1. Overview
  2. Email Training
  3. How to Approach Writing Cold Email Templates to Get 4x Conversions

How to Approach Writing Cold Email Templates to Get 4x Conversions

Don’t use an email template. That’s our clever way to start an article that has “cold email templates” in the title. The point is that these days an effective cold email is unimaginable without personalization, and, by the way, doesn’t personalization by definition negate the concept of a template?

But wait, you can say, we have heard that personalization is king for a decade now. Has anything changed? No, personalization reigns today as it did yesterday, but are you sure that what you do in your cold outreach is 100% research-based? We keep getting cold emails that get only our first names right and start strutting their stuff right in the first line! “Hi, Joanna, our company makes awesome software. Let me tell you about it.” That’s so 90’s. In the age of social media, you impress no one by tossing their name around.

We can chew on the same adage – do attention-grabbing personalized subject lines, don’t let the prospect’s mind wander in the first line of the email, finish them with a catchy CTA – but all that turns out a pile of generalized clichés if you fail to do the groundwork and dig up some insights on your prospects before sitting down to actually writing. However, research for personalization swallows up the bulk of your time, much more than crafting an email. So how can we scale?

Sarah Hicks and Patricia Simms from Predictable Revenue Inc. superbly summarized the answer to that question on the Belkins Growth Podcast (S2E3). Discussing cold email templates with Mike Maximoff, Sarah says she has based her cold email outreach tactics on the sales approach promoted by Becc Holland, CEO & Founder of Flip the Script. So we will use Becc’s ideas for this article as well.

Whereas the modern realities of cold outreach campaigns require a high degree of personalization and can hardly be templatized, we suggest to you our cold email principles and best practices.

The rules of engagement

This is getting tougher and tougher in the personalized game. Yet, right now is the perfect timing for real-deal personalization. People in the business world are sick and tired of this fake pretense at personalization. “Hey, Joanna, I noticed your growth recently… Regards, Jim.” Recently, when? What kind of growth did you notice, Jim? That lack of details reveals a tone-deaf approach that is a far cry from just 5-minute research on LinkedIn.

We have pretended like we are personalizing when we’re not. In B2B, it’s still the person on the other side of the screen. It’s a human selling to a human. Knowing the names and titles of people you are getting in front of is not even an attempt at personalization. We need to reach out only when we have dug up some information that lets the recipient know: they wouldn’t know that snippet about me unless they were doing research. 

So, here’s a tentative list of the basic principles of effective cold outreach.


Customer-centricity tethers your research to your target audience. You can spend thousands of dollars on sales intelligence tools, hire a team of researchers, and then have a 0% response rate because the product that you were selling wasn’t catered to that specific audience.

So, before your sales teams start tailoring all cold emails, you need to know who your ideal customer is because every single word from your B2B email templates should be a perfect fit with your ICP and buyer personas.

When you get it right, customer-centricity affects every aspect of your cold outreach. If you know your customer, you know what subject lines are the catchiest and what CTAs are the most relevant. And you don’t even think about crafting a long email because the snippet you know about that person hooks their attention from the get-go. You keep the prospect’s pain points at the forefront of your mind when you’re crafting a cold email. That’s the only way to build rapport with your prospects.

Psychographics rather than firmographics

There are hardly a handful of people who can blast a mass email campaign that starts with “Hey, we went to Brown together. Let’s Facetime for a chat” and get more leads from it. In B2B, demographics and firmographics data are used for segmentation but are of little use for personalization at scale. The same with technographics. Even knowing what software your prospects use should remain implicit knowledge that you don’t use in a cold email. OK, they use Canvas, Outreach, or AeroLeads, so what? They can have no budget for your suggestion or be at a different buyer journey stage.

However, classifying people according to their psychological criteria makes all the difference in your personalization efforts. Look for your prospects’ interests, habits, attitudes, beliefs, motivation, prioritization, emotions, and preferences, and find the overlap with your business interests.

But again, that’s still the prep stage. When you know what matters to someone and what makes them tick, it’s not yet a reason to write.

Personalization through social media

Now, what can be a reason for you reaching out to a stranger?

Normally, LinkedIn gives you the shortest route to what you need to know for a well-researched cold outreach message. Becc has a 5 premise bucket classification, but we want to mention just the first three.

First, you can refer to the content the prospect authored. In a sense, that’s the easiest material to fabricate a hook for the prospect because people usually keep what they create close to their heart. Online content includes articles, webinars, or blog posts. So if you write, “Your piece on prospecting really got me thinking,” and then you lead with value, that’s an example of a well-researched cold email. 

Second, the content the prospect engaged with is also of great help. Many prospects keep a low profile on LinkedIn and post no content at all, but they can be quite active participants in online discussions across the industry. Sarah says that’s her go-to personalization method, “So I take an existing LinkedIn post by a thought leader that had a lot of engagement. Look through the list of people that have engaged, commented, liked, and then see who of those people fit my ICP and prospect them because I already knew that they had the engagement.”

