Cold email prospecting isn't dead; it's only changed

Emailing is a critical component of inbound and outbound sales.

Over time, outbound sales activities have become what many would call pushy or “spammy,”...but companies still task sales development reps around the globe with prospecting through cold calls and emails.

The reason why? It works...when done right.

Cold outreach, even in the digital age, isn’t dead—it’s just changed. Door-to-door salespeople and direct mail have (mostly) been replaced by cold calls and emails.

B2B cold email prospecting


Email is a return-on-investment powerhouse, making it a vital tool for scaling prospecting campaigns efficiently. Add to that the fact that eight out of ten prospects prefer communicating with sales reps via email, which lets buyers take control of communications in a non-intrusive way, and it’s easy to see why mastering cold email is a big deal for sales teams.


What is cold email?

Let’s clear something up real quick.

Haters will try to tell you that all cold emails are spam.

✋ That’s a no from us. 

What makes an email “cold” is that you target it at the so-called “cold” leads. In essence, a cold email is an unsolicited message to a recipient with whom you’ve had no prior contact. 

Here’s what separates a cold email from a spam email—cold emails are:

  • Targeted to the recipient
  • Relevant to a prospect’s needs
  • The start of a one-to-one conversation
  • Well-researched and composed
  • Valuable to the reader

Spam emails are...well, why don’t you check your spam folder and tell us what you see. It isn’t pretty, and those messages probably don’t meet the criteria above. 

But to put a finer point on it, spam emails will look like this:

  • Generic messaging (i.e., not targeted to the recipient)
  • One-to-many perspective
  • Commercial intent with no real value to the reader
spam emails vs. cold emails

Not all cold emails are spam, but some cold emails are. You don’t want to be the sales rep who writes spammy cold emails. Not only will they get ignored by prospects, but they might also never make it to your prospect’s inbox.

Why you should be using cold emails in your outreach

Did you ever sing “The Song That Never Ends” as a child?

It is what it says it is...a song with a single verse that you’re supposed to sing on repeat until you get tired.

Sales prospecting, in its own way, is like a task that never ends. You keep doing it, and it keeps needing to be done. 

Does it get old? Sometimes.

Can it bring in new clients? Absolutely. 

But like the song that never ends, sometimes emailing can feel tedious and...dare we say...annoying? Especially when it feels like all that your cold emails get are crickets. 

If your team is feeling a little down about cold emails right now, maybe these stats will cheer them up...

  • There were 4 billion recorded global email users in 2020, and this number is projected to grow to 4.5 billion by 2025. Think of all the leads that are just out there waiting to be reached!
  • Emails with personalized subject lines perform well; they are 26% more likely to be opened. The more data you have means more information to create better cold emails and an increased likelihood your prospects will open those emails. 
  • A whopping 70% of salespeople will give up if they don’t receive a reply to their initial email. This means that you can get a leg up by being part of the 30% that follows up.

Think of your cold email as an introduction. It’s like meeting an acquaintance at a conference or bumping into someone in your office and starting a friendly conversation. Now that you’ve broken the ice, you can begin building a relationship over time (a.k.a. warming your leads).

5 ways cold emailing has changed over time and how it benefits sales prospecting

Email just isn’t what it used to be.

(And we love it.)

Email has been around for decades, and it remains a valuable tool for revenue teams, despite concerns about spam email, information overload, and the dreaded promotions tab in Gmail. 

Here are five ways that cold email has changed over time and how your sales team can benefit.

Social media gives us more information than ever

Social media exists! You can make your presence known to prospects before ever sending that cold email. On top of that, you can seek out information about your prospects that will help you write a stronger email. In short, it’s easier than ever to demonstrate your expertise and the value of your solution.

Personalization is the key to better engagement

Personalization is making waves in the world of email. People want to read things that are relevant to their interests. Personalizing is more than putting the recipient’s name in the subject line—it’s a proven tactic to improve response rates. 

Email segmentation helps senders deliver more relevant messages

You can segment big, complex email lists into hyper-targeted lists. Email list segmentation goes hand-in-hand with personalization. In 2021, we’re way past sending general messages to prospects. With the right tech stack, your sales team will target prospects with highly personalized information at the right time of day and with the right kind of message.

Email automation makes keeping in touch easy

Email automation turns following up into a piece of cake. Remember that statistic earlier about how 70% of salespeople give up on a prospect after one email? That means the 30% who persist are uncovering more qualified leads simply by following up. 

AI and automation tools make cold emailing at scale a breeze

There are tons of tools designed to help revenue teams collect valuable data and streamline their B2B prospecting workflow that make cold emailing easier at scale.  


How to write a winning cold email in 2022

Keeping in mind how cold email has changed, let’s break down the anatomy of a winning cold email by looking at an email in three parts: the inbox, the message, and the sign-off. You can always swipe our email templates to get ideas, too.

how to write an effective B2B cold email

How to get your cold email opened

The first hurdle for a cold email (after making it into a person’s inbox) is whether or not the recipient will open it. The things that will determine this are the subject line, “from” line, and send time.

The “from” line should reflect who you are and—in some cases—where you work. This can help alleviate suspicion and leave an excellent first impression. 

A good subject line needs to compel the recipient to open the message. A lousy subject line will be ignored or may even end up in the spam folder.

Finally, be mindful of when you send your email: research office hours, time zones, and standard best practices. You want to catch your recipient when they have a few minutes to open your message. 

Consider your prospect’s perspective as you test these fields.

How to write a great cold email message

Once your email is opened, you have about 12 seconds to keep the reader’s attention. 

  • Write about the recipient and their needs. You and your company should not be the center of the conversation. 
  • Use personalization to flatter them (but don’t get creepy about it).
  • Make them feel like they’re a part of a one-on-one conversation.

Your cold email message should be well-researched and relevant. Some easy opportunities for grabbing a reader’s attention would be to mention a recent success at work or a promotion.

Closing a cold email pitch

You should always, always include a call-to-action in your email. Your CTA should be:

  • Clear so that your reader doesn’t get confused about what to do next
  • Singular—don’t try to include more than one CTA
  • Supported by the information in your email message

When your prospect has read your email, they will know why you are contacting them, how your business helps them, and what they need to do next. 

The key to mastering a great cold email is research and testing! As you gather more data about your prospects and your email performance, you’ll be able to coach your SDRs about writing more effective cold emails. 


Master cold email prospecting with smarter data

Don’t listen to the naysayers—cold emails are here to stay! Your sales reps can master the art and science of cold emailing by leveraging data and integrating smarter tools into their workflow. Soon, your team will be turning cold emails into a reliable lead generation source.

Why UserGems

UserGems is the future of outbound sales and marketing teams. We use AI to help companies like yours identify the warmest paths to open opportunities, grow the pipeline, and close more deals faster.

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