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What is a cold email?

A cold email is an email you send to prospects with whom you don’t have a prior relationship with. They didn't opt in to receive it nor you've been in communication with them ever before.

Everything you see below, under these bullet points...

  • You found someone's email on LinkedIn and you're trying to convert them
  • You're asking various website owners to give you a backlink
  • You're pitching an Instagram influencer for sponsored posts
  • You’re contacting people to increase your network
  • You’re offer a job to someone
  • You’re asking for a job opportunity
  • You’re asking for a referral
  • You’re asking for a meeting with a VC fund or an Angel

... are all cold emails.

Whatever your goal is, be that a business or a professional one, you’re one cold email away from making it happen.

If you need a little push to start, we sincerely hope that this page will give you the inspiration you’re looking for.

How to write a cold email and get a high reply rate?

There are six concepts to master when writing cold emails. They can be mastered by anyone, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or already have experience with cold email outreach.

Once you study and understand the concepts in this section, we guarantee you high reply rates will follow.

Let’s start by analyzing the concept number one, which is…

1- Research your audience

The better you know the person you’re about to email, the more likely is for your email to be score a high reply rate.

Think about it, the world is filled with thousands of emails, meeting requests, YouTube ads, Facebook ads, LinkedIn DMs, etc. A big reason why many of them fail is because they’re speaking to the wrong audience and the approach is far off.

Therefore, before you press send, make sure two things are in good check:

  • Your audience has a genuine interest in your product/service
  • In your research, you've found key info that will help you write a unique email

Do this and writing emails will feel like a breeze. 

How and where can you find all this information?

Start with LinkedIn and its robust search algorithm. If you have a Sales Navigator account, great. If you don’t, no problem. Free Search will do the trick too.

See if your prospects are part of online communities and analyze their participation in them. Study their other Social Media accounts too.

Research their company and imagine yourself working there. Anticipate their pains and challenges.

Plenty of sources at the tip of your fingertips.

2- Get your prospects’ contact info

There are two aspects to understand in order to find the info you’re looking for.

First, finding email addresses of your prospects. There’s more than one way to get the job done. You can use Chrome extensions, online databases, do it manually, etc. We wrote an in-depth guide on this that will show them all to you.

Second, email verification. Meaning, you must not send your campaign to invalid emails. Failure to eliminate invalid emails from your list will lead to a high bounce rate. High bounce rate, in return, will decimate your deliverability and email reputation.

Luckily, we have another in-depth guide in this department for you too. In it, we’ve compared top email verification tools too with all the stats you need to pick the right one for you.

3- Maximize your email deliverability

To explain it simply, email deliverability represents the ability of your emails to land in the primary tab in somebody’s inbox. The higher your deliverability, the easier it is for your prospects to actually see your emails. And vice versa.

The main question here is how can you maximize it so that you never have to worry about promotion tabs and spam filters?

Here’s how, step-by-step instructions coming your way.

4- Create your cold email campaign

Okay, we have everything set on the technical side. We've also nailed our audience targeting. It’s cold email writing time.

Let’s break this section down into two parts.

Cold emails

Before you start typing, remember the rule. The cold email you’re going to send is not about what you need, the coolness of your product, how many clients use your service, etc. What your message should be centered around is on what they need, how your product solves their pain, or how your service helped a client your prospect can actually relate to.

Meaning, your cold email should feel like a tailored-made dress or suit. It needs to fit every prospect on the individual basis. ;)

All cold email elements, from the subject line to your closing argument should be connected together, tell the same story and push towards a win-win scenario.

Leaving you some useful advice here that will hopefully come handy when writing.

Subject line. It's the hook that prompts people to open an email and that sets an expectation in their mind on what they are about to read. A few examples....

Intro line. How you start your cold email is critical because this is what builds the connection with your prospect. Plus, the intro will paint the picture in the prospect's brain about the rest of the email. Tiramisu intro line strategy.

Middle section. This is your transition from an intro to “sales” pitch. Instead of introducing your product or a feature, talk about the pain this feature solves or ask them a question about it. Turn “I” into “you".

