Years ago, you could get away with a quantity over quality approach. Today, your cold emails are competing for attention in your prospect’s inbox. Low-quality emails won’t get read or replied to.

In this guide, we'll show you how to write personalized cold emails that allow you to stand out from the crowd and will help you get more replies.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to build good relationships with prospects and use your prospecting and sales emails to grow your business.

  1. What is Cold Email Personalization?

  2. The Problem with Most Cold Emails

  3. Why You Need to Personalize Your Emails

  4. 8 Ways to Personalize Your Cold Emails

  5. How to Find Your Email Personalization Opportunities

  6. 7 Cold Email Personalization Best Practices to Follow

Let’s dive straight in.

What is Cold Email Personalization?

Personalization is the action of adding a piece of text that is different per prospect.

It's not just about using the basic attributes like {{prospect.first_name}} and {{}}.

It's about writing completely personalized text designed to show your prospect that you've researched them and care about getting their attention.

Yes, you read that right. You need to personalize every email you send in a unique way.

When done well, effective personalization can be the difference between a campaign that flops and one that is insanely successful.

Today, personalization is table stakes. It earns you the right to reach out.

The Problem with Most Cold Emails

Many people give up on cold emailing because they don’t get the results they expect from it.

But, if it didn’t work, cold outreach wouldn’t be used by fast-growing startups, Fortune 500s, and successful agencies to grow their pipeline and revenue.

The problem with most emails is simple.

They’re not compelling or personalized.

If you’re on the receiving end of bad cold emails, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

As soon as you open it (or even from the snippet preview), you know it’s going to end up in the spam folder.

Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons most cold email campaigns fail.

1. Fake or Surface-Level Personalization

Personalization is key to seeing results. Without personalization, you’re showing leads that you’re happy to do the bare minimum to get their business.

If you run a lead generation agency or similar company with high LTV, you should go further than just using {{prospect.first_name}} and {{}}.

Five years ago, that might have counted as personalization, but today, every cold emailer you’re competing with inside the inbox is using those same custom fields, so you need to step it up.

You need to show decision-makers that you value their time, and personalizing your cold emails beyond what everyone else is doing will help you stand out.

Avoid sending generic emails with fake personalization and you’ll get more replies, more calls booked, and more sales.

2. Too Focused on Scaling Quickly

Another reason your cold email campaigns are failing is that you’re too focused on volume.

It’s true, you do have to scale at some point. After all, QuickMail is designed to let you automate and send a personalized cold email at scale. But, you need a formula that works.

But, your focus should not be on scaling, it should be on getting replies.

If that means you have to send emails one-by-one, then that’s how you should start. It’s slow but better than sending 100 at once but without a reply.

When you’ve found a repeatable process for personalizing emails that work, you can start to scale your campaigns.

Next, I’ll show you easy ways to personalize your cold emails to help you get more replies.

Why You Need to Personalize Your Emails

1. It’s Important for Email Deliverability

Spam filters hate mass email. If you send out 100 identical prospecting emails at once, ESPs like Gmail and Outlook will think you're spamming. They’ll quickly block your emails from landing in your prospects' inboxes.

If you personalize each message, your emails have a MUCH better chance of staying out of the spam folder and being delivered to the main inbox.

Personalization leads to more engagement in your emails and shows ESPs that you're a trustworthy sender. In the future, your emails will be more likely to land in the inbox, leading to compounding benefits.

Plus, you'll get far fewer spam reports, as people won't mark your emails as spam if it's clear you've put in the effort to learn about them before reaching out.

2. Personal Emails Get More Replies

Which email would you rather reply to? A generic, one-size-fits-all email template like this?:


I make weekly videos for blogs.

Here<link> is one that I published earlier this week.

Just wanted to email you and see if {{company}} would be interested in a similar series

Is this something you would be interested in?



Not too compelling, right?

But, what if you received a personalized cold email like the example below?:

The sender, Bryan, paid the recipient an immediate compliment (that also proves he's done his background research), added social proof relevant to the company he's reaching out to, and even made a personalized demo for his prospect. It would be hard not to reply positively to that level of effort.

If you put yourself in your recipient's shoes, you'll quickly understand why personalizing your cold emails beyond the basic {{prospect.first_name}} is so vital.

8 Ways to Personalize Your Cold Emails

1. Mention Where You Found Each Prospect

Want an easy way to write an effective introductory sentence? Mention where you found your prospect. It's simple but shows you haven't just scraped their email from a huge email database and added them to your outreach campaigns.


  • “I read your article on B2B lead generation on QuickMail's blog"

  • "Saw that you're speaking at Dreamforce in September"

2. Highlight Technologies They Use

As well as being an excellent way to find qualified prospects, knowing the technologies your recipient uses to run their business is a powerful way to break the ice — it shows you’ve done in-depth research about them. Tools like BuiltWith will show you any technology a company is using on their website.

