What makes cold emails successful?

Pauline Volovik
4 min readJun 30, 2022

In this article, I want to share my experience with cold emails received and sent. I will try to formulate several factors that influence the key mailing indicators, including mail check, conversion into answers, commercial conversion into conversations and sales with regard to cold mailing.

Ethical side of issue

My position is absolutely unambiguous: ethically, cold emails is an absolutely inappropriate channel. The first and essential question is the source of the email base. If you have gathered emails within the previous campaign for this brand, it is not a cold mailing, and the audience has already passed a long way on project interaction.

If the base was not collected by you, this means that its source is not ethically acceptable. These are not the people who would voluntarily give their contacts to you, and therefore, they do not wait for any offers from you. It will not provide a business with a desirable level of response and interest growth [the highest conversion in answers from cold emails on foreign bases in this segment that I saw was 0.07%], and, on the contrary, can provoke negative emotions and reputational difficulties. Moreover, such emails often lead to complaints and spam claims.

How to form an email base

I would recommend forming an email base using legal methods: through traffic attraction and conversion. When a person left his data on a company landing page, it suggests his interest in a product. Mailing in this case may have higher effectiveness and relevance: higher index of email check, bigger conversion in answers and follows the offer link in an email, etc.

If to disregard the quality of a base and its source (the problem I covered earlier), it becomes possible to identify the target audience if the base was taken from a direct competitor on the market. Naturally, you cannot be sure of the relevance, source, and quality of this base, but if it was received from a market player similar in geography, weight, and positioning, the possibility is higher. Segmentation on geography, sex, and type of purchases may become additional narrowing tools. This possibility is available in case the base is exported from a CRM system or another software where user data is attached to its email. I cannot outline any other methods of your target audience identification.

Factors that influence the key mailing indicators

The first essential thing: data collection principle

If you collect data from open resources, the people gathered must be relevant to the target audience portrait. It’s better to have fewer contacts if they are targeted than get a bigger volume of emails that will mark your email as spam.

The second important factor: sender

If the email address looks unreliable, the audience may be suspicious of the email received: most people delete such emails without opening them or place them into “spam”. Domain mails look more reliable, the audience trusts them more.

The third parameter: subject

Try and show the essence of an offer in the subject of a letter, attract their attention, intrigue, and provoke interest. It must look interestingly, then the letter will be read. Also, the subject mustn’t look like something that is sent to plenty of receivers.

The fourth factor: the structure and multiple formats of the content inside

In some cases, videos, infographics, memes, and audio content make an email more alive, but the channel for interaction (visual, audial, etc) must be chosen, relying on the age, interests, and lifestyle of the target audience. The thing that works in all cases is good text structure: titles, subtitles, lists, and small paragraphs. Everything that can be visualized and poached in a picture or infographics should be visualized. It simplifies perception. But do not forget that the HTML layout, as well as links and attachments, may influence the final destiny of a letter — whether it’s spam or promos.

The fifth factor: differentiation from competitors

If you use the base of your competitors, and the main mailing task is to attract the audience, pay attention to the emails used by your contestants on the market. You can be differentiated by providing a more valuable offer or even delicate trolling. The choice of mechanisms depends on the company’s positioning and its public image.

The sixth element: customization and minimum stereotypes

Your email must look like the one addressed to a single specific user. It can be made using personalization tags and rhetorical techniques (and copywriting techniques) that help a user identify himself as the recipient. One can be identified through the audience’s problems, lifestyle, or other factors that distinguish your particular clients.

The seventh parameter: focus on “you will get” instead of “we are cool”

It’s crucial not to focus on self-presentation, but on the things a recipient gets. To evoke sympathy, it’s better to talk about an interlocutor instead of talking endlessly about yourself.

Project this simple rule on the marketing and email composition, and they will be read till the end. Think about the client, and everything will work out.


Objectively, cold mailing can be more or less effective, but the tips I mentioned above will work out better for legally collected client base. Try to choose ethically correct sources of mailing base. In this case, users will be more targeted, and conversion in target action will be higher as well. As a rule, cold mailing gives low conversion in reading and response. How often do you read the letters you are not waiting for, especially from those people you have not share your contacts with?