Tough question… Let’s start with replies – because what we are aiming for with cold emails is opening doors… not conversions. Let me say that once more in another way – we do not want to push products/services in our cold emails. We want to start conversations.

In this world, ‘not working’ may simply mean you are not receiving replies. We will discuss ‘positive replies’ and inboxing next…

Getting Opens, AND Replies

In short, there are typically a few reasons why emails are opened but not replied-to:

  1. The promise of the subject line does not match what’s delivered in the email copy.
  2. The subject line and body copy match, but they have been looking into it (via a click-through or a google search and do not like what they see).
  3. There are issues in the body copy – spelling/grammar, it’s too long, poorly written, sent from the wrong person inside the company, or sent to the wrong person at the company you are targeting…
  4. Or, it’s the first email you have sent them and they are purely curious, but your offer is not hitting it’s mark (bad audience).

Getting POSITIVE Replies

Reply detection exists in all cold-emailing platforms, but positive reply detection exists in the good ones… If you are receiving positive reply data in your cold email dashboard, I assume (based on your question) those rates are very low. On top of the above points, here are additional items needed to increase your positive reply rate:

  1. Open the conversation, do not ask for the sale or for some indication of interest to buy.
  2. If at all possible, send these emails from your founders’ email address (this does not have to be their primary email).
  3. Always always always run a nurturing sequence prior to the first cold email (see below):

A cold email nurture sequence

Getting Into Their Inbox

I made a statement recently to a bunch of CMO’s and heads of data at fortune 500 companies – “make sure your teams are not sending cold emails from the same platform they are sending their customer blasts.” The reason I said that is to ensure higher inboxing rates. Your bulk emailing platforms like Constant Contact, Yesware, Mailchimp, Mailjet, Sendgrid, etc… are not built for cold emailing. Here’s what you will need to get into an inbox:

  1. Sending through your email servers not theirs (Gmail, Microsoft…)
  2. Random delays in between sends to appear personalized.
  3. Matching the default font of the email provider it is sending to.

Finally, Piping It All

Those who do not separate their email platforms typically do not out of fear of lack of oversight and organization of communications or opt-outs. But this is the easy part with today’s technology… All of the cold email platforms I use and recommend integrate with the top CRM’s or Zapier so you can push and pull contacts automatically as well as post to Slack channels when something important happens. Further, because you have followed my advice and are sending through your Google Apps or Outlook accounts, you have even more options through their API’s and folder organization. Your communication systems can be automated and organized.


I hope you learned something here.

Also, I have a managed cold email service if you are interested. We handle this for a select few every month. Here is the brief:


Now, to elaborate on the answer… here are some more tips to getting your cold emails to work:

Let’s show a very poor attempt at a cold email I actually received recently:

Poor attempt at a cold email

Why is this awful?

  • “It’s been a while..” – I’ve never heard from this guy.
  • “Many of you…” – calling out the fact I am in a blast (not a personal email).
  • His background is data management, but this is an example of not using accurate data.
  • Most importantly, the entire email is about the sender but it should be about me, the recipient.

Now, how can we create GREAT one-to-one cold email experiences:

  • Be specific in your creation of new audiences. Whether pulling from your DB, or creating ad hoc, be as specific as possible and tie in as many custom attributes as possible.
  • APIs like Linkedin Sales Navigator have done the heavy lifting for you. And there are plenty of options for extracting from those APIs.
  • Use tools which allow for customization of the text. You cannot trigger a ‘human like’ message at scale without being able to use numerous dynamic text placeholders.
  • This is the most important… most marketers make the mistake of targeting prospects on only a single channel with one medium in which they most experienced.

Now here is the correct way to compose a cold email (in bulk-format):

Good cold email example

Why is this better?

  1. It focuses on the reader, not the sender.
  2. It includes what prompted this outreach (“I saw your…)
  3. Also, something personal (“congrats…)
  4. And finally, it caters to their departmental pain points (“ensure you do now lose out on data optimization…”)

Even if you or a team member send these one at a time (as opposed to using software), the important thing to remember is – the more custom variables you put into a message, the higher the response rate.

** Regarding “{{ Personal Notes }}” – make sure to get some data point, or create your own, which can apply to all of your audiences.

Now, let’s go back to prepping a new audience for a campaign:

  1. Define your audience and purpose,
  2. Map the impressions and messages,
  3. List the criteria you need,
  4. Gather and verify the data,
  5. Enrich the data by adding a {{ personal_field }},
  6. Write your copy using the custom fields ^,
  7. If anyone is in the EU, make sure they are NOT in an OPT-IN requirement state.

Again – here’s how to be ‘human-like’ in bulk cold outreach:

  1. Dynamically customized messaging copy.
  2. The recipient at the center.
  3. Initiate a dialogue not a sale.
  4. Provide value from first contact onwards.


I hope you learned something here.

Also, I have a managed cold email service if you are interested. We handle this for a select few every month. Here is the brief: