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Mastering Cold Email Copywriting in Sales (Frameworks + Examples)

Sales Training
Chris Orlob
September 26, 2023

Want to improve your cold email copywriting and boost your response rate? You’re in the right place.

With spammy email marketing tactics on the rise, the bar for cold emails is very low today. So in this guide, we’re going to show you how to raise the bar, write better sales emails, and start converting cold contacts into genuine leads.

Why is Cold Email Copywriting an Important Sales Skill?

When done right, cold email copywriting generates leads and drives conversions.

When you can send an email to someone who’s never seen your product or heard of your company, and still generate interest, it’s a practice your sales team will use again and again.

How cold email copywriting helps lead generation

When you receive an email, what makes you open it? A compelling reason.

  • What makes you keep reading? A relatable scenario.
  • What makes your scroll further? A compelling value proposition.
  • What makes you take action? A testimonial.

Effective copy in your email writing is the foundation to generating interest, which can turn into warm leads.

👉 Recommended Course: Become a cold email conversion machine

How cold email copywriting influences conversion

Sometimes, prospects just need that extra nudge. Sometimes, prospects need a ton of convincing. In both situations, they may not have the time to even jump on a call. Maybe they prefer email, and this is where copywriting skills come into play.

In the case of selling to C-level execs and business owners, you need to clearly communicate why your product is going to make their life better, and you need to do it fast.

A cold email without structure, problems you solve, a value proposition, real testimonials, and a call to action (CTA) just looks like a sales ad.

When you factor in all the key points above, you move from awareness to decision-making. All of a sudden the prospect needs to decide whether or not to take action. When you discover their pain points and paint a picture where these pain points are addressed through your product, the chances of a prospect taking action and converting increases. This is the art of effective cold email copywriting.

Anatomy of Your Cold Sales Emails

Here’s what your cold sales emails are going to look like:

  1. The perfect subject line
  2. Personalization
  3. Beefed-up body copy
  4. Compelling CTA
  5. High-converting follow-up

1. Crafting the Perfect Subject Line

The aim of the subject line is to get the recipient to open the email. 

Without a great subject line, the cold emails you send will get ignored. 

It’s easier than ever to unsubscribe, delete, and block emails. Crafting the perfect subject line has never been more important.

To find the perfect subject line, try out these techniques:

  • Start with the problem the customer has
  • Include the benefit of opening the email
  • Keep the subject line brief
  • Introduce emotion
  • Personalize with recipient name or company name

Personalized approach

  • Quick question about [something relevant to them]
  • [Their Company Name]: Opportunities for Improvement
  • Saw your recent [article/post], had to reach out

Curiosity and intrigue

  • You won't believe what we have in store…
  • Avoid expensive mishires
  • Unlocking the secret to [benefit they're seeking]
  • Idea for [their industry/interest] - your thoughts?

With these subject lines, you must back up your subject line claim with something worth opening. Failure to do so, even once, leads to non-opens next time around.

Social proof

  • [Mutual Connection] recommended we connect
  • Helping [similar company/competitor] increase sales
  • How we helped [specific customer] achieve [result]

Like adding company names or customer names, make sure the connections or companies you add here are relevant. Picking a random LinkedIn connection could be someone your prospect accepted an invite from but doesn’t actually know.

Value proposition

  • Increase [specific metric] by [percentage] with our solution
  • Free [helpful resource] to solve [common problem]
  • [Benefit] in [short time frame] - guaranteed

These are ideal for conversion-type emails where someone has reached out and you know specific pain points.

Direct question

  • Are you struggling with [common pain point]?
  • Ready to take your [goal] to the next level?
  • Looking to streamline [specific process]?

These are great for early stage emails, like top of funnel content. They generate demand and could lead to further engagement.

Personalization and localization

  • Greetings from [their city/region]!
  • Weather in [their location] got us thinking...
  • A [adjective] [day/week] for a [their role] like you

Make sure the information you add here is accurate and relevant. Nobody will open an email for the wrong region or role.

Urgency and scarcity

  • Last chance to grab your spot for [event/resource]
  • Limited slots left for our upcoming [webinar/workshop]
  • Exclusive offer expiring in [number] days

Be consistent here, too. Make sure the offer or sign up genuinely expires in the time stipulated. Otherwise, the email recipient will feel they’ve been clickbaited.

When you’ve chosen your core email subject lines, it’s time to test them out. Literally.

Set up A/B testing so you can best optimize future emails. You’ll notice that most of these best cold email subject lines are personalized. There’s a good reason for that.

2. Personalization in Cold Outreach Emails

Personalized emails resonate better because that’s how communication works. 

