Cold email teardown session from Enterprise Rising

by Steli Efti

Want to write better cold emails? Watch this cold email teardown session I conducted at Enterprise Rising in April 2018. 

Enterprise rising is a conference for enterprise tech startups in the Midwest. In addition to speaking at the event, I also offered to review the outreach emails of a couple of startups that attended.

Here's the full recording of this session. Make sure to take notes, as you'll find that this format really helps to internalize many of the principles of writing effective cold emails.

And in case you want a more structured step-by-step guide to writing better cold emails, download a free copy of my book Cold Email Hacks.


Some actionable take-aways:

  • Make your cold email subject lines personable, as if you are writing a cold email to one other person. Avoid marketing speak or official sounding language. An example of this? "Seeking feedback for online learning platform" → "Curious about your feedback" or "I built something. Would love to hear your thoughts"
  • The worst subject lines are the ones that are written like generic ads
  • Keep your emails short, personable and engaging
  • Make sure your emails are well-formatted
  • Avoid apologizing for sending someone a cold email
  • Have a very concrete call-to-action (e.g. end your email with Are you available Thursday between 3-6pm?)
  • Turn your subject lines into questions to increase engagement when possible
  • Choose only ONE call-to-action per email, instead of offering people multiple choices
  • Always work social-proof elements into your cold emails. E.g. if you say "we work with companies in the Detroit area", then name some of the companies you've been working with. It's a simple way to instantly boost your credibility, and it can drastically increase your chances that a qualified prospect will respond to you
  • Keep the language of your email body copy simple. Avoid technical speak and industry jargon, unless you know for certain that's the same language your recipient uses when communicating with peers
  • Don't overwhelm a prospect with all the benefits you could potentially provide them with. Instead, think 80/20: What's the 20% of our solution that will give this prospect 80% of the value? Limit your emails to three value propositions at most.
  • Lead with the strongest social proof elements (don't bury them far down the email)
  • If your open rates are below 30%, you need to focus on improving your subject lines before anything else. BUT don't get gimmicky. You can trick prospects into opening your emails by writing misleading subject lines, but then when they realize that you've tricked them, it'll just alienate them and they will delete your email, or worse, forever remember your company name and think "yeah right, bunch of BS-artists..."
  • Get rid of unnecessary adjectives and buzzwords. Be straightforward and to the point.
  • If there is a major regulatory change coming up that affects your prospects (like is the case with GDPR now for many online companies), you can lead with that. For example, you can open your email with "Is your marketing team prepared for GDPR?"

Want more tips on writing better B2B cold emails? Get a free copy of my book Cold Email Hacks.

Download Cold Email Hacks