Third, you can find useful information for personalization in leads’ profile lines and a company overview. It’s like hooks are out there for you to stumble upon them. If you write in your profile line, “Hiring the right people is as important as developing them” (as Becc did), wouldn’t you be willing to reply to an email that starts like this:

I was just taken back by your profile line about how much you’d like to develop people. That’s really synonymous with our culture here at Folderly and it’s a drive and priority for us in 2022. Give me a shot to have 30 minutes with you to unpack a little bit about our culture and how I could potentially see you fitting in.

As Becc says, “I would instantly respond as this person paid attention to me, and I believe them that we are a fit because they have identified something about me that they think is an actual fit.”

Brief but detailed

If you follow the principles of personalization – customer-centricity tailored to buyer personas and based on psychographic data plus a reason to write from their social media activity – you arrive at a pretty detailed yet short message. That’s exactly what will get you a really high positive response rate. For Sarah, it was a 95% open rate and a 35% response rate, and “while a lot of those were positive, a lot of the responses were actually like, wow, this is not a fit and not the time, but that's a really good email.” 

For example, you get an email that starts, “I noticed you’re growing.” Does it have your attention? But if you read, “We noticed you’re growing 34%, and you just added 11 members to your team in the last quarter,” would you go, “Wow, now I know you’re actually talking to me?”

This day and time, we all have a very short attention span. You don’t even have a full minute to win over your prospects with a cold email. Just a few seconds. Use them to show them you know them, at least to a reasonable extent that the digital environment around you allows for. Tease just these three criteria – an article, a share, a profile line - and you’ll get an actual snippet of what you’re talking about.

Have an aggressive built-up

You have probably noticed that many sales reps start out with an aggressive approach, pouncing on prospects with long cold emails and packing all their variables into a single message. And then they either get reluctant to follow up, or they get more lenient. This sends prospects an unmistakable signal: Don’t respond, and I’ll stop pestering you. In contrast, Becc suggests a reversal approach of making your sequences more aggressive on the backend. So, you reach out with a short message and end with a soft ask. But as you use a multi-channel approach to boost your cold email strategy, you can get more aggressive when you get no reply.

The structure of sales email templates to generate leads

The structure of an email should be 3 to 4 lines max (not paragraphs!). People don’t read cold emails in full. They scan them for useful information. Make the scanning easier. And if they find your email worthy of their attention, they’ll get back to you.

Google studied how your prospects read a message (on a laptop at least). They start at two o’clock on the message, and they loop around, going clockwise. That means that leads read the end of the first line first to get who you are. Then they loop around to your CTA of what you want from them. And if both of those are congruent with what they think they value at the time, they loop around to the body of the message.

It tells you that the least valuable of your message is what you do as a company. So if you didn’t disarm your prospect in that first line of the premise, spinning some kind of detail about them, then they will think it’s a mass blast, which puts them in the fight or flight mode, and they decide whether they should delete the email or keep reading.

So, let’s see how you can disarm your prospects and get them interested enough not to delete your email and maybe even your reply.

  • The subject line. Basically, there are only two rules for subject lines: 1) Do your best not to hit the spam folder and avoid a marketing-looking language in subject lines to get an open; 2) Don’t make promises not supported by the body of the message. In other words, don’t bait-and-switch. Don’t trick prospects into opening your email by saying you know about their spouse’s affairs or something similarly silly. The goal is not an open rate but rapport with your buyer.  
  • The first line. The opening line is the premise, and it’s the longest. That’s your reason for cold emailing them based on something about the prospect /their company. That’s your first opportunity to engage your prospects in this opening line by showing them: hey, it’s not a mass blast, I’m actually talking to you.
  • The second line. The second line is the body of the message where we say what we do at Folderly, but it’s mapped to a hook. It should be medium length.
  • The last line. The last line is a call-to-action (CTA), and it would be a request to unpack the content mapped above without the bells and whistles of “looking forward to hearing from you” or “what’s the best way to get hold of you.” Use the succinct “let me unpack how we helped, leveraged, etc.” and be out of their hair.

As you can see, the body is mapping your company’s value proposition to the premise of outreach CTA. It’s all connected. The prospect, interested in something in your email’s subject line or your name, opens your email. If you do the opening line right, the prospect quickly glances at your CTA. If both of those are hit, the prospect then figures out what you do as a company and what to do with your email: delete or reply.

Conversely, each team can have its own cold email best practices. Sarah likes to ask, “How’s your calendar this day?” This wording doesn’t sound “quite hard as in ‘you owe me your time,’ but it's like ‘I think I have more value for you.” Patricia says, “Another thing that oddly enough has worked for a lot of people is asking to put a placeholder in someone’s calendar. It gives you an opportunity to continue following up.”

