Cold email copywriting is hard.

You have a couple of sentences to convince someone who you’ve never interacted with before that it’s worth their time to reply to you.

But, if you can perfect your copywriting process, you can generate replies on autopilot and use cold email to grow your business.

If you’re ready to learn everything there is to know about cold email copywriting, you’re in the right place. I’ll show you the key ingredients in a cold email, actionable copywriting tips, mistakes to avoid, and more. 

  1. What is Cold Email Copywriting

  2. Prerequisites to Writing a Good Cold Email

  3. The Perfect Cold Email Structure: What Should You Include?

  4. 8 Cold Email Copywriting Tips to Boost Your Reply Rates

  5. 3 Cold Email Copywriting Tools to Help Improve Your Emails

  6. What Should You Avoid in a Cold Email? 4 Critical Mistakes

  7. How Long Should a Cold Email Be?

  8. Should You Hire a Cold Email Copywriter?

  9. How to Write and Send Your Cold Emails

Let’s dive in.

What is Cold Email Copywriting?

Cold email copywriting is the way you communicate your value proposition to cold prospects, with the aim of getting replies and eventually, converting your prospects into customers.

Effective copywriting takes multiple factors into account, such as your audience profile, the pain points they need solving, and the type of call-to-actions that will get the best response rates.

Prerequisites to Writing a Good Cold Email

1. The Quality of Your Prospect List

If you cold email people who aren’t a good fit for your product/service, you won’t get results — no matter how good your cold email template is.

Always spend your time carefully selecting and vetting the prospects you’re going to reach out to. There’s no point in emailing people you already know won’t be a good fit.

The more time you spend on this preliminary research, the better the chances of your cold email getting a reply.

2. The Structure of Your Cold Email

When writing your cold email, always consider how you’re structuring it. There’s no single ‘formula’ that will work for every situation, but we like how Appsumo did it in their email below:

It’s simple but effective: it shows why you’re reaching out, uses a clear value proposition, and has a simple but easy-to-reply to CTA.

We’ll cover how to structure your cold emails in more detail below.

3. Be As Specific As Possible

One of the best ways to improve your reply rates is to be as specific as possible with every variable.

From narrowing down your prospect list to deciding on your email copy, the more specific you can be, the more likely your prospect will be to realize you haven’t just thrown their email on a list with thousands of other people, but have taken time to research their company, and find a problem you can help.

Busy decision-makers don’t want to waste their time, so the more specific you can be, the better.

The Perfect Cold Email Structure: What Should You Include?

Most high-performing cold emails have a clear structure that includes five key components:

  • An interesting subject line to boost open rates

  • Opening line that’s personalized to each recipient

  • The email body with a value proposition and social proof

  • A call-to-action to encourage replies

Each one of these can be effective in isolation. For example, your subject line can get someone to open the email, or your call-to-action can encourage your potential client to reply. But, for the best results, all of these components need to work together.

After all, it doesn’t matter how good your subject line is if you can’t convince someone to reply to the rest of your email.

Let’s break each one down.

1. A Subject Line to Frame Your Email

Your subject line is a contract between you and your potential customer. It needs to frame what you’re going to talk about in the rest of your email.

The best cold emails have a simple subject line that gives your recipient an idea of what you’re going to be talking about.

For example:

  • Helping {{}} with lead generation

  • Want to work on collaborating on a blog post?

  • {{prospect.first_name}} on {{prospect.custom.podcast_name}}?

If you need some inspiration, make sure to check out our guide with 55 cold email subject line examples here.

If your subject line mentions something your prospect is already thinking about, such as wanting to improve their email marketing strategy, they’ll be ready to read more.

Take this one from AppSumo as an example:

Which business owner or marketer wouldn’t want to open that email?

If you’re stuck on your subject line, don’t worry too much.

Most prospects will either read every email that lands in their inbox (as long as the subject line isn’t clearly indicative of spam) or ignore any they don’t recognize. In both of those cases, the subject line won’t be the difference-maker.

