cold call email inbox

Cold Call Emails That Get Opened: The Ultimate Guide for Maximum Response

Crafting a cold call email that gets opened is a serious challenge in this day and age. It’s a completely unsolicited message, out of the blue, that is probably going into a likely very busy inbox.

In the past some people would go to extreme lengths to get noticed. From sending cold call emails while intoxicated to sending ones with clickbaity subject titles. The problem is that most ideas have been done before, and many people are now immune to many of the “tried and tested” ways.

So do cold call emails still have a place in today’s market? Yes! Even with the changes to the email spam laws, with the right customer-centric sales approach they are still viable.

In this blog we’ll run through the different approaches and ways you can create your cold call emails, as well as some practical tips you can use today.

Table of Contents

What Are Cold Call Emails?

A cold call email’s main purpose is to grab the attention of a potential customer from an unsolicited email. It needs to be something that creates curiosity and interest, without being factually incorrect. In the past it was the same with door-to-door sales, cold calling on the phone. You find someone who is in your target market and you try to solve their problem.

With an incredibly busy inbox, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. And with technology able to collect great amounts of data and even personalize automatically, trying to seem like a “genuine” email can be tough. Prospective customers are a lot more likely to delete or ignore emails nowadays as a result.

Even the more outlandish ways like mentioned above are now replicated, with many marketers selling their expertise (and templates). This means what was once an innovative way of catching attention has become cliche.

But cold call emails do still work, and in fact, the average response rate in 2024 for a cold email is 8.5%. While this isn’t 8.5% conversion to sale rate, and it depends a lot on the overall open rate, that’s still 8.5 people out of every 100 who will engage with you. Even the slightest bit of engagement is potentially and invite to start a conversation.

Setting up a cold email campaign can also be quite time consuming in the beginning. However, for any sales or marketer, once you have a way of sourcing leads, content to send and a system to use, it can be very time-efficient in the long run. This almost passive way of generating leads can leave you to focus on the actual rapport building and selling to interested prospects.

The Psychology Of Cold Call Email Engagement + Subject Lines

There are many different types of cold call email, and there are many different ways to write it and approach it. The very first step, after collecting the target list of who you want to try and sell to, is crafting the perfect subject line. This is potentially one of the most important bits of writing in any sales or marketing campaign. This is the time that your prospect will either engage and open your email, or delete it.

Here are five different styles of initial cold email, what the psychological methodology behind one is, and some ideas for subject lines.

The Personalized Approach

The personalized approach is one of the oldest, but most effective, ways of tailoring a cold email. In fact, a personalized subject line can increase open rates by up to 50%. It’s based on the concept of social validation and influence theory, personalization makes the most of our human desire to be seen and valued. By incorporating a personal detail such as “Well done on the new job!” or “I loved your post about churn rates on LinkedIn. It was really interesting.” this ties into our ego.

This approach is particularly good for B2B businesses where personal relationships are key, along with service based businesses as well.

Suggestions for personalized email subject lines:

  • “Congrats on [Achievement], [Name]! A quick thought for you…”
  • “[Name], your work on [Project] caught my eye – here’s why”

The Curiosity Gap

We are super curious as humans, and the concept of the Information Gap can be used to generate interest. This is when we think there is a gap in our knowledge between what we know and what we want to know. Things like get rich quick schemes capitalize on this. There is always some sort of quick or easy win that our mind looks for – the path of least resistance.

This kind of approach is really good for offering thing like tech startups or new a product to market. Anything that could be perceived as solving a pain point with a customer. It’s also a really great way of leveraging the customer-centric approach to sales.

Suggestions for curiosity-based email subject lines:

  • “Are you making these mistakes?”
  • “Here is the secret to doubling your profits”

The Value Proposition

Another one that we see a lot in online courses and marketing, is the concept that people feel compelled to return a favor. So this approach would be an email offering something of value for free, or at a discount, in order to generate that quid pro quo when it comes to the eventual sales.

This is really good for anything to do with education, SaaS, or offering a free trial as an incentive to try. If you have a product or service that the value can be demonstrated up front, or offers useful content that people can apply, then this approach can be useful

Suggestions for value-based email subject lines:

  • “Unlock your team’s full potential – here’s how”
  • “Boost your ROI in 30 days – our gift to you”
FOMO marketing Source- Neil Patel

The Fear Of Missing Out AKA FOMO

This term may conjure the idea of missing out on concerts or a fun event, but it’s actually a very impactful approach to cold call emails. The psychology term is known as the scarcity heuristic and this taps into a deeply primeval part of our brains. This is the concept that something is limited, or likely to run out, and even if the item is in plentiful supply it can create a knee jerk reaction to not miss out.

