Cold email gives you a way to start a conversation with any B2B decision-maker.

In this guide, I’ll show you some of the key things you need to know about cold email before you run your first campaigns. We’ll look at the main benefits, whether it still works, examples of cold email use cases, and frequently asked questions.

By the end, you’ll have a solid foundation of knowledge and will be on your way to becoming a cold email expert who can generate real results for your business with the channel.

  1. What is Cold Email?

  2. Why Use Cold Email in Your Business?

  3. Does Cold Email Still Work in 2023?

  4. Cold Email vs. Warm Email: What are the Differences?

  5. 4 Examples of Cold Email Use Cases

  6. How Can You Send Cold Email Campaigns?

  7. Is Cold Email Legal?

  8. Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s dive straight in.

What is Cold Email?

Cold email is the process of sending an email to someone you’ve never spoken to before.

There is almost no limit to what you can use cold email for. You can use cold email to:

  • Contact potential B2B sales leads

  • Build your network 

  • Reach out to potential business partners

It’s one of the most personal ways to reach out to someone who you’ve never met before.

Why Use Cold Email in Your Business?

1. Direct Line of Contact to Any Decision Maker

Most sales and marketing channels make it difficult to target individuals.

Here’s an example: you can pay for a Google Ad that’s targeted at people who are 25-40 years old and live in a particular city, or who are searching for a specific keyword. But, you can’t control who eventually sees and clicks on your ads.

With cold email, you can choose the specific people you want to reach out to.

Want to target the CEO of a Fortune 500 software company? You can source their email address, write a personalized cold email, and hit Send. The email will land in their personal inbox, and you’ll have good odds of starting a conversation.

There is no other channel that gives you this level of control over your targeting.

2. Cost Effective Means of Outreach

Email is a low-cost sales and marketing channel. The main costs involved are:

  • Paying for a cold email domain to send emails from, which can be as low as $6 per month with Google Workspace

  • Cold email software to automate your email-sending process, which is affordable compared to most other channels – QuickMail starts at $49 per month

  • A CRM to manage your conversation pipeline – you can use a tool like ClickUp for this, which is only $5 per month

Safe to say, it’s affordable for most businesses to test out.

Former Chief Product Officer of lead generation agency Avadel had this to say about the costs of cold email compared to traditional channels:

We all know that content marketing is pay-to-play - the higher your ad spend, the better your returns. With cold email, you can get killer results on a shoestring budget. If you’re looking for low-risk and big wins - cold email should be central in your B2B strategy.


3. Add Real Personalization to Every Message

Companies that can leverage personalization grow faster. Data from McKinsey found that you can see up to 40% more revenue from marketing and sales channels that are personalized to each audience member.

Source: The value of getting personalization right--or wrong--is multiplying | McKinsey

Personalization is the best way to show your prospects that you’re serious about your request. You’ve done your research into them, and you’re confident that they’ll be interested in what you have to say.

With cold email, you can personalize every email you send to recipients.

This means you can consistently see a 10-20% response rate and ensure you get results from your cold email campaigns.

Does Cold Email Still Work in 2024?

Yes, cold email still works!

Our data from 65+ emails sent using QuickMail found that you can see results like:

  • An average open rate of 44% or move

  • Over 50% of campaigns see a 10% reply rate or above

The team at B2B software company Demio was able to book 500 meetings in seven days using QuickMail’s cold email tools.

There’s no shortage of cold email success stories.

Fast-growing startups, high-performing lead generation agencies, and any company with ambitions of growth can leverage cold email to consistently generate new leads.

Cold Email vs. Warm Email: What are the Differences?

As we’ve seen, cold email refers to emailing someone who has never had a conversation with you before. They’re a completely cold prospect.

Warm emailing is what email outreach is called when you’ve already interacted with your recipient in some way. When your email hits their inbox, they’ll recognize your name or your company name and already have some context about why you’re contacting them.

Someone could be “warm” because:

  • You had a conversation with them at a conference

  • You spent three weeks targeting them with ads, so they know your brand name

  • You received a referral from a mutual connection

A warm email does give you a better chance of a response, but you won’t always be in a position where you can expect a warm introduction to someone.

That’s why it’s so important to know how to write an effective cold email. You’ll be able to get a response from anyone and open new doors, without needing any warm introductions.

4 Examples of Cold Email Use Cases

Cold email is versatile. You can use it for sales, marketing purposes, networking, and more. In the following sections, you’ll learn some of the main use cases it can be used for in your business.

We’ll also look at email template examples that you can get started with.

