Crafting the perfect cold email can feel overwhelming. How can you capture the attention of a stranger? With the right tools and the right personalization tactics, you can optimize your outbound sales strategy to maximize engagement.

Three out of four marketers have seen their email engagement increase over the last year. Whether marketers are honing their email strategy, or people are just paying more attention to their inboxes, emails are still a top performer when it comes to finding leads. Now is the time to optimize your cold email marketing strategy and fill your pipeline with targeted and engaged leads.

Below we highlight what you need to know to increase your CTR, open rates, and engagement metrics for cold emails. And ultimately, how cold call emails can be your ticket to success when it comes to lead acquisition. Let’s get started.

1. Personalize your cold emails

As the classic sales book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” drives home, the most important part of relationships is knowing your audience. “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” Dale Carnegie notes. And, he continues, people are most interested in talking about themselves and their interests. Remembering these classic psychological cues will help craft personalized, engaging emails.

Start by researching your intended audience. Use online resources like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to scout potential leads. What positions are your prospects typically in? What are they reading and sharing online? Learning who your audience is will help you speak to their interests.

Secondly, use behavioral targeting to deliver hyper-personalized content to your new prospects. Behavioral targeting looks at the actions of your website visitors and prospects. By basing campaigns around their actions, rather than their demographic information, you can provide more relevant information. For example, if a prospect visits your website and reads two blog posts on scaling a sales team, you can be sure this is an issue they’re currently facing. When you reach out to them, mentioning how your product or service can help them solve their problem will make your email more interesting to them.

Understand what your audience values the most and focus on how you can deliver that value. How does your product or service fulfill a specific need that your target audience has? Rather than listing features or accolades your product has won, focus on positioning your product as a solution to the prospects’ pain points. By focusing on the benefit to the customer, you’re far more likely to get a response.

As an example, this HubSpot email uses three effective tactics. It included (1) praise specifically for the recipient, (2) an example of how their product works, and (3) a custom-created example. That’s one way to get attention!

One last quote from Mr. Carnegie to wrap up: “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours." Your cold emails must speak to your prospect’s desires. It’s not about you.

2. Use beautiful, easy to read, aesthetic designs

The attention span of the average human is 9 to 12 seconds, and the way we read emails is a great example of this in practice. To keep your audience engaged, focus on reducing friction points in the following ways:

  • Keep it simple. Aim for minimalism. Colors shouldn’t distract from the content, so choose only one or two brand colors to use. Distracting elements can overwhelm the reader and take away from the point you’re trying to get across.
  • Use consistent brand messaging and imagery. Consistency builds trust and familiarity. By sticking to your brand’s style across language, tone, and images, you develop authority and credibility with your prospect which will carry on to the rest of the sales process. Any graphics that you use should be relevant to your business, products, and services— avoid the “shock” tactics unless they are in line with your usual branding.
  • Create easy-to-follow, aesthetically pleasing, and consistent email structures. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every cold email. By using pre-designed templates, you can focus solely on the content, rather than the design. With a drag-and-drop email builder, you can easily customize templates to your current needs by updating, moving, and adding elements as needed.

3. Craft engaging cold call email templates

A good cold email template contains all the components you need to attract the attention of your audience. When you’ve found a template that works for you, it can serve as a basis for all future emails, where you swap out elements based on the audience and their personalities. For example, you might have an email for the product manager persona, the CEO persona, and the marketing director persona. Or perhaps you have a number of email templates based on the industry of the recipient. Regardless of the different permutations, here are a few elements that are essential for engaging cold emails:

Use engaging subject lines

The subject line is the single most important element of your cold email. Without a compelling subject line, the recipient is unlikely to open the email, which means they won’t read the email, which means they won’t engage or respond to any of your well-crafted CTAs. Spending time writing and testing subject lines can have the biggest impact on the success of your cold email campaigns.

A great subject line is concise, personable, and value-driven. It should hint at what the email is about while standing out from other emails in their inbox— easier said than done! A few suggestions for great cold email subject lines that grab the attention of your prospect:

  • [Name], saw you're focused on [goal]
  • Contacting you at [Referral]'s suggestion re: [topic]
  • Hi [name], [question]?
  • X tips/ideas for [pain point]
  • Idea for [topic the prospect cares about]

Create concise content

Short emails consistently perform better when it comes to response rates, so make sure the content of the email gets straight to the point. There’s no need for fluff, as it’s just wasting your reader’s time.

If you’re stuck on how to write a compelling concise email, focus on solving the problem for the audience. Use YesWare’s Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) formula:

  • Problem: Name the problem or pain point
  • Agitate: Explain the inevitable negative result of the pain point
  • Solve: Offer the specific solution your product or service provides.

Include a CTA

What is the one thing you want your reader to do when they reach the end of the email? Whether it’s a meeting, a phone call, or signing up for a free trial, you need to move the reader to action with a call to action (CTA.)

What you ask your prospect to do will depend on where they are in the sales funnel. A cold email shouldn’t immediately ask your new contact to buy— rather, a good email will get the click or entice the reader to engage with your message. As such, your CTA should ensure the customer moves along the funnel so you can continue to sell and promote your product.

Here are some effective CTAs to include in a first email:

  • “Check out our newest free guide on [pain point]”
  • “Register for our free webinar on [issue]”
  • “Read how we helped [competitor] solve [problem]”
  • “How are you currently managing [process or pain point]?”

