have suggested in the introduction. Like in formal emails, you should avoid being too formal yet not too salesy in a cold pitch. 

The biggest issue is being overly salesy as you will come out as a desperate/reckless marketer forcing products down the prospects' throats when they barely know you. So does this mean that you should dwell on the features of what you’re selling?  

Not really. Say, for instance, you’re selling internet services. It is not time to tell the prospect of all the products you have. Instead, you should focus on one or a few more major products that the prospective client needs and expound on the benefits. 

Also, make sure to connect the introduction to the main body message. Remember you assured the customer you understand their problem, so it's time to deliver. So talk to the prospect naturally as you would speak to them if you were speaking in person.  

Let the client feel you deeply understand their problems and are ready to assist. The prospect will like the deal more if they sense that they’ll gain value, so try to be exhaustive on this part. 

Call to Action 

It's now time to wrap it up with a call to action. Your prospect is done reading your proposition; on this part, you’re guiding them on the next step for the ultimate solution to their problem.

At this point, the prospect is probably wondering what they should do with the information you have just provided. If convinced by the message, they want to take subsequent action. Tell them what to do. 

A great call to action should be concise and directly informs the recipient of what they need to do for further engagement. Beware the harm of making too many demands, as it may sound like you’ve been gagging them with information to get them into a deal they are not convinced about. 

Something simple as asking the prospect to reach out for more will do. Or tell them to give you feedback on the deal you’re offering. 

Don’t ask them to schedule a 30-minute call or something similar, as that sounds too much of an intrusion to their time, and they will most likely not warm up to the idea. Keep it simple and escalate this slowly as you gauge their interest levels after they respond to the email. 

Cold Email Signature

You'll leave the prospect hanging if you don't include this part. There’s a chance they don’t recall who emailed them first place because you are still a stranger to them. 

Also, an email signature adds more professionalism to the email. It doesn't appear like some bot-generated message without an apparent sender.  

Remember, you also need to leave the recipient with a positive feeling of having just read a great sales email from a trustable and solution-focused company. So what is the best way to sign off

Include the company name and additional information, such as your business location. Also, you can add the company’s postal address and other relevant information about your business. Again, this should be straightforward in about three lines. 

Analyze Your Campaign Results

Having the best cold email template is one thing but is this enough to deliver the results you’ve been looking for? This is a sit-back and analyze moment whereby you need to know if you hit the spot last time you spoke to that prospect. 

Were they impressed by your cold email, or did it come off as an openly veiled, cunning message to sell them a product they didn’t need? Before doing a second round of emails, review what happened the last time you did it by checking the following five major metrics.

Clickthrough rate

Did your prospects even take time to click your email, or did its subject line come out as bland and unworthy of their time? This is one of the first areas you need to review.  

A clickthrough rate is a measure of how frequently your recipients open the emails, and it is usually a percentage of the number of emails opened divided by the number of those sent. 

Example: Take a case whereby you sent 1500 emails, and those who clicked are 250. 

Clickthrough rate = 250/1500 x 100 = 16.7% 

This metric is imperative in gauging how appealing your cold email subject line and From line are, and tracking it can help you know when you need to improve these parts. 

It is arguably the most important parameter to keep track of, as without an excellent clickthrough rate, there’s little chance of your campaign succeeding. 

Conversion rate

You may be getting enough clicks, but that’s half the journey, as the aim is to bring as many customers as possible on board. Conversion refers to the number of respondents who commit to doing business with your company after receiving the email. 

It is a percentage of the customers who buy/enrol on a product/service divided by the total number of marketing emails sent. Therefore, say that you sent 1500 emails to customers, and 45 responded and committed to buying the product/service. 

Conversion Rate= 45/1500 x 100 = 3% Conversion Rate. 

