Pack a Little Sunshine into Your Cold Emails

6 min readAug 18, 2020


It’s summertime, no better time to put a little sunshine into your cold email campaign. We’ll be enjoying the sweet satisfaction of getting a pleasant surprise in your inbox, and how to turn lemons into lemonade after examining what went wrong with the worst cold emails.

A little warmth in lead generation goes a long way! Or haven’t you heard? You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. The business of outbound marketing comes down to a personable approach. It’s nothing, if not personal to the businesses we appeal to. Meg Ryan said it best in the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail. When discussing business with her male suitor Tom Hanks, she says, “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”

The same is true of cold emails. They ought to begin by being personal and engaging, as though written with your prospect’s best interest at heart. In short, the cold email ought to feel warm and fuzzy, lest it come across as death warmed over. Check this out!

The Good

It used to be that people wrote letters to stay connected over great distances. The first recorded handwritten letter was that of the Persian Queen Atossa, daughter of Syrus, mother of Xerxes around 500 BC. Since then the art of communication has evolved, and in a sense devolved, from leaves and tree bark to pen and paper to email and text messaging, all the while losing most of its magic and charm. According to Newsweek, “There is e-mail, certainly, and texting, but this is communication that is for the most part here today and deleted tomorrow … the most common complaint of our time is that we are overwhelmed by information, unmediated and unstoppable.”

So, the question is, how do we get back to the magic of written correspondence, email or otherwise, so that we aren’t so easily forgotten or in most cases “deleted?” Let’s start by connecting with our prospect, using what we know to be true about the people to whom we are writing vs. sending out blanket emails that fit everyone and no one at the same time. The email below was written by someone who did her homework. By reading this email, it appears as though it was written specifically with Eric in mind.

Take a good look at the warmest cold email you’ll see all day. It starts off with the pithy, subtle (short!) subject line: “Take your personalization offline.” Pay especially close to your use of pronouns when building a relationship over email.

It is important that you be both clever and catchy right at the get-go. Think of the subject line as your first impression, your firm and formidable handshake. If done properly, this gets you in the door.

From there your an effective cold email easily answers three essential questions:

  • Why me?
  • Why now?
  • Why should I care.

Cut to the Chase

This cold email is a charming example of how to properly woo a prospect without appearing cold, disingenuous, and (dare I say?) hungry. Not only is it short and sweet, but it is aimed straight for the heart with a simple compliment that answers the question “Why me?”

The sender quickly follows up by acknowledging the potential for a “close relationship” between her team and the recipient’s, which speaks to “Why should I care?” “Creating and converting pipeline” sounds as if the pair is simpatico in their purpose–brilliant!

She then ices the cake (brilliantly!) by closing the gap in one seamless sentence, “How you stand out from your competitors is more important than ever,” creating a sense of urgency. Thus, answering the question “Why now?”

No mixed messages here.

The Bad

Unlike the first example, the email below comes across as a second thought. The fact that the sender lumps Eric into a pool of other companies in his space vs. boosting his confidence with a simple compliment makes this the complete opposite of good. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about it.

If you’re going through the trouble of composing cold emails, you might as well write in such a way that you are making an impact vs. making a lame impression. The point is to separate yourself from the herd, and you will never accomplish that if you are writing lukewarm, cold emails. Seriously! They are the clammy, limp handshake of outbound messaging. If you are not inspired by your product or service, chances are your prospects won’t be inspired by them either and you’ll never make the cut–EVER! Check out the (yawn!) “lukewarm” example below.

The subject line, alone, raises questions. Worried about your customers: Is that a question or a statement. I only ask because in the third paragraph the sender mentions helping you to “monitor and beat your competitors.” Should I be worried about them?

Inspire Confidence

If you use the words “I’m confident” in your cold email, but you fail to inspire confidence in your approach–you’re dead in the water. You don’t have to talk a big game, just be real, and do your homework! Knowing your prospect and understanding how you can solve their pain points is where conversations begin.

Start with a good hook! The very first line in this “lukewarm” message doesn’t get it done. It’s anything but personal, let alone confidence boosting. It’s generic, a blanket statement deployed to describe similar companies sharing the same “space.”

Are you kidding me?

All the while, the question lingers, How will your product set my company apart from other companies in my space? Inspiring confidence takes a lot more effort, not to mention guts to suit your prospect’s goals. Do your homework and, for the sake of all that is good, make it personal.

The Ugly

If you’re looking to foster a strong, trusted relationship, personal or professional, your approach is best served warm, friendly and genuinely interested in being of value to your prospect. The cold email, albeit unsolicited by nature, can avoid the cold shoulder if composed correctly. For starters, if you write the message to serve your own needs, you will lose that prospect because it comes off as self-serving, if not predatory.

Take a look at the following ugly, cold email with a CTA only a mother could love.

There is something bigger at stake here than the “sell,” an element that makes business very personal to people and that is this: You are either adding value to prospects’ lives or you are simply taking up space in their inbox, not to mention time in their day to weed you out.

Which one are you?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What product or service exists in the world because of me?
  • How can I genuinely add value to my clients’ lives?

Bring Value to the Table

The stone cold email above has missed its mark by miles. It’s loaded with questions, all devised to respond to the sender’s needs. Not once did this email validate the prospect’s purpose, let alone his pain points. It was all take and no give, and if that weren’t enough, there was the opportunity to schedule a meeting to “give” even more. Sounds painful vs. promising.

I am curious, however, to know “why their customers love them,” but mostly I want to know why the owl in the logo looks so scared. These are not questions you want prospects to be asking themselves.

In the end, marketing is highly personalized. It would be well-advised to launch your outbound efforts (i.e. cold emails) in a more thoughtful, personable (Read: Devised!) manner, building momentum and nurturing prospects as you go, lest you be labeled SPAM and tossed out on your ear into the coldest of confines, otherwise known as email purgatory–no man’s land. Outbound marketing is, after all, a slow burn.

Did you find this post useful? Read our Complete Guide to Cold Email Campaigns and learn everything you should know about crafting the perfect cold email campaign.




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