Cold email is daunting if you haven’t tried it before.

In truth, it’s simple — but it does require you to follow a process to get your foundations in place.

So, if you’re wondering how to send a cold email and aren’t sure where to start, this article is for you. By the end, you’ll be ready to send your first campaign, and before long, you’ll be having conversations with qualified prospects interested in learning about your product/service.

  1. Why Use Cold Email?

  2. How to Send a Cold Email: Step-By-Step Process

  3. Setting Up Your Cold Email Account

  4. Building a List of Qualified Prospects to Cold Email

  5. How to Personalize Cold Emails to Get More Replies

  6. When to Send a Follow Up Email if You Don’t Get a Response

  7. How to Send a Cold Email to Multiple Recipients

  8. How to Judge The Success of Cold Outreach Campaigns

Let’s dive in.

Why Use Cold Email?

Cold email is one of the best acquisition channels to grow your business. You can use it to start conversations with previously unreachable decision-makers, who would never respond to other channels like Facebook or LinkedIn ads.

There are a few key benefits:

1. Low-cost: all you need is an email address to start out with.

2. Personal: your emails will all be unique and personalized, making prospects more likely to reply than if they saw a generic ad on social media or Google.

3. Scalable: if your cold emails work, you can scale your outreach with cold email software.

Once you come up with a formula that works, you can increase or decrease your campaign volume as needed, and build a predictable sales pipeline to guarantee you always have new leads and revenue coming in.

How to Send a Cold Email: Step-By-Step Process

Cold email is highly effective. But when you’re sending emails at scale, there’s a learning curve.

In the next sections, we’ll show you how to send a cold email, from start to finish, covering everything you need to know from setting up your email account, to prospecting, to writing your emails, and following up automatically.

Let’s get started.

Setting Up Your Cold Email Account

1. Creating a Cold Email Domain

A cold email domain is a separate email address to your main company one that you use to send cold emails.

Why is it necessary?

If you send too many emails from one account that previously hasn’t been used for cold outreach, ESPs like Gmail and Outlook will take note. There’s a chance they’ll start sending your emails to the spam folder. If you’re using your main email address, that’s going to mean your internal and client-facing emails might go to the spam folder too, which will affect the day-to-day running of your business.

Because there’s always a risk to your account when sending cold emails at scale, we always recommend using a separate cold email domain.

This can be a new domain, but similar to your existing one, either on Google Workspace (GSuite) or in Outlook. Our data shows that Outlook does have better deliverability, but it’s only a marginal difference.

For example, at QuickMail, our cold email domain could be instead of 

Most prospects won’t even notice the email address is different from your main one when you switch over to that one after your initial outreach has finished and you’re working through your sales cycle with them.

You’ll also benefit from the organizational factor of this: you won’t be mixing your regular inbox with your inbox full of sales conversations.

2. Warming Up Your Email to Improve Deliverability

When you’re sending your first cold email campaign you’ll be eager to send out as many emails as possible to get fast results.

The problem with this is that high volume sending can hurt your email deliverability. Email service providers will think it’s suspicious that you went from sending a small number of emails to a high number in a short space of time and be more likely to stop your emails from landing in the inbox.

To ensure you never have deliverability problems, you need to warm up your email before sending your first cold email campaign.

Warming up your email address used to be a manual process, but now, it’s simple.

Email warm-up tools like MailFlow do it automatically by generating engagement on your email account with other real inboxes in the email warm-up network.

MailFlow is free to use, and natively integrates with QuickMail. All you need to do is sign up for your account, connect your email address, and start the MailFlow Auto Warmer.

You’ll see deliverability reports with information on where your emails are landing, whether it’s the primary inbox, spam folder, or another email tab.

If your emails land in the spam folder, the MailFlow's Auto Warmer will automatically remove them and reply to them, showing ESPs that you’re trustworthy. 

Over time, ESPs will start to trust your address as they see you’re regularly sending emails and getting replies.

Building a List of Qualified Prospects to Cold Email

The key ingredient to a successful cold email campaign is your prospect list.

If your prospects are highly-qualified, you can get away with email templates that aren’t perfect because they’ll see that it’s worth replying to you based on your value proposition.