For example:

  • "Since you're using HubSpot to capture leads on your website, wanted to get your take on this"

  • "Saw you're using Hotjar on your website— have you found any useful insights from it?"

3. Prove That You've Researched their Company

Is there something interesting about their company that you can mention in your email? Maybe they were featured in the news, or perhaps their startup just received a new round of funding.

It's a simple but effective way to show you've researched their company and are confident they're a good fit for your outreach.

For example:

  • “Nice work on getting a five-star rating for {{}} on Glassdoor!”

  • "Awesome to see that you just closed a new round of funding— big plans for the next quarter?"

4. Let Them Know You Saw Them in the News

If your prospect or target company has received any news features, it’s a great opportunity to congratulate them.

Most people are happy to hear praise from other people about their successes, so it's a good way to make a stellar first impression.

For example:

  • “Saw {{}} was just named Austin’s fastest-growing HR company by TechCrunch. Congrats!”

  • "Read your interview in [local news website] discussing {{}}'s plans for the next couple of years. Love the vision."

5. Look Into Their Hiring Plans

If you’re looking to start conversations with fast-growing companies, mentioning the roles they’re currently hiring for can help— especially if you can help them solve their problem.

For example:

  • “How’s the search for your {{prospect.custom.Job_Opening}} going? I have a few tips from building our team that I can share if you’re interested.”

  • "Saw you're hiring for three new {{prospect.custom.Job_Opening}}. Are you hiring locally for those?"

6. Bring Up Your Most Relevant Case Studies

If you’re using case studies in your cold emails (which is always a good idea), then you can use attributes to make sure the most relevant case study is shared with each prospect.

If your prospect runs a SaaS business with a marketing product, you could mention a similar company. If they work in the recruitment industry, then mention another where they'll recognize the client name.

For example:

  • "I work with companies like {{prospect.custom.Marketing_Case_Study}} and make weekly videos for their blog.”

  • "I work with companies like {{prospect.custom.Recruitment_Case_Study}} and help them acquire customers through Facebook Ads".

7. Mention Relevant Social Media Activity

Did your prospect like or share an article related to the conversation you want to start? If so, you can bring it up as a way to introduce the reason you're emailing.

For example:

  • “Since you liked the {{HubSpot}} post about cold email metrics, I wanted to reach out to ask you about [related topic].”

  • "Saw you shared an article on LinkedIn about the difficulties of hiring developers. I can relate to that!"

8. Touch on Their Goals and Responsibilities

If you can mention a specific goal or responsibility that your prospect has mentioned on their LinkedIn profile, you can use this to explain how you can help make their work easier, less stressful, or more impactful.

For example:

  • “I learned that you are in charge of increasing advertising ROI at {{}}. Have you tested [tactic]? Happy to share my learnings if not”

  • "Saw that you run marketing at {{}}. Are you the right person to reach out to about your video marketing strategy?"

How to Find Your Email Personalization Opportunities

So, it's one thing to know the topics you can mention when personalizing your cold emails. But, how do you find the real information you're going to mention?

Here are three simple strategies:

1. Look on their LinkedIn Profile

People’s LinkedIn profiles can reveal a lot.

Look for:

  • Interesting information in their About section

  • Recent updates they’ve shared

  • Past companies they worked for

  • Your mutual connections

These are all things you can mention in an opening sentence to break the ice with a prospect.

For example, your email could start with:

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Saw the post you shared on LinkedIn about {{}}’s recent award. Congrats!

It’s a unique snippet that you couldn’t send to anyone else, and it’s something that your competition could be forgetting.

Another tactic is to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator’s advanced search to find prospects that are members of the same LinkedIn groups that you are or even identify leads based on if they’ve recently shared content that mentions specific keywords.

2. Check Out Their Twitter Feed for Recent News and Content

Twitter is another social platform that can come in useful for cold email personalization. Not everyone is active on Twitter, but because it’s more conversational than LinkedIn, it's a good way to find unique and highly personalized insights to use in your outreach.

This won’t always work, as people may have a private Twitter account, or simply be inactive on there.

But, many will share company updates, industry insights, and updates that are perfect for using in an opening line or a P.S. note at the end of your cold email.

Avoid bringing up Tweets that are too old, and if your prospect clearly uses the platform for personal rather than professional reasons, you don't want to bring up anything too personal.

3. Find Company Updates on their Website

Look for a News or Press section on your prospects’ websites. Not all will have it, but many will. If they don't have either of those, they might be posting updates to their blog.

Most people want to share their wins and successes with others, and they’ll be happy to see you noticed it.

If you see a company recently closed a round of funding, were nominated for an award, hired new team members, or released new features, they’re all things that you can mention in your cold email.