Our data shows that the variation in open rate between subject lines is rarely statistically significant, and it won’t make a difference to your campaigns unless you’re sending hundreds of sales emails per day.

2. A Personalized Opening Line

After the subject line, the next part of your cold email structure to consider is your email opening line.

Your opening line will also show up as a snippet in the inbox before your prospect opens your email, so it’s an excellent way to generate curiosity.

When writing your opening line, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. What would prove to them that you’ve done genuine research into them before reaching out?

You could use your subject line to:

  • Mention a blog post they published or a podcast they recently published

  • Compliment them on recent company news

  • Highlight something you have in common with them (location, industry, work history)

The key is that your opening breaks the ice and turns your email from cold to warm in your prospect’s mind.

If you lack inspiration for what to include in your opening lines, you can test using AI email writers: there are some impressive tools out there that can generate opening lines based on your prospect’s company and industry.

To run this process at scale, you’ll need to add your opening line directly to your prospect list.

When you upload your list to your cold email tool, you can dynamically insert your opening lines using attributes.

Adding unique copy to your emails like this is how your emails will stand out from every other email in your prospects’ inboxes, so it’s worth your time.

3. A Compelling Email Body

Next up is the core of your email: the body copy.

You’ll use this sentence or two to sell the benefits of your product or service to your prospect.

For example:

  • Can you help them increase their return on Google ad spend?

  • Can you help them get more leads using cold email?

  • Can you help them grow their blog?

You’ll also want to mention social proof. For example, have you helped other companies similar to their company get excellent results? Can you mention a case study that proves your competence?

Here are some examples of what your email body copy might look like:

  • Saw that you’re collecting reviews on G2 Crowd but haven’t shared any case studies on your website yet. We help software companies create compelling case studies, and we’ve worked with companies in [prospect’s niche] like [client #1] and [client #2].

  • Is increasing conversions on your Shopify store a priority at the moment? We helped [similar company] increase their checkout conversion rate by 45% when we ran our optimization process.

Here’s a perfect example from RepurposeHouse:

They explain what they can help with, and drop in some nice social proof with the names of real clients.

Depending on your industry, the case studies and results you highlight may look very different from these, but the idea is the same.

Your potential customers don’t care about what features or services you’re offering, but they do care about how you can help them solve problems and challenges in their business.

4. A Call-To-Action To Help Your Prospect Take Action

Your call-to-action (CTA) is the final key ingredient in your personalized cold email.

A good call-to-action makes it easy for your prospect to reply, even if they’re not instantly ready to start spending their money on your services.

First, you need to keep your CTA open-ended:

  • Is this something you’d be interested in?

  • What’s the best way to schedule 5 minutes to talk?

  • Are you open to learning more about {{prospect.custom.topic}}?

This avoids an awkward response where your prospect feels cornered into simply saying “yes” or “no”. Instead, an open-ended question gives them room to elaborate and ask questions if they have any.

You can experiment with high and low-commitment CTAs, too.

A high-commitment CTA involves asking your prospect to book a call, or asking them to put you in touch with the best person at their company.

A low-commitment CTA will be you asking them if they’re interested in what you’re emailing about or asking them if they’re struggling with this business challenge at the moment.

Here’s a good example from Salesflare:

You can also experiment with different CTAs in your follow-up emails so even if the first one doesn’t resonate with your prospect, you’ll still have a shot with your next emails.

Need more ideas for your call-to-actions? Check out our cold email CTA swipe file here.

The result of combining these 4 elements will ensure every cold pitch you send feels completely personalized to your recipient and gives you the best chance of starting a conversation.

8 Cold Email Copywriting Tips to Boost Your Reply Rates

1. Don’t Sell Too Early in the Process

Cold email outreach is an excellent sales channel. But you can’t ‘sell’ in your emails and expect to see results.

The best way to improve your response rate is to use your cold emails to start a conversation with your prospects – not to sell.

