How to Cold Email Like a Pro

This is a guest post by Natasha Hodgeson. We've been a big fan of her writing for years - so it's a pleasure to finally work together!

First off, there’s good cold outreach, and there’s bad cold outreach. A bad cold email exudes a personal agenda, it screams ‘HELLO, I’m in your personal space and I want something from you’. It’s essentially the digital equivalent of seeing some old guy in your garden, asking if he can help himself to some of your apples.

However, cold emails - done right - can be fantastically useful. Not only does do cold emails continue to be a great (and necessary) part of lead gen strategy, but they can genuinely offer valuable new connections for both parties. But you have to get them right. Having sent (and received) hundreds of cold emails in my time in cold outreach, these are the things that stayed with me.

1. Pass the ‘who the hell is this?’ test

Who are you, and why are you contacting me? This is the first barrier you need to cross before anyone is going to give you their precious time. It’s vital to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and explain why you’ve specifically chosen to contact them.

Good example:

Hello Natasha,

I read your article on Writing The Perfect Cold Call Email today, thought it was great (not to mention fantastically witty - love the bit about the apples). I’m setting up a new product that looks to tackle lead gen problems, and I’d love to pick your brain.

Bad example:


My company is soon to be the leading provider in Lead Generation Strategy, please click here to do this thing that I want you to do.

2. Identify an itch, and suggest they scratch it

Good cold emails identify problems, and suggest solutions. It’s the path of least resistance, after all. You know what they say - if you want to sell a napkin, find a guy with cream on his face (no-one says that, but just you wait).

If you can come to a company with a problem or an opportunity specific to them, and whack them around the head with a solution to match, you’re going to be hard to ignore.

Good example:

I’ve been following your blog for a while and noticed that you guys don’t yet allow comments - we’ve just developed some commenting software that boosts page engagement by x%, and would love to give you a free trial.

Bad example:

Our innovative new service can boost your sales, increase your leads and make your hair grow strong and wild, click here to learn more.

3. Find some common ground

This is where LinkedIn is a massive help. Find out who you should be talking to, and check out their LinkedIn profile. See if you have any colleagues, past or present, that could link you together. Any exec is more likely to trust you if they can position you as the associate of a friend.

I hope these points have given you a fresh perspective on the cold email adventure. Remember, offer something properly valuable, talk like a human being, and for god's’ sake, follow up. Good luck, inbox hunters!