Cold emailing. If you’ve ever had trouble getting clients for your service-based business, you’ve probably heard of the term “cold email.”
But what is it? Why is it called cold? And is it actually a good way to get clients?
The Best Way to Cold Email Prospective Clients
Okay, So What the Heck is a Cold Email Anyway?
A cold email (also sometimes called a cold pitch) has a couple of unique characteristics that define what it really is (and isn’t).
Basically, it’s any type of message that you send to a potential client.
While the term “cold email” in and of itself strongly implies that it’s an actual email, in this day and age you can go right ahead and count social media messages, DMs, etc. as part of this.
Cold emails are also not expected by the person getting it. Unlike sending an email or message to someone you know or someone on your email list (that would be considered a “warm pitch”), a cold email is sent to a stranger or someone who’s a “friend of a friend.”
The whole point of a cold email is to sell your services to the person receiving it. So that’s obviously a really big part of it, too! A cold email either involves some type of pitch/sale, or you can use it as an icebreaker with the intent to sell to them later on.
Basically, you want to use cold emailing as a way to bring in potential new leads — people who might at some point hire you, or refer you to someone else.
While the initial cold email or message is an important part of this process, you also have to remember that it’s never just ONE email. Utilizing cold emailing could involve several attempts at contact, and if successful, often includes multiple messages afterwards.
Related Post: How to Find, Identify + Attract High-End Clients
The Best Way to Send a Cold Email
Like I talked about earlier, traditional cold emailing implies that it’s an actual email. But, really, the more accurate term is “cold pitch,” which refers to any type of message or outreach to a potential client.
Again, this could include things like:
- An email
- A tweet
- A private message in Facebook
- An Instagram DM
- A Twitter DM
In my opinion, I still think that an email is the best method for this type of outreach. It’s both personal and professional, which sets the tone for the conversation right away.
Plus, people (especially business owners) are typically more likely to consistently and frequently check their email vs. DMs on social media.
Email is also a great way to show that you made an effort. You went out of your way to find their email address and you put thought into what you’ve written.
But really, when it comes down to it, the method of contact is a lot less important than the quality of the message.
What Makes for a Good Cold Email? (Or a Bad One!)
In my opinion, there are some clear ways to craft a good cold email, and some definite no-nos that you want to stay away from.
What Makes for a Bad Cold Email?
- It has a boring or incomplete subject (“Hi.” “Virtual Assistant” “Saw your post”)
- It isn’t personalized (obviously come from a template, don’t use their name — there’s nothing worse than getting an email that starts with “Hello (FIRST NAME)!”)
- Doesn’t focus on the receiver (only talks about yourself and what you do)
- Doesn’t intrigue the receiver
What Makes for a Good Cold Email?
- It has an engaging, clickable subject line
- It’s personalized for one specific person
- It focuses on benefits for the receiver
A Case Study for Your Reference
One of the biggest reasons why I think that cold emails can be so successful is because I’ve personally had success with them!
In my first year of business, I had this crazy cold email experience that led to a huge client for me. That solidified my belief that cold emails totally work! And I’ve since used them multiple times to score new clients for my business.
Related Post: How to Attract More Clients
Here’s the story of that first big success…
A while ago, I saw that a woman was looking for someone to do transcription for her in a Facebook group. I sent her a cold email and received this message back:
Thanks so much for your email. Way to do cold emailing right. I appreciate and respect your hustle! Nice work. And your website looks awesome too.
Unfortunately given the large scope of my project I can’t quite swing your rates right now. But I respect that you price at that level.
I’m hoping that I can clear a few of the beginning hurdles with my own business and then have the resources to invest in someone like yourself.
So, while it’s not a good fit for this particular project, I’ll definitely keep you in mind for more high-level stuff as time goes on.
A few minutes later, I received THIS message:
Also… as a marketer myself, I admire your approach to client outreach.
I am wondering if you would be comfortable with me sharing a screenshot of your email in Screw the Nine to Five.
I’d like to give you public props for the above-and-beyond approach.
I think a lot of people could learn from you.
I agreed, of course. Her post about my email got 100 likes + 18 comments!
Damn this chick is awesome! And although I haven’t hired her (YET), she’ll be top of mind for me at a later date, and I also have an easy way to pass her contact info on to anyone else who is looking for a top-quality VA.
If you’d asked me a couple days ago what I thought about cold emailing, I would have responded with a less-than-enthusiastic answer. But Miranda definitely showed me it could be done right. Well done.
The next day I got THIS contact form email:
She found me FROM THAT POST!
My Disclaimer: Normally a cold email doesn’t quite work that way. Typically people don’t share cold emails they receive, and then someone totally different hires you. I just think this is a great example of how one little email could eventually lead to a huge opportunity.
But even if the prospect you’re targeting doesn’t want to hire you, the point of a cold email is simply to generate a lead. Like I mentioned earlier in the post, a lead’s job isn’t necessarily to purchase from you right away. They could purchase from you later on, or tell a friend about your services!
Trust me — there is more than one way to pet a cat.