If your prospect is interested, they’ll reply and ask you to schedule a meeting with them or send them more information.

2. Cut Any Unnecessary Information

If you have a background in copywriting it’s tempting to write a long cold email that hits on every objection that you know your prospect will have.

The long copy might work for a landing or sales page, but short and sweet is (usually) best when it comes to cold email.

Your prospects are busy and if they’ve never heard of you they’re not going to spend several minutes reading an email.

Before sending your email, critically review it and cut any unnecessary sentences or phrases.

For example, your prospects don’t need to know about your pricing structure or how

As long as you touch on a pain point you can help your prospect solve, your prospects will reply — no matter how brief you are in your email.

3. Talk About Your Prospect, Not About You

The key thing to remember is that your cold email isn’t about you. It’s about how you can help your prospect.

Always aim to avoid talking about yourself too much. If every sentence in your email starts with ‘I’ or ‘We’, it’s clear that you’re more interested in getting a new customer than helping your prospect solve their business problems.

4. Add Extra Value in Your Email Signature

An often overlooked part of your email structure is your signature. Your signature is valuable email real estate and you can use it to boost social proof and build trust without explicitly mentioning it to your prospect.

Examples of what to include could be:

  • Links to your website

  • Recent awards or certifications your company has received

While these won’t be the difference between a positive response or no reply, it’s another way to help your prospect trust you.

5. Sell the Benefits, Not Features

This is age-old copywriting advice, but it still applies. Always sell the benefits of your product or service. Never sell the features.

For example, if I was pitching QuickMail to a prospect in a cold email, I wouldn’t start by listing all the features. Instead, I’d focus on what it can help them with: starting more conversations with their perfect prospects using cold email.

If you list off all the features you offer, you’ll leave your prospect thinking: that’s great, but how can it help me?

6. Narrow Down Your Prospect List

It’s vital to keep your prospect list focused.

Critically assess every person on your list and ask yourself whether or not they’re a perfect match for your product or service.

If they’re not a perfect fit, remove them from your list.

Even if this means you have to send half the amount of prospecting emails out, it’ll ensure that every person you reach out to has a strong chance of replying.

As well as that, there will be a major positive impact on the quality of your cold email copy.

Because your email list is more focused, you can craft a template that’s highly relevant for everyone on your list, rather than needing to write a more generic template that gets sent to more people.

7. Run A/B Tests to Continually Refine Your Copy

You can’t rely on guesswork to identify your best-performing cold email copy. You need data.

The best way to gather data on what works is by A/B testing different variations of your copy against each other.

For example, you could have two sales email templates that were exactly the same, but with a call-to-action that was different on each one.

The easiest way to run an A/B test is using QuickMail’s built-in tools. First, you’ll add a new variation of your email.

You’ll create the new email variation, with the copy you want to test.

When you start your campaign, it will send the two emails to your prospect list, and track the results for each one.

If one variation has better stats, you’ll quickly see, and can pause the underperforming variation.

This is an excellent way to boost your results and ensure you’re taking a data-driven approach to writing your email copy.

8. Avoid Common Spam Trigger Words

Your cold email copy can affect your email deliverability. Email Service Providers (ESP) like Gmail and Outlook each have their own spam filter that sorts through thousands of emails every day with and are trained to identify emails that could be spam.

For example, if you include words like “free”, “buy now” or “short-term financing”, ESPs may send your emails straight to the spam folder.

Even if your template has a good reason to include potential spam words, look for ways to eliminate them if possible.

As well as putting your prospects off, these spam trigger words will damage your email deliverability, which will result in a lower open rate and fewer replies.

3 Cold Email Copywriting Tools to Improve Your Emails

1. Quicklines

Personalization takes time, and that’s a fundamental part of any effective cold email copywriting formula.

To speed up the process, consider using an AI email writing tool like

You’ll need to provide a list of LinkedIn profiles for each person on your prospect list. The tool will then review each profile and generate a custom opening intro line for each person, based on their work history, location, company, and more.