Call-to-action. Your final target is to explain what's the next step. Reply to this email, click on that link, book a meeting, watch a video, sign up for a free trial... there are various call-to-actions. As long as the next step is clear and simple, and the email is about them, it will work.

Follow-up emails

Never send a campaign without AT LEAST one follow-up email in the mix. Hopefully two or three. Here’s why.

Follow-ups are guaranteed to give your reply rate a kick up. Because people sometimes forget to reply. They read your first email in a bad moment. They were busy, distracted or not hooked back then. It’s not always because they aren't interested.

That said, don’t spam or be annoying. With follow-ups you can be funny, bring more value with every additional email, add curiosity by telling them what’s coming next… there’s plenty of ways to play this card.

But the biggest takeaway here is to always include follow-up emails in your sequence.

5- Learn how to send cold emails

The objective of a cold email campaign is to get a relevant reply and close as many leads as possible.

Sending hundreds or thousands of emails in a day is a tactic that takes you further away from the objective, instead of helping you achieve it.

The way in which you deliver your messages impacts your results, but also leaves a mark on your deliverability and email reputation.


With all this information, it makes no sense to try to chase shortcuts because it will be a waste of time and effort. It’s much smarter to use every minute available to make every email count.

Remember, no prospect is the same. Their pain points, budgets, company sizes, tool stacks, needs... all different. As a result, your approach ought to be different.

Here’s what we suggest:

Don't send more than 100 emails per day. By slowing down the sending speed, you leave more time to do proper research on your prospects, customize messages, and make them sound more human.

Of course, your list can have 1000s of prospects. That's fine. But there's no need to email everyone on the same day.

Here’s an example schedule for a list of 500 prospects. The plan is to send all these emails in a week. 100 per day, not counting the follow-ups.


  1. Campaign is sent in a 4h time frame
  2. Emails get delivered every 2.4 minutes
  3. Emails get delivered from Monday to Friday

If you want to speed up sending, you either decrease the "minutes" between two emails (e.g. to 2) or increase the time frame (e.g. 1-7 pm). If you're using lemlist, of course.

To slow down the sending, you either increase the "minutes" between two emails or decrease the time frame.

Another important decision to make when sending cold emails is to be careful when picking your tool. Specifically, draw a line between email outreach and email marketing tools

Newsletter tools are built for sending larger quantities of emails, all at the same time. They are usually nicely-designed and are mostly used as a content distribution tactic. They work perfectly for people who have signed up to receive it, are familiar with your brand and are actively consuming it. For the vast majority of people, they land in Promotions tab.

However, you don’t send cold emails like this. So using a newsletter tool for cold outreach will feel like driving a bike in a Formula 1 race.

By using lemlist as your cold email tool, your messages are sent one after the other, thus imitating human behavior, which providers prefer to see. You don't risk hurting your email deliverability and your emails won't go to Promotions or spam.

Is there the best time to send emails?

We've tested some of the tactics on our campaigns. And the biggest advice we can give you is to never follow other people's data blindly. Here are a few things that work for us.

Afternoons perform better than mornings across all metrics, especially open rates. We found out that between 12pm - 16pm works best for us.

We never saw a big difference between reply and click rates across different days. All working days are rolling pretty good.

3) Our typical follow-up schedule looks like this:

  • 2-day delay between email 1 and 2
  • 2-day delay between email 2 and 3
  • 3-day delay between email 3 and 4

When you start sending cold emails, analyze if there is a particular time when your emails get opened and replied to. Assess whether your prospects are busy at certain hours. That will tell you if you need to take this into account or not.

But most importantly, use other people’s insights as inspiration, but make sure you test what works for your audience and you.

6- Analyze your campaign results

Finally, your email outreach data. It tells a story. That story is called, “how you can improve your cold email performance”.

Let’s start with some KPI benchmarks you can measure against.

- Your open rate is above 50%

If you see that the open rate is lower, check your email deliverability. It might be that your prospects aren’t seeing your emails, to begin with.

- Your bounce rate is below 5%

If your bounce rate is higher, your list is messed up. Verify emails immediately.

- Your click rate is above 40%

- Your reply rate is above 20% (for targeted, personalized outreach)

- Your reply rate is above 8% (for broader outreach)

If your email deliverability and audience targeting are both in order, but something else is out of tune with your results... in that case, it’s time to A/B test stuff.

