The 9 Best Cold Emails We’ve Seen [Examples & Templates]

'Cold email' is an ugly term. No one wants to send them, no one wants to receive them. But, when used correctly, cold emailing can be a powerful lead generation tool for your business. In this post, I break down the best cold emails I've ever seen, the reasons why they work so well, and my top tips for writing and sending your own effective cold emails.

Graphic showing email platforms

10 min. read

(This article was originally published on 8/01/2017 and updated on 6/01/2021)

If you're like me, you probably get at least one or two cold emails every day. At least. They either slither past your spam filter into your inbox or worse -- you receive a message from a random person or recruiter on LinkedIn. The kind that you scan for less than a second before pressing delete. After years of receiving (and ignoring) an endless stream of unwanted emails and messages, I started to wonder if all of that outreach was really worth the effort.

Do cold emails even work?

According to some tests by a company called Yesware, their cold emails received a 30-50% response rate. On the other end of the spectrum, Casey Stanton from DigitalMarketer sent almost 12,000 test emails and received 125 replies, which is a 1% response rate.

Suffice to say, results may vary. This got me wondering what makes for the best cold email - one that captures a prospect's attention and evokes a response, and what goes into a terrible email - one that gets stuck in your spam folder or left unread every day.

What makes a bad cold email?

I went through my LinkedIn emails to find one of the worst cold email examples of what not to do, and came across this gem:

an email of a bad email to prospect

Julie makes a number of cold email blunders here:

1. Too vague and self-indulgent

  • "I heard about your company through a digital agency" ... Who? If we have a common interest, it will add more credibility to the email.
  • "Technology company in the payment space." This could be pretty much any company.
  • "One of the largest providers of software for payments to attorney firms in the US and K-12 schools." This isn't relevant to me or my business.
  • "Create a significant revenue stream for you" Talk is cheap. Everyone says they'll create revenue for you or grow your business; without a specific value proposition, "growth" and "revenue" mean nothing in a cold email.

2. Assumes too much

Using the subject line "Business deal from Julie ___" implies that I'm already interested in doing business with Julie and we're at the deal stage. This is like walking up to someone you just met and talking marriage with them. Let's get to know each other first, OK?

3. Pushes for a call before telling me why

The primary goal of cold outreach is to develop a connection with a potential client. Julie didn't capture my attention or interest, so she failed right from the start. She told me all about her company without even identifying a pain point or giving me a reason to care. And then she has the gall to ask when it's a good time to have a call?

I may sound cranky, but this is the inner dialogue that goes on almost subconsciously in my mind when I'm reading an email like this. And I'm sure I'm not alone. If you want me to respond to your cold pitch, you'll need to make it memorable. Without an appealing subject line, relevant social proof, or actionable information, these types of sales emails get sent straight to spam.

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The best cold emails ever [9 examples with templates]

Ready to see the best sales emails ever?

For each email below, we include:

  • The example cold email pitch

  • Why the email is great

  • A template based on the example

Keep scrolling for cold emails that get responses.

1. 30-second demo offer

Now that we've established what not to do, I'd like to present the best cold email I’ve ever received.

Best cold email example

Why this email is great

As soon as this email came into my inbox, the first thing I noticed was an animated image of our website, the Proposify home page. That was like holding a bag of gummy worms over a toddler's head and saying, "Want this?"

Next, notice what Trey writes in the body of his message:

Kyle, I wanted to give you a quick shout to introduce you to FullStory, a new tool that helps companies understand customer experiences like never before.

In just a few more characters than a Tweet, Trey shows that he knows what I care about by identifying a pain point. Proposify is a SaaS company. We care about delivering great experiences to our customers, and understanding those experiences is top-of-mind for us.

He didn't promise "growth" or "revenue,” he promised something much more tangible. Understanding my customer experiences like never before. OK, I'm interested.

The easiest way to get a feel for FullStory is to check out the 30-second demo of me interacting with your site

This next line shows that Trey has taken the time to research Proposify and show how the tool can be used on our own website. It's all about ME, not him. And it will take 30 seconds of my time.

I highly recommend you try this tactic and record custom videos for your top-tier leads.

Template based on the example

Subject line: Magic [analog tool most closely related to your solution]

{Name}, I wanted to give you a quick shout to introduce you to [Your Company], a new tool that helps companies [outcome].