The 10 Components of a Cold Email
- Recipient or message receiver
- Engaging subject line
- Personalized greeting
- Captivating intro paragraph
- Briefly talk about yourself and your biz
- Mention the needs of the receiver
- Give free personalized advice based on your offer
- Highlight why you would be a good fit together
- Thank them for their time and show your enthusiasm
- Say goodbye and include an email signature
Let’s go through each of these in more detail!
Recipient or message receiver
This can be:
- Someone who has expressed interest in hiring someone. This may sound like “Does anyone know of a Pinterest expert who can help me manage my Pinterest account?”, or “Can anyone recommend a content writer?”
- Someone who is struggling with something and might be interested in hiring a professional to help them. (I.e. “I know that Pinterest can be a huge traffic driver, but frankly I don’t have the time to learn all about it!”)
- Someone who could improve on something and might be interested in hiring a professional to help them. (You might notice they don’t have a “Best of” board on their Pinterest, or only one opt-in form on their website homepage, or don’t have a strong social media presence.)
You can find these people from a post on Facebook, an email they send out to their list, or even visiting their website and noticing something they could improve on!
Related Post: How to Make a Lead-Generating Quiz for Free
An engaging subject line
This is the first thing that’ll catch their eye, so you have to make it actually catch their eye!
Here are a few things you’ll want to do:
- Reference the job you are hoping to help them with
- Ask a “leading question” which will convince them to open the email, if only just to see who this is coming from!
- Mention something you noticed about them. This makes people immediately feel closer to you now that they realize you actually paid attention to who they were!
A personalized greeting
This may seem to go without saying, but you’d be surprised at how many people just copy and paste cold email templates without customizing them!
These are the three things I feel are important in a greeting:
- Refer to them by name
- Sound cheerful
- Add an exclamation point!
You want to sound happy and enthusiastic to connect with them. Maybe exclamation points aren’t your thing, and this does depend on your brand/niche, but honestly…which would you rather see?
- “Hi Sarah!”
I mean, c’mon. The winner is clear.
A captivating intro paragraph
The important thing here is that you don’t want this to sound super “pitchy.”
Ask a couple of questions, mention a fun fact about yourself that you have in common with them. Basically, you want to make them feel like you’re interested in them and their business. (NOT like you want something from them.)
- Don’t start out by talking about your business, but don’t immediately jump right into your offer either. You want this to feel conversational.
- Come up with a few things to say before you get into the “meat” of your email.
- Develop a casual rapport. This will help make the email seem a little less spammy, and NOT like all you want to do is use them to make a quick buck. Start to build a relationship with them!
Briefly talk about yourself and your biz
The next thing that you need to do is introduce yourself.
Although you want to keep the email focused on them, they still need to get to know you. Focus on your expertise and why you feel you’d be a good fit for them. People prefer to hear about themselves and how THEY would benefit by hiring you.
Remember, the email should be 90% focused on THEM and 10% on who you are. Make sure to talk about what you offer, and, obviously, mention your business name and give them a URL to your website (even if it’s just in your signature).
Mention the needs of the receiver
Directly after talking about your expertise, talk about why that experience would be relevant to THEM.
You should use this paragraph to discuss what they need help with and how you realized that they needed help with it. Talk specifically about why improving this thing will help them in the long run.
If it makes sense in the context, you could also discuss the benefits of hiring you vs. them doing it themselves.
Ultimately, you want them to understand why hiring you would be worth the investment.
Give free personalized advice based on your offer
Most people don’t realize how important this part of a cold email is! Including free advice not only further cements that you are NOT all about the money, but it shows off your expertise and sells them in a different way — not just on what you offer, but also on your personality and generous nature.
Just to be clear here, my opinion is that being overly helpful is a great quality in a service provider. Service providers should ALWAYS over-deliver.
If you can find a way to do it that doesn’t cost you too much time or money, you’ll always have loyal clients who are thrilled to recommend you to others.
Highlight why you would be a good fit
Make sure to mention again what they need help with and why YOU are the person to fix their problem.
If applicable, talk about how you’ve helped a similar client in the past. Knowing that you’ve done the same kind of thing for other clients is a kind of “social proof” that will help convince them to hire you, too.
Thank them for their time and show your enthusiasm
Always be super polite. Thank them for taking the time to read your email. And get excited about potentially working together! (This is exciting for you — a potential new client! Let that energy shine through in your email.)
And this is very important — give them directions for the next step they should take.
You don’t want them to have to think too much here!
Examples of a Good CTA for a Cold Email
- Include a link to your Acuity calendar to book a discovery call
- Add the link to your services page
- Attach a PDF with a list of your various services
- Share a link to a blog post for further reading on the subject
- Ask them a “leading question” that will encourage them to reply back to you
Say goodbye and include an email signature
I usually sign off with an “xo Miranda”. It’s warm, friendly, and totally on brand. Like…you can tell I’m a hugger!
I also have a Wisestamp email signature that gets added to the end automatically. It includes some helpful information about me and adds a professional flair.
I hope this has helped you understand how valuable a cold email can be, and how to maximize your chances at converting a prospect into a lead or even a client!
Do you want to learn how to find the right type of clients and pitch to them like a boss?
Check out the Vault, where you will find:
- tips on how to discover new prospects
- examples of prospects who are ripe to turn into leads or clients
- my priceless cold email script
- my lead-tracking system and template
- and (I hate to sound cheesy, but) so much more