Cold Emailing? Think Anatomy, Not Templates


Cold email is popular for outbound sellers.

Thousands of tips, resources, and templates have emerged in the space to make cold emailing accessible for everyone.

Unfortunately, most great developments in the B2B sales and marketing space quickly get diluted by bad practices, misuse, and overemphasis on quantity and automation.

While cold email was a highly-effective outreach method in the past, it’s now harder than ever to capture attention and motivate action from modern buyers in the inbox.

The issue?

Undifferentiated, unpersonalized, irrelevant emails.

Every organization, solution, business model, competitive market, buyer, and selling environment is different, so cold email templates can only take you so far.

To truly crack the puzzle of cold email, the anatomy of your messaging should be customized for your situation rather than generalizing with templates.

To help find your voice with the outbound email channel, here are 6 different components of a cold email message that you can use to be more relevant, understood, and memorable.


1) Subject Line

In an email, the subject line is a header used to summarize the messages that recipients receive and has its own separate section within the inbox.

Subject lines are designed to be the most noticeable part of an email before it’s opened and recipients expect it to be short, concise, and relevant enough to deserve their attention.

Because it’s usually the first copy a recipient receives, it’s a great place for email personalization and can help you immediately stand out from the crowd of other emails they receive.

There’s a lot of debate about the best length of a subject line, but it often misses a critical piece to the puzzle: emails have limited space that can be used to show subject lines and pre-text.

To ensure your subject lines are effective, keep it focused on the topic of your emails and make sure aligns with the email’s introduction that comes afterward.


2) Email Introduction Pre-Text

Apart from the subject line, recipients can preview the first 35 – 140 characters (depending on the inbox) of an email in their inbox without ever opening it.

Combined with the subject line, the introduction pre-text has the biggest impact on whether a recipient decides to open your email to learn more.

Since pre-text is the only visible copy in the inbox, cold email introductions need to be attention-catching, well-positioned, and aligned with the subject line you use.

However, the length of subject lines affect how much pre-text shows, so you’ll need to balance the subject line you use with the amount of pre-text you’d like to share with recipients.

To capture attention and motivate recipients to open your emails, pre-text should be designed to generate curiosity, tease the topic, or leave a cliff-hanger that compels them to open.


3) Introduction Transition

Once someone opens your email, they’ll get directed to the full email message to read more.

From there, recipients will usually either continue reading your email introduction from the beginning or skim the full email to see if it’s relevant enough to continue reading.

A transition is the angle you take in your cold email to connect the introduction and their situation with the reason you reached out and why the email is relevant.

If you introduce yourself and go straight into a value pitch without adding context, you risk turning off prospects, failing the skim test, or falling off the radar of your recipients.

To maintain attention while building momentum into the main body of your email, you should create a sentence or phrase that can connect the dots on why your email is worth the time.


4) Value Proposition

Opened emails are only half of the battle.

The real challenge of cold email is creating a message that can consistently influence thinking, highlight gaps, and keep your brand top-of-mind for qualified buyers.

The value proposition is the value behind your email. Without it, your emails would be missing crucial context for a sales conversation or leave you undifferentiated in the inbox.

Unfortunately, many people think of a value proposition as always focused on selling your brand, solution, or idea.

While a selling focus can still be effective, it’s hard to convince modern buyers to connect with a single sales pitch or sentence. They expect sellers to do more research and be more targeted.

The most effective value propositions are focused on maximizing value for the buyer: it could be industry statistics, insights on a problem, thoughts about a relevant topic, or a personalized vision on how to improve their company.

To make sure your cold emails deliver the sales outcomes you expect, you should constantly test value propositions based on the pains, benefits, and themes you use.


5) Next Steps Incentive

Even the best cold emails in the world don’t guarantee that prospects will take action or be in-market for your solution.

Buyers are overwhelmed with outbound outreach and busier than ever, which means it’s unlikely that you’ll get a response from sending a single email.

