How to Use Cold Emailing Effectively

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An effective cold email must strike the perfect balance between brevity and personality. 

For a freelancer or solopreneur, that’s much easier said than done—but it’s certainly not impossible. 

In this post, we’re sharing actionable tips to help you write more effective cold emails that actually get positive replies. 

Research your prospects

Despite emailing prospects cold, you must have a solid understanding of who they are and what they care about to draft an email that resonates with them. So, before even penning a subject line, research your target audience and craft an ideal customer profile (ICP) to guide your messaging.

Research into your ICP will inform a collection of prospect pain points as well as common ground for you to incorporate later. It will also reveal which individuals might be open to your services as a freelancer or solopreneur, saving you time and effort you could’ve wasted on unfit prospects.

Once you have a short list of individuals or organizations that match your ICP, head to professional sites like LinkedIn or companies’ business websites to find their contact details. Alternatively, utilize an outreach platform like to locate and verify prospects’ professional email addresses. 

Remember that cold emails sent to closed, invalid, or non-existent email addresses cannot be delivered and will be considered a hard bounce. Too many hard bounces could impact your credibility among email providers, instantly forcing your message to a recipient’s spam folder. 

  • Define the target audience for your freelance or solopreneur services.
  • Craft an ICP for your cold emails and identify potential prospects.
  • Locate reliable contact details via outreach platforms.  

Pro Tip: In addition to verifying their email address, make sure to follow these other cold email best practices. 

Craft a compelling subject line

If a cold email is like a first impression, a subject line is basically a digital handshake. You have milliseconds to capture the prospect’s attention, and in the sea of emails you can find in the average manager, director, or executive’s inbox, you want that handshake to be confident and eye-catching. 

Generally speaking, it’s wise to remain in the nine-word, 60-character range for email subject lines. 

More than half of marketers say subject lines that engage curiosity are the most effective for open rates, whereas 36% say the same about subject lines with promotions and 27.9% about those that express urgency. Depending on your ICP, a subject line with an emoji can boost open rates by 22%. 

To craft a compelling subject line, remain mindful of your prospect’s point of view and what could be in it for them after opening your cold email. Your goal is to pique their interest, either with a current problem or shared common interest, using business casual and friendly language like:

  • “X tips for eliminating [prospect pain point]”
  • “[Mutual connection] recommended I get in touch”
  • “[Recipient’s name], have you thought about switching X?”

Personalize your message 

Chances are, your recipient has already received upwards of 120 business emails today alone. Before you launch into a generic message for your cold email, take a few moments to personalize it. Personalization helps to build rapport with your prospects and demonstrates you did your research.

Identify an interesting fact or achievement you and the prospect may share, such as your alma mater or professional association. Other researchable facts you can incorporate to personalize your message include industry pain points or open job positions and how your services can help.

By relating to your prospect’s problems, you present yourself as a true business partner—not just another freelancer or solopreneur. Likewise, taking the time to personalize your message helps ensure that your cold email stands out from the dozens of other emails in a prospect’s inbox.

Simple ways to personalize cold emails include:

  • “As the Director of Content at [Company], I’m sure you receive hundreds of cold emails from fellow writers daily.”
  • “It’s wonderful to connect with a fellow alumnus from [University Name], I also studied [Major or Program]!”
  • “I keep up with [Company Name] on LinkedIn and noticed your team is looking for a [Marketing Role], which is why I’m reaching out.”

Introduce yourself and the email context

As a freelancer or solopreneur, you may cold email prospects for several reasons, whether it’s looking for new clients, seeking business recommendations, or eliciting professional advice. 

Continuing with the above tip to personalize your cold email, remember to also explain the purpose of the message so that the recipient better understands why you’re reaching out. After opening with a personalized blurb, take a sentence or two to introduce yourself and explain the email context.

Use straightforward language to define the email purpose, such as: 

  • “I’m contacting you about the open [Marketing Role] position at [Company Name].”
  • “Our mutual contact, [Contact’s Name], advised me to reach out to you to learn more about [Topic].”
  • “I saw [Company Name] recently expanded, and I believe my [Service Type] would be highly beneficial as you scale.”

Highlight your value proposition

Once you introduce yourself and your email’s purpose, remember to highlight your unique value proposition—also known as what sets your cold email apart from the other 100+ in the inbox.

Your value proposition must be tied to your email context to remain relevant to the recipient. 

So, if you emailed about an open marketing position, be sure to explain how your freelance services could deliver on that position as well as what you distinctly bring to the table as a freelancer.

In this case, immediate ways to highlight your value proposition in a relevant way may include:

  • “I see you’re looking to drive new sales in North America. I worked as a [Role] in [Region] for [Number of Years] and have tons of expertise in [Specialty].”
  • “While you may be seeking a full-time employee, I can offer the same skill set but with heightened versatility for working hours and potential travel schedules.”
  • “As a freelancer working alongside your organization, you can save on [Annual Expenses] while still delivering on [Specified Goals].”

Display social proof in your email

By displaying social proof in your email, you’re including a stamp of approval from others in your industry. From reviews and testimonials to case studies and certifications, social proof solidifies you as an expert in your field, or at the very least, supports the value that you previously defined.

