The Best Cold E-Mail I’ve Ever Received

Breaking down the 1 out of 100 e-mails I actually opened this week

Photo by Marvin von Hagen on Unsplash

I get a lot of cold e-mails to both my personal and work e-mail addresses. This is a near-daily occurrence and frankly, I ignore about 99% of them. While open rates can range from 15% — 28% for these types of e-mails, response rates tap out at about 16%. That means if you sent an e-mail to 100 people, you’d be doing really well if two responded.

No, this doesn’t mean e-mail marketing is dead. Given the costs associated with sending cold e-mails and the potential return on investment, it’s still a critical and effective strategy to generate new customers.

Today was the first time in a very long time that I responded to a cold e-mail and took action after receiving it. I’ll break down the e-mail, why I responded, and attempt to measure the brand value from my response.

The Subject Line

Subject lines have been found to significantly impact open rates and I’ve seen some good ones in my day, but what caught my attention this morning while checking my e-mail was the subject line, “Hyped Care Package from Suplexed.” Without hesitation, I clicked into the e-mail:

Image of the best cold e-mail I’ve ever received
Image of the best cold e-mail I’ve ever received
Source: personal G-mail account

There are lots of different ways to go about the subject line, but offering relevant value is one of the best ways to approach it. This subject line, while I wasn’t quite sure of the angle, grabbed my attention because it promised value in the form of a care package. Intrigued, I kept reading.

The Hook

The author of this e-mail didn’t bog me down with an explanation of his app. He rather quickly got me to the hook of the e-mail so that I would keep reading:

“I’m reaching out for your mailing address so we can hook you up during this crazy time in quarantine.”

A care package could have been anything, and it’s typically a discount for a product I’ll never buy or leads for a business I don’t own. The words “hook you up” sounded much more relevant and valuable, so I decided to keep reading further.

The Compliment and Personalization

In the split-second after reading that a company I never heard of wanted to “hook me up,” I wondered why and grew a little suspicious. While I pride myself on my work as a senior product manager, part-time podcaster, and sportscard investor, I am by no means an influencer.

So I thought, why me? I kept reading:

“We’re fans of you from Gary V.”

That’s when it clicked for me — they probably saw my interview on Tea with Gary V or from one of our Twitter interactions. Not only did I feel special, but I noticed a pretty immediate shift in how I perceived this brand simply because they consumed some of my content and recognized my work.

They also identified and related to two very core components of who I am and what I’m passionate about:

“I’m also a UVM+Philly guy.”

At this point in the e-mail, I was thinking to myself, “You want to send me free stuff. You saw me on with Gary V, and you have ties to Philly and the University of Vermont!? Suplexed is now my favorite app and I don’t even know what it does!”

You may be thinking that this isn’t a scalable way to reach people. Just how many people have Gary V + Philly + UVM affiliations? Not many, but this example illustrates how powerful personalization and recognition are to influence someone to action.

The Offer and the Buy-In

This is the most critical part of the whole e-mail, so pay attention. It’s not just the offer of hand sanitizer (I desperately need some) and Supreme Oreos (who doesn’t like those?), but it’s asking for my help without directly asking:

“If you want to be part of the hype . . . ”

They could’ve easily gone the route of saying “if you share this to your social channels, we’ll send you some free stuff.” Instead, they offered free stuff and allowed me to make my own choice to be part of the hype. After this e-mail, I undoubtedly want to be part of the hype and my “yes” response gave me an incentive to do my part to help.

The Empathy

I’ve written about how important it is that companies are mindful of their messaging during this sensitive time and I think this e-mail really nailed it. They did it both in copy and the offer. Hand sanitizer is hard to come by these days and someone sending me some is much appreciated given the context of our world.

Not only that, but they ended the e-mail on a positive note:

“We appreciate your support and hope you and your loved ones are well.”

They thanked me in advance for my support, which motivates me more to show them some love. They also recognized that we are in the middle of a pandemic and wished me and my loved ones well during this time. It’s a simple recognition, but without it, I might have been left thinking that they don’t have empathy for others during this time, erasing the goodwill they already established with me.

The Outcome

This is the part we all want and need to see because it helps answers the question of what the investment is worth when it comes to e-mail and influencer marketing.

And as much as I want to be part of their hype, I’m not overhyping the actions I took in an effort to spice this article up. I manage a full-time job, two podcasts, writing on Medium, and countless social media posts to promote my own work, so I only posted what I would have even if I didn’t write this as a story on Medium.

  • I shared the app with a friend who’s a sneakerhead. The Suplexed app is a data resource for those interested in the real-time price data and trends in sneaker and streetwear. While I only know one sneakerhead, this app is going to offer him a lot of value.
  • I shared the app in a Discord server with thousands of sports card investors. This is actually a very relevant audience as most people who flip sports cards also flip sneakers and streetwear.
  • I shared the app on my sportscard Instagram account. I only have about 300 followers, but the Instagram sports card community is very engaged and I used hashtags to help get their brand more visibility.
  • I created a TikTok video about the offer. This is the first time I’ve been offered something from a fan and you bet I’m going to share it. While my message was primarily about the care package, I plugged the app and the video has nearly 700 views.
  • I tweeted at Gary V about it. If I ever get a chance to tweet at Gary V with something relevant or a way that he’s impacted my life, I take it.
  • I’ll do it all over again once I receive the package. Supreme Oreos are limited edition and have gotten a ton of hype. Simply posting a picture of me with my limited edition cookies and a tag of Suplexed app across my platforms should get engagement from my followers.
  • And I’m writing this article. Consistency is key on Medium and I always look for article inspiration. Given the performance of my previous stories, I assume this one will likely get a few hundred views, as well as further promotion through all my social channels.

Final Thoughts

I estimate that I’ll generate at least 2,000 organic impressions for the Suplexed app brand, and I’ll continue to recommend their app when it’s relevant.

If the care package costs $50 (this is a guess), it’s a $25 CPM for an unbiased advocate to promote their products across multiple channels, and in new communities they may not have been reaching. While there may be paid channels where you can get a much lower CPM, the approach of this e-mail is a powerful lesson for all of us when trying to reach people and get attention.

If there are five people who you think would make great clients or an advocate for your brand, go research them as a person. Once you figure out something unique or hard-to-find about them, include it in your e-mail. Offer them some value in the form of a care package that’s relevant to them.

You should continue your scaled e-mail marketing efforts (especially for e-commerce brands), but if you only get 16 responses from 1,000 e-mails, consider how just five targeted care packages may help you get new clients and grow your brand’s influence and perception.

Written by

I am a Senior Product Manager at a tech company. I host two podcasts and invest in sports cards. For more info —

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