Why Your Cold Emails Fail: Increase Open Rates by 247%

September 2, 2019

Your cold emails represent effort, time and money spent on making a connection with potential customers. Every email is important and as such, you should seek to make each a success. If your cold emails are failing their objective then it is time to revisit the basics and figure out what is wrong with them.

From the perspective of email marketing a cold email has only one job to do, to create a response from its recipient. While their open rate is not the greatest out of all the email types, surely some do hit the mark. Cold emails can be a powerful tool at your disposal, when used properly. There are stories of new startups that based solely on an email outreach strategy brought in around 20.000$ in revenue.

Why Your Cold Emails Fail (Hint: You’re Ignoring This Element)

This is great considering that most people really don’t understand cold emailing. With our help and this article, you will figure out the best way to generate an impact on your readers and make sure your cold emails are as effective as possible. Do keep in mind that for cold emails getting a response from every 10 cold emails sent is really good.

Personalization is failing you.

According to 94% of business in one survey, personalization is critical to success. This is right for the most part. When you’re sending cold emails, personalization is a good way to show how much you care and how engaged you are with your prospect and your brand. However, this is not the full picture, your emails have more potential than just that.

This is of course, taking personalization even further. Being relevant to your reader is the way to do it. Take this piece of information to begin with, business professionals that are often the target of cold emails receive in average 84 emails per day. The second most common reason for someone to unsubscribe to a mailing campaign is that the content is no longer relevant.

You want your cold emails to stand out from the rest of the emails they get. The format of the email is not the only way to do it. Being more personalized means being more relevant to your prospect’s interests. This creates more engagement and deepens the connection between you and your reader.

How to stay relevant with personalization.

Let’s begin with the basics, you should segment your list based on what you offer to your prospects. In fact, segmented email campaigns brought in an increase of 760% in email revenue. This is also way to personalize your email list and it does help you stay relevant to your readers.

When ever you want to know if your email will be relevant try putting yourself in the position of your reader and then asks yourself “What’s in it for me?”. People move, pay and do much more based on their interests, this shouldn’t be a surprise by now.

Answer that question in every cold email you send to a prospect. Make sure to put a context for the answer tough, this helps lessen the friction. Make your case like getting into business with you is the easiest decision. For instances, here’s an example of a bad cold email, one that shouldn’t be emulated.


As you may see, there isn’t a lot of relevance to that email. The readers have to figure out by themselves why they want what you offer. Add to that the fact that the email doesn’t include the name of the person reading it and is too general. This is the perfect example of a typical bad cold email.

Now compare that cold email to the one below and take notice of the relevant information being highlighted in red.

email body

Of course, these are just models of cold email. Here you have one that works and one that doesn’t. All thanks to the relevance of the email.

Using the “OMG, gotta hit reply” strategy to get replies from cold emails.

cold email

1. Research your reader

This is something basic as well. When you’re trying to make a connection with someone you have to know has much information about them as possible. The question now is, just what information should be relevant in this regard?

All information you have is relevant. The main goal is to understand the needs and difficulties your prospect has. This will make you able to offer a solution based on the services or products you provide. But initially this is not what you’re after with a cold email, what you’re after is their first reply, a sign that they’re interested.

Make your reader feel engaged with your brand by letting them know that your success is their success. Play to the prospect’s desires, why they matter and how you can help them come to be.

You also have to figure out exactly who you’re sending your emails to. That’s the only way to write a personalized and engaging cold email. You can get information about any business professional you might be targeting by.

  • Reading unedited customer interviews.
  • Checking out their reader’s business websites.
  • Conducting competitor assessments.
  • Hunting down a theme that ties peeps in similar jobs together.

Do your homework with your potential leads, it will be worth it.

2. Link your offer to what you think they want on their business goals.

Most professionals are after the following business goals.

  • Making more money.
  • Getting more clients.
  • Reduce expenses.
  • Growing their business.
  • Looking cool to their boss or client.
  • Getting more time.

71% of the best marketeers tailor their content to their readers needs and desires. This is, they apply personalization to stay relevant. This is not just inserting names and titles, it basically making each cold email as unique as possible. Finding out what your readers want, do and need is vital to the success of your cold emails.

Therefore, your emails must have on the following aspects.

  • Subject line.
  • Use the name of the recipient.
  • Opening a line with a compliment on a recent victory.
  • Opening a line creating a connection.
  • Examples liking your offer to their business goals.
  • A call to action.

3. Framing your messages.

Framing can redirect the attention of the reader to what is really important, or what you want them to pay attention to. This also counts as a general marketing strategy and is very effective when used correctly. From a professor of psychology at Otterbein College, Ph.D. Noam Shpancer.

“Framing is a feature of our brain's architecture. Our minds react to the context in which something is embedded, not just to the thing itself... Framing is one way the brain finds patterns in chaos (its primary survival function) and creates meaning out of meaninglessness.”

As an example, check out Van Gogh’s Starry Night with a yellow frame. This framing does make the viewer pay more attention to the moon and the stars. Of course, this is a visual aid based on the yellow frame. The question of how you can do this on your cold emails is an easy one.

colorful drawing

You basically have to do all the heavy lifting, place a good context for your reader, even given them an example of two. Make the emails as smooth as possible and control the flow of the email. This is basically framing your emails with positive experiences and examples of your work and success. This will make your readers more likely to view you in that light, the light of success.

4. Compliment them.

Warm up to your readers, make them feel accomplished and successful. Be aware that this is not the same as sucking up to them, in fact it shouldn’t go that far. A complement or two based on the success of the prospect. If you want to lower the defenses of a complete stranger, a compliment is the way to do it.

A compliment receiver is way more likely to choose a coupon from a store that compliment them vs a store that didn’t, as recent studies show. The positive feeling of a compliment is a powerful ally in social relationships, and let’s not forget that what you’re trying to accomplish with a cold email is to stablish that relationship.

Get your call to action right.

Anytime you’re writing a call to action think about what you want your reader to do next. Make sure to specify each and every step that the reader should take in order to get to your end goal. Whether this is getting a reply, making them a client or anything else.

Keep these two advices in mind for all your calls to action.

  • Assume the reader will say yes.
  • Make that “yes” decision an easy one.

Don’t create friction by asking them to check their calendar or making sure that they can follow up on your offer. Propose a day or simply a way that makes things work out for both parties involved.

This makes your calls to action much more compelling as they now have a certain authority. Take advantage of it and generate opportunities for your company and your prospect to meet and discuss relevant topics. Such as how your company’s services can help them prosper and achieve their goals.


Hopefully you have taken notes of our brief guide on how to improve your cold emails. Knowing why your cold mails are failing is the fist step into fixing them, and is well worth the effort. Place importance to your calls to action and do your research on your prospects. This can only be beneficial to your cold emails.

Take advantage of framing and play to your readers desires and goals. Ultimately that is the only way to personalize your cold emails to make sure they stay relevant.

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