How to Write Cold Emails That Convert

Our AI Sales Development Rep, Alice, has access to millions of cold emails. She’s analyzed what works, what doesn’t, and has learnt to craft the perfect outbound sequence - optimized for conversion.

When reviewing customers’ previous outbound setups, we see a staggering 50x variance between the best and worst performing outbound campaigns. Tiny tweaks in copy have a significant impact on the success of a campaign and, alongside Alice taking these learnings into her own message generation, we wanted to prepare a best practice guide based on real campaign data, showing you exactly how to write cold emails that convert.

What does great look like? How do you turn average copy into high-converting sequences?

Let’s break it down into two sections:

How do you get someone to open an email?

Getting someone to click on your email is the first hurdle.

Spending all of the time and effort identifying a prospect, researching their background, creating a highly-personalized sequence of messages, only to be left as an unopened email in someone’s inbox is a complete waste of time.

Word for word, subject line is the biggest lever you can pull to change your luck with outbound, given that changing just a few words can, in some cases, result in twenty-times the number of people opening an email.

So, what makes a good subject line?

Alice’s advice is always: a subject line should be something that could conceivably have come from a colleague or customer.

If the subject line reads as an obvious sales email, they’ll never engage. If the subject line looks like it could be important for their work, they’re almost guaranteed to open it.

Here’s a breakdown of bad vs great subject lines, with an explanation of why:


“High-Quality Candidates”

If you’ve ever been a hiring manager, you’ll know how many recruiters send emails like the above. Before opening it, I immediately know it’s from a recruiter. As someone who hires in-house, there’s no reason for me to open this.


“Application: {Role}”

This has the potential to be a genuine application. I’m much more likely to open it.


“Introducing Brex: Charity Spend Reimagined”

I’ve never heard of Brex, yet I know this is a sales email. Unless I’ve got a lot of spare time on my hands, this is likely going to my Gmail trash.


“How are you handling this?”

How am I handling what? Sounds important. Much more likely to open.

How to get someone to respond to an email?

Now that people are opening your emails, we face the next challenge: getting them to take positive action.

Of course you want these prospects to convert into revenue, but before that they need to respond, book a call, convert into a trial etc. Those upper-funnel actions are what we want to optimize for with our cold emails, given the feedback loop is much shorter. You can test new messaging and see the results within hours vs having to wait months for a deal to close.

So, what makes an email convert?

As the volume of businesses sending cold outbound has increased, it’s become easier and easier to spot templated, mass-sent copy. An overly generic message, no details about their business or role, asking for an hour of their time to “discuss”. I receive probably a dozen emails just like that every day, and so do your prospects!

In order to receive a positive response, you need to cut through the noise and stand out.

After reviewing millions of emails, Alice noticed the strongest performing often follow the format of: Why them? Why you? What next?

Why them?

The best performing emails always start by explaining exactly why you are reaching out to them at this specific moment in time. Not only does it explain how relevant this is to them but it also makes clear that this isn’t just another templated spam mail.


“As Head of Growth, you understand how important it is to keep CAC low. I wanted to tell you about…”


“I found that you’ve accidentally no-indexed your website from Google. Your traffic has tanked as a result and I’m betting your blended CAC is at an all-time high.”

Why you?

Your goal here is to make them think, “This is exactly what I need”. It’s about connecting the dots between their needs and your solution in a clear, compelling way.

The emphasis here should be on what you can do for them. How your offer helps them save time, lower costs, make more money. This should be short, succinct, and clearly valuable.

What next?

You've explained why you're reaching out and what you offer. Now, it's time to guide them towards your desired outcome with a call-to-action (CTA).

Your CTA, just like your subject line, is a critical element that can significantly boost your results. Think about it: which of these would you be more likely to respond to?

  • “Are you able to sign a contract today?”
  • “Is this of interest?”

Your CTA can be a soft ask or a hard ask.

A soft ask is a gentle nudge. It's an easy-to-action, low-pressure suggestion. Often, a simple 'yes' or 'no' is enough for a response.

On the other hand, a hard ask is a direct and clear request for a specific action.

Remember, the bigger the barrier to response, the lower the likelihood of action. So, it's often beneficial to start with a soft ask.

Examples of soft asks:

  • Is this of interest?
  • Could this be relevant?
  • Are you responsible for this?

Examples of hard asks:

  • Please schedule a call with me…
  • Are you available for a call at…
  • Click this link to book in your demo session…
  • You can sign up here…


The key to success in cold emailing lies in personalization, relevance, and clarity. Each email should be crafted with the recipient in mind, showing that you understand their challenges and have a solution that addresses those challenges. Your call-to-action should be clear and straightforward, reducing the effort required to take the next step.

Keep in mind that the world of email marketing is always evolving. Stay adaptable, continuously test and refine your strategies, and always be willing to learn from both successes and failures. With these practices, you're well on your way to mastering the art of cold emails that not only convert but also build lasting relationships.

Read next

Alice integrates with your entire GTM stack.

Automate every step of your outreach process, from finding and researching prospects to personalizing messages and booking meetings.