How to Write a Cold Email: 10-Point Checklist for Sales Emails That Convert

The following is a guest post from Forster Perelsztejn. As content marketer, Forster gathers sales data at in order to deliver powerful and insightful advice to salespeople. Check out his Top 10 Cold Email Templates Based on 3,327,652 Emails Sent! and connect with him on LinkedIn.

An essential part of my job at is to help customers craft cold emails that actually get replies. Why is that? Because cold email brings business in!

Yet, you’d be surprised at how many of those emails are poorly written. Most of the ones I get are a cringefest even though they were sent by professional salespeople. For that reason, I feel it’s essential to spread the word about cold email best practices.

Use this 10-point checklist below to optimize your sales emails to make it more likely you’ll get results. After all, only around 1.7% of cold emails get a reply…

Ready for the full breakdown? Here we go!

Subject line

Your subject line determines whether your email will be opened or not. Take the time to craft the right one.


Two choices:

  1. Very short and to the point (3-25 characters)
  2. Longer but specialized (86-111 characters)

Also, keep it…

  • To the point: Let them know what’s inside, especially if they’ve never heard of you.
  • Professional: Stay classy, avoid ALL CAPS, exclamation points !!!! and $$$$ signs
  • Not spammy-looking: Even though SPAM trigger words are all about context, be careful not abusing them, they could get you thrown in the junk folder or blacklisted real fast.

Sender field

It doesn’t only matter what’s in the email, it also matters who sends it.

  • Use a professional email address: personal mailboxes look suspect to ESP’s, especially if you send a lot of emails
  • Make the email address look trustworthy: pick something explicit like [email protected] or [email protected]
  • Pick an adequate sender name: according to your prospect’s profile, your name, your CEO’s name or the name of your company might obtain different results.

Keep it short

Your prospect doesn’t know you and they’re probably busy so don’t waste their time with a page-long email.

You’ll have the opportunity to drop all the information you want after a connetcion has been formed. Remember you’re here to establish a relationship.

Grab the attention

The purpose of every sentence in a cold email – or nearly any form of text for that matter – is to get your prospect to read the next one, and then the next one and so on.

In order to do that, you need to first get your prospect’s attention. The best way to that is to mention something directly relating to them, content they’ve put out, something their company did, a milestone they achieved because it shows you’ve done your research.

You can also drop a piece of info you know they’ll be interested in.

Reason for reaching out

Be clear not only as to why you’re reaching out, but why to them specifically. State a clear benefit you can offer.


They don’t know you, so they have no reason to trust you. Drop the names of a few happy customers they might relate to or at least know about.

Call to action

Your cold email is completely wasted if you don’t close it with a clear call to action. Why are you sending this email? What do you want them to do?

While crafting your CTA, keep these in mind:

  • Only one Call to Action: if you ask multiple things, you’ll get none.
  • Make the ask: if you believe in your mission, you have every reason to ask for it.
  • Make it easy: make it easy for the prospect to respond by asking a simple question or performing a one/two click action.


While cold email templates are a great way to cut time on copywriting, personalization is a mandatory step because your prospect will know if you’re just mass emailing a list.

  • Collect information about your prospects. Spend a few minutes gathering relevant info about them.
  • Segment your list according to the various profiles you managed to established.
  • Use that info to mention something specific and personalize your content.


It’s fine to include links in cold email, just do it right:

  • Keep it to a minimum: since you want to avoid asking for too many different actions, avoid including too many links altogether to keep the focus on the main action.
  • Don’t mask links: Don’t display a URL that’s actually leading to another one -like this– if spam filters don’t catch you, your recipient will definitely be suspicious.
  • Only link to reputable domains: fishy domains will only land you in the spam folder or on blacklists.
  • Don’t shorten URLs: it’s a technique that’s famously been used by scammers, spammers and other phishers to conceal a domain name. You can always track your links using UTM and free tools like Google analytics.


Crafting a great email is fine and all but how good is it if doesn’t reach your prospect’s inbox? Some advice on the matter is already scattered throughout this article but let’s get a bit more technical:

  • Team up with a reliable ESP: the reliability of an E-mail Service Provider depends on the reputation of the IP addresses and domains of their clients. Choosing a shady ESP will have you associated with its bad IP reputation customers and with the results that go with it.
  • Update your DNS records settings: you might want to ask your tech support person for this but don’t shy away because it could significantly improve your deliverability if you send emails through a automated platform. — What you want to do here is to update your SPF settings to authorize your automated platform to send emails through your IP as well as update your DKIM settings that act as some kind of seal.
  • Test your email on It’s free and it will test your e-mail for the main liabilities that could impair its efficiency. It’s an easy way to avoid the spam folder, use it.  If you suspect that your IP has been blacklisted, check MXToolbox.
  • Make sure you’re working with valid data: 7,57% of a professional email list can go bad in just 4 months. Not checking that will lead to high bounce rates, which leads to being blacklisted.
  • Avoid attachments: they’re an obvious red flag for spam filters. Use services like WeTransfer or Google Docs if you need to send files; they’re reputable domains and are less likely to get you trashed.

There, you have it!

Follow these best practices and you should do just fine.

Now go clean up those cold emails you were about to send!

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How do you choose a reliable ESP? Does the reputation of an ESP’s IP addresses and domains affect their reliability?

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