Why do you need this metric? This is the true indicator of the success of your email marketing campaign, as it reveals the number of sales you make as a percentage of emails sent by the sales reps

Bounce rate

Was your email delivered? Did you input the wrong receipt address, or was there a network issue when you sent it? This is what bounce rate is all about. It shows the number of messages that never reached the prospects as a percentage of the total message sent. 

Hence to calculate it, consider the example below. 

Take the above case of 1500 sent emails and 120 that were not delivered. The bounce rate is 

120/1500 x 100 = 8%. 

A high bounce rate is a cause for concern as some of your most viable prospects have yet to see the email, so you have no chance of converting those sales. 

List growth rate

A ballooning email list indicates many prospects with a good chance of becoming actual sales. So this makes it quite significant to track how your list is growing. 

But you must beware that some prospects will unsubscribe from your emails at some point, and others will report you as spam. Ideally, this group should be significantly small as if it keeps growing; there’s something wrong with your approach. 

To determine your list growth rate, you need to subtract those exiting/flagging emails as spam from the number of new subscribers, then divide the result by the total emails sent. Multiply the result by 100 to obtain a percentage.  


Say that you have 240 new subscribers while 60 have unsubscribed from the service/flagged your emails as spam. Taking the above example of 1500 total number of emails sent, you list growth rate =

(240 - 60) / 1500 x100 = 12% growth list rate. 

Overall ROI

This metric helps you determine if you’re obtaining value for your investment in the email marketing campaign. Therefore, it measures the amount of income generated. 

ROI= ((Money spent on the campaign - Amount of money invested) / Amount of Money invested ) x 100. 

Optimize Your Cold Email Message and Campaign

So far, we have discussed email marketing basics and revealed some crucial metrics you should keep track of. Finally, let us explore some quick ways to optimize your campaign to improve the click and conversion rates.

Don’t Fluff Around 

Hit the nail on its head the first time you send the cold email. Stop beating around the bush as you’re dealing with strangers, and the last thing anyone wants is a marketer giving them an empty talk in their mailbox. 

Start with a direct and communicative subject that tells the prospect what you want. Avoid generic statements like: 

Hey, can I have your time?

Online Webinar for Forex trading.

Etc. Prospects want specific emails, and anything that doesn't meet this threshold belongs to the spam box. 

One Call to Action

Avoid asking the prospect to do too many things in one go, as it won’t work. The prospect will intuitively not respond to an email without a clear call to action

Hence, to boost the response rate, limit yourself to one CTA at a go and escalate in follow-up emails if needed. 

Boost Your Social Proof

If Bill Gates sends you an email today, you’re more likely to respond to it than if it is from an anonymous address without clear details of the sender. This is the benefit of social proof, and you must include this aspect in your emails; otherwise, they won’t sell. 

The secret to this part is in the email signature, whereby you need to elaborate exquisitely on your company’s details. Spammers are too quick to write emails and leave out such critical information. 

So to set yourself away from the pack, ensure you’re a step ahead by having an email signature that commands respect. It also shows prospects that you’re a well-organized company. 

Also, using your company’s domain as part of the email addresses would be best, as this also boosts the recipients' confidence in your company’s credibility. 

Automate and Make Follow Up

Marketing is a game of numbers, so no matter how great your email template is, there's little chance of success if you can’t maximize volumes. The key is employing automation tools that send customized emails to many recipients. 

Moreover, you must write follow-up emails to all prospects, including those who don’t respond the first time. With persuasion, everyone can become a client, especially if you are tactical in your approach. 

You don’t want to appear too desperate, but there’s evidence of converting prospects who never showed interest the first time you reached out. 

Wrap Up

We have quelled all the reservations you probably had about engaging in an email marketing campaign by bringing you all you needed to know about the topic. According to Forbes, it's the most feasible marketing strategy in regards to ROI, as you are likely to recoup an average of $42 for every investment of $1 you spend on the campaign. So don’t hesitate to send emails to the prospects and keep track of the metrics we highlight to evaluate the campaign's success.

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