Personalizing your cold emails like this won’t win you any awards, but it will break the ice with a prospect, which is the goal.

7 Cold Email Personalization Best Practices to Follow

Your email templates won’t write themselves. Even if you find a unique angle, you can still end up writing a bad email that doesn’t get replies.

In this section, we’ll look at best practices to improve how you personalize your cold email.

None of these is a silver bullet, but they’ll help you improve how you write your emails and should help you boost your reply rate.

Let’s take a look.

1. Use a Completely Custom Custom Opening Line for Every Prospect

The key to any good cold email is specificity. The email should be unique, and wouldn’t work if you sent it to anyone else.

So, how can you do that at scale?

Firstly, you need a system that enables you to customize every single cold email.

Luckily, attributes (also called merge tags) enable you to insert dynamic personalization into every email.

In QuickMail, you can create your own custom attribute, such as {{prospect.custom.Opening_Line}} or {{prospect.custom.Icebreaker}}. Then, you can import those from a CSV file containing your prospects.

You can then build a simple workflow in a spreadsheet where you add a custom opening line for every prospect.

Here’s how to do it.

Start with a spreadsheet containing your prospects.

Add a column with a title like Opening_Line. For every potential buyer you’re emailing, write out a completely custom opening line.

Then, import your prospects into QuickMail.

Make sure to select your Opening_Line attribute during your import to ensure it’s available in the email editor.

Then, in your campaign, select Opening_Line from your available attributes.

You’ll see it show up in the email editor.

Before sending, you can preview your emails to make sure it's correctly populating with your custom opening line.

When you hit Send, your emails will auto-populate with your custom opening lines, and every email will be uniquely customized.

Now, this might sound like it’s going to be time-consuming. And, it will be, especially at first.

But it’s the only real way to ensure your cold outreach is personalized and unique. Once you have a process that works, you could outsource it, but considering it can have such a significant impact on campaign success, it’s always worth reviewing internally before sending.

2. Double Up with a Custom P.S. Note

Your opening line is an important place to break the ice, but the P.S. note is another great way to stand out.

If you include one, chances are, your prospects’ eyes will jump straight to it, sometimes before they even read your email body.

The P.S. is a spot to add personalization in an informal way, and it adds extra proof that you've researched your prospect.

Here are some examples you could use:

  • “Congrats on getting [well-known guest] on your podcast - how did you manage that?”

  • “Checked out the case study with {{company}}, awesome work”

  • “Saw your Tweet mentioning you went to [conference], shame I missed you there!"

Your P.S. isn’t the place for an extra sales pitch. It’s a place to add a personal touch or find some common ground. If you craft it well, it’ll help boost your reply rate.

3. Avoid Stating the Obvious

If a startup CEO you’re emailing just closed a round of funding, chances are, 9 out of 10 sales emails they receive will lead with a line like:

“Congrats on the recent funding”.

Yes, it’s relevant. But, consider this: everyone else is emailing with the same opening line.

If a company is in the news, look for a unique angle to pitch.

For example, you could bring up:

  • A recent podcast appearance where they discussed their growth plans

  • A case study they published about helping one of their customers get results

  • Mention a post they shared on LinkedIn/Twitter about the funding

Avoid writing the same things that everybody else does, and you’ll look more genuine.

For example, a line like this would be a huge improvement:

“Listened to you on [podcast] discussing your recent funding— excited to see you execute on your growth plans with the extra resources behind {{}}".

The core of the message is similar, but it goes the extra mile and clearly shows you've done research.

4. Use Relevant Case Studies and Social Proof

If you’re doing cold outreach to someone it’s because you can help them with a specific task.

  • Lead generation

  • Paid advertising

  • Recruitment

Whatever you’re selling, the pitch needs to be personalized to your recipient.

For example, if you saw a great result doing lead generation for a recruitment agency, you won’t be able to use that same pitch with a dental clinic.

Here’s how to do that.

First, figure out what your prospect cares about most.

Sales? Leads? Revenue? Making a key hire?

Pick one of your case studies or recent results that aligns with their own goals.

For example, if you’re selling LinkedIn lead generation services to accountancy firms, don’t bring up a case study on how you helped a recruitment agency with SEO or Facebook Ads.

Say something like: "We recently helped {{accountancy firm}} in {{city}} increase their new client consultations by x%."

It’s highly relevant to their business and links directly to a business goal they have in mind.

You’ll increase your reply rates, and in turn, conversion rates should go up as you’re personalizing your conversation to match their current goals.

If you’re emailing people in multiple niches, you can split up your prospects over multiple campaigns in QuickMail, or, use attributes to personalize each one.

You can manage them from a single dashboard, and see results for all of your campaigns in one place.

5. Consider Personalized Videos and Images in Your Cold Emails

Some people like to use images or short videos in their cold emails.

They can work well if you execute them effectively.