Maybe your open rate can be increased with a better subject line. Perhaps your reply rate might be boosted with a more powerful intro line. Or your click rate can go sky-high if you write a better call-to-action.

These are all the things you can A/B test. Let the market tell you which one works best instead of endlessly debating it internally.

Are cold emails spam?

Cold emails are DEFINITELY not spam. There is such a thing called the CAN-SPAM act.

It states that you can send emails to business people that you do not know. However, you have to play by the rules that are outlined in the Federal Trade Commission's guide.

So the rule is simple. Don't send spam.


good cold email example

A proper cold email accomplishes three things...

- targets relevant people who might be interested in something

- it's personalized

- has a specific request

Unlike spam that completely misses out on all those points.

- it's generic, no personalization

- has high commercial intent and promises unreal things

- can have a fake name and fishy contact info

bad cold email example

How to avoid spam filters?

We strongly suggest to follow these rules in order to make sure your cold emails never go to spam.

Pay attention to your complaint rate

If you send spam, people will mark you as a spammer. The more people mark you as a spammer, the more your "complaint rate" increases. Needless to say, this is very bad for business.

Authenticate your domain

Domain authentication is the same process as when you’re checking in for your flight. In the outreach world, your email provider performs an “ID check”.

They want to verify that the email is really coming from you. In short, you'll have to set up two parameters: DKIM and SPF. After you authenticate your domain, you'll see an instant boost in email deliverability.

Analyze your results

Cold email results and metrics matter. Keeping your reply, click and open rates high not only brings value to you, but it also sends signals to email providers that you're one of the "good guys".

If you see a problem in your metrics, address it immediately.

  • Low open rates? Check email deliverability!
  • Low click and reply rates? You're not personalizing enough.
Verify emails before sending anything

Before you press send, we can't stress high enough how important it is to verify email list. The objective is to keep your bounce rate as low as you can, but at least below the 5% level. As you can probably guess, the more unverified emails you have, the more you risk to be hit with a higher bounce rate.

High bounce rate equals more of your cold emails heading to spam.

Before sending a single email, spend time assessing whether an email is valid or not. There are tools that help you clean lists in seconds.

Never send email blasts

Never send blasts. Never use email marketing tools for cold email outreach campaigns.

Spread out your cold emails. Between 200-500 emails per day is optimal.

Warm-up your email address

Similar to the way athletes warm up before a game, email addresses also need to prepare too.

Email warm-up is a process that involves gradual increase of your sending volume. A warmed-up email address is one that has been sending and receiving messages as a real person would, when creating his/her email.

Best part, lemwarm does this automatically for you.

Personalize your message

Cold email personalization is so much more than using just first and company names in your pitch. You should aim to make your cold email feel like a tailor-made suit or dress.

Nobody likes to receive copy/paste-ed generic emails, so there's no point in sending them. You will just waste both yours and your prospect's time for no apparent reason.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ reviewed
cold email tool
300+ reviews on Capterra

"We had massive success using lemlist to grow our sales pipeline. When you work with a good company and they help you become more successful, I can just highly recommend them.“

GABRIEL FRASCONI, SE Director @Zendesk

Every salesperson needs lemlist. It’s so simple to use, easy to connect with your CRM and their automation features will save you a lot of time. We booked more meetings using lemlist compared to other tools we used in the past.

Alla Zeitoun, KEY ACCOUNT MANAGER @Meero

"My emails simply stand out amongst all that noise of emails we receive every day. Building relationships with top talents is much easier thanks to highly personalized emails."

Mark Lundgren, Co-Founder @SourcingChallenge

lemlist cold emails vs. regular cold emails

Your piece of mind
Other cold emails
Cold email templates that will grab your prospect's attention and help you stand out in any inbox
Ability to create personalized images and customize them individually at scale
Best-in-class sending algorithm that keeps your emails invisible from spam filters and on top of anyone's inbox
Unique opportunity to automatically warm up your domain, maximize email deliverability and be a part of probably the coolest mailbox network out there
Leverage a frictionless way to book more meetings by using dynamic landing pages