Cold emailing is a great way to generate business and it’s especially useful when your a startup and cash flow is tight. Cold email can be done from a single email account and the only cost is your time.

Out of all the digital marketing solutions, cold email has the worst reputation.  

This is for good reason. 

Cold email is often the weapon of choice for spammers, and we all get that one guy in our emails everyday selling us some marketing service, and even if you are looking for marketing services there’s a high probability that you won’t hire this guy.

Why is that?

The typical cold email looks like this:

“Hi Sir, 

I came across your website. It is great but you don’t show up on the first page of Google and you are not getting customers.

My name is X from X and I have 15 years experience in…

I can do this…

I can do that…

hire me today.”

As you can see this is a copied and pasted message which is blasted out to thousands of others. That’s why many marketers think that cold email is a numbers game.

And while the more emails you send you have a better chance of getting more clients, this is the wrong way to do it.

Business owners are smart, and I don’t know anyone who has hired someone from a message like this above. Blasting a message like this is a quick way to blacklist your email account and annoy business owners who could potentially want to work with you. This decreases everyone’s morale, so let’s fix this.

Common Cold Email Mistakes Fixed

cold email for business

Let’s look at the email above and break it down.

Firstly the “Sir/Madam” line, this puts us on the defensive right away. This to me shows you have no interest in the company you are contacting. Businesses these days are listed so many places online that it’s hard not to find the owner’s name of the company.

This should be your first step in the procedure, finding the business owners name allows you to personalize the email better and also because you know their name, you can then find their email address.

Instead of sending your emails to an info@ address which probably isn’t being managed by the owner, you can now get directly through to them so they can see your offer and make a decision on it.

The second part of the email is also annoying and wrong:

“I came across your website. It is great but you don’t show up on the first page of Google and you are not getting customers.”

I see this every day and most of the time it isn’t even true. But if it is, no one likes being told they are doing something wrong and once again puts them on the defensive.

Instead of telling the business they are doing something wrong, simply ask them a question such as:

“Is organic traffic something your business would be looking to increase this year?”

See the difference? 

This way you are asking a question. If the business isn’t looking to increase their website traffic this year they aren’t going to get defensive, instead, they will either ignore the message or reply along the lines of “This isn’t something we are interested in right now”.

If you get the “not right now message” you can then get in touch with this business in the future to see if anything has changed.

Following up with potential clients is important and I have won clients 12 months after sending the first cold email.  

The next part of the email explaining your skills is something that no one apart from yourself cares about.

Explaining that you have 10 years of experience in HTML, CSS, Javascript and other programming languages isn’t going to impress the person you are emailing because it’s all about you!

No one cares about you.

People care about themselves and what you can do for them. Instead of telling this person about your skills, show them results that you have gotten for similar clients.

Let’s say you are reaching out to them because they own a company that provides managed IT services, and in the past, you have worked with a similar company and you helped them generate more leads for their business while cutting down on their advertising costs.

Don’t you think a company would be more interested in learning about that case study rather than finding out how long you have been doing HTML coding?

Finally, the last part of the email where the request is made to buy from them today because of some offer they have is junk. How often have you bought something from a stranger’s email? 

Hopefully, the answer is never.

People buy from people, and you are damaging the return you could be getting from cold emailing by going straight for the sale. Instead of going straight for the sale, you should see if there is any interest in your product or service and then try to book a meeting with the person you are contacting.

This way there is no pressure and you can explain in full what you have done in the past and how you can get similar results for that company. You don’t even have to live in the same state or country as the people you are cold emailing either because it’s common to hold meetings on software such as Zoom these days.

Cold email marketing templates

cold email for business

Everyone loves a template because it makes their job easier and less effort is needed if you can copy and paste a template. But to make the most of cold email templates, make sure you know what works and how you can sem-customize the template so it looks unique to the recipient.

What you should do is have a rough outline of what you are sending to businesses and adjust it to each one you are emailing. This way the email is customized and you can send out 50+ emails a day.

What I would recommend is the following:

  1. Greeting.
  2. Introduction.
  3. The problem you solve.
  4. Past results.
  5. Meeting request.

Quick Sample

Let’s say we were looking to sell our marketing services to an architect company in Canada, using the rough guidelines above a cold email could look like this:

“Hey George, 

Congrats on the Bytown museum renovation in Ottawa, I was up there last week and the work your team did is great, it looks so much better than before.  The new windows you guys have put in are beautiful, what was the inspiration behind using them?

Anyway George, the reason for the email is I noticed you were running PPC adverts on Google and wanted to see if you would be interested in cutting your costs while getting more leads for your business.  

We helped another architect firm in Canada (Ottawa Design and Build, you may have heard of them) cut their costs in PPC advertising by 36% and improved their enquiries by 15%.  

I would love to see if we could do the same for you, are you free Monday at 1:00 for a chat?

Thanks for your time George, 


Why the email works

Firstly you can see that the person who has put this email together has researched the company. Mentioning past work is a great way to show you have looked at their company and this separates you from the majority of cold emailers.  Also you can see the compliment and question is real, it’s not some fake flattery that we all get in emails.

Secondly, you are asking them if they would be interested in seeing if they could cut their costs and increase the leads to their business. Who wouldn’t want that?

You are then showing that you have the experience to solve their problem as you have done it in the past.

Lastly, you are asking for a meeting to see if you can help. This puts people at ease and they are far more likely to accept a meeting than buying your service right away.

Following Up

The email above works, but you are going to need to follow up with your prospects for better results.

People’s inboxes are busy places and sometimes emails get missed. In that case, you should follow up with your prospects.

I like to follow up 3 times every 3-4 days after the initial email has been sent. You should test this and see what works in your business as all industries will be different.

Don’t be afraid to follow up either, if you have targeted the right people and have sent a custom message you won’t get many messages being rude.

I’ve often had people thank me or apologize for not replying to the first email because they missed it. Rude messages, on the other hand, are not that common, and even if you do get them just ignore them.


Cold email shouldn’t be a numbers game, it should be a way of getting in touch with people that could benefit from your service. For it to work for your business, you should have:

  • A relevant prospect list.
  • A custom message.
  • Past examples of work you have done similar to the market you are reaching out to.
  • A softer call to action.

When done right, cold email can generate business quickly. I have been able to generate $10,000 in recurring revenue through cold email, and have landed a new client in a new niche with only 36 cold emails sent.

Author Bio

David Jones is the head of outreach at a company that provides managed IT Services and Support to small businesses in Canada.