For example, putting a photo of a cute animal or funny meme to try and encourage someone to reply, or adding a screenshot of a prospects’ website could be ways to slightly improve your reply rate.

You can use a tool like Hyperise to do this automatically (read their instructions on integrating Hyperrise with QuickMail here).

You could also record a short personalized video using a tool like Pitchlane, with an overview of how you can help someone.

Ryane Tully, founder of Pitchlane, says that leveraging video in your cold emails will improve the results of your campaigns:

Cold email is already so powerful, cold email with the personal touch of a video is unbeatable. You get the opportunity to elevator pitch your ideal prospects as if you had met them in person. With proper lead list segmentation, you can scale this red carpet experience to thousands of your ideal prospects, all from just one recording.


Images and videos in cold emails are an interesting way to make your email stand out, but there are a few things to consider.

Firstly, it may hurt your cold email deliverability. ESPs prefer plain-text emails and you'll slightly increase your chances of having deliverability problems (however, if your image or video boosts engagement, this won't matter).

Second, if a prospect has images turned off in their inbox, they won’t see it unless they choose to display images.

If they don’t know you, they may not want to turn images on, and therefore won’t see your content, hurting your overall message and meaning your effort was for nothing.

It's another tactic you can test to personalize your outreach, but remember the image or video you include should add value to your email in some way. If it's just there as a gimmick, there's no need to include it.

I’d also recommend A/B testing it against text-only email campaigns to see which performs best for you.

6. Don’t Forget to Include Relevant Follow-Ups

So you’ve spent time crafting a personalized opening email. No reply.

To see big results with cold email, you need to follow up with your prospects. In fact, over 55% of replies to cold emails are to a follow-up.

Your follow-ups need to be personalized as well.

If not, it’ll look like you’ve thrown your prospect onto a generic nurturing campaign and don’t care about engaging with them on a personal level.

Ideally, treat every email as if it’s the first one your prospect will see.

Now, you don’t have to create a personalized opening line in every follow-up, but make sure case studies, resources, or extra value propositions you mention are highly relevant and interesting to each prospect in your email list.

If you’re not seeing results, you can even experiment with adding a personalized note to the subject line, or including {{prospect.first_name}} or {{}}.

You can automatically send your follow-up emails using QuickMail. If someone doesn't reply to your first cold email, your next email will be sent after a delay that you've chosen.

You can even choose between including your follow-up in the same email thread as the previous emails you’ve sent, or not.

If you uncheck the “Include previous email” box, your follow-ups will start a new email thread.

Following up is one of the most powerful ways to boost your response rates, so always add them to your sequence.

7. Consider Your Recipients’ Time Zone

If your sales emails are well personalized with compelling copy and a clear CTA, this step may not matter that much, but it can make a difference.

If your prospects are busy and your email lands in their inbox at 2 AM, they’ll have a backlog of emails to read when they check their emails somewhere between 5-9 AM.

On the other hand, if you schedule your inbox to land in their inbox right as you expect them to check it, you’ll be top of mind and impossible to ignore.

Data from GetResponse says the best time to send an email to get high CTRs is 6 AM. Now, even though your cold emails are designed to get replies and not clicks, the time of day may still work because your prospects are waking up and checking their emails with a coffee.

But, you don't want to be at your computer, scheduling emails first thing in the morning.

To send your emails at specific times, you can use timetables in QuickMail.

Define the times you want emails to send at, and create your timetable.

No matter what time you write your emails, they’ll only send at those specific times. You’ll have full control over the sending times, and ensure your emails always land in your potential customer’s inbox at the perfect time.

If you're sending campaigns to prospects in different time zones, you can create timetables for each time zone to ensure no prospect receives your emails at an awkward time.

Send Personalized Emails at Scale with QuickMail

If you’re ready to start scaling up your outbound campaigns, you’ll need a cold email platform to help you. Doing everything manually is impossible if you’re sending more than a few outreach emails per week.

QuickMail can help.

Our platform is designed to help cold emailers like you easily scale your campaigns with customized, personal emails.

Messages come directly from your email address to help increase replies, and it works with all the major email providers, including Gmail, Outlook, and custom inboxes.

You won’t need to worry about following up, either.

Once you’ve created your campaign and added your prospects, your emails will be sent on a set schedule. If a prospect replies, they’ll be paused on your campaigns so you’ll never make mistakes that hurt your reputation.

You can add multiple steps, tasks, link your account with Zapier (to connect with other tools), Slack(to notify your team when you receive replies), or cold calling software like Aircall (to simplify your sales process).

QuickMail also lets you add multiple team members (at no additional cost) so it's perfect for lead generation agencies, or fast-growing companies with multiple sales team members that need features like inbox rotation, unified analytics, and integrations with your key sales tools.

Just click here to start your free trial of QuickMail today.