You may be able to weave elements of social proof into your initial introduction when you establish who you are and why you’re reaching out, like mentioning previous roles you’ve had. You can also decide to place icons or graphics in the footer of your cold email to demonstrate social proof like:

  • Industry certifications and credentials, such as HubSpot or Moz.
  • Links to case studies or earned media, like placement on reputable business sites.
  • Logo endorsements from current and previous clients.

Include a clear CTA

Every cold email requires one concise call-to-action (CTA) so the recipient understands what steps they should take next. While it’s safe to assume most solopreneurs want cold email recipients to willingly open a line of communication, a CTA of, “Give me a call,” is unlikely to provoke action.

Not to mention, in the post-COVID era, most recipients are sick of being told to hop on a call. Not only is that line generic and overused, but it’s a pretty big ask when emailing someone you’ve never spoken to before. After all, when was the last time you willingly gave a stranger your precious time?

At a time when the average email open rate is nearly 38%, but the average click-through rate (CTR) can barely hit 9%, aim for a clear CTA that has a bit more personality and purpose, such as: 

  • “Can you confirm if [Topic] is a pain point you currently experience?”
  • “Can I share a personalized video to demonstrate how I can improve your conversion rates?”
  • “Would you be interested in seeing a free report of how your website stacks up compared to your top three competitors?”

Keep your emails short

Despite the key elements of a cold email—like personalization, a proper introduction, and a value proposition—your message should remain brief. Draft your email in short paragraphs, making sure it’s easy to skim. Avoid heavy text blocks, as they’re daunting (and often deleted before reading). 

Remain mindful that the majority of email is read from mobile devices, such as smartphones. Your cold email should be easy to follow when reading on mobile and not overtake the screen with blocks of text. Likewise, remember to only incorporate one CTA, giving recipients a clear step to take next. 

Actionable tips to keep your emails short range from: 

  • Drafting your email in bullet points first to condense your main message. 
  • Running your cold email copy through Grammarly to eliminate redundant language. 
  • Sending a copy of your cold email to yourself to view it on multiple device types. 

Craft a professional email signature

Aside from the social proof icons or links in your email footer, your email signature is what will add a truly personalized look to your cold email. It’s also the last thing your email recipient will read. 

Therefore, it’s imperative to craft a professional-looking email signature that populates at the bottom of each message, from the first cold email through each new conversation. 

Remember that as a freelancer or solopreneur, you are your business, and your signature should properly reflect. You may want to include a professional headshot, contact information, and links to other secure places prospects can find you online, like your LinkedIn profile or business website. 

Elements to keep in mind as you create a signature for cold emailing include:

  • Your full name, phone number, and extension if necessary. 
  • A personalized touch, like a professional headshot or avatar.
  • Social proof examples, like social media handles or earned media.

Avoid large attachments

Attachments in a cold email are a double-edged sword. Studies show that including an attachment in your email body can increase your open rates by up to 15% and, of course, what freelancer or solopreneur wouldn’t want to attach a quick PDF or PowerPoint to illustrate their value? 

However, the downside of email attachments is their potential impact on email deliverability. 

The size of attachments prospects can receive in their inbox varies between email service providers, but the larger the attachment, the more you risk the deliverability of your message. To avoid the spam folder, do not exceed the 10MB total size limit or the 2MB individual attachment size limit.

Tactics to avoid large attachments but still include additional information in a cold email are:

  • Uploading necessary files to a server and putting a link in your email footer.
  • Transforming lengthy case studies into digestible infographics.
  • Recording a Loom video and linking it in your email body.

Follow up consistently 

As a freelancer or solopreneur, sending follow-up emails indicates your drive to cultivate a beneficial relationship for both yourself and the recipient. Following up consistently demonstrates reliability, a self-starter mentality, and the desire to deepen connections and close new clients.

The general rule of thumb is to send at least two to three follow-up emails, oftentimes more. However, the key is to strike a balance between persistence and spamming. Wait a minimum of three to four business days before sending your first follow-up message to a cold email prospect.

Allow a minimum of another three business days after your first follow-up message to send a third email. Remain mindful of holidays, as many may not be looking at their email during this time, and also be cognizant of weekends, which likely will not elicit a response from cold email prospects.

Likewise, be sure to keep these follow-up cold emailing tips in mind:

  • Reply to your original cold email so that the entire thread rises in a prospect’s inbox.
  • Adjust your subject lines to indicate that you are following up, such as, “Just checking in, [Recipient’s name].”
  • Slightly tweak the body of your cold email so as to not send the same exact message multiple times, remembering to focus on personalization and value proposition.  

Test and refine

The only way to use cold email effectively is to continuously fine-tune your efforts over time. 

After you deliver and follow up on your first round of cold emailing, take a look at your analytics. Which prospects responded, and do they belong to a specific segment of your ICP that indicates a higher interest? Which subject lines had the highest open rates, and which CTA had the best CTR? 

Take these findings and return them to the drawing board. Make revisions to your messaging based on previous success. Then, A/B test elements of your previous cold email against your updates to measure the effectiveness. Use these results to guide the next iteration of your cold email campaign.

To constantly test and refine your cold emailing techniques, monitor metrics like:

  • Average open rate to judge the effectiveness of your subject lines.
  • Average click-through rate (CTR) to gauge the effectiveness of your CTA.
  • Average bounce rate to determine the credibility of your prospects’ contact details. 


Writing cold emails can be a great way to unlock new opportunities and get more clients. Following these tips can make the process a little easier.  


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