This is typically used for things like online courses, or shopping in sales, you’ll find that most B2C email marketing has an element of this as well. It can also be used effectively in B2B sales, however it’s one that should be used carefully. When used incorrectly and not sincerely, then it can leave customers feeling like they’ve been cheated or lied to.

Suggestions for FOMO based email subject lines:

  • “Last chance: Secure your spot now!”
  • “Exclusive invite: [Event/Deal] for select professionals”

The Social Proof

It’s used a lot, but can actually be one of the strongest approaches when executed well is social proof. This was a huge selling point in things like infomercials and is also used in marketing on social media, so for example TikTok. This approach is when you go into an email conversation and say “these people loved it”. This again taps into our need to fit in, and can be incredibly effective. However, it can also come across as very false if not used correctly.

Trust is the main factor in this, so having a household name as a product or as a spokesperson can go far. This is why so many businesses use celebrity endorsements, or use influencers on social media, because the person who they are targeting will typically have a subconscious urge to try and replicate the success/happiness of these people.

If you have a product or service that has stellar reviews, this can be really useful and can shorten the lead time to purchase. Potential customers have many concerns about the product dealt with before even speaking to a rep.

Suggestions for social proof-based email subject lines:

  • “How [Well-known Company] achieved [Result] in [Timeframe]”
  • “How Mike won a $100,000 contract using our approach”

How To Create An Effective Cold Call Email Sequence

Once you have some good email subject lines, its now a good idea to work out your email content and very importantly your sequence. Having a cold outreach is good, but you need more than one email in the sequence to see results.

The key here is to be consistent and persistent, but without coming across as rude or annoying.

To design an impactful and effective cold email sequence you need to gradually build interest and credibility, in as few words as possible. Being able to engage your prospect and make them want to speak to you or find out more information is the sweet spot. You won’t necessarily be able to sell to them right away, but consider this warming them up to hear what you have to say

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cold email, but there are generally a few statistically proven facts.


Below you’ll find an example of one way you can structure your cold call email sequence for maximum response without being intrusive.

Also, it is really important that you offer any recipients a chance to unsubscribe at any time.

Software tools like Woodpecker, Instantly and QuickMail are great cold email tools that can automatically do this. If they haven’t unsubscribed or replied, then you are within your rights to continue reaching out.

Email 1: The Introduction

Introduce yourself, your company, try and personalize but also highlight the value you offer but don’t ask for anything.

Email 2: The Follow-Up

Ideally about 2 to 3 days after your first email is the time for a follow up.  Use this sales follow up ask a question. Try and provide another bit of value like a resource that’s relevant to their industry.

Email 3: The Demonstration of Value

Try and send this 3 to 5 days after email number two. Here you can give a little bit more information about what you offer. You could include testimonials or case studies, maybe reference a specific problem they may have. Also try and include a more direct call to action like requesting a meeting, or offering a demo.

Email 4: The Soft Break-Up

Next email should be sent around 5 to 7 days after the last email. This is where you acknowledge they haven’t replied, maybe you haven’t hit the mark and say this will be your last outreach unless they let you know otherwise. This can often trigger that FOMO reaction. Try to succinctly recap what your offer is, offering understanding that it might not be the right time and an easy way to get in touch if they change their mind.

Email 5: The Check-Back

Aim for about 2 to 3 weeks after the last email. Try and re-engage them gently after giving them some breathing space. This works for potential clients who maye have been busy or undecided. Keep it light, offer them something new and offer one last call to action

What Are Best Practices for Cold Email Sequences?

Legal Considerations: One very key thing to note at this stage is that you need to make sure that you are adhering to any legal frameworks that are in place for cold outreach. One key example here is GDPR in the EU. You can send out cold emails but they MUST be for business purposes and not to personal email accounts. You must offer the opportunity for opt-out as well. See below for a video explainer of GDPR and the legality of cold call email:

  • Personalize at Scale: We’ve mentioned that personalization can have a real impact but can be time consuming. Some email software offers the chance to use personalization tokens and segments to make your emails feel tailored to the recipient, even when sending to many people.
  • Use the Right Tone: This is dependent on the type of company you are, the company you are targeting and type of industry you are in. Some email sequences can be super formal if you are dealing with professional services, legal and financial. However emails can be made light, funny and even filled with jokes and memes if you are in a more creative industry. Mirror your audience and watch out for those spam filters if using images. 
  • Monitor Engagement: Use email tracking software to see who opens, clicks, and engages with your emails. You can find a list of suitable email tracking tools on this Attrock post. Using these tools will  help you tailor your follow-ups more effectively.
  • Adjust Based on Feedback: If recipients are consistently not engaging by a certain point in the sequence, consider adjusting your approach or content. Equally, don’t change it right away. It can take some time for real data-based results to work from.
  • Respect Opt-Outs: Again, always include an easy way for recipients to opt-out of further communication, and respect those requests immediately.

