Cold emailing has never been more effective. Thanks in part to the popularity of inside sales and remote work, and the improvement in sales engagement and sales analytics software, cold email metrics have been skyrocketing like never before.
The longstanding debate of short cold emails versus long cold emails also grew louder the past two years.
Brevity versus credibility. Valuing time versus demonstrating value. Sign of the times versus email expectations.
When you’re writing a new email template or launching a new followup campaign, knowing the optimal cold email length can mean the difference between an open or an unsubscribe, a click or a delete, a reply or an ignore.
We’re writing this blog post to help you simplify the process of choosing between short emails and long emails. Before you continue, be sure to bookmark our definitive guide to cold email.
What are Cold Emails?
Cold emails are email messages that you send to a prospect or a contact that has never heard from you before. The purpose for cold emails is usually a mix of making an introduction, offering valuable consultation, and proposing solutions to problems.
In short, your cold emails are looking to establish a connection and start a new relationship. They’re similar to cold calls, just leveraging another communication channel.
Most B2B emails that reach your inbox every day are cold emails. If they’re not, you’re doing a great job in keeping your contact information confidential and unsubscribing form lists.
While inside sales and marketing have managed cold email efforts in the past, outside sales have contributed greatly to this form of outreach since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
However, there is a long standing debate amongst all business professionals since the onset of email—Does cold emailing work?
Does Cold Emailing Work?
Yes. While relying on inbound marketing is a great way to improve response rates during your first round of emails, nothing beats the ROI of cold email outreach.
The naysayers will tell you that buying lists from Lead411 or ZoomInfo to send thousands of cold emails to is an outdated practice. While partially true if done so simply, list services now provide high-quality business intelligence to help you personalize all of your cold email campaigns—further driving your return.
Another reason to choose cold email is the fact that inbound lead generation requires a hefty investment and significant search engine optimization. For startups and other SMBs, cold email is a great way not just for making a first contact, but for driving leads to landing pages and high-intent website traffic.
Back to what I said earlier about advances in sales engagement software and sales analytics. Now more than ever, you can integrate your cold email efforts with your dialer, website, online chat like Drift, and social media platforms such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
What better way to make your outreach seem more human than to incorporate several communication channels?
Furthermore, there have significant advances in measuring and optimizing cold email strategies and tactics. You can A/B test email subject lines, discover and personalize messaging to buyer personas, and tailor your send schedules around each recipient’s inbox behavior.
Now that I have you excited and invested in cold email, the original question resurfaces—Which is better, short cold emails or long cold emails?
How Long Should a Cold Email Be?
Instead of first dwelling over email length, you should first look at the goal of the cold email.
What is your ask? Are you looking to schedule a fifteen minute consultation? Do you want them to download an ebook? Do you want them to fill out a survey on their common pain points?
While all cold emails should be hyper-personalized, I must remind all of my readers of one eye opening fact: Most cold emails are not opened until the sixth send.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this fact because their familiarity with your name and email address, and possibly your company is very low to non-existent.
What you should take away from this discovery is that when you send your first cold email, you’re inviting the prospect or contact on a unique buyer’s journey.
So when it comes to inviting someone on a new journey, imagine yourself in an exhibition hall, manning a trade show booth all by yourself.
- When a prospect walks by, how little or much would you say to capture their interest?
- Would you state a fact or ask a question?
- After they respond, would your next statement get shorter or longer?
These three questions are great guides for the initial six cold emails, but let’s dive into the deeper details on when it is best to send short emails versus long emails.
Recommended Reading: 5 Best Cold Email Templates (they’re short, too)
When You Should Send Short Emails
One of the clearest paths to choosing a short cold email is when you want to drive the prospect to act.
This can be an invitation to a webinar, an ebook share, or an offer to reserve time on your calendar. Whichever it is, it’s best to keep emails with a call-to-action short.
Offering something of value in one sentence isn’t what makes short emails difficult to write, though.
Being that this is a cold email, briefly and effectively sharing with the prospect who you are and why they should care—this is the most difficult part of a short cold email.
The best hack for overcoming this challenge is part credibility and part familiarity. If you or your company don’t have optimal name recognition, be sure to share what contacts and clients do.
Here are two examples:
“Would you like to know why [Company A] and [Company B] regularly read our ebooks?”
“I recently shared this ebook with [name of prospect’s boss], and I thought you’d enjoy the read, too.”
Simplifying and shortening emails can be challenging, yet rewarding. Give it a try!
When You Should Send Long Emails
If you’re getting opens to your cold emails but the clicks and replies are almost non-existent, it may be time to write a longer email.
When you think about it, the vast majority of cold email recipients are not familiar with your name, your company, or your product.
Sharing your unique value proposition, your most recognizable clients, and what problems you’re best known for solving (especially at the consultative level) usually takes well over 125 words.
Now you may be cringing and thinking to yourself, “But if they see large blocks of text, they’ll delete my email.”
This is where another cold email hack comes in—write one sentence paragraphs. The only time you should consider two sentence paragraphs is when one of the sentences is five words or less.
While some cold email thought leaders recommend a “tweet” like length and appearance, even some tweets are very unattractive to look at. Just make sure that your emails are fluid in appearance with plenty of white space.
Even if your email is over 250 words, the appearance alone will give off the impression to the reader that it won’t take long to read.
Plus, if you structure the email in a creative way, you may find yourself preferring longer emails over time.
Here’s an example that’s 125 words:
“[Firstname], you’re looking to double, heck triple your pipeline in 2022, right?
If you’re reading this sentence, your answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
And I have the fastest and easiest path for you to take to get you there, [Firstname].
If you don’t believe me, that’s okay…
I wouldn’t blame you. We haven’t talked yet…
But you could ask our clients [Company A], [Company B], and [Company C].
They actually quadrupled their pipeline only 2 months after talking with me.
Just a 15 minute conversation.
That’s all it took.
Well, that and eliminating 90% of their non-selling activity with 1 push of a button (for free).
If you still think it’s too good to be true, just watch this video (6,000+ people already have).
Cold Emailing: Start Sending and Testing
Now that you’ve read our latest blog post, you’re ready to hit the ground running…
But wait! I have one more cold email hack for you to use to double your response rates no matter what!
Always write your emails—short and long—authentically. Make sure it sounds like you are the one writing it.
The fastest path to success is to always imagine that you’re emailing someone that you’re extremely close to—especially on a professional level.
Otherwise, your cold email will look and sound like a template copied off of the internet.