How to write cold emails that engage and inspire action

Follow this four-step process that can help you write a killer cold email sequence in under an hour.


For the longest time, I didn’t have a clear and repeatable process for writing cold email sequences. Sure, most of my campaigns saw good results, but every time I went to craft a sequence I would encounter writer's block, without fail. I’d sometimes spend over ten hours writing only five emails! My process was inconsistent, and as a result I felt insecure about being able to replicate my past successes with new client campaigns.

After years of struggling to write good cold email sequences, I had a breakthrough. I wrote the best sequence I had written to date, and the best part is, it took less than an hour to write. I took the time to reverse engineer how I did it, and now I want to share with you a simple four-step process that can help you write a killer cold email sequence in under an hour that engages your audience, and inspires them to take action.

Step 1. Understand Your Audience

Step 2. Get Clear On Your Offer & Call to Action

Step 3. Outline the Email Sequence

Step 4. Write the Email Sequence

1. Get Clear On You Audience

Before ever putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys), you have to know who you’re writing for. Think about it - if you don’t know what matters to your audience, how can you count on writing emails that they’ll find interesting enough to read, let alone take action on?

There are four main categories of information you want to understand about your target audience before writing:

  1. Demographics
  2. Psychographics
  3. Pain Points
  4. Fears and Objections

Let’s go through the questions you need to answer in each of these categories to have a deep understanding of your audience.

  • When it comes to the decision-maker buying your product or service, what is their age range?
  • What is their sex?
  • What geographies are they usually located in?
  • What is their typical level of education?
  • What is their role at their company?
  • What is their typical income range?
  • What is the size of their household, on average?
  • What are their interests? Is it entrepreneurship? Are they a foodie? Do they love films, and if so - what kind of films?
  • What is their lifestyle like? Do they only eat organic? Do they have a high- stress job? Do they work out three times a week?
  • What are their core values? Do they care about integrity? Transparency? Diversity? By defining their values, you’re also defining yours.
  • What are their personal goals? Is it to be at their healthiest? To generate more wealth? To look good naked? These can be big end-type goals or even short-term ones.
  • What causes matter to them? What movements do they support? This is a key consideration to understand what kind of brand messaging would appeal to your avatar.
  • What brands do they use? These brands don’t necessarily have to include your competitors, although it would be beneficial to know.
Pain Points

List 5 relatable and believable challenges your ideal client is likely experiencing.

Example: A Customer Avatar for a business like HelloFresh, the meal-kit delivery service, might have a challenge like this: “I feel guilty when I don’t have time to cook healthy meals for my family. I often order takeout instead because I’m always exhausted after work.”

Fears and Objections
  • What are common fears or objections your ideal clients may have as it relates to your product or service?
  • How can you address each of these fears or objections? What promises can you make to help your ideal clients get over the hump?
Now it’s time to “flip the script” on their pain points

Let’s recall the HelloFresh example, “I feel guilty when I don’t have time to cook healthy meals for my family. I often order takeout instead because I’m always exhausted after work.”

For each pain point you identified, you want to flip the script. This means writing the opposite life scenario of their pain point. Getting clear on exactly how your solution solves their pain points will help you speak directly to the heart of what’s bugging them.

The opposite life scenario for a person who is now using HelloFresh might go something like this, “I now have regular quality time with my family over dinner without having to stress about what to cook and what to buy.”

Do you see how reversing their pain point shows us exactly what our clients want for their lives? Great. Now it’s time to move on to the next step.

2. Get Clear On Your Offer & Call to Action

This one is pretty simple. If you don’t have a clear idea about exactly what you’re offering, why you’re qualified to help your prospects solve their problems, and what you want your prospects to do next, how will they feel confident about moving forward with you?

Answer these questions so you know exactly the information that your prospects will be wondering:

  • What product or service are you looking to sell?
  • How can you demonstrate competency in solving your ideal client's problems?
  • What existing assets do you have that you can use to lend credibility to your brand? Think: Online Courses, Podcast Episodes, Blog Posts, Whitepapers, Case Studies, E-Book, Guest on a TV Show, PR/News Articles, etc.
  • How can your ideal clients get your product or service?
  • How soon after buying your product(s)/service(s) can your ideal clients expect results?

3. Outline Your Email Sequence

There’s much debate over what the right number of emails is for a cold email sequence, but the truth is, it really depends on your situation. Yes, I know that’s not the definitive answer you were hoping for, but I will share with you what we’ve found after running many email sequences with 5 or more emails...

“Most people respond to the first or second email, and the returns diminish from there."