1. Cold Email for Sales Outreach

Want to connect with people who match your ideal customer profile (ICP) at businesses that need a product or service like yours? Cold email is the perfect channel to reach out and start a conversation.

There are a few reasons why cold email works so well for sales:

  • Highly personal, as you can research every recipient before reaching out

  • You have complete control of the messaging and value proposition

  • There are no gatekeepers between you and a CEO or decision-maker

Cold email and sales development just belong together. At my agency, we booked over 11k meetings in 2 years for ourselves and clients from cold email alone. It was such a successful channel that we stopped all other lead generation efforts to focus entirely on cold email.


If you don’t get a reply to your first email, you can use a sales engagement platform like QuickMail to automatically send a friendly follow-up email.

Considering 55% of replies come from a follow-up, this is a powerful way to get more responses to your outreach.

Here’s an example of what your cold email for sales outreach might look like:

Subject: Interested in solving [problem] at {{}}?

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Saw that {{}] was recently listed as one of the best places to work in New York - congrats on building such a good workplace.

I run [company] and we help fast-growing startups like {{}} improve the ROI on growth experiments through automation. Recently, we helped [client name] get 3.5x more new users from their existing campaigns without spending any more budget.

Worth a conversation to see if there’s a fit?



A cold email template for sales similar to this works because:

  • You give a unique compliment to your recipient

  • You quickly share your value proposition

  • There’s social proof in the form of past results

  • Your call-to-action (CTA) is easy to respond to

If you can bring these ingredients into every cold email you send, you’ll get results.

2. Cold Email for Networking

You can use cold email to build your professional network, find potential mentors, and set up conversations with people you look up to.

In practice, you could use this type of cold email to:

  • Arrange a meeting with a potential partner for your business at a conference you’re both attending

  • Let someone know you enjoyed a recent article or podcast they shared and ask follow-up questions about it

  • Reach out to someone in a similar job to you but at a senior level and build a mentor-mentee relationship over time

Cold email works well for this because it’s a personal channel. Most people open every email they receive, so if you’re reaching out to someone, they’ll see it.

If your request is genuine and your recipient thinks it’s worth their time, they’ll reply.

Here’s an example networking template you can use:

Subject: 15 minutes at [conference] next week?

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

I’ve followed {{}} for a while now - love the weekly podcast you put out, that must take a lot of dedication.

My podcast has been running for half the time that yours has, but I’m seeing good business results as a result of it already.

Noticed you’re presenting at [conference] next Thursday - would you be open to grabbing a 15-minute coffee after your talk? Would love to exchange learnings on [topic related to their presentation].



Cold networking emails are an excellent way to have conversations with people you respect and set up meetings where you can exchange learnings.

Because you’re reaching out to an individual, make sure your templates are highly personalized and unique. You need your recipients to see that you haven’t thrown them on a large email list and that you actually care about the interaction.

3. Cold Email for Media Pitches

Getting PR for your business is hard. It will rarely happen organically, so you need to be proactive. Cold email is the ideal channel to get in touch with content managers, journalists, or any other relevant person who can help you secure a promotion for your company.

You can see excellent results with this strategy because most people want interesting content to share with their audience.

If you reach out and provide content that’s interesting and relevant to your recipient’s audience, they’ll be glad to share it.

Here’s an example of a media pitch template from RightInbox

As you can see, the template is relatively simple, but it does a few things well:

  • It gets straight to the point and mentions they’re interested in co-promotion and featuring their content on the recipient’s blog

  • There’s some social proof and context to the company, so you would instantly know if there’s a crossover between your audiences

  • There’s a reciprocal offer: they’ll promote your content in return

If the recipient thinks there’s some potential value for their audience, they’ll be happy to reply.

4. Cold Email for Link Building

Link building is a popular SEO tactic used by marketers at companies both big and small.

However, it’s not easy to build links to your website. People don’t organically link out to websites that they’re not already familiar with and that don’t serve a specific purpose to their audience.

With cold email, you can reach out to website owners and pitch them directly for a link.

To stand out, you need to:

  • Show why it’s worth your recipient's time

  • Prove that there’s value for their audience or customers

  • Add personalization to show that you’re a real person that has done their research

If you can do these three things, you have a strong chance of a reply.

Here’s an example template for link building:

Subject: Content collaboration?

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Saw that you recently published your SaaS annual industry analysis - loved how in-depth it was and I took a whole page worth of notes to re-read.

As we have a similar target customer to {{}}, I think there could be value in us sharing some learnings with your audience.

Are you currently accepting guest content?



