How to Run a Cold Email Campaign

A cold email campaign is the most common method in outbound sales. However, it is a bit tricky to do right. If you make a mistake, it wastes your resources and endangers your brand and domain reputation.

How to Run a Cold Email Campaign
Photo by Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

A cold email campaign is the most common method in outbound sales. However, it is a bit tricky to do right. If you make a mistake, it wastes your resources and endangers your brand and domain reputation.

This post will show you how to write and run an effective cold email campaign. I’ll first briefly talk about what cold emails are and why they’re important, then I’ll show you in a detailed but accessible way what to do, and what to avoid to make sure your cold email campaign is successful.

What Is a Cold Email and Why Is It Important?

A cold email is when a sales representative reaches out via email to a potential customer who isn’t expecting the email. The purpose of a cold email is to generate interest from a potential customer.

Sending cold emails is one of the most common tactics in outbound sales prospecting. Cold emails are considered less intrusive than cold calls and do not require extensive resources. According to, 80% of people prefer to be contacted by email than by phone calls or social media messages.

Sending cold emails is a must-do for early-stage B2B startups to validate your hypothesis, increase brand awareness, and generate sales leads. Also, sending cold emails helps you reach out to prospects on a scale and generate sales leads quickly.

However, running an effective cold email campaign can be tricky. Doing this incorrectly wastes your resources and endangers your brand and domain reputation.

Most Common Mistakes in Cold Email Campaigns

Although sending cold emails is one of the most common tactics in outbound sales, only a few sales teams do it well. An inappropriately executed cold email campaign will not only get you no leads but may also lower your brand and domain reputation.

The most common mistakes people make in cold email campaigns are the following:

  • Poor Targeting: You must target your prospects based on the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). If not, you are just spamming random people and don’t know what is valuable for them.
  • No Personalization: Everyone gets the same emails. At least include their names and company names.
  • Inappropriate Personalization: Cold emails have to address business problems that your potential customers have rather than just being personal and not relevant to the business problems your prospects are interested in.
  • Content Is Too Long: Make it concise and provide a clear call to action (CTA).
  • No Follow-Ups (Infrequent Follow-Ups): People rarely reply to cold emails the first time. They have to be reminded at the appropriate time.
  • No Experiment: It’s almost impossible to do it perfectly the first time. You need to analyze the results, make changes, and optimize the process.

Now that I showed you what to avoid, it's time to see what you should aim for so that you can help your cold email campaign deliver results.

How to Write Cold Email Subject Lines

The subject line is the title of an email; this is the first thing your prospect will see. According to SuperOffice, 33% of email recipients decide whether to open the email based on the subject line alone. Also, 69% of email recipients report emails as spam after reading the subject line. (Source: Invesp) So, the subject line is key in cold emails.

1. Keep Subject Lines Simple

Since most people decide whether to read your email by reading the subject line, it has to be simple. It must be concise and clear enough to understand your offering.

The longer the subject line, the smaller the chance your prospects will open your email. In a study by, the open rate is 44% with 3-12 characters long, falling to 33% with 29-45 characters.

One way to test if your subject line is simple enough is to send a test email to yourself and read it from your phone. Also, more people are checking emails from their phones, and writing mobile-friendly emails is important.

2. Personalize the Subject Line

According to Yes Lifecycle Marketing, personalizing subject lines increases the open rate by 50%. You can personalize subject lines by including the prospect’s first name, company name, and relevant business problems.

Including the company name is the most effective way to personalize the subject line. It increases the open rate by 22%. (Source: Outreach)

One thing to note when personalizing the subject line is that it has to be relevant to your prospect's business problem and that you can offer a solution.

3. More Ways to Write Better Subject Lines

There are many ways to improve the subject line, including asking questions and adding numbers.

If you include a question in the subject line, you can increase the open rate by 21% (Source: Yesware). Numbers in the subject line can increase the open rate by 113% (Source: Yesware).

There is no one right answer to write better subject lines, so you must experiment as you run your email campaigns.

How to Write Cold Email Body Content

Although you make your prospects open the email, they will stop reading it in a second if you don’t have a great opening line. If you don’t have a clear value proposition and call to action, they will not respond.

Here are some tips for writing great content.

1. Relevant to the Prospect’s Problem

The content has to be relevant to a prospect’s top priority problem. If not, they won’t continue reading. An example of being relevant to the prospect’s problem is the following:

“Our customers in the xyz industry are struggling with challenge, and I want to share how they are addressing the challenge.”

In many cases, cold emails start with an extensive introduction of yourself and the team. Although a proper introduction gives prospects reasons to trust what you offer and to continue reading the email, the content should not focus on you.

Sometimes, people misunderstand how to personalize cold emails. The most appropriate personalization is to understand your prospect's top priority problem and offer a solution to the problem. Of course, mentioning when and where you met before (e.g., at industry events, conferences, etc.) can build rapport quickly.  

2. Focus on the Value, Not the Features

This is something many sales representatives make mistakes with. The brutal reality is that no one cares about your features and the amazing technology behind the product.

“We are building a solution with xyz features, and it’s based on technology that is 10x more effective than current solutions.”

What prospects really care about is if you can solve their top priority problem. So, you should be direct on how you can solve the problem. Every line in the email should be about the value you offer.

"We are building a solution that addresses challenge of customers similar to you."

The purpose of cold emails is to generate interest from prospects. The best way to do that is to show them how you can add value to them. You will have plenty of time to discuss features and technologies later on.

3. Keep It Concise with Clear Call To Action

There is no reason for your prospects to spend more than a few minutes on your email, trying to think about what you are trying to say, what value they might get from you, and whether they should respond to you.

From the opening line to the call to action at the end, just get to the point. Ask if they have a problem that you can offer a great solution for and if so, let them take action by responding to your email or booking a quick call with you.

If your offer is unclear, prospects will likely ignore your email.

How to Follow-Up

No matter how excellent your subject line and content are, your prospects will likely not reply to you the first time. That is why you must follow up with them.

According to Backlinko, sending follow-up emails will double the response rate. When your prospects read the initial email, they might be busy or forget to reply. So, it’s important to remind them that you have a solution to their problem.

Usually, 3-4 follow-up emails are recommended, though you can send up to 7 follow-up emails. Further, mixing cold calls and emails can increase the chance of connecting with prospects.

Here are some tips for writing good follow-up emails.

1. Keep It Simpler

In the follow-up emails, you don’t need to introduce yourself and the solution you offer. Just remind your prospects why you reached out and how you can help.

You can also add more value by providing articles, demos, etc. It’s a great way to help your prospects to imagine how you can help them.

2. Test Different Calls To Action

You can test different calls to action in the follow-up emails. If you asked for a 30-minute zoom meeting in the initial email, try asking 15-minute phone call or even a 5-minute phone call.

3. Follow-Up On Time

Sending follow-up emails on time is very important because your prospect might forget what you offered in the previous email. The appropriate time between emails varies, but the recommended gap is at least three days.

Following up with each customer on time is challenging, especially if you run a cold email campaign. In that case, using email automation services can help you.

They let you build an email campaign with a set amount of follow-up emails. You can also set the gap between each email, and emails will be automatically sent unless your prospects respond, show interest, or unsubscribe.

Running Cold Email Campaigns

When you run cold email campaigns, you must analyze the results, improve the campaign, and optimize the process.

Here are four steps to run effective cold email campaigns.

1. Use Outbound-Only Domain

When you send cold emails to prospects in scale, you might get spam filtered automatically, reported as spam, or unsubscribed. These will negatively affect your domain reputation.

So, it is crucial that you do not use your main domain for outbound cold emails. You should use a separate domain to use for outbound cold emails only.

2. Create Email Campaigns Using Outreach Tools

Email outreach tools allow you to create email campaigns and send cold emails in scale. You can set up a series of emails, and it will automatically send the emails to prospects until they respond.

For example, in, you can use the Sequence feature and send pre-configured emails to your prospects.

Other recommended tools are Klenty, Woodpecker, and Outreach, and you should find the one that works best for your team.

3. Analyze Results with Target Metrics

60% open rate and 10% reply rate are the benchmark metrics in cold emails (Source: Woodpecker). These metrics may vary depending on the type of customers or products. You might get lower or higher rates than the benchmark metrics from the initial campaign.

However, what is more important is that you continuously improve the metrics. For example, do not be discouraged by the results if your initial results were 30% open rate and a 5% reply rate. You can improve the results by updating the email templates and experimenting with different pitches.

In addition, when you start your outbound email campaign, you should start with a small number of prospects. Try running the campaign with no more than 50 prospects. See what results you get from the initial campaign, and make changes if needed. Once you are getting the results, you can scale up your campaign.

4. Continue Experimenting with Your Email

As mentioned above, you should update your email campaigns based on the results you get from the previous campaigns.

Below are some variables you can change.

  • Subject Line
  • Opening Line
  • Pitch
  • Tone & Messaging
  • Call To Actions
  • Timing
  • Contacts

If you still don’t see any meaningful improvements in the results after updating your emails a couple of times, it might be due to the wrong contacts. In that case, you should try to find other decision-makers in the organization and see if it improves the metrics.

You can also run A/B tests to compare more than two campaigns with different variations.

You Must Keep Track of All Interactions with Prospects

Even if your prospects do not respond throughout the campaign, you still need to know when and to whom you reached out. If not, your sales team might reach out to the same prospect at the same time or to prospects who already said they are not interested.

You must use a CRM solution to keep track of all interactions you have with prospects. It can prevent your sales team from reaching out to the wrong prospects and effectively manage prospecting and cold email campaigns.

Moreover, you can create another campaign to reach prospects who did not respond to the previous campaign after two months. When you do that, follow all the tips shared above, be relevant to a prospect’s problem, keep it simple and concise, and follow up on time.