5 Ways To Get Anyone To Reply To Your Cold Email

By: Jack Reamer |
 January 6, 2015 |

Has this ever happened to you?

You spend 30 minutes writing “the perfect cold email.”

You re-read it 3 times before sending it to make sure it’s flawless.

You hit “send” and wait for a reply…

Then… crickets…

And you realize that you just sent another cold email that didn’t get a reply.

Frustrating, right?

But here’s some good news: There’s a proven method to getting your emails opened, read and replied to.

Here’s how to get anyone (even busy CEO’s) to reply to your cold emails:


Rule #1) Remember “what’s in it for them”

If you focus on your reader’s interest (and not your own), you’re guaranteed to write better emails.

So before you write a single word of your cold email, “take a walk in their shoes.”

Picture that person in your head for a second. (Go to their linkedin profile so you can actually see who you’re about to email.) And imagine what their day looks like.

If your email recipient is like most people:

  • they’re busy with important work projects
  • they’re stressed about an upcoming social event
  • they have to leave work early to watch their kid’s soccer game
  • they have 10 minutes to process 70 emails

And if you think they care about you, you’re wrong.

Nevil Medhora, one of my favorite copywriters, says to repeat this mantra 3 times out loud before you write your email:

“No one cares about you, they only care about themselves.”

How do you find out “What’s in it for them??”

Don’t guess.

Do research for 5-10 minutes on their LinkedIn profile and company website to find out their goals and interests.

Then, offer up something of value in your cold email that ties into what their goals/interest are. Share a blog post, story or white paper in your email that will help your cold email recipient get what they want over time.

Think of this like a “virtual handshake” that helps build a relationship.

Rule #2) Write a subject line that’s worth opening

More than a third of email recipients determine whether they should even open an email based on the subject line alone. So yes, this subject line alone deserves it’s own post, but for now, here’s what you need to know:

  • Keep it short: Inboxes display only the first 60 characters and mobile phones just 25 or 30 characters.
  • Words matter: Yesware found that the words used were more important for open rates than the length of the subject line.
  • Be specific: For example, a subject line of, “Hi Bill, we met at the golf event last Sunday,” is more specific (and more likely to get opened) than, “Great meeting you.”
  • Use lowercase letters: To help your email feel more personal
  • Be casual: Friendly subject lines work best for cold emails. (Make sure your subject line doesn’t sound like the headline for your next blog post.)
  • Keep it simple: Limit your subject line to one topic. Otherwise it will sound confusing.
  • A/B Testing: If you’re sending this email multiple times (to different people) try testing 2 or 3 subject lines to see which one has the highest open rate. (Track your open rates for free with http://bananatag.com.)

Rule #3) Avoid these 5 email copy mistakes

As a copywriter, I’ve seen how swapping a few words can make the difference between getting a sale or boring someone to death.

Here’s the most common mistakes that are stopping your cold email from getting replies:

Mistake #1) Your Emails Are Confusing: Keep your email simple to get more replies. As a rule of thumb, don’t write a cold email with more than one question or call to action.

Mistake #2) Your Questions Are Too Hard To Answer: You want your cold email to be brain-dead-easy to answer. So make it easy to reply to your first email with something like, “Can I send you this free whitepaper that will help you with this?”

Then once you’ve started a conversation and provided value, you can ask more complex questions or requests.

Mistake #3) Your Calls To Action Are Vague: What’s the #1 goal of your cold email? Think about exactly what you want your recipient to do and then ask for it. For example, don’t say, “I’d love to hear what you think.” (That’s too vague.) Instead try, “Are you available for a 15 minute chat this Tuesday at 1pm so I can get your feedback on this article? ”

Mistake #4) You Don’t Use Their First Name: Don’t start a cold email with,  “Hey, Hello, (or even worse) Dear Sir.” Use their first name and make sure your message addresses just one person at a time.

Mistake #5) Your Email Is Too Long: Your recipient is busy. So get rid of any paragraphs and replace them with 3-4 short sentences and/or bullet points.

Rule #4) Follow up

Guy Kawasaki deletes all emails after 21 days. Why? Because he assumes that, “if it’s truly important, the other person would follow up.” So don’t feel bad about following up!

“Don’t Be Afraid To Followup On Your Followups” – Jessica Huang of SAP

It’s easy to feel bad about following up. But following up is important for both you and your recipient. So instead of thinking, “I don’t want to annoy them” use these tricks to send guilt free follow-ups.

First, install Bananatag (it’s free) to make sure your email was opened. If it did not get opened, change the subject line and send it again 2 days later.

If it did get opened, send a different message and make it even shorter.

Yesware found that when follow up, your chance of getting a response goes up by 21%.

But give your recipient 2-3 days to respond before you follow up. After all, the person you’re sending this to is busy and it’s important to respect that.

After you’ve followed up 3 times without a response, ask if you should stop following up. This way, you won’t waist their time — or yours.

A message like this will work:

“Hi John,

You’re busy. 

And I understand if you haven’t had the time to reply yet.

But I don’t want to bother you with these emails if you’re not interested. If you’d like me to stop following up, just say the word. ”


Rule #5) Follow These Email Tactics  

Whenever possible, I ask for an introduction.

Before sending an email, look for 2nd-level connections to your recipient on LinkedIn. But be upfront about why you want this intro. Tell them why and give them an easy “way out” if they’re not comfortable giving an introduction.

Connect on Twitter and LinkedIn after sending.

Send them a short tweet letting them know why you’re excited to connect. If you didn’t get a reply in 2-3 days, jump on LinkedIn and send them a short message. Tell them the main benefit they’d get by connecting with you and let them know you’ve sent them a message.

Send Your Email Very Early or Very Late

Open rates are just higher when you send messages early in the morning (6-7 am) or around 8 at night. According to Mashable, at those times, about 40% of emails received a response.