And when we take into consideration the cost of buying, configuring, warming, and using new domains so we have more sending capacity, the position we take is that we don’t want to waste any of our sending capacity or money on diminishing returns. Instead, we prefer to reach more new prospects with our sending capacity, which is why we’ve found three emails to be the magic number that maximizes our sending capacity, while still giving our prospects a chance to respond if they’re truly interested in what we’re offering.

Each of Your Emails Needs an Angle

If your emails aren’t interesting and relevant to your audience, you can kiss any chance of them working goodbye. But how do you write an email that your prospects will find interesting? You need an angle.

We’ve compiled a list of 15 different angles that you can take with each email. You’ll want to open them up along with your ideal client pain points, and put them side-by-side. With them open side-by-side, read one pain point, and then go through the list of angles and see if any of them provide you with inspiration for an approach you can take. Repeat this process with a new pain point and different angle for each email in your sequence.

Here’s an example of how we used the “Relevancy” angle in a recent email:

You can see how we took recent news and turned it into an angle that gave us inspiration to work off of. It’s important to note that this angle is accurate, and we didn’t have to “stretch” it to be truthful. You want your emails to come off as informative, helpful, and authentic. Your prospects will be able to sniff out BS from a mile away, so keep it truthful.

4. Write the Email Sequence

Let’s go over the four-part format of our emails:

  1. Subject Line
  2. Body
  3. Call to Action
  4. Signature
1. Subject Line

This is your one and only chance to get your prospect’s attention. In a sea of emails, your subject line must stand out and hook your reader. If it doesn’t, your email will never be read, or worse, marked as spam.

Your subject line should always be 9 words or less if you can help it, this way the whole thing shows whether your prospect is viewing their inbox on their desktop, laptop, tablet, or cell phone.

Connect your subject line to the angle you chose. In our example above, we made a polarizing statement that recruiters will either agree with, or vehemently disagree with. Either way, they’re going to open the email and read more. It’s important to note here the difference between being polarizing and being offensive. If we had said, “Recruiters who aren’t making a killing right now are dumb” you can imagine they would mark us as a spam sender, which would negatively affect our email deliverability, and we don’t want that. If your subject line is going to challenge a belief, make sure not to wrong anyone in the process.

2. Body

Now that your prospect has opened your email, it’s time to hook them once more. You have about three second to keep their attention, otherwise they’re off to the next email while your offer fades into the email inbox abyss.

Fear not though, this is the perfect opportunity to expound upon your angle / subject line. As you can see from our example above, we took the opportunity to provide a startling statistic. They may already be familiar with this statistic, which is perfectly okay, but you’ll notice that in the next line we get right to explaining what this means for them: opportunity!

Now it’s time to make your Big Promise. This is where you tie the groundwork you’ve laid out to your offer. This is where you tell them, succinctly, exactly how you’re going to help them with the situation at hand, whether it’s a pain point, or in our case, a pain point they might not have realized they had: a potentially missed massive opportunity.

3. Call to Action

Now that you’ve explained exactly how you can help them, it’s time to tell them how they can get started. What do you want them to do next?

Keep it simple. Only provide them with one call to action. Do you want them to visit a landing page? Do you want them to book a call?

As you can see in our example, our CTA was super simple: “If you’d like to learn more, you can book a call here.”

4. Signature

To finish off your killer cold email with a pretty bow, include a nice, well-formatted signature.

For email deliverability purposes, don’t include any images or links. You can read more on that in our article on mastering email deliverability.

Here’s an example of the email signature we used in the email example above:

You can see that it’s clean, simple, and to the point. It should say who you are, what your title is, what your company is, and by law, what your business address is. The law also states that you need to offer your email recipients a way to unsubscribe from your emails, which is the only link we include in our signatures.

Some Other Things to Keep in Mind

Too often in marketing we try to position ourselves as the hero that’s going to save the day for our prospective clients, but they want to be the center of attention - it’s just human nature. Positioning yourself as the guide who has been there, and done that, will help your audience trust that you can help them accomplish their goals while keeping them in the spotlight. So remember, your audience is the hero of their  journey. They are always the star of the show, and we are just their trusty guide.

Need help writing your email sequence?

We at Lucky Leads can write your email sequence for you. Just book a time with us here, and we’ll get you on your way to deploying your unfair sales advantage!

James Bazakos

Founder of Lucky Leads, Cold Email Expert

For the last three years, James has been crafting cold email campaigns to deliver results to his clients. He hopes this blog post will help others learn what he has in a shorter amount of time.

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