Cold Email Copywriting: 10 Best Practices for 2022

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Cold Email Copywriting: 10 Best Practices for 2022

photo of a sales rep holding the key to success

As a salesperson, there is nothing more discouraging than writing a cold email only to receive an average open and response rate. Am I right?

You followed “best practices”. You used subject lines from a popular ebook. And you sent the email from a feature-rich email marketing software.

But should we be surprised with average open and response rates?

The new year is upon us, and your target customer is spending 9.5 hours every single day consuming content. Some of that content happens to be a select few of the 121 new emails dropping in their inbox every single day.

What makes your email any different from the other 120?

To make these numbers more polarizing, your customer will receive over 500 emails this week, and they’ll only open 100 of them.

Again, what makes your email any different from the other 500+?

If you read this blog post top to bottom, you’ll answer my questions with, “My emails are hypnotic, that’s why!

Yes, this is the overarching approach you should take to cold emailing—HYPNOTIC COPYWRITING.

Get ready. You’re about to learn 10 easy to learn, readily applicable, and common sense practices to hypnotize your customers to open more emails, reply to more emails, and more importantly, buy more products because of your emails.

1. Get Their Attention in the Subject Line

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The subject line matters. Unfortunately for you, there’s a lot of trendy subject lines out there, mostly from B2C companies, that are misleading, missing the point, and missing personalization.

Here are a few examples of popular subject lines that you should not use:

    • john
    • Should we talk?
    • Don’t open this email

If I had a salesperson send you a cold email with one of those three subject lines, I’d wager $100 that you couldn’t tell me what the email was about. This matters, because the subject line is the first effort you’ll make at getting and keeping the reader’s focus.

Cold emails should always be sent with purpose.

Start here. Choose a target group. What is their current pain point or dream state?

One, pain points and dream states are the most effective ways to cause action (ie. opening the email). And two, the chosen pain point or dream state is likely where their mind is at the moment they receive your cold email.

Here are some examples that our sales team uses:

    • Sales spent 2k hours on data entry
    • Increase sales’ budget by 100k?
    • Salesforce is missing 1 thing. It’s this…

How much time did my team waste last year?! I can unlock a larger budget for 2022, how?! Salesforce adoption is lacking, could this be the one reason why?!

As you nod your head to these subject lines, recall that 47% of email users open messages from their smartphone. Most email apps display the first sentence below the email’s subject line in the inbox. When you match the intent of the subject line with the first sentence, you’re doubling the hypnotic effect, strengthening focus and agreement.

We’ve found that it takes six to eight cold emails to get the first open—when not following this best practice. Shorten your time to engagement, and use pain points and dream states.

2. Get Their Attention in the Email Body

Now that you’ve got the customer’s initial attention for a few seconds, the body of your email is the second battle ground you have to conquer in 2022.

With all the subject line blog posts that are out there, it’s surprising how much fewer blog posts there are on perfecting the body of your email.

Before we address the content of the cold email’s body, we’re going to address the design of the cold email’s body. Yes, it’s that important.

If you’re like me, you enjoy reading books. There’s no worse experience than when you turn a page to find two towers of text staring right back at you. No indentations. No dialogue. Just two big blocks of copy with no room to breathe.

You should approach your email the same way.

If your first sentence is your most solid statement—make it stand out. Use formatting to capture their ATTENTION. See what I mean?

Limit your paragraphs to 1 to 2 sentences, and no longer than three lines deep. Shorter emails with big block paragraphs receive fewer responses than longer emails with shorter paragraphs.

Let white space be your friend.

White space can act as visual anchors in your email’s body. It slows down the consumption of your copy, and it’s easier on your reader’s eyes.

Furthermore, while most email software dislikes two spaces after a period—add the extra space! While it can cause some wrapping issues, the benefit as a visual anchor to the reader’s eyes is unmatched, because at first glance all paragraphs look like one really long sentence.

Now for the cold email’s copy…

3. Get Their Attention in the Email Copy

We already spoke on why the first sentence should play off the subject line. But what about the rest of the email’s copy?

Before we get into structure, I want to hammer home 3 key points:

    • Communicate your personality in your email copy
    • Use clear language and avoid complex, unnecessary jargon
    • Leverage the reader’s emotions, esp. those tied to the bottom-line

These key points can find shelter in the following 5 step copywriting structure:

    • The Hook
    • The Problem
    • Benefits / Proof of Taking Action
    • Ways to Take Action
    • Call to Action

Yes, if this seems familiar, you’re likely thinking of Aristotle or AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action). Each step’s goal is to further build off the reader’s focus so that everything else fades away.