You’ll receive a file with all of your opening lines, matched to each prospect.

It’s a powerful way to speed up the process of personalization.

There is a caveat, however. If other cold emailers are using these tools, there’s a risk that you’re sending emails with similar copywriting in their emails. Always look for ways you can add extra personal touches that other people aren’t thinking of. That’s the best way for your emails to stand out.

2. Hemingway

Hemingway is a simple but helpful text editor. You can paste in your email template, and it will show you:

  • The readability grade

  • Phrases that have simpler alternatives

  • Sentences that are hard to read or complicated

  • Synonyms for overused or complex words

Within five minutes you’ll have updated your templates to make them more compelling and easy to read.

When your recipient opens your email, they’ll instantly understand why you’re reaching out and the chances of any copy being confusing is eliminated.

As always, you shouldn’t rely on Hemingway if you’re using specific language that’s relevant to your industry that it might not be familiar with.

However, it’s a powerful way to improve the readability of your cold email copy without needing to hire a freelance copywriter or editor.

3. QuickMail

As we’ve mentioned, effective copywriting is all about personalization.

You can use cold email software like QuickMail to add personalized snippets to every email you send.

For example, take this email template from AppSumo that we looked at above:

It adds personalization by using attributes like a prospect’s first name, company name, and even mentions the product category of the recipient’s company.

You can use QuickMail to write a similar email template, as it pulls in all of the details about each prospect from your list.

It’s a powerful way to make your cold email stand out in the inbox.

What Should You Avoid in a Cold Email? 4 Critical Mistakes

When you’re writing your cold emails, use these next mistakes as a checklist. Before you send your campaign, review your copy and ask yourself if you’re doing them. If so, look for ways to improve and reduce them.

1. Making Generalizations

Your recipients want to feel like you sought them out individually. For example, if you’re reaching out to an agency to pitch your product, you can change the wording of your pitch from “we help businesses like yours” to “we help agencies like yours”.

Small details can go a long way, so always avoid making generalizations where possible. If you apply this to all of your email sequence copywriting, you’ll already be ahead of the competition.

Personalized emails are the best way to show that you’re specifically reaching out to that person, so the less generalizations you can make, the better.

2. Information Overload

Effective cold emails give prospects just the right amount of information. Always find ways to avoid information overload where possible.

For example, if your product has five features you think your prospect will love, find the one that will have the biggest impact on their business and mention that, rather than mentioning all five.

If your prospect is interested, you’ll have the chance to share more details with them over email or in a meeting in the future.

Each email in your sequence needs one key focus.

3. Using Ballpark Stats

It’s easy to throw in big numbers and stats to establish credibility. It’s also tempting to round up or down numbers to make yourself sound good.

For example, saying you helped a software company increase conversions by 300% sounds nice, but it doesn’t sound that realistic. Instead, if you say you helped them increase conversions by 286%, it feels more credible to the recipient.

Being specific will help you build trust, and when you go to have a meeting with your prospect, you can back that up with real data and case studies.

4. Pressuring Your Prospect

There is a time and a place for a breakup email that creates a sense of urgency for your prospect to take action, but the first email in a campaign isn’t it.

Leave the high-pressure sales tactics out of your first contact and focus on piquing your prospect's interest and giving them introductory information.

If your offer is a good fit for your prospect, they won’t need to be pressured to respond positively.

How Long Should a Cold Email Be?

There are no criteria that dictate the length of your cold emails.

It depends on the reason for your email.

For example, the email from RepurposeHouse that we used as an example above comes in at 108 words, excluding the signature:

It’s a cold pitch for content repurposing services, so it’s important to share all of the key details upfront. They’ve included social proof, a personalized video, and a call to action.

At 108 words, you could argue that this is relatively long for a cold email. But, it’s effective, so the length doesn’t matter.

On the other hand, this cold email from The Top is only 64 words long, excluding the signature:

Despite being significantly shorter, the email still fulfills its purpose – a podcast invite – effectively.

