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How to Send an Effective Cold Email

Cold emails have become a bit of a hot topic over the years. While many bloggers and marketers promptly dismiss them, others recognize that success is found in numbers combined with customization.

Let’s explore how to send an effective cold email in 2020 and well beyond, as the following should always be a natural part of most email conversations of this type.

The First Email:

Customization is Key

send cold emailAn effective cold email should never be completely cold, as the term is nothing more than a mere technicality.

For the record: You should never, ever email many people at once with a generic boilerplate. Instead, take your time to know each individual you intend to email.

Find out some basic, professional details to help you compose a well-informed message. Mention the company this person works for, or any other public information that pertains to your email exchange.

Even better: If you two are writers who have contributed to the same (or similar) websites, mention that as well. Generally speaking, it’s all about breaking the ice through relatable details.

Introduce Yourself (Be Informal, if Possible)

I have personally sent out many successful cold emails thanks to sounding very friendly and down to Earth.

Some of my past approaches began like this:

“Hey, Jeff, how’s the warm week treating you in Chicago? It’s been pretty enjoyable here in Boston!

My name is Elvis, and I just wanted to steal a minute of your time to….”

Notice the exclamation point, the way I asked about the weather condition where he lives, as well as the way things are on my end. That, right there, immediately creates a friendly and “buddy” vibe.

Needless to say, those emails have been insanely well-received by many recipients.

Never Put Them on a Pedestal

Complimenting your prospects is not necessarily a bad thing, but most cold emails tend to sound ridiculous and superficial.

If you liked an article or a service that your recipient authored or owns, feel free to mention a benefit you genuinely enjoy about it.

That said, avoid an endless butt-kissing session about “how their content is one of the best things you’ve ever seen.” They can smell the BS and it’s a poor email marketing tactic.

In Addition to (or Instead of) Complimenting…

Instead of dropping a generic compliment, ask a specific question that immediately makes them want to answer it. Did you read an article from the recipient and feel like some details were left out? In that case, say something like this:

“Jeff, I was recently reading your article on how remote working will shape every U.S. corporation by the year 2030. I was wondering, does X data mean that most corporations will close down their physical offices by then??”

A question works so much better than a generic compliment because it shows you truly read and digested the recipient’s content. You also went out of your way to talk to him or her about it, which is both flattering and appreciated. Can you see the difference?

End the Email Prematurely

As you may have noticed, all of the above details amount to a fairly lengthy email. So it’s time to end it… at least for the time being.

This first email is merely to get acquainted and establish a sense of friendship. Avoid delivering your proposition or asking for any favors that are primarily beneficial to you.

End the email just like any other, but feel free to hint that you still have more to discuss.

Perhaps with something like this: “I look forward to hearing from you, as my question pertains to something in particular on my end at the moment. Thanks!”

The Follow-up Email:

Pro tip: Make this second email roughly as long as the first, which helps maintain the same vibe. If this second message is considerably longer than the first, it might give off a negative “salesy” impression.

Once again, remain fairly personal and friendly in this follow-up email. Feel free to introduce some laughter if appropriate (depending on the recipient in question).

Introduce Your Proposal

Let’s say that your point is to gain a backlink from a fairly popular blogger. Using the example provided earlier, remember that you asked a question about an article the recipient had published…

Using this as an example, you could say something like the following once the person replies back:

“Ah, thanks for clarifying and answering my question. I was only concerned because I had conducted some research for a similar article I wrote. For one reason or another, it directly contradicts the notion that many corporations will close their doors by the year 2030…

In any case, since my research came directly from [reputable source], perhaps it’d be a good idea to link to each other’s article in order to give readers a well-rounded version of possibilities?”

Reciprocate (Give and Take)

After writing the above, end your email once again by doing him a favor with something like this:

“Here’s a link to my article if you wish to look at it. Meanwhile, I will go ahead and place a link to your content within my own article.

Let me know what you think, and keep showing them how it’s done, Jeff.”

Once again, notice those friendly vibes sticking out like a sore thumb. I also asked for a favor in a very natural way. I wasn’t begging, I wasn’t pleading, and I certainly wasn’t overly complimenting the person.

Recommended: Give them an Easy Way Out

It always helps to make people feel at ease. Instead of sounding needy for their approval, approach the recipient as someone who’s valuable but NOT essential to your success.

So, using the example above, you could also end the email like this:

“I’d highly appreciate a backlink within your article — but either way, your content is already complete/admirable regardless.”

This makes people respect you that much more, as you’re treating the situation fairly and are not acting desperate for results.

Whether they comply with your request is completely up to them. End your response amicably and don’t take back that favor you did for them, regardless of the outcome.

At the end of it all, the recipient now knows you and something good could come from this in the future.


-Don’t just send one long email talking about the problem / solution. Work on getting acquainted and establishing a sense of friendship.

-Compliment lightly. Even better, ask a specific question and end your first email immediately.

-Wait for a response, then reply back with your actual objective / mission. Once again, end the email and await a reply.


The biggest takeaway is that cold emailing is rather subjective. Some people suggest you get to the point with just one email, while I personally suggest you break it down and don’t ask for anything during your initial conversation.

I am only writing from personal experience, but let me know what you think and I truly wish you the very best with future cold emails.