- Some people hate it.
- Some people consider it spam.
- Some wish it were never invented.
Yet – it works.
It’s a robust outreach strategy. It helps you generate leads.
(And raise money, network, get new customers & so much more)
It’s cheap (it can be free), you can use it no matter if you’re an agency, a freelancer, or anything in between, and it’s infinitely scalable (it’s impossible to contact all potential prospects out there.)
So what is a cold email?
It’s an email you send to someone you haven’t communicated or met before, with whom you have no previous relationship. This email aims to start a business relationship, usually to make a sale.
In the context of freelance copywriting, as that’s likely why you’re here – you employ cold emails to contact potential customers. You send them on LinkedIn or manually (to their email address) to get interest in your services. Or maybe you want to get a job, so you approach potential employers for why they should hire you.
Cold mailing is the equivalent of cold calling. It’s different from email marketing because you have permission to contact them there. And yes, cold mailing can be considered spam, or at least many folks will see them like this.
However, if you are non-intrusive, provide value, and do them with the right intention, I see them as valuable tools that create win-win relationships.
So what makes an excellent cold mail?
Or a reasonable bid on a service like UpWork?
Or an excellent message to send on LinkedIn?
It’s basically what makes for a good sales copy and comes down to seven key elements.
One – Make It Relevant.
You’re a business owner, and you open your inbox. Out of nowhere, you receive an email about a service you don’t need to solve a problem you don’t have.
Will you reply to that email…
… or will you just hit the SPAM button?
The thing with copywriting is that you can’t create the desire for a product or service. You can only channel it. You can contact people who are ALREADY in your marketplace and need what you’re selling.
They might not need it now; they might already have a solution but need it.
So you want to send your cold mail to qualified prospects; otherwise, you’re wasting your time and theirs.
People fall into five degrees of sophistication. This is usually measured on a scale called UPSYD.
UPSYD stands for…
#1 – Unaware: they don’t know they have a problem, nor do they care.
#2 – Problem aware: they know they have a problem; they don’t know there’s a solution.
#3 – Solution aware: they know solutions are available but don’t know about you.
#4 – You aware: they know about you but don’t know your offer.
#5 – Deal aware: they know your offer and want a good deal to buy.
You want to market to solution aware and above. You don’t want to educate your prospect that there is a solution to his problem. It’s an uphill battle, and it’s also a frustrating one. You want to show him why your solution is superior to the competition.
For example, you don’t want to explain to someone what copywriting is and how it can help their business. People who don’t know what a copywriter is don’t tend to pay much value to it. You want to explain how your copywriting will be superior to doing it themselves or hiring the competition.
Two – Make It Short
Best cold emails are short and to the point.
I’ve seen people send six – seven paragraphs, and that’s nice, but few business owners will read that from someone they’ve never met before.
You want to summarize everything in 50 – 100 words at a maximum.
And you want to explain what you can do for them in the first sentence or sentences. Having a long introduction where you set up the stage may be tempting, but from experience, this doesn’t work.
“But won’t a long email show I’ve put time and effort into considering their needs?”
If you are at a later stage in the conversation, for example, where you offer them a free analysis of their website, then going 1 – 2 pages long may show effort. Even there, people are hurried and want the TLDR (too long, didn’t read) version.
Three – Make It Credible
When you say something, prove it.
If you say you can boost their conversion, immediately add a testimonial and a reason why. When you say you’re an experienced copywriter, explain why this is true.
If you make a claim in any form of copy (and cold emails are copy), you gotta back it up with proof.
The proof is like the cement that holds a wall made out of bricks together. It won’t make the sale by itself, but without it, the entire argument will come crashing down.
Here are some proof strategies that you can employ:
#1 – Reason Why – ask the “reason why” questions through every paragraph. These are “Why should I believe this?”, “why is this relevant to me?”, “Why should I keep reading this?” And so on.
#2 – Testimonials and case studies. Case studies tend to be too long for a cold email, so that a single testimonial will do better.
#3 – Claims and documentation. Let’s say that you claim that video sales letters can double conversion compared to traditional sales pages. You want to add a reputable source that backs this claim up, like a trade journal or an authority in the industry. If you say it, you must prove it.
#4 – Be specific. The more ambiguous and general you are, the less trustworthy you come across.
#5 – Have a logical foundation. This means that your copy should connect adequately. Point A leads to point B, which leads to point C. I’ve seen plenty of cold emails that are just random points.
Four – Have A Strong Lead
Your lead is at the beginning of the email.
The most effective lead is to state what you can do for them.
However, there are other leads you can use.
#1 – If/then lead – “If you want to achieve (desired outcome), then this will be the most important message you’ll ever read.”
#2 – The benefits lead – you are stating a list of benefits in bullet points that he’ll get by replying to your message.
#3 – The proof lead – when you have a powerful credibility element, you want to lead with that. For example, if you have a testimonial from a reputable source, you want to put it as your headline in your email.
#4 – The reason why lead – you’re revealing the reason behind something. For example, “There is a reason why most people visit your website without buying, and that is… (reason). I’m here to help you fix that through… (service/benefit).
#5 – The introduction lead – introduce yourself if you’re larger than life or a fascinating person. You’ll create intrigue and curiosity.
Please remember that the purpose of your lead copy is to build momentum. You don’t want to sell here. You want to get him to read the following line.
Five: Make It Conversational & Personalize It
It’s unrealistic to ask you to create a custom email for every prospect you meet. However, try to personalize as much as possible. At a minimum, use his name. Say “dear John,” not “dear business owner.”
If you can include the URL to his website, even better. If you can, add details showing you’ve visited his website and want to help him.
Now, there is a balance you must strike here. Cold mailing is a game of numbers. Most prospects will not even see your message, albeit reply. So you don’t want to spend ten minutes on every email. Still, whenever possible, personalize.
Also, your tone must come across as friendly and personal.
In 99% of the cases, the determining factor, if he’ll reply to your email, is if he feels that you’ve taken the time to send him a personalized email and that this is not just a spam blast.
You can also just segment by industry or opportunity, so you can personalize without wasting too much time.
Six – Sell The Outcome
You have features, benefits, and outcomes.
A feature is what the product is.
A benefit is what it does.
An outcome is the transformation it creates.
You want to tell him about the result and the remarkable transformation your product or service will create for him whenever possible.
And please remember a fundamental rule of copywriting…
…. Everyone wants just two things.
One – Escape pain.
Two – Move towards pleasure.
Everything you write must be framed within this context.
Seven: Have A Clear, Low-Cost Call To Action
The more you ask of the prospect, the less likely he will reply.
For example, asking him to get on a phone call can be a bit much. Asking him if he wants a sales kit or a case study is far more likely to be accepted.
Everyone wants to gain as much as possible, putting in as little effort as possible.
Contrary to popular belief, most people don’t want to get on the phone and have a sales call. I’m amazed at how many marketers do that, ending their cold mailings with a request for a phone call.
So it would help if you warmed up your prospects first.
Get them to ask for more information. Then provide that information. Then maybe exchange a few emails. Then get on a sales call and get the sale.
Go for a soft CTA whenever possible.
These are the seven strategies I employ to write good cold emails. If you use them, you’ll be ahead of 90% of all people out there, as the bar, to be honest, is set rather low.
Cold Email Examples:
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