The easiest way to get a feel for [Your Company] is to check out the 30 second demo of me interacting with your site

[insert custom video]

Want the full experience? You can take it for a two week free trial or shoot me a message if you have any questions.

Happy watching!

2. Free trial offer

Next up in our list of the best cold outreach emails, we've got an offer for a free trial of a software platform.

Example email for a free trial offer

Why this email is great

We always love seeing cold emails that don't pitch a call.

This is a great example that can work for not only SaaS companies, but services as well. You could offer a free micro service to give your best leads a little taste of what you do.

The no commitment section is also really well written and manages to be both creative and crystal-clear at the same time:

No credit card required.

No commitment.

No risk.

Template based on the example

Subject: Quick question

Hey {Name},

My name is [Your Name] and I'm the [Your Title] of [Your Company] - [quick description of your company]

I'll keep it really short - if we could get more of [desired outcome] without [pain point to avoid] would that benefit your [type of work]?

If so, I think [Your Company] would be really helpful for you. And you can trial it, for free, for a month.

No credit card required.

No commitment.

No risk.

To find out more, you can click here.

And if you have any questions, just let me know.



3. Call request

Onto our next example, which takes a more standard route and offers a quick call.

Example email

Why this email is great

This cold email does a number of things right. The content is clear and well formatted, making it easy for the reader to skim and decide if the request is relevant to them.

Rather than mask their solution with a bunch of creative benefits, they instead list the features so that customers can check if the solution might meet their needs.

And with this line they showcase results and cultivate FOMO:

Interested in an upgraded phone service to slash up to 40% like a number of other California businesses?

In general, we find that most businesses will get a higher response rate if they don't offer a call but rather a video or other piece of content to start with. But you could easily adapt this template with a different request.

Template based on the example

Subject: {Company Name}: Free to chat?

Hi there,

Everyone needs [your offer type], right?

I think I can help {Company Name} [achieve result] with [your solution]. Would there be a best number to connect?

Some highlights included with our solution:

[Bullet point list of features]

Interested in an upgraded phone service to slash up to [percent savings] like a number of other {Company Location] businesses?

Send me a reply with an ideal contact number. We'll quickly give you a call to cover some simple details to get you on your way to seamless money back on your balance sheet.



4. Follow up with free advice

What about follow up emails? If someone doesn't answer on the first try, how can you take your second email to the next level?

Example email of a request for advice

Why this email is great

This is a great follow up cold email because it ups the ante. The first email requested a response if the person was interested, but this email offers a Loom video with custom ideas.

Depending on your service, you could record a short video with ideas for website conversions, ad creatives, or revenue optimization.

And the best news is that you don't have to record this video and tell the person actually replies, meaning you're only making videos for people who have raised their hands and said that they want one.

Template based on the example


Hi {Name},

Just following up on this email from last week. I have a short Loom video with some of my ideas for [service or project results] for the {Company Name} site. Should I send it to you or is there someone on your team who’d be a better fit to implement?



5. Congrats on new role email

Trying to win over a new contact that just joined one of your account companies? Check out this example provided by SalesHacker.

Example email

Why this email is great

This email is totally custom. It's one of the best cold sales emails because it leverages the trigger event of the contact getting a new role.

By dropping familiar names, the email cuts through the noise of uncustomized inbox content and stands out as relevant.

It also introduces the email sender who can help this person succeed in their new job.

My role here is working with businesses (in the area) on how they can effectively and efficiently drive more traffic to their website, increase conversions, and nurture leads into customers.

Template based on the example

Hi {Name},

Just left a quick message at the office for you. [Name drop predecessor.]

My role here is working with businesses (in the area) on how they can [desired outcome].

First and foremost, congrats on coming into this new role! I'm sure you've got a lot going on - so this conversation might be timely or not. If you're stressed, this is my go to [Link to resource] :)

How has your first month kicked off so far?


6. Career page trigger example from Yesware

You might have heard that career pages can serve as great inspiration for cold emails. But what does this look like in the wild? We'll find out in this example.

Example email for a career page trigger

Why this email is great

This is one of the best cold emails because it balances customization with templatization. The first sentence is custom to the lead and the job title they are hiring for, while the rest can be reused for any lead.

This is also a great example because it shows leads how they can use software (not just human resources) to solve problems and get things done.

