How To Write Cold Emails That Actually Get Read


Cold emailing is a difficult communication method to pull off, for a couple of reasons. You don’t have a relationship with the receiver yet, and you lack non-verbal reactions in real-time, which means you can’t adjust your approach. This results in most cold emails failing.


However, there are a few tricks to get them to succeed. (By the way, in this article, we are covering how to contact an individual, not how to send sales emails). Whether you’re looking to pitch a story to an editor, land a job, or even get the attention of an investor, cold emailing can work in your favor. Here are our tips on how to reach out to strangers effectively and respectfully for a better chance of a response.


Personalize your message

Your first step is to do your research on the person and/or company you’re trying to get in touch with. Generic mentions and over-the-top requests will quickly get sent in the trash. Tailor your cold email to the specific person you’re emailing – think about who this person is, what they want, and what interests them. Doing your research will be obvious to the recipient, as your message will feel very personal and will make more sense to them.


Make it clear why you chose them to email rather than anyone else. Studies show that people are motivated to assist others when they feel especially qualified to do so. By highlighting the ways they uniquely fit into the scenario you are proposing, they are much more likely to feel like their perspective matters.

Validate yourself

When we receive emails from strangers, we want to know who the person is and why they matter to us. Since you are the stranger in this situation, you need to show them you’re credible and worth getting to know.


Implement the concept of social proof here – if you have any mutual connections, mention them. This already helps you come across as less of a stranger.


In the same vein, proving that you have credibility, social status, or authority that might be relevant to this individual is best to quickly mention. The more “influential” you are, the more likely your email won’t get ignored.


If you don’t have any of that, try to find a commonality. Being part of the same organization or group will help your case. Look for unique connections, such as going to the same university or playing the same sport. A recent study found that our desire for “like-minded others” is hard-wired, so this is a proven way to break the ice.


Intice your audience

If you offer the recipient something they’ll genuinely be interested in, your chances of getting a response will increase tenfold. While drafting your email, structure it from a way that will validate how this busy person will recognize what’s in it for them, why they should care, and why they should take the time to respond to it.


If you’ve done your research and found a pain point for the recipient and figured out how you can alleviate it for them, highlight that. For example, if a company is struggling to onboard more users to their app, tell them why you’re an amazing marketer and how you can help them in this regard.


If you can’t solve a problem for them, give them something they want. Give before you ask – offer to connect them with a colleague they might like to meet or invite them to an interesting event they might gain value from. Just make sure whatever you offer is appropriate – sending unsolicited gift cards, for example, would be super weird!


Keep it short

Be brief and just communicate the bare essentials to lower the chances of the recipient closing out the email too soon. Be mindful of the recipient’s time – your email you should be short and to the point, while still coming across as genuine, friendly, and informative. Don’t forget, each cold email should be tailored to the person – original messages only!


Write a killer subject line

People receive countless emails per day, so you need to make it easy for them to reply to yours. That starts with the subject line — when people glance at their inbox, they are more likely to act on an email if the subject line entices them to do so. Instead of a generic “Inquiry” or “For your consideration” trope, make it dynamic with these techniques:


  • Provide value: Why should they want to open your email, let alone interview you, mentor you, or hire you? Get super specific in your subject line.
  • Keep it short and choose your words wisely: Put the important words at the beginning and skip any fillers.
  • Use your research: Reference the specific department you’re interested in or reference a specific project or goal they’re working on. These special details will prove you care and you’re not spam.  
  • Get personal: Were you referred by a specific third party or did you find out about them through an article or podcast? Any personal details you can share that will establish a connection is great to mention.


End your email by showing gratitude for the recipient’s time, since after all, they are doing you a favor. Even just saying “Thank you so much! I’m so appreciative of your consideration” shows vulnerability and doubles response rates.


By following these tips, you will help present yourself in a professional and engaging way that will elicit more responses to cold emails. Tell us your own cold email tips by tweeting us @SaneBox. Good luck!