What to Write in an Opening Message to Ace Cold Outreach

by Mary Siewierska

June 14, 2018

This is the blog post for cold email newbies. Or those of you who want to try something new with email outreach but lack inspiration. I’d like to propose that we rethink the ways of writing an opening message.

When you type “cold email” into Google, you’re sure to find a great load of articles about the pros and cons of this lead generation method. You learn that cold emailing is used to target ‘cold’ prospects, that is business people who might not have heard about your company, let alone buying from you. But you believe you’re a great fit for each other based on your Ideal Customer Profile, so you initiate the contact.

Then you discover that there are many tools that let you automate sending, such as Woodpecker. Great. What a huge time and effort saver.

How Email Automation Helps Us Manage Cold Outreach >>

You soon notice that you don’t need to write each email separately. You can use a template and include mail merge fields to personalize it. So you google “cold email templates” to find out what an email template looks like. You come across the one you like, paste it into the cold email automation app, and your job of writing an opening message is done.

But is it?

Is using a cold email template wrong?

Using a cold email template that you found online can get you into trouble.

  1. People use them constantly, so they become a cliche. They will contain a lot of widely-recognizable tactics that everybody uses to grab attention. Just read this >>
  2. Chances are your prospect got the same email from somebody else before. Your competition has access to the Internet too. They may have used the email template you’ve chosen before you.
  3. They affect your deliverability in a negative way.

But we shouldn’t rule out cold email templates altogether. They perform a very important role. They teach us how to write a cold email copy. We get good at cold emailing by reading emails after emails and analyzing why they worked.

If you want to learn how to analyze a cold email, download the Woodpecker ebook with 15 Cold Email Templates that Cathy wrote, and see what important lessons she extracted from those email templates. Think of those lessons when writing your very own template.

The problem with cold email templates starts when we replicate them word for word.

How to come up with an original email template?

I believe that you’ll be much more likely to come up with a unique cold email template when you ditch a popular belief that cold emails are supposed to close a B2B sale.

As a matter of fact, cold emails are supposed to start conversations. Conversations that may eventually lead to sales in the future. But you won’t close a deal by sending a few emails. The people on the receiving end are not ready for that just yet.

Since cold emailing is about beginning a conversation with a cold prospect, you need to switch your mindset.

Think of email outreach, not as a method of generating fresh leads for your business, but as a method of starting a dialogue with a new person. Forget about making a sale. It will come later.

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How to center your email template around starting a dialogue?

To nudge your prospect to write back to you, you need to get interested in them, instead of feeding them information about you and how great your business is.

Try to center your email around getting to know your prospect.

The easiest way to do this is by asking them a question.

#1 – Ask a question about their business

That question shouldn’t be a complicated one. It should be the one that doesn’t require a complicated answer. As a call to action that we covered here, it should be an easy ask. Something that they don’t need to think about much.

Display a genuine interest in the way they handle their business. You can be a little flattering if you want but don’t overdo it. Be subtle.

There’s a setback to asking a question in your email though. If you talk about a random thing, you won’t be able to steer the conversation in such a way as to talk about a possible business relationship.

You need to ask about something that lets you direct your conversation onto talking about your mutual business cooperation later on.

When you show them you’re interested in how they conduct business, you’ll get their attention.

#2 – Don’t blindly follow rules

We generally suggest new cold email writers the 6-step cold email copy at Woodpecker:

  1. “From” line
  2. Subject Line
  3. Introduction
  4. Value Proposition
  5. Call to Action
  6. Signature

That’s a lot of steps to work on. So much that we may feel pressured to work on one step at a time. Just to get it perfect. Then, our message becomes incoherent and starts to seem machine-like.

With all the components of cold email copy that you need to follow, it’s easy to sound robotic. And that’s why you may interpret the steps your own way, just to distinguish yourself from all the other people sending cold emails.

Try to tweak the rules to sound more natural. Make the sentences flow.

#3 – A/B tests some options to find out what works

A great way to check what will work in your cold email copy is conducting a split testing.

Prepare two versions of a single element, be it a subject line, a CTA, or a signature, and see which performs better. Remember to sync the delivery times of both campaigns so that the results are honest.

You never know what will work on your prospect group. Split testing may clear things out for you.

See the Step-by-step Guide to A/B Testing Cold Emails and Follow-ups in Woodpecker>>

Summing up

The worst thing to do when you carry out a cold email outreach is to copycat an email template you found online. Those templates circulate the Internet for a while now. So the popular methods are used over and over again. Try to come up with a template of your own.

And if you feel cold emailing doesn’t work, here’s some advice:

What to Do if You Feel Like Cold Emails Don’t Work for You? >>

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Mary Siewierska

Mary was a Content Specialist at Woodpecker. Because of her inquisitive nature and curiosity, she quickly became our Quora, Twitter and LinkedIn expert.

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