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Cold email copywriting: 8 mistakes to avoid

Posted on: February 12, 2021

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Category: Email content

Cold email copywriting: 8 mistakes to avoid

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Trying to set up a sales call by emailing people out of the blue is a really tough ask. Most people don’t want a sales email. They definitely don’t want a sales email that has been sent to hundreds or thousands of people.

What they do want is an easier life. Better sales figures. A huge Christmas bonus and a holiday house in the Algarve. And you can help them achieve that. By sending one-to-one, personal emails.

A message that comes from a human, and offers a helping hand.

This is our lesson in cold email copywriting: ditch the jargon, remove the polish, and be personal.

Perfect your subject line

There are all sorts of techniques for getting people to open your emails.

Let’s keep it simple. 

Keep it is personal so they know the message has come from a human. 

Add a touch of intrigue to help convert a delivery into an open.

Simplification is going to be a theme in our email copy, so we might as well start with the email subject line.

Drop the marketing language

Email copywriting isn’t the place for frustrated novelists. You aren’t trying to win The Booker Prize. You need to sound like a real person.

In our golden rules of prospecting, which outlines the structure and language we use for prospecting emails, we distil this into one simple tip. 

Imagine you are on a train, have five minutes before your stop, and spot the perfect prospect on LinkedIn. You need to quickly fire off a message. You will probably keep it short and simple.

Drop the technical jargon

So you’ve dropped the flowing prose and adverb heavy fluff.

But what if your product or service is a complex thing to explain?

How do you write a cold email that explains your new technical solution to an industry problem?

You don’t.

It doesn’t matter if your offering is complicated. A good email doesn’t try to close a sale on first contact. You can’t expect that from a cold email campaign.

You don’t need to explain your solution. You just need to make a connection.

Desk with notepad, phone and plants

Drop the feature and benefit lists

OK, so no marketing jargon. No technical jargon. What about features and benefits?

Surely outlining the long list of snazzy features, and the endless benefits of your solution will win them over?


Just outline the end result. Don’t worry too much about the mechanics and steps involved. 

Cold email copywriting should be approached with confidence.

Don’t list out every benefit. It’s more powerful to talk about your solution “that gets results”.

Saying “clients are seeing X, and Y, and some have reported Z. Also, you might find A, B or even C” lacks confidence; by trying to cover all bases you sound like you don’t excel at any of them.

Drop the social proof

Your homepage might proudly list the big-name clients your team managed to get over the line. And so it should.

But emails are different.

Don’t rely on social proof to win them over. 

Instead, tell your prospect you know exactly how your product will make a tangible difference at their company.

Drop obvious data insertions

Writing emails to fifty people a day, that are still personal, requires one of two things.

An intern who doesn’t mind being bored, or some clever data insertion.

The ability to insert different data into thousands of emails is a tool. No tool solves a problem itself. It allows you to solve a problem if used correctly.

Data insertion done well solves the problem of personalisation to a whole email list. It allows you to build that personal connection with the person reading your email. 

Done badly, where it’s clearly noticeable, is a massive turn off. Try checking a few samples of your email content before hitting send.

Good data insertion can improve cold email copywriting, as this example shows

You might have to apologise to your marketing department for this one.

Great cold email copywriting manages to get someone to take an action, despite an email which arrives out of the blue.

You don’t want the action to be downloading a PDF. For a different cohort, people in your marketing database you are trying to nurture into a lead, that might be the perfect strategy.

For a sales email, the CTA should get the person to get in contact. Downloads and links detract from this, so ditch them.

Drop discounts and special offers

First of all, discounts and offers can stir spam filters into life.

Second, your first contact shouldn’t start off with a desperate discount. 

Your email copy should sell your proposition quickly and well, not start reducing its value.

Sell more. Book a demo today.

Drop the hard sell

By now, you might be thinking I know nothing about email copywriting. What is the point of a sales email with no list of benefits, no discounts, and no attachments?

What on earth is the call to action?

Well, this email is just an introduction. You ultimately want to secure a call or a meeting.

To connect with the person, make it personal, explain you have something that can benefit them, and ask for ten minutes of their time.

Cold email templates: personal, not polished

Here’s how to remove the jargon when cold email copywriting.

You want to go from this:

Subject: SMART™ data management by Intech Software PLC

“Dear Sir/Madam,

Intech Software PLC’s recently released technology-driven integrated performance enhancement solution uses patented SMART™ data management to provide an unparalleled opportunity to…”

To something like this:

Subject: SoPro brief chat

“Hi Dave

I read your post on cloud migration last week — really got me thinking about your approach.

Mind if I drop you a call… I have a couple of thoughts I wanted to run past you?

Do you have a few minutes on Thurs?”

But what if your problem isn’t that your previous email copy was full of jargon, but that your product or industry is full of unavoidable jargon?

Well, there is no jargon that is unavoidable. Take a look at the below email template for one example of simple email copy.

Subject: SoPro brief chat

‘As |name of job title| at |name of company| I’m sure you’ve found |insert shorthand for problem| to be an issue.

My team have recently discovered a way you can use |insert shorthand for solution| to fix this.

It’s all pretty complicated stuff but the long and short is it works and it’s really producing results for companies like |name of client|

I think it could really help out at |name of company| too.

Can I put in a call to talk you through the technical ins and outs and share some examples of how I see you benefitting from it?’

We hope this advice helps with your cold email outreach. It works for us, and we sent 5.5 million prospecting emails last year.

If you’d rather have experts doing your sales email copywriting, get in touch with us and discover why we have market-leading results.

Watch our explainer video to learn more about SoPro

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