Cold Email Intro, or How Should I Start My Message?

How do most cold emails you get usually start? And how many of them did you read from “Hi Joe” till “Best regards”? Yeah… so you should know by now how NOT to start your cold email. What should the cold email introduction include instead to make your addressees keep reading and respond?

Why most cold emails start wrong

The start is always the hardest part, at least for me. And if something seems difficult, we usually tend to get over it fast and pass on to the part that feels easier. I think that’s why most cold emails’ introductions suck.

Yes, it’s not easy to come up with a catchy introduction. But a catchy introduction is a crucial part in the body of our email. It is the intro that makes the addressee keep reading or stop right there and delete our message. So we can’t just get over it. We need to make it actually interesting and intriguing.

Who/what do you really want to introduce?

That’s the question to start with. What is the purpose of your email? Is it to introduce you or your company? Or is it to introduce an idea or a solution that your prospect may be genuinely interested in?

Most of the poorly composed cold emails that get into our inboxes start with the wrong idea of introducing the company or the person.

“Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work for such-and-such a company. We are nothing like the other companies. We don’t just do this-and-that but we also do that-and-this, these-and-those, those-and-these and much, much more. We also have great prices. We are masters in our field.” (…)

I’m not making it up, I actually got an email starting with this very template. Here I just cut out the content so we could analyze the form.

Now honestly, would you keep reading such an email? I did. But I did that just because I saw someone tried really hard and despite their efforts, they did such a poor job on the email.

Moreover, I replied to this email. I wanted them to realize that this is NOT what they want to keep sending to people. Here’s just the beginning of my response regarding the introduction, as that’s what we are focusing on.

Joel - my response to a poor email

I read it and replied because I’m a person who’s interested in cold emails as a form in general. And I treat this response as my little crusade against poorly composed cold emails. But the email was sent to set me up for a phone call, which, sadly, it would NOT be able to do.

It was a perfect mis-introduction (yes, I know I made up the word). Why? Because it missed the point of the whole email. The purpose was to invite me for a phone chat. The actual effect was that I replied about why they shouldn’t invite me on anything this way.

And it’s just me – most of the other addressees probably just clicked DELETE, even before their eyes reached the third sentence of this email.

How to catch our addressees’ eyes for more than first two sentences?

In order to find out, first we need to answer a very simple, yet not so obvious, question: How do our cold email addressees feel about us and our company when we first reach out to them?

Sadly, they don’t give a damn. That’s what we all have to realize. They do not care at all, especially because they get dozens of emails every day starting just like the email I mentioned above.

The key to a well-crafted intro is to make it include something that they actually care about, because that’s what gets them reading further.

And what do our prospects care about?

#1 – Themselves.

Start with a reference to their work and expertise. A website, a blog post, a tweet, anything they written or made. Express your appreciation, complement on it in a genuine way. A little flattery is what catches their eye and makes them start to like you. That’s just how we all work.

#2 – Their company.

Refer to their company, or even more specifically, to an issue the company may have that is directly connected with what you’re about to offer. You can use a specific question that will start a kind of a dialogue and make them wonder about how they could improve their business with your help. For some great examples of questions in cold email introductions, check the article by Heather Morgan at Salesfolk.

#3 – Their very problems.

Asking about the problems they may face, you make them stop for a while and reflect on the things to change. This may be a great conversation starter as it makes them tell you about the issues they’re struggling with. And in order to notice the value of your solution, they have to realize their pain in the first place.

#4 – The solutions to their very problems.

That’s the art of cold email – to introduce your idea/business/product as a solution to the addressee’s real problems. As soon as they figure out that they really have a problem, they will be ready to hear/read about your solution.

That’s why we never start a cold email talking about ourselves. We create a context for our solution first. We give them a reason to hear us out – to keep reading.

What’s in it for you?

Before you sit down to write your own cold email intro, do these 3 things:

  1. Get to know your prospects. Discover their problems. That will give you some hints on what kind of context you want to create in your intro to draw their attention before you present your solution.
  2. For a few minutes forget about your great product or service. Even if you have a perfectly-crafted description of your solution, keep it for the next part of your email. In the opening lines, focus on the reasons why your addressees should be interested in it in the first place.
  3. Think of the intros that made you read an email till the signature and possibly respond. Try to realize what was so great about them.

In case I forgot about something, or I don’t realize that there’s a great trick for cold email introductions that works well for you, please let me know in the comments.


Go now to Part IV of Six-Step Effective Cold Email Tutorial:

Value Proposition – How to Tell My Addressee What I Want from Them? >>

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Used to spend lots of time contacting prospects, especially via email. One of few people on Earth who read crappy cold emails from start to end and analyze them – for purely educational purposes. Taking care of this blog, reporting Woodpecker’s journey on the pursuit of happy openings, successful closures and all the new skills we acquire in between.
  • Stanislav Polyakov

    Some good examples would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Hi Stanislav, thanks for the comment. Actually, I’ve collected 15 examples of great cold emails (including good intros) in a PDF report. It’s available for free at Hope this helps. 🙂