Cold Email Guide

Cold Email Guide

Table of contents

Cold Email 101 | Breakcold


Cold email is one the best way to generate leads for your business.

Successful startups, agencies, freelancers use cold emails everyday to fill their calendar with meetings and close deals or new subscriptions.

1°) What is cold email?

Cold email is not email marketing

Many people think that cold email is similar to email marketing, it's not.

Email marketing refers to inbound, meaning the prospect already subscribed to your product/service.

Cold email is part of sales outreach and thus refers to outbound, meaning prospects never heard about you before.

Cold Email Marketing | Breakcold

Mailchimp is not a cold email software

Is cold email for your business?

Cold email is not suited for all businesses.

First, you need to act in a B2B environment.

Secondly, only do cold emails if it has a great ROI potential.

If you're selling anything above $500, you're good to go with cold emails.

If you're selling things below $50, you will have to send very large volumes to be successful.

This is why cold emails generally suit the following:

  • agencies/freelancers who want to close more deals.
  • B2B SaaS who target enterprises and/or have expensive plans.
  • businesses that sell +$2000 products/services.
  • startups founders who want to validate their project.
  • any company who wants to do backlinks campaigns for SEO purposes.
  • any company who wants to follow-up to near closed lead without going to spam (inbound).

Cold Email ROI | Breakcold

Is cold email spam, illegal, RGPD compliant?

Cold email is not spam. Cold email is spam only when you don't know how to do it.

You cannot blame people who say cold email is spam because they're used to receive many spammy messages.

Cold email is not illegal except in rare countries such as Denmark.

Cold email is RGDP compliant as long as you target B2B businesses and have a 'legitimate interest' to do business with your prospect.

What's the goal of a cold email?

The goal of a cold email is simple: book a call/meeting.

You won't sell something straight away with just a cold email whatever your goal (making money, backlinks, networking).

This part is very important, remember it.

Cold email meetings | Breakcold

1°) Cold email rules for targeting

Work on your ICP

Not working on your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is the main reason why people fail at cold emailing.

If you don't master your ICP, you can have the best deliverability, great open rates but no replies will occur.

Iterate on your ICP, here's how:

  1. do 10 variations of your ICP
  2. take 100 prospects per variation of your ICP
  3. cold email each variation of your ICP
  4. twist the message for each ICP
  5. see what's the best performing one and double down on it

Niche down your targeting

If you target anyone, you're targeting nobody.

Be selective about your prospects.

Quick example:

  • Before: cold emails to Shopify stores
  • After: cold emails to bracelets Shopify stores in Miami

Doing this allow you to add more personalization to your outreach.

Do 'warm' cold emails

Warm cold emails means that you target people who already know about you or are aware of your product/service/industry.

Target people who like posts in your industry

You can't do it on all platforms but Twitter is perfect for that.

Cold email scrapy bird | Breakcold

Scrapybird tool

I personally use this tool called ScrapyBird.

My favorite features are:

  • scraping people who commented a tweet and enrich with the B2B email address
  • scraping people who liked a tweet and enrich with the B2B email address.

Targeting your competitors

This tool is legendary, it's called Builtwith.

It allows you to target people who are using other technologies (eg: Mailchimp, Intercom, Salesforce).

You can then enrich with the B2B email address using Appollo(dot)io, this is what we do at Breakcold.

Cold email Builtwith | Breakcold

Builtwith tool

Here's a quick process to do it properly:

  1. read weaknesses about competitors on G2, Capterra, Google reviews.
  2. use Builtwith to get your competitors clients
  3. Enrich emails with Apollo or another tool

Content marketing first then cold emails

Expose prospects to your content so the first time you send them cold emails, it's not really 'cold' but 'warm'.

Here's a quick process to understand it:

  1. Add prospects to LinkedIn
  2. Don't send them a LinkedIn DM straight away
  3. Do content marketing for 1 to 3 weeks
  4. Prospects get exposed to your content without even engaging with it
  5. Cold email the prospect with follow-up emails (1 month in total)
  6. Continue to post content marketing in the meantime
  7. If you get no replies to the cold email campaign, DM the lead.

2°) Cold email deliverability rules

Cold email open rate | Breakcold

I'd like to emphasize that all these rules are essential and a must-do if you want to have good open rates and reply rates.

Buy a separate domain dedicated to cold email

The rule is simple: always buy separate domains dedicated to cold emails.

If you get into spam, you'll ruin your domain authority.

This is how you do it:

  • Original domain: deel.com
  • Domain dedicated to cold email: trydeel.com ; letsdeel.com ; getdeel.com ; joindeel.com ; bestdeel.com

Cold email Google Domain | Breakcold

1 email address per sending domain

Except if you are a large enterprise or a big startup with a crazy domain authority, avoid to create more than two email addresses per sending domain.

1 email address is better, especially when you're starting out.

Set up SPF, DKIM, DMARC (a must-do)

SPF, DKIM and DMARC are settings that certify that you're the sole proprietary of your domain. It's made to prevent email spoofing.

Good to know: you don't have to set-up SPF and DKIM if you buy your domains with Google Domains.

Set up custom domain tracking

When you use a cold email platform to send cold emails, you basically share an invisible pixel with all the users of the platforms to track the open rates.

You don't want to share this pixel with other users because it can reduce your deliverability a little bit if some users of the platform are spammy people.

This is why you need to set up custom domain tracking.

Cold email DNS records | Breakcold

All these settings are DNS records

Warm up your email address

Email warm up is essential to succeed with cold emails.

