9 reasons why your cold email campaign is not effective

Dasha Oliinyk in

Blog/Cold Mailing/9 reasons why your cold email campaign is not effective

You want your cold emails be read and lead to certain actions, don’t you? But there are many pitfalls that can mess it all up.

We’ve collected not-so-obvious but too-damn-bad mistakes that can spoil the whole campaign. Check out if you’re on the safe side, learn how to avoid these mistakes by writing an effective cold email.

Mistake # 1: Too long subject line and/or too long email

Monthy Python aboout long emails

Why not?

Have you read War and Peace?… Yeah, exactly. With emails it’s the same. It takes time and efforts to read and understand a long message. Why would anybody do it, unless it’s extremely important?

Don’t expect people (who get dozens of emails every day) pay special attention to a time-consuming message from a stranger. A long subject line is one of the reasons why emails get to the trash without being opened even. Moreover, the long text doesn’t fit the mobile screen, which leaves long cold emails even less chances to be read.

How to avoid?

Just follow the rule: keep the subject line (ideally) short: 3-4 words; or moderately short: 5-6 words / the optimal length for email copy is 5-6 sentences.

Mistake # 2: Blurry and misleading subject lines

misleading the subject


Why not?

Using misleading subject lines is illegal (in the USA, Canada, the UK etc.). Plus, they trigger spam reports. Meaning – you get more troubles than potential benefits.

Besides, intentional misleading is equal to lying. And nobody likes to be lied to! It can seriously damage your reputation online.

How to avoid?

Just be honest and keep the subject line close to the point. Use it to explain your intentions briefly.

If you’re afraid to sound too generic – start being more personal. Use the name of the company/person you are writing to, mention mutual interests or how you found that person.

Mistake # 3: Overexciting, pushing, begging and mysterious subject lines

walking bird gif

Why not?

You might get higher open rates using these screaming intriguing subject lines. Indeed, people still get hooked and open such emails. But after – they hate themselves for that. And they hate the author of such emails even more. If you care about response rates (not only open rates) – don’t go for these cheap tricks.

How to avoid?

It’s your offer itself that should intrigue and draw attention – not yelling CAPS and exclamation marks!!! Try to avoid too salesy/pushy/mysterious words (which are also spam triggering) like: “100% free”, “guarantee”, “free gift”, “save $”and so on. Avoid strong imperative forms and begging tone of voice. Here are some good examples of cold emails:

    • Idea for {common interest}
    • I have a question about {common interest}
    • {Common contact} recommended contacting you regarding {topic}
    • {Name}, do you have 10 minutes for Skype call?

More about how to write an effective cold email subject line – here.

Mistake # 4: Long unnecessary introduction

man about intro

Why not?

Simply because… NOBODY CARES!

How to avoid?

Better start with the ice-breaker – something that will draw people’s attention and encourage them to read further. Who you are – you can write in the footer.

Start an effective cold email by showing you know whom you contact (did research at least) and want to learn even more. For example:

    • I’m writing because I noticed your team develops tons of apps, and I know that shortage of developers is a common problem for software development companies. @{{our_company}} we have skilled coding virtuosos that helped pull many projects through to the finish.
    • You’re probably wondering why I’m in your inbox. I combed through your website and you’re awesome at what you do, but you could use better content to drive more traffic.
    • “I saw your tweet recently {{quote}} and got an impression you have troubles with [some process]. Have you tried [possible solutions, among which – yours]?”
    • “We briefly introduced [at some event], but I didn’t have chance to talk to you properly…”(if this is true, of course 😉 )


Mistake # 5: Focusing on your offer only

focus on a offer

Why not?

Remember: it’s not about what you offer, but how your potential clients can benefit from it.

How to avoid?

Forget praising abstract benefits in your offer. If they are not related to whom you write – what’s the point?
Better ask your target about their pains, problems. Emphasize what’s there in your offer that can help solving them. Stress out that you helped companies from the same industry/market/country with similar issues. Say “I think my app could help you organize your dev team’s time better” instead of “At my company, we focus on delivering the best solutions for time-management. That’s why we created {product} to solve the ever burning need…blah blah blah”.

Mistake # 6: No (or not clear) call-to-action (CTA)

what you want with cta

Why not?

If you’re not clear about what you want from people – you most probably won’t get it.

How to avoid?

Human mind expects to get instructions in email. Offer a clear next step – a meeting or a call. For example:

    • “If that sounds interesting, let’s talk on Skype tomorrow to see how {company} can benefit from working with us”.
    • “We can discuss the details via phone/Skype. Are you available this week?”
    • “If you are the wrong person to discuss this issue with, please, advise whom I can approach”


Mistake # 7: Too many CTA’s

too many calls to action


Why not?

If you ask too much things to do – don’t expect somebody to do any of them.

How to avoid?

Limit yourself with one request per email. Start from the easiest one, which doesn’t require much efforts. Keep the rest for follow-ups.

Mistake # 8: Sending one emails and giving up when no response

man thinks why no responses

Why not?

People rarely answer the first cold email they get. Some people live by a principle not to respond unless they get at least a few follow-ups. For them it’s a sign that someone cares.

How to avoid?

Follow-up! Each new message is more likely to fall into their inbox at the moment they’re browsing it. Follow-up with multiple new messages (up to 8, although some say it takes about 13) until you get a response. Send organic updates, something you forgot to mention the first time, polite reminders to increase your chances for success. Check out more ideas how to follow-up emails here.

Mistake # 9: Not caring about technical stuff (email addresses, domain, tests…)

Clinton face after question about effective emails

Why not?

Ignoring these things will cause your emails ending up in spam, your domain getting blacklisted. Not to mention risks connected with your reputation, possible scandals and so on.

How to avoid?

Always keep an eye on reputation (spam complaint rate, spam traps, invalid or non-existent email addresses) and engagement metrics (open rate, clicks). You can pretty much control whether your emails reach the target, so why not to do that? Before the campaign go through the checklist:


All the tips were kindly provided by the RightHello’s marketing specialists who help our clients run effective cold emailing campaigns. If you’re interested how this can work for your – leave your contact details and we will call you back.

Thanks for reading! Just want to let you know that you can check also our case study about competing with Uber.

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Dasha Oliinyk

Efficiency freak: passionate about marketing, branding and communication. Writing about B2B marketing and lead generation based on the experience I get while working for RightHello. Her fav book is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Crazy about The Beatles.