cold emailing

How to use icebreaker questions to boost replies

Christina Miranda
LAST UPDATED
April 4, 2024
READING TIME
7 min.

What are icebreakers?

An icebreaker is basically the opening of your email. The start of your email will be the deciding factor as to whether your leads will actually bother to read the rest of the message or not.

It is vital to have a solid and compelling start, to trigger curiosity or FOMO in your leads’ minds.

An icebreaker is a short sentence that we use in any kind of conversation to get the ball rolling. It makes starting a conversation less invasive or aggressive and generally gives us a good segue to get to our main point.

Emails have become very impersonal, and people just get straight to the point, which can be good. But why not start by warming up our leads just a little bit?

A good idea is to start with a question, as it will increase your chances of getting a reply.

How to use icebreakers

Start your email with a friendly comment or question.

Think about the tone you want to set and how it will come across to your recipient. You wouldn’t use the same approach to contact the CEO of a legal firm as you would with a sales professional who posts in a very friendly tone on LinkedIn, right?

Your icebreaker should have a connection to the rest of your email and should be a little sneak peak of what they’ll be reading about further along.

It wouldn’t make much sense to break the ice with a random fact if then you’re going to talk about their pain points. (Unless they were park rangers, of course).

Automate your icebreakers with lemlist

At lemlist we believe in making your life that much easier without ever sacrificing your personality or customization. Which is why we give you the option to personalize all icebreakers.

Start by creating your cold email campaign and add the custom variable {{icebreaker}}

You can choose between three different tones: Casual, formal, or hilarious.

Scrape information on LinkedIn automatically with our Chrome Extension and save it into lemlist to generate completely personalized icebreakers.

Don’t forget to read and edit to make sure your email flows seamlessly before hitting that send button.

Why are icebreakers important?

Icebreakers are the start of a conversation. They are vital for your leads to see if you’ll get along well or not.

They will capture the attention of your leads while you swim in a crowded inbox.

The proper use of icebreakers could ultimately boost your reply rates from 5% to 10-15%

Generating positive replies

A compelling icebreaker can pique the recipient's curiosity or interest, prompting them to respond to the email, therefore increasing your positive replies which, let’s be honest, are the ones you really want.

By starting out with a genuine compliment that is personalized and tailored to the recipient, they are much more likely to trust you and therefore be willing to build a solid relationship with you, since they know that you’ve taken the time to learn about them and that they’re not just one more email in your outbound list.

Never underestimate the power of a good and personal compliment. I mean, we all like them.

What can icebreakers do?

Your icebreaker will define the tone of your entire email, so use it wisely.

You can make your lead feel exactly what you want them to feel in just a few words. Let’s check out some of the different situations we can use icebreakers. ⬇️

Trigger curiosity

If there’s one thing we as human beings can’t turn our back on is curiosity!

Using an eye-catching icebreaker ensures that your lead will be interested in reading the rest of the email. It’s the next thing they see right after the subject-line, so keeping their interest levels sky-high is vital at this point.

Leverage the power of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and include something that their competitor may be doing or an event that they simply cannot miss!

Hey, have you heard about XYZ?

I was reading your article on {{topic}}, did you know {{funFact}}?

Heard {{competitor}} will attend this week’s webinar. Where will you be?

Add a touch of humor

By breaking the ice with a little joke, or fun comment, you are showing your lead that you offer a close and personal touch in your communication and business.

A good tactic with jokes is to use something funny you lead may have written at some point, and continue their joke.

However, here are some options that you can make your own!

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Your lifesaver!

Would you rather deal with endless cold emails or live with the fact that you missed the chance of a lifetime with this one?

What do you get when you cross {{yourCompany}} with {{comapnyName}}?

Congratulate them on a major event

When you start by congratulating your leads on some recent success you are proving that you know about them, you’ve been following their career, and are genuinely interested in what they do.

I heard about your promotion! How was your path to success?

Congratulations on your new financing! What are your future plans?

Have you considered how you’re going to handle so much success?

Make their day with a compliment

The first rule of using a complimenting icebreaker is, “Always. Make. It. Genuine”.

Try to avoid general praising and focus on something particular that you could’ve liked about them. The way they handled a tough situation, how they overcame a pain point, a recent article that they have published, etc.

I was impressed by XYZ, coordinating such a large team is a real challenge!

{{CompanyName}} growth was insane! How did you tackle it?

I love the vibe you bring to all of your work. Have you always been so spot on?

Add value from the get-go

Right off the bat, you’re offering something valuable. Knowledge, a resource…

It would be very hard for your lead to look away from your email and just press that delete button if there’s actually something in it for them.

Again, do your research, and make sure you’re familiar with their pain points and what it is that you can offer as a solution.

Just sending out random articles left and right won’t get you anywhere! Use a more conscious approach.

New things coming in hot, have you heard about {{topic}}?

You’re killing it lately! Have you ever heard about {{resource}}?

I saw something that made me think of you. Can you guess what it is?

No answer? Send a follow-up!

When sending follow-ups, you want to gently remind your lead that you’ve contacted them earlier.

You want to start this email by making it clear that you’ve already expressed interest, but avoid the guilt trip for not having answered to your previous emails, maybe they genuinely did not see it, or didn’t think it offered enough value.

Step up your game with follow-ups!

Thousands of emails go unanswered on a daily basis, was my last email one of them?

You seem to be quite busy (and I’m not surprised), how about I make this one quick?

Have you given any thought to my previous email?

Key takeaways

After writing a compelling subject line, make sure you include an original and eye-catching icebreaker.

By using a question instead of a general sentence or simple fact you are effectively increasing your chances of getting a reply.

However, if doing the research and thinking of clever follow-ups for each of your leads sounds like a huge pain, lemlist has got you covered.

Start your 14-day free trial today and let lemlist and the magic of AI generate your next icebreakers! 

Christina Miranda
Content creator and translator @ lempire
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