At the end of the email, make sure to include your information, how to contact you, and your availability. A link to a calendar where they can book 15 minutes to talk is a low-friction way to enable connection.

Repeat, reiterate, optimize

Every great email campaign has to start somewhere, just like an artistic masterpiece. The first try isn’t always the best, but keep at it and you’ll see improvements to your template over time.

As you learn more about your prospects’ needs, motivations, and pain points, update your templates to be more compelling, as email marketing tools can help optimize your campaigns using tracking trends and metrics.

4. Use email marketing automation

Outbound sales become so much more effective when you use email marketing automation to execute your process. Not only does automation free up time for your sales team to focus on conversions and building relationships, but it also provides more data for optimization.

Segmentation and personalization

Segmentation is the process of dividing leads into lists based on similar characteristics, behavior, or needs. Using segmentation with email marketing automation ensures every lead gets messages that are relevant to them. What’s more, marketers who used segmented campaigns noted as much as a 760% increase in revenue.

Long term optimization

Email hosting software will help you track important metrics that tell your customers’ stories and interactions. Over time, these metrics uncover trends and opportunities for better-performing content.

For example, A/B testing helps you zero in on the best subject lines, CTAs, and other elements by comparing CTR and open rates across two different variants. Email marketing software makes this experiment easy and straightforward.

Spam filters

One thing to consider when using automation is the threat of triggering spam filters. If email services mark your email host as spam, your well-thought-out email won’t make it to your prospect’s inbox. Abusing emails can lead to lower delivery and click-through rates.

To prevent your cold email outreach from getting flagged:

  • Warm up your IP and new email addresses by slowly sending more and more emails. If you create a new email address or sign up with a new email host and immediately blast out 50 emails, you’ll likely be flagged.
  • Take leads off your list if they ask. Not only is ”being persistent” annoying and likely to get your emails marked as spam, there are many spam and privacy laws that require unsolicited emails to contain (and you must honor!) unsubscribe links. Ignore these and you could fall penalty to fines and blacklists.
  • Be relevant and don’t spam your prospects. Emails that are helpful and personal are less likely to be viewed as spam and it’s unlikely that your recipients will flag them as such.
  • Make sure your email security is on point. Incorporating a proper DMARC policy and automatic SPF flattening will make your emails look more credible helping to avoid the spam folder.

5. Use the best cold email software

Using software designed to improve your cold email campaigns offers a number of benefits over simply sending from your inbox. These are four platforms for cold email prospecting:


HubSpot’s free email marketing tools are built on HubSpot’s free CRM, which means you have a wealth of targeting opportunities to draw on. Every prospect action, from content downloads to chat conversations to email opens is saved in their contact record.

HubSpot offers the ability to create and customize beautiful, modern email templates with their drag and drop editor and personalization tools. Additionally, users can track every open and click to continually nurture leads with personalized, automated campaigns. In short, HubSpot’s suite of email marketing tools makes sending cold emails a breeze.


  • Drag and drop email editor
  • A/B testing and thorough analytics
  • Powered by HubSpot’s free CRM

Cost: Free forever, with advanced automation and segmentation available on HubSpot Marketing Hub’s premium editions.


Mixmax is a sales engagement platform for Gmail that helps you accelerate revenue at every stage of your customer journey. Acting as a natural extension to Salesforce and LinkedIn, Mixmax allows reps to perform all essential tasks right from their inbox. By automating repetitive tasks and organizing their daily workflows, Mixmax increases reps’ productivity and empowers them with the tools they need to do what they do best: sell.


  • Integrates with Salesforce, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Google Calendar, Slack, Zoom, Dialpad, Vidyard, DocuSign, Pipedrive, and more
  • Multichannel sequences to create highly personalized buyer experiences based on real-time engagement
  • In-email calendar availability, polls, and surveys that capture responses in one-click

Cost: Free, Starter, SMB, Growth, and Enterprise plans are available


Automate your sales outreach workflows across multiple channels with Mailshake. By integrating with the platforms you already use, Mailshake can fill your pipeline with leads and help you nurture them to a closed deal. With Mailshake, you can send personalized emails, analyze and improve your engagement rates, and follow up over multiple contact channels.


  • Personalized automated outreach with deliverability optimization
  • Multichannel outreach sequences
  • Detailed analytics and reporting

Cost: Starts at $44 per user/month when paid annually.

Discover, engage, and win over prospects using’s automated sales engagement platform. Add prospects to your outreach list with the Chrome extension, and then execute your outbound campaigns with smart automated workflows over multiple channels. Add videos, booking links, and more to your emails to make them stand out. tracks message interactions and prioritizes the most engaged leads so you spend your time selling, not cold calling.


  • Integrates with Vidyard, HubSpot, Salesforce, Zapier, and more
  • Build multichannel workflows that engage prospects
  • Track and improve outreach emails over time.

Cost: Starts at $50 per user/month with a 10 user commitment.


Crafting the perfect cold email workflow can feel overwhelming. How can you capture the attention of a stranger? With the right tools and the right personalization tactics, you can optimize your outbound sales strategy to maximize engagement. The biggest sale can start with just one email… good luck!

About the author

Brendan Connaughton, Head of Growth Marketing

Brendan Connaughton|Head of Growth Marketing

Brendan heads up growth marketing and demand generation at Qwilr, overseeing performance marketing, SEO, and lifecycle initiatives. Brendan has been instrumental in developing go-to-market functions for a number of high-growth startups and challenger brands.