It’s simple but personal, and your recipient will immediately see that you’re explicitly reaching out to them, rather than simply adding them to a huge email list.

How Can You Send Cold Email Campaigns?

You’ll need to create a list of people matching your ICP to reach out to. You can use B2B data providers to help you with this, as these tools let you search based on criteria like:

  • Job titles

  • Company size

  • Location of the company

  • Software used on a company website

  • Revenue per year

Once you have a list of target prospects, you’ll need to find their email addresses. Check out our guide to finding anyone’s email address here.

From there, it’s time to write your cold email template. Each template needs to be personalized to the individuals you’re contacting – this is the only way to stand out in their busy inboxes.

To send your cold emails, you’ll need cold email software, like QuickMail.

Cold email software makes it simple to:

  • Write one template and have it personalized to everyone on your list

  • Automatically schedule multi-step email campaigns

  • Send automated follow-up emails if someone doesn’t respond at first

The software will track your key cold email metrics for you, and you’ll have a clear idea of how well your outreach is performing.

You’ll save hours of manual tasks, be able to reach out to more people than you could without automation, and in the end, get more replies.

Is Cold Email Legal?

Cold email is legal in most countries and jurisdictions.

However, there are regulations that apply that you should pay attention to.

For example, most laws prohibit you from cold emailing people on their personal email addresses, which means you can only reach out to B2B contacts.

As well as that, you’ll need a legitimate reason to reach out to people. This means your offer needs to be relevant to each recipient.

Depending on your location, you’ll also need to look at laws like:

  • CAN-SPAM for US-based businesses and recipients

  • GDPR for EU-based businesses and recipients

  • CASL for Canadian-based businesses and recipients

It’s important to stay compliant when cold emailing, so make sure to review the laws that apply to you and follow them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it Called Cold Email?

It’s called cold email because you’re reaching out to someone who you have no prior relationship with. You’re using email to make a “cold” introduction.

This is in contrast to warm email or email marketing, where you already know the person you’re reaching out to.

Who uses Cold Email?

Cold email is a channel used by:

  • Sales and business development representatives to book meetings with prospects

  • Lead generation agencies to generate leads for their clients

  • Founders of small startups to get early customers

  • Link builders prospecting for new opportunities

  • Publishers who want to share their content with new audiences

  • Anyone who wants to network with people in their industry

  • Recruiters to prospect for new passive candidates

There’s no limit to who can use cold email.

Can You Cold Email Anyone?

Cold emailing B2B contacts is legal in most countries and jurisdictions. Even in the EU with the notoriously strict GDPR, you are still allowed to email business contacts as long as you can prove that they will have a “legitimate interest” in what you’re contacting them about.

For example, suppose that you run an agency that offers lead generation services to software companies. In that case, reaching out to the CEO of a software business would be a legitimate reason to send a cold email. However, if you were cold-emailing a construction company or a gym owner, you may not be reaching out legally.

When it comes to B2C, you need to be careful.

Most jurisdictions prohibit the sending of cold emails to any B2C contact.

This means that cold email is typically reserved for B2B sales teams and if you need to contact a B2C audience, you’ll need to opt for another channel, such as advertising.

If you’re ever unsure of whether you’re allowed to cold email someone, we’d recommend consulting with a legal professional. You can share your situation and goals, and they can give you advice on how to run a campaign legally.

What is a Good Cold Email Open Rate?

The average open rate for cold emails is 44%. However, it can be higher than this if your prospect list has been carefully selected and your subject line is intriguing to each recipient.

For more detail on this, check out our deep dive into cold email statistics.

What is a Good Reply Rate for Cold Email?

You should aim for a minimum of a 10% reply rate. If your reply rate is lower than this, there’s a problem with your targeting, your email templates, or your cold email deliverability.

The best 25% of campaigns have a 20% reply rate or more, which is what you should target.

Even more important than your reply rate is your positive reply rate. This shows whether or not your prospects feel that your offer is relevant to them.

Wrapping Up

Cold email is a powerful channel to generate new leads, build partnerships, and grow your business.

You can use cold email to connect with any B2B decision-maker and start a conversation. If they don’t reply, you can use software to automatically follow up to give you the best chance of getting a response.

When you’re sending cold emails, make sure you focus on personalization. Every email you send needs to be unique, and you need to prove to your recipients that you’ve put effort into your outreach.

If they clearly see that it’s worth talking about, they’ll be happy to reply.

Once you find a formula that works, you can scale up your cold email volume. Before you know it, you’ll be getting replies and booking meetings with key decision-makers daily.