cold email

A Guide To Your First Cold Email Structure

How many times have you struggled to write your first cold email? A lot depends on your creativity, that’s for sure, and you can’t wait forever for inspiration. But the good news is that an effective first cold email can be dissected into pieces. Such analysis will give you a clear pattern to follow in your every first cold email. Let’s get to it!

When you are building your cold email campaign, you probably already know to remember about the Ideal Customer Profile. There are certain types of emails which align with certain segments of your prospects. So now you have three types of emails to choose from:

1) The referral email, where your goal is to find the right decision-maker. It has to be kind and interesting enough to convince your recipient to either forward it or give you the required email address. There’s no point in blasting your emails to many recipients – it’s better just to ask. Here’s an example of a referral email:

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2) The short direct pitch is a perfect solution when you know there’s no sense in wasting time, because the prospect is your ICP and decision-maker, and your product will resolve his key pain.  Convince him or her to jump on a call with you like this:


3) The long direct pitch is all about storytelling. Your goal is still a call, but if you assume that your recipient is a fan of long forms and your product fits into the pain/dream/solution approach, then that’s a template for you. Check out this example:

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When you’ve decided on your email type, it’s time to build it based on a given pattern:
intro + benefit + social proof + call to action.

Yes, it’s that simple. Why does it work? Let’s check each element.


Our attention span is probably as short as eight seconds, so there is no way to sell anything in that time. You have seconds to convince a total stranger to open and start reading your email. How do you do this? Firstly, focus on your subject and preview. Use smart personalization in the subject, and don’t waste your preview on introducing yourself and your company. The intro is a perfect place to use events. These are simple connectors, attention catchers, which show the relevance of your message. You can use situations like press releases, attendance at the same event or mutual friends on LinkedIn. Here’s one of our examples:


So what’s in it for me? Why should I talk to you about your solution? This is the moment when you have a one-sentence chance to convince me that I’ll benefit from using your product. Don’t talk features, talk benefits. Remember to adjust the benefit to your recipient (decision-maker). Here’s one of our templates where you can notice a clear benefit:

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Social Proof

Social proof isn’t effective only on your website – you can also use it in your cold emails. It’s even better if you do, especially if you’re targeting one vertical, because your potential customers know their landscape very well. Take a look at our social proof:

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Call to Action

There’s a universal marketing rule which also applies to cold mailing: aim for one CTA. Your CTA is an answer to this question: What do I want to achieve with this email? Leave your recipient with an obvious task to do – that’s why it’s convenient if it’s yes-or-no question. You can also leave the question open (i.e. “Do you have time to talk next week?” This is our effective CTA in action:

cold email

And that’s it. Writing an attractive cold email isn’t rocket science. To wrap it up:

  • Keep your email structure right: intro + benefit + social proof + CTA.
  • Choose an email type appropriate to your target – referral, short or long direct pitch.
  • Try not to sell your product. Introduce how you can solve a problem. Have a reason to contact them and work it into the email.

If you want to learn more about smart personalization and automation in cold emails, check out our Complete Handbook of Cold Mailing.

Greg Pietruszynski

Greg Pietruszynski is CEO & co-founder at Growbots, an outbound sales automation platform. He founded 3 companies in China & Europe before Growbots, and is responsible for more than 200 web and mobile apps. He’s also an automation freak & growth geek.