In short, there’s no right or wrong answer to the question of how long your cold email should be.

Always avoid including fluff, but do make sure to include the key details that your recipient needs to know.

Should You Hire a Cold Email Copywriter?

It’s tempting to skip the tedious copywriting process and hire a freelance cold email copywriter to create your email templates.

But, if you hire a writer before you’ve tested any cold email campaigns that you wrote yourself, you won’t know what value propositions or formats your prospects respond well to.

As you run your campaigns, you’ll also notice that the fine-tuning of your copy isn’t always what makes the difference. In the majority of cases, your prospects will respond as long as you’re doing these two things:

  • Reaching out about something relevant to them, and,

  • Have added some personalization and your email is only sent to the

Over time, you may want to hire a cold email copywriter to improve your results, but it’s unlikely to be the difference between a 5% and 25% reply rate.

As well as that, a good cold email copywriter will need information on your current results in order to write effective templates for you. If you’ve already run campaigns, you can share the data with them and they’ll deliver a better final result.

If you’re certain that you’ve tested your key value propositions and still aren’t getting the results you think you can achieve, then you can consider consulting with a copywriter for feedback on your templates.

How to Write and Send Your Cold Emails

Once you know the fundamentals involved in writing a cold email, it’s time to start sending them.

If you’re sending cold outreach to hundreds of prospects manually, you’d be busy all week.

Luckily, there are tools to help you send personalized cold emails at scale, like QuickMail.

Here’s how the process works:

1. Sourcing Your Prospects

Finding good-fit prospects is key to a successful cold email campaign. If your prospects are a perfect fit, you can even get away with cold emails that aren’t perfect.

You can use tools like UpLead or ZoomInfo to create prospect lists based on company type, the software they use on their website, industry, revenue, and more.

These tools will also give you contact details, usually including an email address.

If you have prospects that you’ve manually sourced, you can use email finders like Find That Email or Skrapp to find out.

If those tools don’t work, we also have a guide on how to find anyone’s email address, which you can read here.

Before you include any prospects in your campaign, manually vet each one to make sure they’re a good fit for your product or service.

2. Writing Your Cold Email Sequences

Next, it’s time to write up your cold email sequence in the email editor.

As you’re going to be sending emails to multiple people at once, you’ll need to use attributes.

These let you insert personalized snippets into your emails, like your prospect's name, company, job title, personalized opening line, or anything else you need to include.

In the example, above, the copy would appear in your prospect’s inbox like:

“Hey Richard, how is it being the new Regional Supervisor?”

You’ll assign these attributes to your prospects in your prospect list. When you import your prospects into QuickMail, you can double-check to ensure your prospect attributes are being imported correctly.

Once your prospects are ready, you can add them to your campaigns and start reaching out to them.

3. Always Include Multiple Follow Up Emails

No matter how good your cold email copywriting is, you won’t always get a reply to your first email. In fact, our data from millions of email campaigns shows that 55% of replies come from a follow up email. That’s why you need to use follow-up software to automatically add extra emails that are sent to anyone who doesn't respond at first.

In QuickMail, after adding your first email to your campaign, add another step.

You can choose the delay between your steps — in most cases, 2-3 days is enough.

Then, add another step, this time, choosing Email as the step type.

Then, write out your email copy, and you’re ready to go.

You can add as many follow-ups as you need to get a reply. Usually, 5-7 emails is a good number.

Following up is a powerful way to boost your reply rate, so we always recommend it.

Wrapping Up

Writing a compelling cold email takes work. Each prospect is unique and has their own motivations to buy from you.

When you’re writing your email copy, always remember that your cold email is a one-to-one interaction. Even if you’re sending 50 emails in a campaign, your prospect is receiving a single email from you, and it’s on you to prove that you care about the engagement.

Find angles to personalize your emails, make it easy for them to reply, and always focus on how you can help them.

When you’re ready to start sending your cold outreach emails, you can start your free trial of QuickMailto automate the outreach process without compromising on personalization.