If there’s any one component of this structure that you should spend the most time on, it’s the hook. The hook is a way for you to make a shocking, bold statement that blows the reader’s hair back. More often than not it’s either the subject line, or a combination of the subject line and first sentence.

Here’s an example of an email our Senior AE sends using the above 5 step structure:

Subject Line: Frank lost $100k to Salesforce


I thought you’d be interested to know that small businesses who use Salesforce can lose over $100,000 in lost sales productivity every single year.

How is this possible? Salespeople spend upwards of 1,250 hours every single year not selling. That’s right. They spend it on data entry, admin tasks, and everything boring.

Would you like to know how you can eliminate non-selling activity tied to SFDC?

Better yet FIRSTNAME…

In addition to saving your company $100k year, would you like to know how you can exceed team quota every year?

If it sounds too good to be true, listen to Frank Ortiz of Vast Networks share how he saved his company $100k a year while also crushing team quota.

All he did was start a free trial of Veloxy for 30 days.

When was the last time a free trial did that for you?

Best regards,


While I can get into further details on each of the five steps, the following best practices are going to expand on them further while also doing something that’s even more important for cold email writing—keeping it simple.

4. Get Intimate With Your Customers

Wait, what? I thought I’d add some slight humor to this post, however, I’m referring to the fact that you should let your personality show in your copy.

To demonstrate the importance of letting your personality show, ask someone else to write an email to your spouse, partner, or friend on your behalf. Nine times out of ten, the person will respond with some level of suspicion that you didn’t write the email. Go ahead, give it a try, have some fun today!

In short, you need to start writing in a way that feels right to you. Not your colleagues. Not your 12th grade English teacher. To you.

Read any business email right now. How would you describe the writer’s personality? Seven times out of ten, you might respond with “Bookish. Smart. Punctual.” If those aren’t the characteristics you’re looking for in a vendor, are you really going to reply?

Your customers are looking for someone real, authentic, someone they can trust.

Trust yourself. Don’t write stiff. Breathe.

The result will be an email that matches the personality your customer hears on the phone.

5. The Power of Repetition

The power of repetition is one of the most underused copywriting tactics.

The power of repetition is a favorite of the marketing department for brand positioning.

The power of… okay, you get it. But did you notice you were finishing the sentence when you were just barely starting. That’s because the power of repetition is one of the quickest keys to entering the customer’s mind and achieving recall.

Do not be afraid to share the same thing three times in one email. While it’s normal to be hesitant, you’re only planting your flag on the importance of what you’re repeating, and why your customer should find it just as, if not more important.

Tell me which of the following copywriting examples is more powerful:

Save $12,500 a year by automating Salesforce
Save $12,500 a year by automating Salesforce
Save $12,500 a year by automating Salesforce
Save $12,500 a year by automating Salesforce
Save $37,500 a year by automating Salesforce for 3 sales reps

Now I’m not suggesting you should write your product’s main benefit 3 times in a row like the above example, but spaced out with a few edits, it can have the same powerful effect. The reader will not forget the dollar figure, and they’ll most definitely not forget the multiplier effect it delivers.

6. How Long Should an Email Be?

Two years ago, I received a cold email from a very persistent salesperson. The body of the email had seven words in it. “Are you still looking for more customers?” That was it.

It wasn’t the first email I received from that company, but it was the first email that I received from that particular salesperson. This is not best practice.

Similar to subject lines, you could take to Google for suggestions on cold email length, however, you would receive little direction and differing opinions.

Here are three simple, sequential rules to follow:

  • the more you charge, the more you write
  • high brand equity = lower word count
  • high lead score = lower word count

Here are two examples. How many words would you write for each cold email?

Apple. If you were to click on their ad for the iPhone 13 that costs $829, how much copy would you expect to see in an email from Apple. They’re the most powerful brand in the world. You already have the iPhone 10. You’ve demonstrated interest. But it still will cost you $829.

Veloxy. You see their mobile app in the Salesforce AppExchange but you don’t trial their product for 30 days. How much copy would you expect to see in a cold email from Veloxy? You’ve seen them at Dreamforce once, and heard them on a podcast a few months back. You’re not a lead in their system. Veloxy’s mobile app will cost you $49 a month.

See how your proposed word counts vary sentence to sentence. It’s a powerful set of rules to help you write cold emails that get more response rates.

7. The Story Baiting Method

Do you want to know how much money Frank Ortiz saved when he automated his sales team’s non-selling activity?

