Cold Email Best Practices That Just Plain Work

Here are the best practices we’ve come across, as seen in real-world cold email examples from RightHello sales reps.

General Rules:

The most important part of cold emailing is the target group — defining it, locating it, finding contacts to it’s members.

  • It doesn’t make sense to send sales emails to CEOs of 500+ companies, decision makers that handle operations are a step below.
  • In a company with 1–50 employees, 9 out of 10 times the CEO makes all the decisions.
  • Even the best-written cold email, but sent to the wrong person won’t produce any results.

This is a Game of Numbers

  • Measure the performance (open rates, response rates, conversions) of cold email campaigns and iterate (try different subject lines, value propositions, etc.) looking for changes that improve stats.
  • You’re aiming to achieve a scale of outreach where you send a # of emails per period of time, which generate as many responses (leads) as your sales reps can handle.
  • For example: you send 200 emails to your target group and get 60 responses. From those, 30 are qualified opportunities, 15 agree to a call and 4 convert to customers.
  • Persistence, regular outreach and a well-organised process are keys to achieving results.

Personalize Emails

  • Startup teams speak a language of sarcasm, jokes and memes, so you can be laid-back.
  • CEO’s and board members from old-school industries? Not so much, tone it down, keep it official.
  • There are many small differences in what kind of emails appeal the most to specialists in specific markets.
  • For example, Scandinavian business-people like long emails. Even though the general rule is to write short & sweet emails, if the clients enjoy long essays — give them long essays.
  • Don’t be afraid to break the rules and try writing something different on a hunch — you have to test and measure until you find the things that work and generate a good email response-rate.

Make it Contextual, Not General

  • One of the best converting emails we’ve sent was mainly a congratulation to CEO’s of Deloitte Fast 50 companies. Four of them (out of 50!) became our customers.
  • Don’t use newsletter-style images and special text formatting. You’re building a relationship with personal messages, not advertising a discount on khakis.


  • It can take 1 email or 10 emails to get someone’s attention.
  • It’s only getting harder because everyone is swamped with information, notifications, emails, offers, etc.
  • You have to follow-up a lot with additional value to get someone’s attention.
  • You will definitely get negative answers when you’re sending a lot of follow-ups. If it’s a tiny percentage of responses — carry on.
  • If it’s becoming a bigger problem, you need to revise your strategy — are you targeting a good group? Are your emails short, concise and offer the biggest value from a client point-of-view?

Organise Cold Email Outreach:

DIY — ideally you would have a team of SDRs (Sales Development Representatives):

  • researching and gathering the data
  • creating and sending emails
  • in some cases — handling initial responses and setting up a call (in other cases SDRs immediately hand over responses to Sales Reps, for them to qualify and work the lead)
  • Learn about setting up and SDR team for the first time from our 3-part series — click here to go to part 1.
  • Or outsource to a company that does it for you. Like RightHello :).