But, how do you find qualified prospects and their email addresses? Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Prospecting Tools to Help You Find Emails

You don’t need to source your prospect list by hand. There is a range of tools that can help you with tasks like:

  1. Identifying prospects that fit your buyer persona

  2. Finding out key details about them and their company

  3. Sourcing a verified email address and contact information

Recommended tools you can use for email-finding include:

  • UpLead: A B2B contact database containing 50+ million prospect records

  • Clearbit Prospector: Find companies and prospects matching filters you choose

  • Wiza: Find email addresses from prospect LinkedIn profiles and searches

Source: Clearbit

There’s a range of pricing options when it comes to email-finding tools, but if you’re just getting started with cold email, you won’t need to pay more than around $100 per month for a good tool. 

As you build out your email list and start reaching out, you’ll quickly see an ROI once you start getting replies to your cold emails and closing deals.

2. Always Verify Contact Email Addresses

After sourcing your prospect emails, it’s a best practice to verify that it’s a real email.

If you don’t, you risk seeing high bounce rates in your outreach, which can affect your email account’s deliverability — not to mention that you’ll end up getting fewer replies if a large percentage of your emails bounce.

The easiest way to verify emails is with an email verification tool, like NeverBounce or ZeroBounce.

These test whether the emails you’ve provided are real and can receive mail.

It’s a small step, but vital, because email-finding databases like those we mentioned above typically decay over time as people move jobs and the data becomes outdated.

You can also connect your email verification tool with QuickMail and do this automatically as you import your prospects.

Every prospect that goes through this Bucket will have their email validated, and if it can be found, they’ll be removed and you won’t risk reaching out to them.

Verifying your prospect emails is a small and often overlooked step, but it’s key to ensuring the emails you send land in as many inboxes as possible.

3. Formatting Your Prospect List

The best way to organize your prospect list is in a spreadsheet, either Google Sheets or Excel.

If you’re using Google Workspace you’ll have Google Sheets included in your plan, so using that is free. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook or Office 365, you may prefer to use Excel.

Organize your prospects into organized columns, each column including details like:

  • First name

  • Last name

  • Company name

  • Email address

  • Prospect location

  • Custom icebreaker or opening line

If you need some help creating the spreadsheet, you can download our free Prospect List Template here.

Why is this the best way to organize your list?

Because when it’s time to send your emails using a cold email tool, these columns can be used independently of each other to customize your emails.

For example, the tool will look at your “Email” column to find the email for your prospect. Then, it’ll look at the “First name” column to ensure every email is addressed personally to your recipient.

We’ll look more at this later on, but being organized like this is a key step, and it’s better to be organized sooner rather than later.

How to Personalize Cold Email Templates to Get More Replies

1. What Type of Content Will Your Cold Email Include?

It’s tempting to write out an essay with all of the reasons your recipient needs to read and reply to you. In reality, shorter is usually better. Busy decision-makers don’t have time to read long emails.

Instead, keep it simple.

Most cold emails follow a simple formula:

  • An icebreaker or custom opening line to build rapport

  • A brief introduction of what problem you can solve

  • Social proof to build trust

  • A call-to-action to encourage a response

Here’s an example of a cold email template that works:

The main problem most people have is coming up with personalization that doesn’t come across as being non-genuine. In the next section, I’ll show you some tips on effective cold email personalization.

2. Finding Angles to Personalize Emails

Personalization is essential to a successful cold email campaign.

There are a few ways to find good personalization options.

One option would be to review the prospect’s company website and look for recent news stories relating to them. For example, if a startup recently opened new offices in a particular location, you could mention that in your cold email to the CEO. 

Alternatively, you could see if your prospect has appeared on any podcasts or interviews lately relating to their industry, and mention that.

The key is that it’s something truly unique and shows them that your email could not have been sent to anyone else except them.

Once you have the information you want to include, you can turn it into your cold email opening line.

For example:

  • “Recently saw your company featured in Forbes - well deserved, would love to hear about how you landed that feature.” 

  • “Finished watching your talk at {{prospect.custom.Conference}}. Really interesting points on {{prospect.custom.Topic}}, thank you for sharing.”

  • “Read the case study you published with {{prospect.custom.Customer}}. Awesome how you helped increase landing page conversions by 46% with the changes you made.”

These are just examples, but, you can already see that if you received an email from someone that started with an opening line as personalized as those, you’ll be far more likely to reply than if it was a standard template that could have been sent to 1,000 other people at the same time.

3. Adding Personalization at Scale to Cold Email Templates

Personalizing every email is essential today, and there are no shortcuts to creating those opening lines.

To scale up the process, write these opening lines in your prospect list spreadsheet, next to each person.

