• Barry Moroney

3 Biggest Cold Email Mistakes

Updated: Jul 29, 2019

I wonder if anybody has ever responded to one of those SEO emails? I can’t imagine a situation where a person could receive an email like the below and think “Perfect, I need to be at the top of Google and Jahnavi can get me there!”

Though most marketers receive emails like this on a daily basis, they are still extreme cases. B2B sales professionals who practice outbound sales are typically much better in their approach, however, the standard is still nowhere near where it should be. If you are struggling with your open or response rates on your cold email campaigns, make sure that you’re not making any of the below mistakes:

Lack Of Relevance

If you haven’t taken the time to make your email relevant to your prospect, why would you expect them to take the time to respond to you? Personalizing the {{first name}} and {{company name}} with tokens and hoping for results is not enough, by the way.

At the very least, the list that you are contacting should be narrowed down to a persona so that you can use copy and content that will be relevant to that persona. For example, the characteristics and motivations of a marketing director in a large automotive brand will be very different to those of an SME owner in the healthcare industry, so sharing a case study about the cool project you did with Mercedes is unlikely to resonate with the latter.

By building niche contact lists around your buyer personas, you can send out relevant content at scale by writing copy and sharing resources which appeal directly to the {{job title}} in the {{target industry}}.

Lack Of Personalization

For optimum results, it is best to take this one step further and personalize the first sentence of your email to every individual. Though this is an incredibly time consuming task, if your contract values are in excess of $50,000 and the prospects you are targeting are senior decision makers, it is worth the effort and you will see your response rate increase massively as a result.

One of the most common mistakes made with this approach is that reps write a personal note just for the sake of personalization. Showing a prospect that you know from their Instagram account that they have a dog named Bubbles is just creepy. Don’t be a creep. Find a business challenge or win which the prospect has spoken about online and find a way to match what you do to this. Given the seniority of the prospects you would target with this approach, they should usually have some kind of online profile, but in the case that they don’t, find something which their company is speaking about that is relevant to their function in the business.

For example, if the regional director of an international hospitality brand is featured online speaking about the upcoming launch a new brand and you represent a branding agency in this space, mentioning something like this in the opening line of your email is likely to provoke a response.

To execute this from a technical aspect, simply add another {{personal note}} token to your CSV before uploading it to your email marketing platform and add it as the first line of your first email. If done correctly, every prospect you contact will feel as though you understand their business and are well placed to help them.

Bad Subject Lines

It doesn’t matter how much time you spend personalizing every email you send out, it is all a waste of time if nobody opens your emails. Subject lines like Mobile Applications, Digital Marketing and Web Solutions or FIRST PAGE ON GOOGLE! are guaranteed to see your email end up in a spam folder.

Where possible, subject lines which are personalized to the prospect are great, but simple subject lines such as {{Your Company Name}} & {{Company}} and Question about {{Company}} are effective to use at scale. The most important thing is to keep it short and do A/B testing on every campaign which you sent out until you find your sweet spot and consistently achieve over an 80% open rate.


If you can consistently get the three points above right, the results from your campaigns should improve dramatically. Below are some quick bonus pointers to be aware of also:

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

Read every word of copy that you have written from the perspective of the people who you are sending it to. Take your lunch. Come back and read it again. If you think it sounds generic or robotic at any point, fix it. You only have a few seconds to capture their attention and if they suspect that it is part of an outbound sales campaign, they will probably move on.


Drop the “Dear Sir / Madam” and “Kind Regards”, you are not writing a letter to the Queen. Write the email in your normal tone of voice and in the same way that you would speak to someone you know.

Talking About Yourself

The reality is that, no matter who you are or what company you are reaching out on behalf of, nobody cares what you do. Not one bit. People are busy and they are bombarded with ads and people trying to sell them things all day so focus on them and how you can solve their problems.

Asking For Too Much

The goal of a cold email is to pique interest and schedule an appointment to explore further. You are not trying to close the deal in your email and your messaging should focus on getting to the next step rather than the finish line.


You don’t need to get an editor from The Times to proofread your content before it goes out, but you should read it carefully at the very least. Use a tool like Grammarly to help if you don’t feel confident in this area.

Need Help?

It is one thing to be aware of the best practices when it comes to cold email and it is another thing to implement them. A lack of time and resources is usually the enemy of effective cold outreach and that is where Leadable comes in. Book a call with us today to see if we can help your sales team to consistently hit their targets.

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