Are Cold Emails Effective?

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If you are in marketing, you would have heard about cold emails. But simply using a strategy, just after hearing it is not enough if you want to become a good marketer.

You need to know how effective a particular technique or strategy is before implementing it. So that you know whether the expected results (of a technique) will meet the desired results or not.

What is a cold email?

A cold email is an unsolicited (not asked for) email that is sent to a receiver without prior contact. Cold emailing is a subset of email marketing and differs from transactional and warm emailing.

It is called cold because you have not had any prior contact with the person you are reaching out to.

In warm emailing, you make the email a little about you and more about the person you are emailing.

On the other hand, a transactional email as the name suggests is sent to an individual recipient following a commercial transaction or specific action performed by that person.

Is cold emailing legal?

Cold emailing is totally legal provided you stick to the rules set out by applicable regulations. One of the pioneer regulations of this type is the CAN-SPAM Act, which sets standards for sending commercial emails in the USA.

More details about rules and regulations related to cold emailing are given at the end. You don’t need to google it separately

What is the purpose of cold email?

Cold email is a personalized, one-to-one, targeted at a specific individual (prospective buyer).

Its aim is to get into a business conversation with that individual, rather than to promote a product or a service to the masses.

Do cold emails really work?

The answer is, YES. Cold emails can be incredibly effective if written well and proper research is done to select the targeted receivers.

It is an underutilized strategy that has a bit of a bad rap often due to the plethora of poorly written marketing emails that people receive. This leaves many reluctant to give it a try.

How to write effective cold emails?

Cold emails sent by you will be considered effective only when they are able to attract recipients and get replies. Few points that will help in achieving this are-

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Personalization –

We all like getting attention, we all like personalized things, from gifts to schemes, everything personalized.

So, the same goes for emails. People like personalized emails and to write such emails, you need to do proper research.

Personalization means that you have thought about who are the recipients, how they see the world, what interests them, and what they want. In simple words, you have developed a theory of mind about the recipients

You should also make it clear that why you are emailing them and not anyone else.

Research shows that people are far more motivated to help others when they feel uniquely qualified to do so.

Self-validation –

When people receive emails from a stranger, they want to know who that person is and why that person matters to us.

Remember that you have already done a bunch of research on the people you are emailing, but they don’t know anything about you. To them, you are a complete stranger.

So, you need to show them that you are credible and trustworthy. Knowing someone in common is the strongest form of social proof you can offer. If you are lucky enough to have direct connections, mention them.

If not this, then mention any authority, credibility, or social status you have that is relevant to these people.

Last but not the least, find a commonality. Being part of the same group or unexpected connections, unusual hobbies can really help and increase chances of getting replies.

Provide them something they want or alleviate their pain –

Why should recipients read your email, is worth giving time? Why they should reply to it? What’s in for them?

To do this, you need to do thorough research. If you have found a major pain point for the recipient, and you are capable to offer relief, then highlight that.

If you are not capable of solving their problems then give them something they want.

Keep it simple, short, and actionable – Most of us skip long paragraphic messages even if sent by our knowns. So, why recipients would read a long email that was also sent by a stranger.

Hence, short emails are more likely to be read rather than long ones. And emails that request clear, specific action get a much higher response rate.

One of the best ways to keep things short and direct is to write the way you would talk

Make your ‘ask’ simple and actionable, do as much as you can for your audience.

Be appreciative and a little vulnerable –

Try to be slightly submissive. It’s not like that you need to grovel before your audience.

You are asking someone to do you a favor, who doesn’t even know you. By expressing gratitude and some vulnerability, you make them feel like they are good people if they choose to help

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Also, as they are being approached they feel a little rush of power and status.

Don’t use a template –

As the first point says, ‘personalized’, personalization cannot be achieved by using a template.

If you google ‘cold email template’, you will find a lot of them but they will merely get you reverts.

Now, suppose you have created appropriate emails, keeping in mind the points mentioned above. So, is it enough? No, it’s not.

Here comes a point, which is even more important. It is email deliverability.

Email deliverability

Email deliverability is the percentage of emails that got successfully delivered to the inbox, instead of getting blocked or classified as spam.

