How Not To Cold Email Someone (And What You Should Do Instead)

Confession time: I am a marketer who supports cold emailing. 

Cold emailing and cold calling gets a bad rap. I’ve heard marketers and advertisers rant about how you should never, ever cold call or cold email. I am not one of those marketers. I do feel there is a time and place for cold calling and cold emailing. After all, if you don’t ask, you will never get the answer. When I first began my business, I cold called, cold messaged and cold emailed often. I had to. I was young, I didn’t have a lot of experience or a lot of contacts. I’m incredibly grateful for those lessons and to this day, I still encourage my consulting and coaching clients to do the same, if it’s a fit and if you do it correctly. 

This week, however, I got the worst cold email ever. It actually angered me. So much so that I’ve been thinking about it ever since and am now dedicating a blog post about it. However, I think this can be a good example and maybe just maybe, encourage you to cold email or cold message someone the right way.

Here’s the email that I received earlier this week in my coaching practice email account. (Names are hidden to protect the guilty) 

As you can see, he starts off introducing himself and letting me know how he found out about me. Perfect, for one sentence, this email is great.

Then he moves straight into “I have to be honest - I noticed that compared to your Yelp reviews and websites of your competition, your website doesn’t do your business justice.”

This is not a good way to make a connection. Because he’s assuming a lot of things in here. 

  1. He’s assuming I actually use Yelp as a tool. I do not. I created it because a business coach told me it would be a good idea when I first started coaching and honestly, it’s mostly been a headache for me ever since.
  2. How does he know what does my business justice? He doesn’t know anything about my business, nor does he communicate that he even tried to learn anything about my business. And is it just me, or is he kind of insulting my website?
  3. Then we move onto the third sentence and the third mistake. “Right now your website is being visited by 100s to 1000s of people, according to my Analytics tool - these are your potential customers, partners or employees.” Yes, I know my website is being visited because I check my own analytics, and yours are not good if you can only give me a rough estimate of 100s to 1000s of visitors. And how do you know the people visiting my website are not already reaching out to me? Again, he is making assumptions. He’s assuming that my website doesn’t convert. He’s assuming I don’t know or am unsure of my analytics. 
  4. He then gives me a sample of what he can do for me, which again is based on the assumption I am not happy with the current site I have.
  5. Then (and this may be the best part), he tells me he has capacity for one more project and I should snag it before he gets busy again. He’s trying to impress urgency upon me but he comes of sounding like a jackass. And he doesn’t take my schedule into consideration. I’m actually booked up myself. I don’t have time for a website rebrand and I’m not interested in one. If he only has a slot for one more project, why isn’t he talking about warmer leads? If he creates websites that convert, shouldn’t his website convert for him? Shouldn’t he be seeing conversions and not cold-emailing? 


The entire problem in this email is that there is no value in it for me. He hasn’t taken the time to learn anything about me or my business or my business’s needs. He reached out based on the fact that I don’t have any Yelp reviews but he neglected to do any other investigation on my business or what I need as a consumer. If he had, he would have joined my email list, followed me on a social site or commented on my blog. Maybe we would have learned that right now my coaching practice is booked up and that I don’t need any conversions right now. He might have learned that my website attracts email subscribers on a regular basis. He might have learned that at some point this year, I do wan to rebrand but I am not interested in a rebrand project right now.


The point is: he failed to try to understand his customer. Instead he tried to make me feel as if there’s something wrong with my website, I’m missing out on something and that I should feel lucky I could snag a spot with him before he’s booked up again. Maybe if I didn’t have a background in marketing and also own a marketing consultancy in addition to my coaching practice, this tactic might have worked. Or not. Who knows?


Customers want to feel like you care about them. They want to feel like you’re on their team, not to make money but to actually help them get the results they want. This guy doesn’t know what I want out of a website because he failed to ask. He didn’t take the time to even see if I was in his target market, if I even needed what he was selling or was even interested. 

And he could have. 


The internet is an incredible place because it allows us access to network and connect with thousands of people on a daily basis. It’s so easy for us to contact potential clients and to offer our services. It’s also really easy to learn about someone and figure out what they are looking for.

We leave traces of ourselves all over the internet every day, in the things we Tweet, the people we follow on Instagram, the comments we leave on Facebook, the articles we share on LinkedIn. If you are a service based business and, especially, if you sell high-end services, you have the ability to figure out what your potential clients want just by taking the time to learn more about them. Follow them on Twitter. See what they talk about. Look at what they are saying in LinkedIn groups. Read their blog. Try to understand their business first

That’s where a cold email or a cold call or a cold message should start. It should start with trying to make a connection, by offering value and by building trust. 

So if you do want to cold message, email or call someone, here’s what you should do instead:

  1. Research the person or business. Find out everything you can about them. Follow them for a few days or for a few weeks. Get a feel for who they are.
  2. If you feel like you have a good idea about the prospect and their needs, make a connection. When you do, let them know that you’ve seen them around. Compliment them on a blog post or say “I saw you ask a question on Twitter about marketing automation and wanted to lend support.” You want your prospect to feel like you know and understand what they need and not that you’re copy and pasting emails to different accounts.
  3. Offer value first before you try to sell. With this person who emailed me, I have zero reason to believe he can help me because all he’s done is tell me his services works and shown me a video and gave me some links. That’s not valuable to me. Value would have been a breakdown of what’s missing from my website with a PDF or guide with stats backing that up. Value is an ebook, a webinar, a training, a blog post; anything that helps your ideal customer solve a part of their problem. Let me see you put your money where your mouth is and show me you have a solution. At the end of the day, all clients really care about is solving their problems. They don’t care about you or your needs (sorry but they really don’t). They just want someone who can help them. 
  4. Don’t sell on the first cold email. Just connect. There’s this thing known as the Rule of 7 in the marketing world. It usually takes people 7 times of hearing/seeing/experiencing an advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they take action. It’s extremely rare for anyone to buy based off one cold email. But if you are able to provide something of value and demonstrate that you know and understand their business, they are going to be more likely to engage with you in the future, to follow you, to sign up for your emails or to connect with you, which sets you up to build a relationship and maybe, even the possibility to actually pitch them one day.


Now go forth and cold email til your heart’s content. Just remember, if you don’t pay attention to what the person on the other side of the email wants and needs, you may end up being the unintentional star of a blog post.