So, mixing and matching in email cold outreach is up to you and largely depends on the industry you’re in and what your prospects better respond to.

How to use cold email templates to generate hot leads

Never use unchanged cold email templates for your cold outreach. It’s an inspiration and some examples to emulate rather than repeat word-for-word. For one, users can tell when a message comes from a cold emailing blast and has nothing to do with them. But also, spam filters would notice repeatable wording and similar patterns in emails that come from your inbox and block you.

So, how to use sales email templates in B2B email marketing?

  • Personalize by category

For example, you can collect lists of relevant persons on LinkedIn who post/comment/share information in the industry. Then, most probably, the content they interact with is similar to. As a result, you can start your emails with pretty much the same template: “Hey, {{name}}. I saw you {{posted/shared/liked}} that thing about outbound being hard. We do stuff with outbound.”    

8 cold email templates to modify for your own needs

If your prospects open and read but don’t reply, start crafting concise, hyper-personalized emails by using B2B email templates from our collection. Let’s dig into cold email templates and see if you grasped the basic principles of personalization.

Content-related cold email templates

You found something specific on the psychographic premise and are ready to shoot. First, let’s look at a template and then see how you can modify it. And remember to personalize subject lines too!

  • Content the prospect authored (articles, webinars, posts, pictures, studies)

  • Content the prospect engaged with (shares, comments, likes)

  • Self-attributed traits (profile lines, company overview)

Cold email templates linked to other reasons to connect

Sometimes you’re not sure you found the right person, so you can use the pretext of having a mutual connection and finding them thanks to a triggering event and asking them to point you to the appropriate person.

  • Mutual connections

  • Trigger events

  • A longer warm-up

Even if you craft highly tailored perfect sales emails, some of them may not work as you expect. Just because they are sales emails, and people don’t feel the need to buy something all the time. Use templates that feed cold leads with relevant content like case studies or white papers and other valuable resources.  

Do’s and don’ts of writing cold emails

As always with writing, the smallest details matter. It’s true that you can test every line on your email, but it would make your life easier if you stick to some basic rules and emanate respect, equality, adequacy, and sensibility without A/B testing for it.

  • Keep it short and easy. We already mentioned multiple times that your cold emails must be short. Even more, this particular approach we are advocating in this article demands super-short messages ranging from three to five sentences, which in return will bring you super-high response and CTR rates. If you have trouble conceptualizing that approach, imagine yourself at a party. Would you walk up to someone and start pitching off the bat? Probably not. First, you do small talk and create a connection. And only then should you move on to your sales-y points.  
  • Be humble and vulnerable. Becc advises her team to show vulnerability if they need to. For example, an SDR forgot to send out a file they promised or confused some information. It’s ok to pick up the phone, dial your recipient and explain your situation. It strengthens the human bond you’re growing with the prospect. Remember that it is you who is reaching out and you’re asking for their time and help. Be grateful and humble.
  • Mind your tone. In an attempt to write as we speak, SDRs can slip into being too casual. But you need to pick words carefully as the brevity of your email and the choice of words can sometimes be perceived as entitlement and brusqueness. So make sure your messages don’t sound to the effect of, “Lemme know how quickly I can expect you to get this done.” Even saying “Does it make sense to you” sounds too condescending. Take the onus of making sense on yourself and ask, “Am I making sense to you?”  
  • Leave embellishments for another time. Whatever your reason for writing, we deplore you not to use frills and empty phrases like “I hope you’re doing well” or “I know you’re busy but....” You’re reaching out to busy people, just like you. So be direct and concise.
  • Don’t make the prospect feel not OK. Probably, when you approach following up, you don’t want to sound like a nag, but when you write, “I’ve emailed you 5 times, but you haven’t responded..” that’s exactly how you sound. Don’t try to manipulate prospects into responding to you with negative emotions. Similarly, mudslinging against competitors your prospects use won’t work in your favor.
  • Don’t use phrases from the list. You’re wasting the space of the message and the time of your recipients, “It would be great if..” “I was hoping to…” etc. You think they make you feel polite, but they sound weak and insecure. If you want to ask for something, be direct and clear.

Crafting cold emails on your own

The main point that we aimed at with this article is to show that there is no right or wrong answer in outbound. Yes, there are general recommendations – like don’t write long sheets of texts to cold leads, or don’t be condescending with “Does it make sense to you?” – but overall, it’s a free country, and do whatever works out for you.

We put out these cold email templates as a great starting point for newbies. If you have tried different cold emailing practices and remained unsatisfied with the results, try the best practices we recommend above. Then let your research efforts guide you until you find intersections between your product and your prospect’s activity.

Was this article helpful?