It is different from email delivery. Email delivery is the percentage of emails that got successfully delivered to the recipients’ email address, regardless of whether it is the main inbox or any other folder, including spam.

For cold email senders, email deliverability is a point to be focused on as their aim is to make their email land in the recipients’ main inbox.

So, a well-written, personalized email will get a response only when it will be delivered to the main inbox as no one checks the spam folder often.

How to increase cold email deliverability?

The following points can help in increasing email deliverability –

Domain reputation:

A domain reputation is a sending reputation for a specific domain name. A domain may lose its reputation if the emails are being sent in large quantities at once with too high a frequency.

The recipient’s email server may consider such behavior as spamming and blocklist the domain used for sending emails.

Try to avoid spam words (gimmicks, schemes, promises, free gifts) because spam filters detect these words in the subject line or the email content, resulting in getting domain blocklisted.

A new domain has a neutral reputation by default.

Server IP reputation:

IP reputation is sending the reputation of an individual IP. Each email sender is assigned an IP address.

If an IP address is associated with spam activities, its reputation gets harmed. A new IP address has a neutral reputation by default and needs to be warmed up first in order to build a good reputation.

Emails sent by an IP address having a bad reputation are placed in the spam folder.

How to warm up servers IPs?

IP warm-up age is the main factor to make a good for your server. You can set a limit on your server to:

  • 1 day limit – 20 emails/hr
  • 2 day limit – 30 emails/hr
  • 3 day limit – 45 emails/hr
  • 4 day limit – 68 emails/hr
  • 5 day limit – 102 emails/hr
  • 6 day limit – 153 emails/hr
  • 7-day limit – 229 emails/hr

SPF and DKIM records to set up on a domain’s DNS server:

Both SPF (Sender Policy Framework, an email authentication method designed to detect forging email addresses during the delivery of the email) and DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail, an email authentication method designed to detect forged sender addresses in email) records protect the domain from email spoofing and phishing attacks.

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Email providers’ sending limit:

Each email provider has its own email sending limits that can be found on their websites. The limits may be daily, hourly, or even per minute.

Exceeding the limits may result in blocking the email account for a time period determined by an email host.

Hard bounce rate:

Sending emails to a big number of invalid or non-existent email addresses results in a high hard bounce rate, which in turn alarms the mailbox providers who may block the sender.

Soft bounce rate:

Soft bounces take place when an email is turned back before reaching the recipient’s server, hence, it is not delivered to the mailbox.

The reason for soft bounce is often a temporary technical issue with the recipient’s mailbox, such as a server failure or a full inbox.

Along with keeping these things in mind, you need to stick to the rules and regulations too.

Rules and regulations


The CAN-SPAM Act set the first national standards for sending commercial emails in the USA. According to the CAN-SPAM Act:

  • every email recipient should have a right to opt-out from getting unwanted emails. Cold email senders should respect the recipient’s request to be deleted from their contacts;
  • the “from” line should be accurate;
  • the subject line should be relevant to the content of an email;
  • the sender’s physical address should be clearly visible in the content of an email or a signature.

Australian Spam Act

The Spam Act regulates in what cases commercial emails, including cold emails, can be sent and what must be included in the content. It states that commercial emails:

  • cannot be sent without the recipient’s clear or inferred consent;
  • must contain a name and contact details of a sender;
  • must contain a clear way to opt-out from receiving them;
  • must be relevant to the recipient.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

The CASL gives the citizens of Canada the right to:

  • request not to get further emails from a particular sender;
  • know the identity and physical address of a sender;
  • refuse or withdraw the consent to get the emails from a particular sender;
  • know the nature and purpose of an email.

New Zealand – Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act regulates sending unsolicited commercial emails, including cold emails, with a New Zealand link, that is, emails that are sent to, from, or within New Zealand. According to the Act:

  • the commercial emails cannot be sent without the recipient’s clear or inferred consent;
  • the commercial email must contain accurate information about the sender of the message, including valid contact information;
  • the recipient must have a clear way to opt-out from receiving such emails.

Final Thoughts

So, after reading this article you know that cold emailing is effective if done correctly. Also, you know ways to do it in the correct way. If you found this article helpful then do share it with people who may be searching for it. All the best!

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