❌ We don’t communicate with emails

✅ We communicate with people

  • You’re going to open an email from someone you know ahead of someone you don’t recognize their name.
  • You’re going to open an email with a subject line that has relevance to you over something you don’t recognize.
  • You’re going to converse more with someone who has taken the time to know details about you as opposed to a hard sell.

In a time where inboxes are overflowing with spam folders, sales material, and support tickets competing for your attention, it’s the personalized ones that are getting opened.

And personalization extends beyond knowing someone’s name, where they’re from, and where they work.

  • Monitor your prospect’s LinkedIn to find out one of their interests.
  • Keep tabs on newsworthy events that may have affected a prospect or one of their competitors.
  • Ask depth questions to get an understanding of what are the 1-2 most significant paint points impacting your prospect today.

Check out how the #1 Commercial AE at Gong personalizes emails

👉 Take JC Pollard’s Free Email Training Course

The power of social proof

When you showcase other people who have bought your solution and have solved similar problems your prospects face, you sell the future state of ideal outcomes. This is the next step to your cold email winning formula.

“If it works for them, what could it do for me?”

The benefits of adding social proof to your emails are vast:

  • Higher open rate
  • Build trust and credibility
  • Reduce decision anxiety
  • Improve conversion rate

In your next sales email, make sure you include at least one of these:

  • Testimonials
  • Full case studies
  • Snippet of a case study

Even when the intended recipient doesn’t have a reason to buy, the client testimonial you used may be of extreme relevance to a friend or colleague.

3. Beefing Up Your Email Body Copy

The best sales emails are the ones the recipient keeps reading. 

When they’re done reading, they’re ready to take the next step.

Before you get to that step, you must address and reason with a prospect's pain.

High-quality email body copy that conveys your value proposition is hard to ignore. And they all start with quality opening lines.

Examples opening lines from successful cold emails

Here are some examples of effective opening lines from successful cold emails:

  • I was referred to you by [mutual connection's name], who thought you'd be interested in our [product/service].

Here, you’re using the mutual connection to keep the recipient’s attention and including them as social proof.

  • Many [industry/role] professionals find it challenging to [common issue].

Here, you’re grouping the recipient together with other people who have the same issue. This creates a sense of community and ensures the reader they’re not alone.

  • What if I told you there's a way to [achieve desired outcome] more efficiently?

If you’ve got the prospect’s problem correct, this is exactly what the email recipient needs: a way to solve their problem more efficiently.

Example email body copy from successful cold emails

When it comes to your body copy, relevance and urgency are the key criteria.

Make sure your email talks to the reader’s problems and explains how you can solve them.

This, combined with personalization, makes compelling body copy.

In the example below, see how JC expands on his points to keep the reader engaged. He could have ended it halfway, but realized the more the recipient reads, the more invested they become.

4. Adding a Compelling CTA & Offer

A CTA is a push in the right direction. You’re showing the recipient exactly the next step you’d like them to take.

Strong CTAs don’t hide from action. “Let’s book a 30-minute discovery call” or “Let me show you how [product] can address your top pain point in under 15 minutes” are strong CTA examples.

Create compelling CTAs using this framework:

  • Make your CTA time-based (create urgency)
  • Offer a benefit not a product (solve problems)
  • Talk directly to the reader (personalize)
  • Use emotional words (trigger action)
  • Add an offer (monetary incentive)
  • Give a direction (take next step)

Here are some examples of the highest-performing CTAs in cold emails:

  • Is solving your sales pain worth a conversation?
  • Is it worth having a conversation about generating more organic traffic?
  • Inquire now. Get 50% off.
  • Start saving before it’s too late.
  • Book your free 30-mins demo.
  • Get ahead of your competition here.
  • Sign up while stocks last.
  • Yes! I want a free upgrade.
  • I’m ready to make a change.
  • Join 300 other [industry/job title] already using [your product]

Just like your subject lines and body copy, regularly A/B test your CTAs to see which performs best.

5. Strategies for High-Converting Follow-Up Emails

What if they don’t take action on your CTA in the initial email? Don’t worry, this happens more often than not. Now it’s time to follow-up.

Follow-up emails increase in reply rate to about 13%, that’s up 4% compared to first emails.

These emails are vital to your email sequence because they trigger the next step. They act as a reminder for actions yet to be taken.

The next step could be one of a few things:

  • Unsubscribe
  • Gather more information
  • Read a case study
  • Watch a product demo
  • Book a sales call
  • Make a purchase

The SaaS sales process, for example, requires an element of qualification and education. 

Only when a buyer is ready to book a call or make a purchase will they do so. Until they have all the relevant information, they won’t act and emails will sit dormant.

By communicating a better post-sale life, the best sales execs create urgency within their product’s value proposition.

If your product will change the way a prospect does business, tell them exactly how. If the problem is causing thousands of dollars worth of issues, tell them exactly how.

