Make sure your cold email is not cold.

We all receive cold emails every day from companies trying to sell us something. That’s fair. But using an email to directly sell something doesn’t seem very likely to be successful.

It seems to me that there should only be two goals for the first emails: 1.) to create confidence, and 2.) to engage a discussion. Not to sell your product.

Lately, I’ve received many cold emails that were — from my perspective- doing the opposite of building confidence and engage a discussion.

I’m not an expert in cold emailing, and I would love to hear from experts, but here are my 2 cents about the kind of email that minimizes the chance to convert me as a customer and catch my attention. And as the opposite those that build confidence.

The don’t: No confidence, no engagement.

There are the cold emails that tell me my product is great, cool, blah blah blah. This is what I call the “I don’t know you, but I love you” strategy.

Here is an example:

The “I love you” email.

“Love your product (WHY?) — just checked out the site after someone was telling me about it (Who? Why he did tell you about our company?).

Here is what I think: We haven’t even started to discuss it yet, and you’re already lying to me. How can I engage a discussion with someone who’s blowing smoke..?– and much less, how can I buy something they’re offering? Selling something to someone is first and foremost about building confidence, right?

Another example:

Here it sounds to me like “I don’t know your product, so I’ll fake like I know it, but since I’m not comfortable with boldface lying, I’ll add — ‘I heard a bit’.”

If you want to play the card of “I love your company”, show that you genuinely care about it.


The Do: Confidence and engagement

Here is an email I received from a startup when they were attending YC:

To me, this is a great cold email because they refer to a common experience (it looks like you did TechStars- cool stuff, we’re in YC and have our demo day tomorrow) and they keep honest & humble when they mention they’ve done their homework (It looks like you showcase composers for hire).
That creates confidence, and I’ll be more likely to put my company’s dollars in the hands of people I trust.

If you can’t afford to do your homework and study your lead, don’t pretend you’ve done it.

Try another option by engaging me in a discussion that will bring value to my company. Be creative in the purpose of your email — don’t try to conclude on the first date.

This email I received from a content startup is a great example:

They don’t know what we’ve built, but 1.) they offer me quality time (benchmark of clients in my space), and 2.) they make me question myself about how we manage our content strategy (Which KPIs are you using?)


To make it short, below are the 3 takeaways that can be used when spending one hour to define your cold email strategy:

- Don’t tell you love the product, except if you’re able to explain why — Be specific.
- Be humble and honest
- Be creative in the value you can offer through your email.

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