When Is The Best Time to Send Cold Call Emails?

There are many articles and statistics about what time is best to send a cold email, or the best time to make a cold call. There are people who claim that Wednesday is the best day and Saturday is the worst (based on a survey by However a lot of this depends on the industry, the individual you are targeting and many different criteria.

Some cold email tools will have AI built in that will give you suggestions for the best time to send. Another way to approach it is to look at the rhythm of the working week. This usually means that emails sent on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will yield the best open rates. Mondays are usually catching up and getting into the flow of the new working week, Friday is usually when people start to mentally move things to next week.

Also, the morning tends to be favored, typically between 8am and 10am in the morning of your recipient’s time zone.

However, the best time to send cold call emails is to base it on your own data. Using cold email software and running testing (much like with subject lines, industries etc), you will normally be able to see trends.

This isn’t to say these are fixed forever and they can change depending on a number of factors. However, if you find that most of your booked meetings are coming from emails sent on a Wednesday at 9:30am, it’s worth making the most of this.

How To Know If Your Cold Call Emails Are Working

Any type of prospecting and outreach activity, where its for sales or marketing, should be measured. This shows whether or not it’s working. This may not be easy to spot at first, but looking at the bigger picture there are a number of ways to measure its effectiveness.

  • Open Rates: Gives insight into how compelling your subject lines are and the effectiveness of your sending time.
  • Click-Through Rates: Indicates whether the content of your email resonates with recipients enough to take action.
  • Response Rates: Measures how engaging and persuasive your email is in prompting a reply or conversation.
  • Conversion Rates: Tracks how many recipients take the desired action, such as signing up for a trial or scheduling a meeting, which is the ultimate goal of most campaigns.


Your overall conversion is the big ticket metric, and the one that matters above all the others.

There is no point in having a great campaign that has high open rates and click through rates but no conversions.

What Are Good Cold Email Clickthrough Rates?

Much like the best time to send a cold email what is a good cold email clickthrough rate, or open rate, can vary.

Based on the latest data, the average open rate for cold emails can vary a lot depending on the industry. However, it typically falls between 15-25%.

From this, the average click-through rate (CTR) is about 2-5%.

Below you will see an infographic from MailChimp that shows how varied the average rates of cold email open rates are based on industry. There is up to 10% variation on what is considered average, and depending on your industry size that could be thousands of potential customers.

image showing cold call email open rates by industry

If you begin to collect data and find that you are not hitting the benchmarks you wish, it’s then a good chance to make adjustments and tweaks to try and increase your success.

If you are making changes to your email outreach, ensure that you are only changing one thing at a time. Or alternatively, run a separate campaign to do this. The issue with changing too many variables is that you may find that it works, in which case you won’t be able to identify what it is that wasn’t working.

Equally, if it doesn’t go well you do not have the visibility to identify what change has made the negative impact. Small changes often equal big results when it comes to cold call email outreach.

What To Do If Cold Email Isn’t Working

If, after several adjustments, you’re not seeing the improvement you expected, it might be time to fundamentally rethink your strategy. This could mean reevaluating your target audience, the value proposition you’re offering, or the channels you’re using for outreach.

It’s also worth looking to marketing and other lead generation methods that you are using as well. If one of these is performing well, it may be more worthwhile putting more focus into that area while you adjust your cold email approach.

Another idea is to take a look at what your competitors are doing. Do they do email outreach? What kind of messaging are they sending? While you shouldn’t copy directly any ideas, it is definitely worth seeing how you could put your own spin on an approach that is working in your industry. 

Getting The Most From Cold Call Emails

The important thing to remember is that sending out cold emails to prospective customers should be part of a larger prospecting strategy. It can garner incredible results, and many companies still benefit from having a clear and consistent email outreach. It’s also something that a sales rep, or sales manager, can do separately from marketing if the want to, or need to, cultivate their own lead source.

Ultimately, the success of cold call emails hinges on a combination of creativity, personalization, timing, and persistence. As you refine your approach based on the insights and strategies shared, remember that the goal is not just to open a line of communication, but to build a relationship with your prospective customer. This requires understanding their needs, providing value, and engaging them in a way that respects their time and interests.

In today’s saturated digital environment, standing out in someone’s inbox is no small feat. But with the right approach, it’s entirely possible to cut through the noise and connect with potential customers in a meaningful way. Whether it’s through crafting compelling subject lines, delivering value upfront, leveraging social proof, or simply being persistent without being intrusive, the art of the cold call email is very much alive and well.

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