You can also create urgency by offering a time-based discount or free gift. This is often seen during the end of the month/quarter to hit sales targets, but it’s a surefire way to trigger action.

Utilizing Cold Email Templates & Scripts

When you use cold email templates, you make the process more efficient.

You spend less time drafting emails and more time selling. 

We did the hard work for you 👉 Download these outbound email templates for FREE

Just be sure to personalize these templates to fit your tone and selling style.

Examples of effective cold email templates

Different templates improve conversion and follow-up for different objectives. 

In this first example, see how we add personalization, a brief intro, pain agitation, relevant case studies, and a CTA.

In the second example, we see the same. This example also includes a subject line with a direct outcome. It would be very hard for a sales manager to leave this email unopened.

The third example has a direct and personalized subject line. It includes what Rachel needs to do in her day-to-day role.

It then touches on the pain and what happens if you leave it untreated.

The CTA is simple and triggers the next event.

Watch how and why these cold email templates were created in the video below:

Creating Effective Cold Email Scripts

Let’s outline a sales email that fits both your brand and your target audience.

We must do both here otherwise the email is set up to fail.

The most important element is understanding potential customers' pain points and how they guide your script writing.

Subject: Personalized, brief, emotive subject line

Hi [Name] 

Sentence 1: Context to why you’re reaching out

Sentence 2: The problem + thought provoking question

Sentence 3: Pitching the solution or next step through social proof

Sentence 4: Interest-based CTA


Your name.

Sentence 5: P.S. Include something personal to show you’ve done your homework.

Using this cold email template, you can create something like this:

What happens if Ryan or Corinne leaves?

Hi Butler, I noticed that while Ambition has been increasing headcount overall, the engineering team has lost a few members.

With the average eng org experiencing 18% annual attrition, I’d imagine that retention might be top of mind. Curious - how are you empowering your managers like Corinne and Ryan to build a world-class engineering culture?

Sue from Apartment List has been leveraging Plato’s mentorship community to help reduce attrition from 10% to 1%.

Interested in doing the same?



P.S. Congrats on being 1947 days sober today!

Balancing Automation and Personalization

So you’ve got scripts and templates, but we’re telling you they must always be personalized.

Here’s how you find a balance between the two.

  • Use these cold email templates
  • Add names and company names
  • Research on LinkedIn, websites, and social media
  • Add the relevant pain point
  • Reintroduce the pain
  • Create urgency or reason for contact
  • Add a compelling CTA

As you get responses from your templates (or don’t get them), make sure you’re making and tracking subtle changes. Every tweak you make could unlock your next best-performing email.

Want to double your reply rates on cold email?

Watch this free 14-min cold email mastery video.

You'll learn exactly why this cold email template works.

Testing and Tweaking Your Cold Emails

Testing and making small changes to your emails could result in higher open rates and better responses.

Here are three major components you should be aware of.

1. Identify successful cold email campaigns by running experiments

When you know what types of email, copy, and CTAs work, you can double down on them.

Sometimes, it might not be what you expect. 

A shock statement might not perform as well as a direct call to action.

You’ll only learn new things by experimenting with new concepts:

Try these in your next emails:

  • Use numbers in your subject line
  • Use a competitor as an example of someone doing something well
  • Provide a time-based offer in your CTA
  • Start the email with a social proof-based product intro

When something works, it’s worth testing long-term. Here’s where you can start running A/B tests.

2. Use A/B testing to compare different email elements

Using your email software or maintaining your batch of cold email templates, start to send different emails.

You might run your original email template to 50% of your prospects next month, 25% in a hyper-personalized manner, and 25% with your new CTA.

Whatever you choose, make sure you document and track so you know what’s working best.

Use the results of these A/B tests to inform changes for next month’s cold emails.

3. Tweak your cold email copy based on testing

When you have a list of what works and what doesn’t, start implementing those changes.

It might be a small change like including a number or a name. It might be a total rewrite of your email.

Whatever the result of your A/B testing, it’s only worth running the experiment if you put in place what you learn.

Make sure your next batch of emails includes everything you learned from the A/B test.

Remember, you don’t always have to be testing. When something becomes high-performing, that’s a good sign. Don’t get carried away.

The Best Salespeople Are Email Copywriting Masters

Competition in sales is cutthroat. So having your eye on competition, new trends, and other people’s learnings is as important as the cold emails you’re sending.

At pclub, we’re firm believers that the best salespeople are those who are best-informed. They know the basics, sure. But they’re also the people consuming new information and adapting their sales skills.

Nobody is born a master of cold email copywriting, but the best salesperson can learn it.

Ready to take the next big step in cold email outreach?

Become a cold email conversion machine now.

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