How to write a cold e-mail: Six ready-made formulas

Everyone knows how difficult it is to write a compelling cold letter. But why reinvent thewheel when there are powerful formulas out there that can dramatically improve response rates? We’ve already covered how to respond to customer emails. This article will give several working cold letter formulas with examples that can be used alone or combined. Try it, test it and get more feedback.

Sergey Budyakov
Usedesk Co-Owner

The "personal approach" formula

The basic formula is a personal letter, which consists of four blocks:

1. Get attention. Grab the prospect’s attention with a subject line or an introductory offer. To do this, first analyze your target audience to determine what might make them pay attention to you.

2. Create interest. Now that you have captured the reader’s attention, turn to their professional or personal interests. Emphasize what matters most by using your prospect’s pain points. Act in the client’s world: it’s all about him, not about you.

3. Induce desire. As part of the interest from the previous point, describe the value of all your benefits in the customer’s world. Tell them why your other customers are already with you. Inform them that the offer is limited or there are only a few pieces or places left.

4. Nudge to action. You grabbed the reader’s attention, sparked interest, and created a desire for your product or service. Now is the time to finish your letter — tell them what step they need to take next. There should be no choice or general question, just a call to action.

This is how it might look in action:
Hello Oleg,

The help desk at your company is slowing down the growth of your business.

I took a course on effective marketing on Facebook, and in the first lecture, a speaker from TargetLama referred to a workbook, which I could only receive by contacting the support team. Neither my fellow students nor I were able to get the workbook in less than a week.

We at Usedesk have already helped dozens of companies to accelerate support and improve the quality of communication. Next week we are holding a support meetup at the EdTech company. To make the discussion a useful one, the number of seats is limited.

Registration closes today, but there are still a few places left. We will be glad to see you; here is the registration link.


The "go to business" formula

The shorter, the better: people value their time, so they love brevity and simplicity. Forget about involving chains for a while, leave out all unnecessary adjectives, and don’t beat around the bush. Build a letter from just two blocks:

1. Briefly and simply state the point. Spend time summarizing what you want to write so the recipient can spend less time reading. Don’t use overly complex words or sentence structures.

2. Get down to business right away. State what you have to offer and why it might be useful.

Below — about 20 words, simple meaning. The assumption about the need for a chat may be false, but suddenly it is not. Why not give it a try?
Hello George,

I have not found an online chat function on your site. Your main competitors have EngSky chat. Connect to Usedesk and add a chat widget.


The "bright future" formula

Often, your prospect has a blurry vision of the future in his head. You have a clearer picture, and you can help make it look the same for the client with a letter. To do this, use four blocks:

1. Describe the current situation. Describe the challenges your prospect is facing that you can help them overcome. Don’t write about problems you might be solving in a year with a new release.

2. Outline the future. Show what the customer will be doing with your product. Ideally, use numbers that can be easily verified.

3. Draw a transition. Tell the customer about the steps to a brighter future.

4. Call to action. Offer to give a demo or ask your customer to make an appointment, register for a webinar or something else.
Hello Vadim,

Building customer support in an online store is not easy. You have to keep track of how quickly your operators respond to customers and remind suppliers of what you need. You need to constantly check the quality of the answers, avoid spelling mistakes and, when a client leaves a complaint, respond in a reasonable amount of time.

The solution can be a single system in which questions and complaints from all communication channels fall. It monitors the timing of responses, increasing the priority of overdue appeals. Without the participation of operators, it is possible to perform many manual actions and solve routine questions.

Usedesk has already helped to improve support for 20 of the 50 largest online stores. Let me tell you in 30 minutes how we can cut your average response time in half. How about 3 or 4 p.m. on Wednesday?


The "thickening" formula

Companies are made up of people, and people prefer to do the minimum. It is often not enough to describe the current situation because it may seem that it concerns someone else and does not significantly affect the key indicators of the business. Instead of describing a bright future, try to thicken the scene by talking about the current problem:

1. Describe the current situation. Describe the difficulties your prospect is facing that you can help solve. Don’t write about problems you might be solving in a year with a new release.

2. Indicate a solution to the problem. Explain in one sentence how your product or service solves precisely these problems.

3. Call to action. Suggest a specific action: get a demo, make an appointment, register for a webinar, or something else.
Hello Marina,

Many manufacturers are switching to direct sales of goods to customers. Previously, buyers asked online stores a question and most of their problems were solved; now, the manufacturer itself has to handle complaints and suggestions. Buyers are used to writing through their usual communication channels and leave if there is no such channel on the seller’s website.

Usedesk helps manufacturers create support teams that meet the needs of today’s customer without significant staff expansion.

Sign up for a demo, and I will tell you about the service features that will be useful to you.


The "important question" formula

Sometimes it makes sense to start with an important question, and it helps to grab the attention of the reader and arouse curiosity and the desire to find outthe answer you will offer. Since one cannot be angry and curious simultaneously, the reader will react with interest to what you write next.

1. Ask a question. It needs to get into the prospect’s pain so that he recognizes himself and his problems. Then he will be interested in the solution you propose.

2. Give your answer. Write the answer in the description of your product or service.

3. Call to action. Suggest a specific action: get a demo, make an appointment, sign up for a webinar, or something else.
Hello Victoria,

Would you like to spend less time on urgent but unimportant requests?

Usedesk is a service for processing requests from customers in different communication channels. We help you set up automatic rules for handling customer requests so that simple template questions are processed automatically and without the participation of your support team, allowing them tofocus on important messages.

Connect Usedesk to your website and email to respond to customers faster.


The "right to refuse" formula

The recipient is not obliged to respond to you or perform the action you expect from him. The idea seems simple, but it is rarely used effectively. I use this method in most emails, especially in the early stages of communication. It helps create more trust; the potential client getsthe feeling of being shown an open door: they can always refuse, there is no pressure. Let the reader say no to you, and the likelihood of positive action will increase.
Hello Anatoly,

I found your contact info in the list of participants at the conference "The Best Minds of Russian Business," in which I also took part.

Usedesk is a service for processing requests from customers in different communication channels. It is used by six of the largest companies in the GameDev industry in Russia. Our service helps support teams to handle requests on a variety of topics and channels without significant staff growth. I want to tell you how we can solve the problems of your support department.

If you are not interested in the offer, no problem. I will be glad to see you at the next conference.


Let's summarize

The formulas above do not guarantee that your email will be answered, but they significantly increase the chances of standing out from hundreds of other offers. Try different options, and mix the formulas: something may be suitable for one recipient, but not for another. Only tests will help you understand.

But whichever template you use, always adhere to the four main principles of any cold letter, including in instant messengers, which are increasingly used to communicate with clients:

1. Be in the customer’s world. Don’t talk about your features; talk about the benefits for the client.

2. Keep it short. It often takes twice as long to cut a text in half, but it’s worth it.

3. Articulate your call to action clearly. Tell the recipient what you expect from him: request a demo, make an appointment, sign up for a webinar, or something else.

4. Speak out for the right to choose. Directly say that you won’t be offended if your offer turns out to be uninteresting to the person. It’s okay, and you have no intention of pushing it.

Writing cold letters is not easy, but you severely limit the funnel of possibilities if you don’t write them. What bad thing can happen if you write letters to 100 employees in targeted companies? True, maybe no one will answer you. But if you do not write to anyone, it’s 100% certain that no one will answer you.
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