The following line offers a simple but effective segue from talking about an open position to your product:

I would love a few minutes to discuss how Yesware removes this burden.

Template based on the example

Hi name,

I noticed on your careers page that you're looking to hire a [role] who [responsibility].

I would love a few minutes to discuss how [your solution] removes this burden.

[Your solution] helps clients like [Client Name], [Client Name], and [Client Name] to [desired outcome].

This means:

- [Results]
- [Results]
- [Results]

Would you be open for a call next week to see how [your solution] could help your team?


7. Request for subcontracted work

Are you a service provider looking for subcontracted work from larger agencies and firms? Try this approach offered by Double Your Freelancing.

Email example requesting for work

Why this email is great

This makes our list of cold emails that work because it's so personable and human. The writer has taken the time to find a gap on the company's team page as well as a shared interest in a certain breed of dogs.

Plus, the email doesn't go on and on with too many jokes, but still manages to get to the point quickly.

If you take away nothing else from the email, take away this: the search mention kicks off the email with something relevant and funny.

I came across your site after searching “Brooklyn advertising agencies” (I know, I'm a real sleuth) and was immediately intrigued.

Template based on the example

Subject line: Interested [title] (+ Part-time [hobby])

Hi there,

My name is [Your Name] and I'm a [title]. I came across your site after searching [“query”] (I know, I'm a real sleuth) and was immediately intrigued.

I noticed [gap in team]. [Common hobby or pet mention.]

Anyway if you're short a [title], or just want someone to [joke related to the above].

To get to know me and my work, check out my portfolio at [your site].

Thanks so much for your time!



8. Quick fix suggestion

Check out this example from GMass for a smooth way to book calls by offering free advice.

Email example

Why this email is great

Unlike most cold emails that pitch quick calls, this email gives the reader a reason to say yes. The promise of expert free advice just might be enough to increase your cold email success rates. Plus, the two call time options makes it easier for interested leads to schedule the session right away. This strategic approach exemplifies the role of email marketing not just as a tool for outreach but as a platform for building meaningful connections by providing value and convenience, ultimately contributing to higher engagement and conversion rates.

Make sure to link to a specific page or social media profile or other asset that you could help them improve to make your email more specific.

And then use a line like this to transition the email towards pitching a call.

We hand-picked your site because I seriously love what you're doing…but I also noticed a fix that could really improve your rankings.

To take this email to the next level, try customizing the compliment in the first paragraph for each individual lead.

Template based on the example

Hey {Name},

My name is Brenda and I'm from [Company Name]. I love your service, I can't believe no one thought of that sooner!

My [type] expert was doing some research for me the other day and ran across one of your pages here.

We hand-picked your site because I seriously love what you're doing…but I also noticed a fix that could [desired outcome].

Are you up for a quick chat?

If so, let's talk next week, either [day and time] or [day and time], so I can show you how to implement the fix.


9. Help with ditching a legacy platform

Want to convince people to migrate to your solution? All you have to do is offer to help like this example.

Email example for help

Why this email is great

Cold emails that work cut through the noise. By starting with a question and using interesting language like “dinosaur” and “appropriate,” this email easily grabs your attention.

This email is also a standout because it disses competitor platforms. Software companies looking to poach customers can use this template, and it can also work for service providers who help clients with migration projects.

But to use this email you need a way of finding customers of your competitors. If you're selling a software solution, you can use Builtwith to find lists of websites that are using your competitors. You can also check out the case studies and customer logos of your competitors to find their customers. Then reach out and poke common pain points experienced.

After you've poked those pain points, use a line like this to segue into your pitch:

If you do need help in migrating your EPS, let me know.

Template based on the example

Hey {Name}, why are you still using Aweber? It's a dinosaur. (Not sure if this is appropriate)

I like ActiveCampaign but it's too clunky. I stumbled across MailerLite recently and highly recommend you try it out.

If you do need help in migrating your EPS, let me know.

P.S. [Compliment or mention of shared interest]


How to write an effective cold email

You may be thinking, "Sure, this approach might work if you're selling a SaaS product, but do cold emails work when selling marketing or design services (or pool installation, or whatever service you offer)?"

Short answer: I don't know, I haven't tried it. But according to one of our podcast guests, Alex Berman of Experiment 27, who closed $400K of business in 30 days using cold outreach, you sure can.

