Cold email is a powerful channel for client acquisition. You can connect with anyone in the world and land in business owners' and decision-makers’ inboxes.

But, where do you start?

In this guide, you’ll learn how to cold email a potential client and start conversations. We’ll show you a proven, step-by-step process that can be used by agencies, growing companies, and anyone who needs more leads in their business.

  1. Why Cold Email Works for Reaching Potential Clients

  2. What to do Before Starting Your Cold Email Outreach

  3. Choosing Your Potential Clients to Email

  4. Writing a Compelling Email Template

  5. Following Up to Get More Replies

  6. Tracking Your Results

Let’s jump straight in.

Why Cold Email Works for Reaching Potential Clients

Cold email is the process of sending a personalized email to someone that matches your ideal customer persona.

It’s a powerful outreach channel for a few reasons:

  • Direct: your emails will land in your potential client’s inbox without any gatekeepers blocking the chances of having a conversation.

  • Personalized: It’s hard to find a more personalized sales channel than a handwritten cold email that’s unique for every recipient. Your prospect will know you’ve done real research into them and their business.

  • Affordable: You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to launch your first cold email campaign to engage with new clients. Most cold email software is affordable, and you can build your prospect list either for free or with tools.

  • Fast results: The moment your email lands in your prospective clients’ inboxes, your prospects can make a decision. If they’re interested, they can get back to you immediately. On average, expect a 10-20% reply rate to your email campaigns.

Sounds good?

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to send cold emails to potential clients and get replies.

What to do Before Starting Your Cold Email Outreach

Before you send a single email, there are a few steps you need to take. These will ensure your email account is ready to send emails, and you won’t land in the spam folder.

Firstly, you need a cold email domain. This is an essential step that’s often overlooked. The reason you need a separate domain is that if your cold email domain ever gets flagged for spam, it will lead to your main business email having deliverability problems. 

Your cold email domain will be a variation of your current domain so that when prospects receive your email the company name is still recognizable. 

You’ll manage your cold emails in a separate inbox and they won’t clutter your day-to-day business email inbox.

Once you have your cold email domain, you need to warm up your email address.

Warming up your inbox entails sending emails and receiving them from other trustworthy accounts. It shows ESPs like Gmail and Outlook that your new email address is a real address, and not created by someone just wanting to spam thousands of unsuspecting people.

You can use an email warm-up tool like the MailFlow, which natively integrates with QuickMail for its users.

It’s free to use, and once you connect your inbox with it your inbox will be added to MailFlow's network of real inboxes. Your inbox will warm up as the MailFlow Auto Warmer automatically sends and engages with your emails for you.

You can leave your email address in the Auto Warmer for as long as you’re sending cold emails and it won’t interfere with your other email activity.

Once you see your emails regularly landing in the primary inbox in your deliverability reports, you know you can start sending emails to your potential clients.

Step 1: Choosing Your Potential Clients to Email

Before sending an email, you need to know who you’re reaching out to.

It’s important to narrow down your buyer persona so you’re only emailing potential clients who are a perfect fit for your product or service.

Depending on who you sell to, you can build a prospect list in different ways.

The fastest way to build a prospect list is to use a prospecting tool. Tools you can use include:

  • BuiltWith: Find companies using a particular technology on their website.

  • UpLead or ZoomInfo: Extensive databases where you can filter companies by location, size, industry, and more.

  • Wiza: Create prospect lists from LinkedIn profiles of your target clients.

Once you’ve found people matching your ideal customer using these tools, you can download your list into a CSV to use in Excel or Google Sheets. 

From there, you can create smaller lists of prospects you want to reach out to and filter through the list to ensure you’re only reaching out to anyone that is an excellent fit.

Step 2: Writing a Compelling Email Template

An effective cold email template is an essential part of seeing results with cold emails.

There are a few key ingredients to a successful email template:

Writing Your Cold Email Subject Line

A good cold email subject line will be simple and show your prospect that you’re a real person reaching out. If you overcomplicate the subject line your prospects will think you’re sending them a marketing email, rather than a personal email.

Your subject line can be as simple as:

  • Quick question about {{}}

  • Meeting at {{}}

  • 15 minutes to talk about Google Ad strategy?

Most decision-makers will open your emails if it catches their eye, even if the subject line isn’t perfect so don’t waste hours of your time testing and working on the perfect subject line.

A Personalized Opening Line to Show It’s a One-to-One Email

Imagine if you received an email from someone you’d never met, but they mentioned your latest webinar or a blog post you wrote, proving that they watched or read it.

The person sending the email will immediately stand out and it will catch your attention, compared to a cold email that just pitched you on their services.

A custom opening line in your cold emails is the best way to stand out in the inbox.

It immediately shows your recipient that your email couldn’t be sent to anyone else.

Your opening line will be unique and handwritten for every prospect, but here are some ideas of ways to approach it:

  • Saw your talk at {{conference}} – loved the insights into your hiring decisions at {{}}.

  • Congrats on the launch of {{}}’s new set of features. Looks like a great improvement for your business.

  • Well done on getting the nomination for {{prospect.custom.award}}, great to see your work at {{}} being recognized.