When you buy a domain dedicated to cold emails, this domain has no authority. To get authority, the domain needs to send emails that get replies, many replies.

Email warm up tools allow you to automate this process, here's how:

  1. Buy a domain dedicated to cold emails
  2. Use an email warm up tool
  3. Warm up your email for at least 3 weeks
  4. Start sending cold emails step by step (5 =>10=>15 =>etc)
  5. Keep the warm up running constantly

Warm Up Email | Breakcold

At scale, links are things you want to avoid.

Get rid of them in your email copy as much as possible.

Same goes for images.

The goal is to use as little as possible HTML structure in your emails.

If you decide to use links, only use links that can guarantee you a great boost in replies.

Cold email spam | Breakcold

Send max 50/75 emails per domain

This is where people fail the most.

People send too many email with one single domain. We recommend to send maximum 50 emails per sending domain (not including emails from the warm up tool).

Pros who have bigger budget and are even more cautious and send less than 35 emails per sending domain.

Rotate domains if you go for volume

You feel confident about cold emailing and want to send 1000 cold emails a day?

Use cold email rotation.

Here's an example:

  1. You create a campaign to send 500 cold emails a day
  2. You have 10 warmed up sending email accounts
  3. You create a daily sending limit of 50 emails per account
  4. Once a sending limit is reached, the campaign continues automatically with the next email.

3°) Cold emails copywriting rules

Cold email copywriting most important rule

This is the most important rule when it comes to cold email copywriting: write a cold email that you would open and reply to yourself - it's that simple.

It's common sense, but many people forget about it.

Cold email subject lines tips

The subject line seems important but not that much.

The thing is, people look at the preview of your email nowadays to decide to open your email or not. So the first line (aka icebreaker) is more important.

Email assistant | Breakcold

Here's a few tips:

  • Write only a few words (3/4 max)
  • try to put the company name of the prospect.
  • Quick Question performs well
  • Quick Question {{company}} performs well
  • should we explore? performs well.

Try to start a conversation by asking questions

Your main goal is to start a conversation, you're not here to sell something straight away.

Sounds cheesy, but your goal is to build a relationship first.

Goal number 1 is to get a reply and then book a call (unless the reply already is enough for your goal with cold emails - ie backlinks, feedback, etc).

Keep it short

The recommended length of a good cold email is 30 to 75 words.

No one wants to read something long right?

Cold emails too long | Breakcold

Make it informal

You basically have to do the opposite of what you've been taught at school.

Being formal means you will sound like a cold email template.

Do voluntary mistakes in your subject lines:

  • before: Should we explore?
  • after: should we explore?

Why? Because it stands out more in the inbox.

Don't use a complicated vocabulary

70% of emails are written beyond a 10th grade reading level.

Use a 5th grade email reading level.

Cold email reading level | Breakcold

Make it about them, not you

Don't use I, me, my, myself etc.

Replace those by you, because it's about the prospect not about yourself.

Don't present yourself.

Don't use spam words

The algorithms of Google and Outlook spot spam words.

If you use them in your campaigns, especially at scale it can cause you big deliverability problems.

Here's a few words that are labeled as spam words in cold emailing: Buy now; Free gift; Free trial; Call now; Offer.

Follow-up 4 to 6 times

Cold email follow up | Breakcold

Most of the time, people don't reply to you because they're busy.

Use follow-up emails to boost reply rates.

Wait between 2 to 7 days between each step.

Give value in every new follow-up

Take advantage of each new follow-up to add a new information about your product or service.

3°) Cold emails personalization rules

Use personalized first lines (aka icebreakers)

Personalizing your cold email first lines is essential if you want to get good results.

Personalized first lines improve:

  • the open rates - the prospect see in the preview of the email the personalized line
  • the reply rates - more personalization equals more replies because it shows that it hasn't been automated.

You can write first lines yourself, with a VA (virtual assistant) or with AI like we do at Breakcold.

Cold Email AI first lines | Breakcold

First lines are generated from a LinkedIn URL or a Website URL.

A good way to do it is to manually take some time to listen to a podcast that the prospect has made (useful if you target C-level executives).

Use personalization points

In your cold email sequence, use personalization points in your copy such as {{firstName}}, {{company}} or {{city}}.

Use PS lines

PS lines are great ways to add a layer of personalization.

You can use them to make a point about a casual information that you noticed about your prospect.


Cold Email Template | Breakcold

The 'sent from my iPhone' hack

Back in the days, people wanted to remove the sent from my iPhone from their messages.

It's now time to use it again!

4°) Cold emails templates

You're starting with cold emails and need some templates?

Check our templates here


Increase revenues with cold emails

Cold emails are extremely powerful to increase revenues. Yet, they are underused by most individuals, startups or agencies. Breakcold helps you reach your goals.

Cold email Q&A

Common asked questions

Is cold email spam?

Cold email is spam only if you don't know how to do it properly.

Simply don't send cold emails that you won't open, read or reply too.

Follow the best practices in terms of cold email copywriting and cold email targeting to avoid being spammy.

Is cold email illegal?

Cold email is not illegal.

Cold email is legal in most countries throughout the world. A few countries restrict cold emails but there are very few. Denmark is an example of such country.

However, bear in mind that cold email is illegal in B2C environement.

What software can I use to send cold emails?

Breakcold obviously, it's a no brainer option.

Is cold email GDPR compliant?

Long story short, it is.

Basically, as long as you have a legitimate interest to do business with your prospect, it's all good.

Cold emails however are not possible with B2C prospects but only B2B ones.

Read more about cold emails

Best resources to step up your cold email game

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