Let me guess. You’re itching to know the exact dollar figure? Am I right?

This is called ‘Story Baiting’. You start to tell a customer a story in an opening statement, a story that you know they can relate to, but you leave out the hard hitting number that’s going to capture their full attention.

This not only triggers questions on behalf of the customer, it also ignites their interest to hear more, thereby blocking out everything else that’s going on in their mind.

It’s a great way to gauge their interest and attention span, and you need as much as you can get when you’re reaching out via cold email (let alone a complimentary cold call).

“Frank saved $120,000 by automating his sales team’s non-selling activity.”

You’re thinking, ‘That’s a lot of cash!’ Then what? Exactly, you have more questions. What did he do with the savings? What did his sales team do with the extra time on their hands?

It’s kind of like when someone hands you a delicious cookie, but they don’t tell you what makes it taste so good before the first bite.

8. Replace Fluff with Hard-Hitting Numbers

Have you noticed the demonstrated power of repetition in this blog post is highly complimented by hard hitting numbers?

$120,000. $12,500. $37,500.

And they don’t have to be financial numbers, either.

1,250 hours. 300% more selling activity.

Be sure that you gather as much numeric data as you can. Speak with marketing, accounting, and product management. Leave no roads unturned. Numbers polarize and move people.

People smell fluff and jargon easier these days, especially with the popularity of social media.

Which of these two email messages would you believe:

    1. If you need an automated, dynamic system for your CRM so you can streamline your sales process, please let me know what your calendar looks like.
    2. An enterprise sales team just improved their sales productivity by 134%… what I’m really trying to say is, each salesperson raised their annual selling time from 768 hours to 1,800 hours. Would you like to know how much more revenue they generated?

Everyone would believe the second message, and it’s because of the power of numbers.

Back to the topic of subject line best practices. Jeff Grice, our Senior Account Executive, came up with one of the highest open rate subject lines of all time six years ago.

Subject Line: How do these numbers play: 6, 42, 168?

Tell me you’re not curious what each number represents. He worked hard to discover some relevant and timely measurable pain points, and quantified them. Then he asked how much of an impact the numbers had on the customer’s company. His calendar filled up quickly.

9. How Many Hours to Write a Cold Email

On average, how much time do you spend writing a cold email?

One of the biggest differences between emails that work and emails that don’t are that the emails that don’t work were worked on for an hour or more.

Time matters.

Again, you want to write without resistance. You want flow, because the more you stop and revise, the more your reader is likely to stop and return to what they were doing.

Stephen King, the infamous horror novelist, gave advice to copywriters in his book, ‘On Writing’. In it he recommends that all writers communicate their idea in one rushed attempt before any attempt to revise or rethink. He’s written over 60 books in 47 years, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.

Give it a try. The next time you write a cold email, set a timer down and force yourself to write the subject line and body of the email in under 20 minutes—heck, be bold and say under 10 minutes. Or do both, and compare the two!

10. How to Write an Email to a Busy Person

Have you ever read a comic book?

Comic book readers, young and old, can’t stop turning pages and collecting new editions.

Have you ever wondered why it’s a billion dollar industry in the United States?

Comic books do two things. One, they show captivating imagery alongside their copy. And two, they speak in the simplest terms. That is to say the reader doesn’t stop reading and flipping pages.

When writing emails, especially cold emails to people you don’t know, you need to cut through the noise of their present moment. You do this by speaking to their subconscious, not their conscious, ie. don’t make them think.

Don’t use words that are overly technical. Speak to the comic book reader, and if you have to show an image in your email to get your point across, then by all means do it.

If you’re wondering what subconscious-targeting terminology to use in your cold emails, be sure you speak with your marketing department. They’ll share the ideas and concepts that your company has the most success with communicating.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a scalable way to personalize images in your emails, reach out to our friends at Lemlist.

Conclusion: Writing Cold Emails that Convert

If you’re bookmarking this blog post, or printing it out, then that’s as much proof as you need that hypnotic copywriting works, whether it’s for a blog post or for a cold email. Please do share your positive results with us, and share this email with your sales and marketing colleagues.

And, if you too would be interested in saving over $10,000 per salesperson, then I invite you to test drive Veloxy free for 15 days 30 days. Complimentary training and sales acceleration consulting is included.


Sauvik Sarkar

Sauvik Sarkar

Sales AI is transforming selling activities for companies of all sizes, and one of the leaders in this movement is Sauvik Sarkar. While artificial intelligence can be intimidating to most, Sauvik helps improve adoption with one-on-one training, insightful blog articles, and more.

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