Getting organized

Stop Copying Templates: How to Create a Unique Cold Email in 6 Steps

By May 16, 2016 2 Comments

Have you ever wondered how many of your sent emails were deleted before the reader reached the second line?

It seems like nowadays we can almost smell a sales pitch right after it’s sent. That’s because there are patterns, or even whole templates copied so many times that we don’t even bother to read them. We see the subject line and think: “OK, yet another sales pitch…”

If you want to see more replies, try to come up with unique content that draws prospects into your message and makes them want to respond. It is a difficult task but you can organize the process into six steps to make it easier.

Step 1: Craft a ‘perfect key’ subject line

Subject lines are like keys. If it’s not cut for the right door, it won’t open. Many cold email subject lines sound like newsletter titles or commercials, and thus feel generic. They are irrelevant to the personal message that a cold email is supposed to accomplish.

Take for instance:

  • “iOS & Android Application Development Proposal”
  • “Professional Business Marketing Video”

These sound like they were sent to thousands of people at the same time.

Compare the two above with these:

  • “Mobile version of <company> web app”
  • “Your post on <topic> & a question”

I would open an email with a subject line like this because it promises that the message is going to be about me and my company. It’s a personal touch and it works.

When crafting your subject line, make it personal, relevant and valuable.

Step 2: Draw them in with the intro

Start with a reference to their work and draw them with relevant context to your value proposition. Make your prospect the main character in the story. Next, find a link between your product or service and their business needs.

Step 3: Write a value proposition that actually shows value

This can be tricky as it’s very difficult to avoid sounding like a sales pitch. “At ABC, we do <this and that> and I thought…” And that’s usually the moment we think: ‘aha! this is a sales pitch!’ Don’t get me wrong, we all need a value proposition in our cold email. The trick is to make the recipient actually see the value in it.

To make sure this happens, keep in mind the following 3 rules:

# 1. Write about actual benefits that you bring the recipient.

# 2. Choose one most relevant benefit and craft the whole value proposition around it.

# 3. Show them how exactly it helped other companies so far.

Step 4: Don’t ask for too much in the Call To Action (CTA)

CTA triggers the prospect’s action after they have read your email. Make sure yours is clear and to the point – it should specify the exact next step to be taken.

The most common CTAs usually ask for a call or a meeting, but take time to get to know your prospect first. A prospect-focused question is a good first step.

Seek to start a relationship and to learn as much as you can about your prospect. The better you know their business needs, the better you’ll be able to help them. If they feel you’re helping, they’ll be more eager to buy from you.

Step 5: Plan a valuable follow-up sequence

You likely know and have received the “touching base” and “just checking in” follow-up email. As Jill Konrath rightly points out, such follow-ups are the easiest way to make yourself look selfish.

A follow-up email should show your prospect that you care about helping them and not just selling to them. Use this as an opportunity to showcase the value you bring. Here are some examples:

  • a link to a case study of your successful customers, which will allow the prospect to relate to your offer.
  • a post, article or event that will exemplify how the type of solution you’re offering may be useful for their type of business.
  • an example referring to another painpoint than the one you’ve already addressed, which may resonate better with their needs.

Try to keep the follow-up as valuable as the opening email, but shorter. It is possible, it just requires considerable effort to achieve – which your prospects will appreciate.

Step 6: Keep learning, testing & improving

I’m not telling you to burn all cold email templates and resources including sales emailing tips. On the contrary: get all the templates you can! Analyze them – look for patterns and practices that may work in your outreach.

I was collecting templates and analyzing them to understand the mechanisms that rule cold emails. Then, I put the results of my research in an ebook, for others who look for inspiration and want to learn.

Don’t copy the most effective templates. Analyze them, learn from them, and use the knowledge to craft your own emails. Then test and improve your copy on the basis of first-hand experience.


Cathy Patalas is Marketing Manager at – SaaS helping B2B companies directly contact prospective clients via personalized sales emails & follow-ups sent automatically. Cathy writes about cold emailing and prospecting at and is author of the ebook 15 Cold Email Templates that Will Get You Leads.


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