With so much going on in the inbox, modern recipients are more sophisticated at filtering, categorizing, and prioritizing their incoming emails based on their schedule.

To help position next steps and motivate recipients to take action, present an incentive that outlines the benefits, insights, or value they’ll receive after taking next steps with you.

This incentive plants a seed in the minds of your recipients and keeps your brand, email, and proposed next step more memorable. In addition, you can use your incentive to highlight case studies, testimonials, or relevant use cases that would resonate with your buyers.

To generate more responses and clicks, you should focus on using the incentive to align everything said in your email and emphasize its relevance to recipients.


6) Call-to-Action

Buyers won’t convert or move things forward if they’re never given the option. Similarly, people won’t take action or spend time on next steps that are missing, too difficult, or too confusing.

The call-to-action (CTA) is the business purpose behind your message and the outcome you’re trying to generate with cold email.

Are you booking meetings? Looking for sign-ups? Recruiting channel partners?

Regardless of your motives with a cold email campaign, you need a clearly defined, easy-to-understand vision that can make buyers comfortable taking a next step with you.

In addition, next steps need to be reasonable and as easy as possible on your recipients. Even the most relevant email won’t get a response if it’s asking for too much at once.

To generate the best outcomes for your outbound sales program, you should focus your call-to-actions on engaging, simple requests that make it easy for buyers to say yes.


2 Things To Remember Before Sending Out Your Cold Emails

Cold emailing can be a powerful tool for reaching out to potential customers, clients, or partners. However, before sending out your cold emails, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure that your emails are effective and well-received.

Make sure your email list is accurate

Ensuring that you’re targeting valid email addresses is a crucial step in any cold emailing campaign. Sending emails to invalid addresses can result in high bounce rates, which can damage your sender reputation and reduce the deliverability of your future emails.

Here are some steps you can follow to ensure that you’re targeting valid email addresses:

  • Check your email list: Use an email verification tool to check the validity of the email addresses on your list. These tools can help identify and remove invalid, inactive, or non-existent email addresses.
  • Regularly update your list: Regularly update your email list to remove any bounced or unsubscribed email addresses. This can help reduce bounce rates and improve deliverability.
  • Implement double opt-in: Consider implementing a double opt-in process when adding new subscribers to your email list. This requires subscribers to confirm their subscription by clicking a link in a confirmation email, which helps ensure that the email address is valid and that the subscriber is interested in receiving your emails.

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Make sure to set up your sending email address for optimal deliverability

Ensuring that your sending email address is set up for optimal deliverability is a crucial step in any cold emailing campaign. Here are some steps you can follow to ensure that your emails are delivered to the recipient’s inbox and not marked as spam:

  • Verify your emails: Verifying your emails with DKIM, SPF, and DMARC can help improve their deliverability and reduce the chances of them being flagged as spam.
  • Choose a reliable email service provider: Select a reliable email service provider that has a good track record of delivering emails to the inbox.
  • Warm up your email address: Warming up your email address before sending cold emails can help improve its reputation with email service providers and increase the chances of your emails being delivered to the inbox.
  • Keep an eye on your sender reputation: Monitor your sender reputation and take steps to improve it if necessary. This can include reducing bounce rates, improving engagement rates, and removing any spam complaints.



Without structure, it’s hard to make something measurable, repeatable, and improvable.

While cold email templates and tactics have helped educate and grow the outbound email space, it’s left practitioners vulnerable to change.

Buyer behaviors have rapidly involved in the inbox as they become numb to email outreach, do more of their own research, and connect with vendors much later in the buying process.

To stay relevant and competitive, your cold email messaging needs to be personalized beyond a template and have the flexibility to adjust your approach based on different goals.

With these 6 components of a cold email’s anatomy, you can start structuring better emails without a template while giving you visibility into how certain messaging impacts your results.

[Generating outbound leads? Check out our new free video series The Cold Email Playbook to get insights and content from 7 outbound & cold email experts!]