Email Marketing Lead Generation

How to write a B2B cold email that gets a response

Sending cold email is still one of the most effective ways to generate leads and fill your sales pipeline. Unfortunately, lots of people do a poor job at it.

In recent years, my inbox has been bombarded with cold emails on a regular basis. Most of them are quite awful and annoying.

Here are the reasons why they were bad:

  • Too much about them – The emails talked way too much about the awesomeness of their products and features without providing any context.
  • Too long – I don’t have time to read a novel in an email. Also, when it’s not well formatted, it gives me a headache just looking at the long email.
  • Too pushy – My time is precious. I have a tons of things on my plate that I am dealing with. So the last thing I want to do is to jump on a call and waste 30 minutes of my life talking to a stranger.

Now, I have also received a few cold emails that piqued my interest enough to get a response from me. What did they do right? Read on to find out.

Your cold email composes of 4 important components:

  • The subject line
  • The introduction
  • The benefits and social proof
  • The Call to Action

Also, it’s important to keep these points in mind:

  • Make it short and to the point
  • Make it personal – Do your research and find something that you can use to connect with the recipient on a personal level. If you come across as wanting to connect and help rather than trying to sell, sell, sell, you will have a much better chance.
  • Use plain text instead of HTML format – Plain text just feels more personal.

Alright, read on to learn how to write an effective cold email.

How to write a compelling subject line

In a sea of emails, your subject line must be clear and must pique the interest of the recipients in order to have a chance of it getting opened. Here are a few ideas you can test:

  • A promise to solve problem X or achieve X results using a new method or technology – People are always motivated to find better ways to solve a problem or to achieve a certain result. Examples are “Defeat fraud with big data analytics”, “Increase sales by 200% using this new email prospecting tool”, “An analytic tool built for financial analysts”, etc.
  • Your company + your prospect’s company (i.e. “Zendesk + Microsoft” or “Why Zendesk is perfect for Microsoft”)
  • Mention of your prospect’s competitor (How Salesforce is able to double their sales revenue in a month)

Hook them with your introduction

Alright, if your subject line does it job and get the recipients to open the email, your introduction must say something to hook them right away. You can skip the the part about introducing yourself as most people don’t really care who you are.

Instead, talk about the problem that your prospect is dealing with. To get this right, you must do your research and figure out what are the problems your prospects are struggling with.

You could ask a question like this:

Dear Eric,

Are you struggling with protecting your sensitive data on the cloud? Would like to hear about a new technology that automatically scans your cloud environment and protects you data?

You could also start with stating an interesting statistic, like this:

Dear Eric,

According to X report, nearly 75% of enterprise applications have security vulnerabilities that could cripple their business. What measures are you taking to eliminate security vulnerabilities in your applications?

Tell them how you can help and provide proof

Instead of talking about features, talk about the benefits your product provides, how it’s different from competitors’ solutions, and how your product has helped other similar companies.

Here’s an example:

Since 2010, our solutions have helped over 500 enterprises such as Cisco, HP, and Intel generate 3X more sales. Our solution is easy to use and can be setup in 15 minutes without IT’s help.

Invite the prospect for a 5-Minute Chat

Before you end your email, you should invite the recipient to a 5-minute exploratory call. Yes, only 5 minutes and nothing more. The mistake I see lots of people make is asking for a 30 minutes phone call, which is a big commitment. If I have never heard of you, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna give up 30 minutes of my precious time to talk to you. But if your email pitch is compelling, I wouldn’t mind to set aside 5 minutes to chat with you. So make the request simple and reasonable.

Give them an option to opt out

It’s important for you to be respectful and not come across as a spammer. So, give them an option to opt out by saying something like “If you’re not the right person to discuss about X, do let me know. I would also greatly appreciate it if you could direct me to the right person in your company that handles X.”

Follow up, Follow up

If you don’t get a response after your first try, don’t give up. Keep on trying. Send a 3-4 more followups, but trying testing different subject lines and introductions. 


Peter Nguyen
I'm an Interne/online marketing expert with a strong blend of creative, technical, and analytic skills. I have over 6 years of experience doing online marketing for B2B as well as B2C Ecommerce. My expertise is in SEO, PPC, Social Media, Analytics, Copywriting, Landing Page Design, B2B Lead Generation, Conversion Optimization, Web Design, and project management. I am passionate about online marketing and I am constantly learning and keeping up to date on the latest advances on online marketing and social media marketing.
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