How to Write a Cold Email that Actually Works

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In order to get replies, a cold email has to be short yet powerful and intriguing. For this reason, each part of the short message has to bear meaning and play a crucial communicative role. How to write a cold email that works? Check if you properly took care of the 6 tremendously important elements when composing your message for outbound outreach.

Step 1: “From” Line

Most people do not care about this one. And that’s their big mistake. The from line is what our addressee can see once the message gets into their inbox, right next to the subject line.

Should we put there our first name, our first and last name, or the name of our company? Well, it depends on our audience and the purpose of our email. But it does matter, so make sure to follow the link below for more tips on that part.

Step 2: Subject line

The subject of our cold email is the key to your addressee’s heart. It is – no matter how trivial that sounds. It is the subject that makes them open our email or delete it right away. How to construct the subject so that our addressee can’t help opening our email? Follow the link below to find out what works best and why.

Step 3: Introduction

Right after we persuade our addressee with the ‘from’ line and the subject to actually open our message, we’re halfway through. Now we’ve got 3 seconds to catch their attention and make them read further than the first two lines. And that’s why we need an intriguing introduction.

Spoiler alert: the introduction is never about you or your company. For full episode on irresistible cold email introductions follow the link below.


Step 4: Value Proposition

That’s the pitch point of our email. That’s where we should talk turkey. How to tell our addressee who we are and what we want from them so that they stay interested and don’t scare off? How to naturally link the value proposition with the introduction? How to avoid sounding like a creepy sales person? The answers to those three questions and more in the post linked below.

Step 5: Call to Action (CTA)

If we want the addressee to take an action after reading your email, which obviously we do, we need to tell them straight ahead what we want them to do next. How to formulate a CTA that is a real trigger to action? What can we ask our addressee for? Click the link below and find some proved ways for constructing CTAs that work.

Step 6: Signature

And last but not least, the often and widely ignored signature. The signature is a fully-fledged part of our message and we cannot ignore that fact. The signature should tell our addressee who we are and where they can find more information about us and/or our company.

A well-constructed signature can help us shorten the email body and make the message more digestible and addressee-centered. I spent some time on my signature, so you can click the link below to see what I figured out.


Short, highly personalized cold emails dedicated to specific audience are a great way to start some new business relations and find some new hot leads for your company. The 6 steps to the effective outbound outreach are described in detail in the 6 posts linked above. Make sure you don’t miss any of them when writing your opening cold email.



What Should Be the From Line of My Cold Email?

Why do we miss the importance of the “From” line?

The “From” line seems so obvious. We set it up while configuring our email account, and that’s it. What to change about it, right?


The “From” line is what our addressee sees right next to the subject line – even before they open the email. The “From” line, like the subject line, should be consistent with our subject, our message, and the purpose of the email.

It is a very important part of the meticulously constructed puzzle.

Personal or company email?

That depends. Usually sending a cold email we want to contact a specific person at a specific company. So to them, we should be a specific person from a specific company.

Think of from the perspective of a cold email addressee. You sometimes get cold emails as well, so this shouldn’t be very hard.

Imagine you get an email from an allegedly great company, offering you their top-quality services or product, sent from “”… Would you treat this email seriously? Would you feel safe responding to such an email? I can say I wouldn’t. DELETE. would definitely feel better, and I probably wouldn’t mind, if only John gave me some more information on how I can check out his company in the body of his email and/or in his signature. MAYBE OPEN (if the subject line is intriguing enough).

Now, if you see the same email sent from “”, will you treat it more seriously and feel safer responding to this one? I would.

First of all, I would be able to check the company’s website to see who they are, where they are located, who they’ve worked with, and so on. That gives me an idea of what they do. That tells me they are professional and treat me in a professional way. OPEN.

Ok, but I could also get an email from How would I see such an email? I would sense impersonal bulk approach. Even if it wasn’t the case. Even if John sent all the emails to all his prospects one by one. What I think at this moment is, “if this was a personal outreach, he would use his personal account.” MAYBE OPEN (if the subject line was intriguing enough).

So, if you have your own domain, definitely use your personal email address at this domain sending the first-touch email to your addressees.

For me, that’s the first anti-spam test to pass.

And if you’re already sending cold emails at scale, see also:Why We Set up a Separate Mailbox for Outbound Campaigns? >>

What the “From” line should include

First name, or first+last name?

I usually get poorly written cold emails from people who give me just their first name, or the first and last name in the “From” line. And this would be acceptable, if only they gave me their full name and a link to their website within the email and most definitely in the signature – which, unfortunately, they don’t. DELETE.

So when is the first name and the last name enough for a “From” line? Again, that depends on the subject, the body and the purpose of your first message.

For instance, at 52Challenges we were been sending first touch emails with the subject line: “I’m looking for a fitness professional”. I was sending them from my personal address at our company domain and the “From” line included only my full name. Why was that?

We assumed that when a personal trainer sees the subject sent from a real person, not a company, they feel like there is actually someone looking for their help and professional expertise. They open it thinking this might be a new client. DEFINITELY OPEN.

In the body of my email, I explained that we were looking for fitness professionals who would like to try our new software. I gave them a link to our website, so they could check me out if they wanted.

My name plus the company name?

If I put in my “From” line Cathy from, the email would definitely feel less personal, and thus less intriguing. MAYBE OPEN.

And if my “From” line would be simply, they could feel like this was just another unsolicited bulk email sent by a machine. They wouldn’t be able to see the person on the other side. DELETE.

On the other hand, at Woodpecker I’m using the “From” line Cathy from I’m writing to people who are involved in B2B start-ups, work as sales or marketing managers and expect emails from other people involved in business. I additionally personalize the subject line, so the subject + from line is a combination of personal and professional.

So far, works great for me.

What’s in it for you?

We had a lot of examples and some analysis. But what’s to remember from all this? Well, 3 things for today:

#1 – Be consistent.

Each part of your email, even the usually ignored “From” line, should match the rest of your message. In order to open your email and respond, your addressee needs all the elements of the puzzle you are to them at first. Let them recognize you as a professional, let them recognize you as a person, let them read your good intentions so they can feel safe and treat you seriously.

#2 – Use empathy.

Once you get around constructing your cold email, think of your prospects like you were one of them. Get into their shoes for a little while. Check if you would open such an email from a person who presents themselves such-and-such.

#3 – Be specific.

Don’t think generally. What works for another group of prospects and for another type of business may not work for yours. Think of your business as a unique unit. Think of your addressee’s as a unique audience. Think of your specific solution and their specific situation.

How do they work? What kind of emails do they expect? Who will they be willing to talk to? As soon as you’re able to answer those questions, you will be able to construct a well-targeted and highly-personalized email campaign.

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