Here's how to write successful cold emails of your own:

1. Pick a narrow target

What made Trey's cold email stand out was that I felt like he knew me. This wasn't a shotgun blast out to a purchased list. He found my website, knew Proposify was his ideal customer, and went after the CEO (me).

It's essential that you know your perfect, ideal customer; their position in the company (CEO, marketing director, finance, IT, whatever), the number of employees, their annual revenue, and their industry. Then build up a lead list of people in your target audience to research and go after.

2. Find leads

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great place to find your ideal client and which person at that company you should be emailing.

You can also use a tool like Contacts+ to get more information on a prospect right within Gmail. It allows you to test different email formats to find someone's email, and if their email is connected to any social media, it will show up when you get it right.

email address formats rankings

A tool like Hubspot CRM pulls in details from across the web on who your contact is, their company size, industry, annual revenue, and so on.

Using this information, you should be able to pull together a narrow list of companies that could be a good fit.

3. Create a lead magnet

We normally think of lead magnets as being an ebook, blog post, or cheat sheet that is given away on a landing page to get someone's email address. But you can use personalized lead magnets, like Trey's 30-second Proposify video, to make potential leads an offer they can't refuse (or refuse to click on, at least).

You can use a tool like Similarweb to get a full report on any website; simply go to the website and enter a URL.

use google explore tools for organic traffic

After a few seconds, it crawls the website and pulls together a full report on SEO, traffic, audience insights, backlinks, social sharing, and a ton of other information.

a graph showing social traffic vs. platform

Take whatever data is relevant, and put it together into a beautiful, branded report with the client's logo or home page on the cover. You're going to use this image in your cold email, so the first thing the client sees is their own brand, showing that this is about them and you took the time to learn about them. Don’t include the full report in your email, just include a screenshot and link the image to a place where they can download it so you can track their opens and clicks.

For example, using Proposify's proposal software, you could design an awesome looking presentation or report that you can quickly swap out customized information depending on the client you’re pitching.

introduction page for digital marketing proposal template

You can turn off the fee table and accept/decline buttons, so the only thing your client can do is open and download the PDF of your presentation.

You’ll get notified as soon as your client opens the email, clicks the link to view the proposal, and you’ll see an activity feed showing which sections they looked at in the document.

4. Keep your cold email short and simple

Remember Trey's email; he didn't use a lot of words. He made it about me and the one thing he wanted me to do: Click the link to view the lead magnet.

Check out the difference between the length of Julie's cold email compared to Trey's. Julie's email was 102 words and told me nothing about why I should care. Trey's email was 30 words and got me curious and excited to learn more.

5. Be light-hearted or humorous

According to Yesware, emails with humour received a 46% open rate. Humour is a great way to connect with your prospect and increase the chances of getting a response, but it needs to be done right; here are the three Ws of using humour in your business communication.

Trey’s email wasn’t funny, but he kept the language clear and friendly, ending it with “Happy Watching!” Test your approach, and you’ll learn what works over time.

6. Track opens/clicks and have your follow-up email ready

Use a tool like Proposify to track opens and clicks, and you’ll gain full transparency into each stage of the sales process. You'll get notified as soon as your client opens the email, clicks the link to view the proposal, and you'll see an activity feed showing which sections they looked at in the document.

Since you're using a tool that lets you know when a prospect has clicked your link and opened your lead magnet, you'll be able to follow up with a canned response like the one Trey sent.

Here’s another follow up email example:

Hey Betsy,
Couldn't help but notice that you had a chance to open the social media report I ran on [client_company] yesterday. There were some interesting trends and a bit of room for improvement.

Wanted to see if I could answer any questions for you? I'd be happy to give you a quick 20-minute demo on [our_company] to show how we can help.

If you're busy, no problem, just check out this 20-minute webinar we recorded that shows how we helped another clothing/apparel company like yours improve their conversion rate by 26% in 3 months. What do you think?




Cold emails don't need to make you feel like a cold fish. Cold outreach can lead to lucrative opportunities, provided you can reach the right person and capture your prospect's attention.

Having trouble getting started? Try Proposify’s proposal software for free and you’ll get access to email templates and other tools that can help you send, track, and close your deals.

The 9 Best Cold Emails We’ve Seen [Examples & Templates]

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