The main thing is that you make sure your prospect can tell it’s a unique email, sent only to them.

Keeping Your Pitch Simple but Effective

You don’t want to waste your recipients time so you’ll need to make it clear why you’re reaching out.

However, your pitch doesn’t necessarily need to be a long list of everything you can help with. All you need to do is show your potential prospect what problem you can help them solve.

The simplest way is to boil down the benefits of what you’re offering into a single sentence, or two.

Here’s an example of a template that RepurposeHouse used:

The pitch is short but explains exactly what they can do. It also includes social proof in the form of clients they’ve worked with in the past. It’s only two sentences long, but already the recipient would have an initial impression of what they’re reaching out to help with.

You don’t need to copy this pitch exactly, but it’s a good example of how you can say a lot without needing to go into extensive detail about your product or service.

Add Social Proof to Increase Trust

You need to show your potential clients why they can trust you. You can do that by adding social proof to your email in the form of past results or client names.

Examples of social proof you can include are:

  • Past results you’ve generated for clients, e.g., helping a similar business generate 30 leads per month.

  • Client names, e.g., well-known companies with a similar business to your target prospect

Like with your pitch, it’s best to keep your social proof brief. If your prospect wants to learn more, you can walk them through your case study in detail.

Here are some example sentences you could include in your email to add social proof:

  • “We helped a similar company generate a 3x ROI on their lead generation campaigns.”

  • “Some of our recent clients include [company A] and [company B].”

  • “Our lead generation strategy generated [company A] 350% more leads than the campaigns they were running before working with our agency.”

Adding social proof like this is a simple but effective way to instantly increase the trust your recipients have in you. It’s essential because they may not know you or your business, so you have to do all you can to prove why you’re a trustworthy person.

Writing a Call-to-Action that Gets a Response

To round off your email, you need a strong call-to-action (CTA). This is essential because it’s going to guide the next steps your recipient takes.

First of all, your CTA needs to encourage a response. It also needs to be simple. You don’t want to confuse your prospect or leave them wondering how best to reply.

Examples of good call-to-actions include:

  • Does this sound like something useful for {{}}?

  • Sounds interesting?

  • Do you have 15 minutes available on {{day}}?

See more of our best performing CTAs in our Ultimate Guide to Cold Email CTAs

A CTA that’s clear and simple will increase your reply rate and get you better results when cold emailing potential clients.

Step 3: Following Up to Get More Replies

Unfortunately, not every prospective client will reply to your first email – no matter how relevant it is to them.

To get better results from your campaigns, you need to follow up with your prospects.

Your follow-up emails need to re-iterate why you’re reaching out, but approach it from a different angle. You can do this by adding extra case studies or past results into your emails, changing your call-to-action, and testing different email templates.

Luckily, you don’t need to remember to follow up with a calendar reminder. You can automate the process of following up using a cold email tool like QuickMail.

After adding the first cold email in your campaign, add a new ‘Wait’ step. Choose the delay you want between emails, and save the step.

After the delay, you can add a new ‘Email’ step in the campaign and write your follow-up email template.

After the designated wait time, and if your prospect hasn’t already responded, QuickMail will send your follow-up email automatically.

If your email is relevant to your recipient, then they’ll be likely to reply. Our data shows that over half of replies to cold email campaigns come from follow-up emails, so it’s an essential step if you want to improve your results and reply rate.

Step 4: Tracking Your Results

If your email copy resonates with your prospects it won’t be long before you see the replies roll in.

This process can get complicated if you’re managing replies from multiple people at once. We’d always recommend using a CRM for this process.

If you’re not already using a CRM, you can get started with options like:

You can connect your CRM to QuickMail with Zapier and whenever someone replies to an email campaign, the interaction can be added to your CRM. In addition, most CRMs let you reply to emails directly from the interface to streamline your workflow. 

To get an understanding of your cold email campaign performance you can use QuickMail’s built-in campaign analytics.

You can see details on every key performance metric, including:

  • Email open rate

  • Click-through rate

  • Reply rate

  • Unsubscribe rate

If you run an agency handling outreach for multiple clients, you can get an overview of performance for every campaign running from your dashboard, too.

Understanding your metrics is key because it’s the only way to determine if your campaigns are a success.

Most campaigns can generate a 10-20% reply rate, and your conversion rate will vary based on how smooth the experience is for your prospect once they reply to you. If you can move them through your sales funnel with ease and handle any sales objections they have along the way, you’ll see excellent results.

Wrapping Up

Cold email is a powerful acquisition channel. You can reach out to potential clients that are a perfect fit for your agency or company, and engage with them in a personalized way.

Every step of the process can impact your final results, so you need to put in the effort at each stage. From your prospect list to your email templates, to the way you follow up, each step needs your time and attention if you expect results.

Even though you can automate the process using a cold email tool like QuickMail, it’s vital that you always remember your prospect expects you to approach them in a personalized way, as they don’t know you’re reaching out to other prospects in the same campaign.

Over time, you’ll learn what works in your email campaigns and be able to optimize and improve as you go.

When you’re ready to send personalized cold email campaigns to your potential clients, you can get started with a free trial of QuickMail.