When you come to writing your email templates in QuickMail, you can use attributes to add these opening lines into your templates automatically.

During your prospect list import process, make sure to import the attribute you need:

Then, as you’re writing your email template, you can add attributes in your template where you want these details to go.

For example, at the start of your email, you’ll have “Hi {{prospect.first_name}}” which will then automatically use the details from your “First name” column in your prospect list.

When your templates are written, they’ll look something like this in your QuickMail campaign:

The attributes will be replaced by the information from your prospect sheet, and each one will be completely personalized.

Ensuring your email templates are all personalized, even if it makes the process longer, is vital. It’ll help you start more conversations, show email service providers that you’re not sending the same template to every recipient, and prove to each prospect that you care about their time.

When to Send a Follow Up Email if You Don’t Get a Response

1. How Important Are Follow-Up Emails?

You’re not always going to get a reply to your first email, no matter how much time you spent writing it. Your recipients are busy running their own business and with their own priorities, so unless you truly stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need to follow up.

Our data from millions of emails sent using QuickMail shows that 55% of replies to cold email campaigns come from a follow-up email.

To increase your chances of having conversations with decision-makers, following up multiple times is key.

Each follow-up needs to be different from the last, and re-iterate to your recipient why you’re reaching out.

Luckily, with cold email software, you can automate your follow-ups so you don’t have to set reminders or calendar events to keep you on track. 

2. How to Add Follow-Ups to Your Cold Email Campaigns

Following up is simple in QuickMail. After you’ve prepared your opening email template, add a new step after it and choose ‘Wait’.

Next, choose the amount of time to wait before the next campaign step.

This will be the delay between your emails if your prospect doesn’t reply to your first email. If they do reply, the follow-ups will be automatically canceled.

Next, add another email step, and write your follow-up email.

You can add as many follow-up emails as you need to. Typically, 4-6 is enough for your prospects to notice your emails and reply to you, even if they’re busy.

After the first follow-up, you can also space out the delay between them.

  • Follow-up #1: 2 days later

  • Follow-up #2: 3 days later

  • Follow-up #3: 5 days later

  • Follow-up #5: 7 days later

If you blast out a campaign with follow-ups every two days, you might get some replies, but, you’ll come across as pushy and there’s a risk your prospect marks your emails as spam.

The extra delay between emails will keep you on their mind but avoids being pushy.

How to Send a Cold Email to Multiple Recipients

Sending cold emails one by one is too time-consuming.

To send a cold email to multiple recipients at once, you’ll need a cold email tool, like QuickMail.

Cold email software is designed to help you send cold emails at scale to as many recipients as you need to at once.

Once you’ve uploaded your prospects into QuickMail, you’ll see them in your Prospect List with the details you added about them.

From there, you can select the people you want to include in your campaign.

Then, choose the campaign you want to add your prospects to, and click ‘Start campaign’.

Your cold email will be sent to multiple recipients at once so you can start more conversations without needing to schedule and send emails one by one repeatedly.

How to Judge The Success of Cold Outreach Campaigns

Cold email is only worth investing your time and your business’s capital into if it delivers a return on investment.

The best way to judge that is by looking at your metrics.

The key metrics to look at when it comes to cold email are:

1. Positive Reply Rate: this tells you how many of your prospects are replying positively and willing to have a conversation. It’s the best metric to judge how well your campaigns are performing.

2. Reply rate: Overall reply rate is another key metric as it shows you that you’re engaging with your prospects. Even if someone isn’t ready to continue the conversation, receiving an initial response puts you on their radar and shows that they didn’t immediately mark your emails as spam.

3. Bounce rate: The bounce rate tells you how many of your emails don’t land in the inbox. If this number is more than 2-3% of your total emails sent, there’s a chance that your email list hasn’t been verified, and it could start to affect your email deliverability.

If you’re looking to do a deep dive on cold email metrics before starting a campaign, make sure to check out our Complete Guide to Cold Email Metrics here.

Wrapping Up: How to Send a Cold Email

Sending your first cold email campaign can be a daunting task, but it can deliver huge ROI for your business when done well.

If you follow the steps laid out in this guide, it won’t be long before you start receiving positive replies and are setting up calls with warm sales leads regularly.

Finally, when you’re ready to start sending your first cold email campaign, make sure to start your free trial of QuickMail. You’ll get access to all of the key features you need to see if cold email is a channel that will work for you, and will be ready to start reaching out in no time.