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  • Writer's pictureErin Kapczynski

The cold, cold email…brrr

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

Even as the temperature gauge only just started creeping down to a brisk 65 degrees Fahrenheit in Los Angeles, elsewhere in the U.S., and certainly around the globe, it’s stormy, snowy, and decidedly sub-zero winter weather. As you cuddle up to Fido and hot chocolate, ready to hit send on that umpteenth follow-up email to a prospect you got from a list, give pause.

As the lucky recipient of 5-15 cold email pitches per day, I would like to share a few suggestions on etiquette, decorum, and how to maybe even get a reply back in this freezing email world.

Definitively, what not to do.

“Hi, my name is First Last.”

Why not:

I can see who you are from both your email address (most likely) and your signature line.I don’t care, as your name is currently meaningless to me.I’m already bored. You don’t want that.

“Following up to make sure you got my previous [2, 5, 12, 86] messages.”

Why not:

This puts me on the defensive. It’s the wrong tone.It makes me work too hard to look for additional info, which I am likely not yet engaged enough to do.

“What did you think about the contents of my previous [2, 5, 12, 86] messages?”

Why not:

You’re assuming I read them.You’re assuming I remember them.You’re assuming I care.All of this, again, puts the burden on me. It’s not my job to remember or care about what you’re selling.

Sending a long message with lots of details.

Why not?

I am going to instinctively visually assess the time commitment required of me to read through what you sent and decide against it, every time.

Dry, jargon-ridden, generic language taken out of canned company materials.

Why not?

If after the first sentence I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s not enough coffee to motivate me to keep going.

What to do.

Use humor.

Grab attention.

Through humor or otherwise.It’s OK to be slightly controversial, just not offensive or off-color.

What problem are you solving? Get to that fast, even in the email title.

Namedropping—who is currently benefiting from your solution?

Nobody wants to be a guinea pig. Not even the guinea pig itself, I am pretty sure. Tell me your solution has traction.It better be companies I have heard of.Awesome if it’s my competitors. No one wants to feel like they are being left behind. This is the rare case where FOMO creation is appropriate and even useful. And you're giving me intel on my competition.

Speaking of which…Be useful.

Tell me how what you’re offering is going to make my life easier.Include relevant NON-SALES information. E.g. white paper; research; even link to 3rd party article or news.

Be brief: save the grand details for when you have established connection.

Be personal.

Get the person’s name right. I’ve been addressed as “Eric” before. Needless to say, the delete reflex came quickly.Use the name of the person’s organization, and get that right also.If possible, reference any recent news going on with the company.If possible, reference any recent news going on with the individual (e.g. did this person just get a new title? Say congrats and how your offering might help in her/his new role).

Jury is out. Try if you will.

Following up your email with physical mailings of some sort.

Letter/brochureCookies, candy, other ediblesBranded promo stuff


You’re doing what every non-profit practices via personalized return address labels they send to your house unsolicited, along with request for donations: guilting someone into doing business with you by giving them something, so they feel obligated to at least acknowledge your existence.


- Guilting someone may get you a reply but won’t ensure a close.

- It’s expensive.

- Depending on what you’re sending, it may not be “green.” Save the trees, please.

Send a LinkedIn invite.


If you have a bunch of people in common with your prospect and have a generally non-threatening profile (no “Closer Extraordinaire” or “Sales Barracuda” in your title), then it might be worth a go. If someone accepts, you’re potentially one step closer as you’re now on your prospect’s radar as well as in their network.


So many will just, appropriately, ignore your invite if they don’t know you. And even if they accept, don’t pounce with an immediate solicitation message. Perhaps wait until this person posts something relevant that you have an opinion about and get in touch then.

Wishing everyone warmth and success this season.

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