The first thing that pops into many people’s heads when they hear “cold email” is “SPAM.”

And rightfully so — most of the crap that founders and CEOs receive in their inboxes is definitely SPAM. 

99% of the time, cold emails have been mass automated and delivered to recipient’s without so much as looking at their website. Half the time, they haven’t even cleaned their list at all, so they are firing off emails to people who don’t make any sense for them to contact. It’s embarrassing, or at least it should be. 

Yet, cold email is an extremely powerful B2B prospecting strategy. I’ve used it to generate leads for my own freelance business for 5+ years, and regularly help other agencies to do the same. 

There are prospects that you’ll never be able to reach through Facebook ads, Google ads, or LinkedIn outreach. They are only reachable through email. 

But most cold emails are trash and ineffective. 

Most agency owners and consultants have dabbled in cold email, or at least thought about doing so. They’ve heard the stories of people growing big, powerful agencies using cold email alone. But you don’t want to send off thousands of low-rent automated messages. 

There is a better way. A right way, in my opinion, to use cold email to land high-ticket clients. 

Genuine Research and Personalization Is How You Win With Cold Email

Put yourself in the shoes of a CEO. You might receive as many as 25 unsolicited emails a day, pitching a wide range of products and services, most of which are absolute garbage. 

Naturally, you’ll learn to spot a cold email when you see it and ignore it. But occasionally, you’ll see one that piques your interest and gets you to reply. 

Which cold emails will you reply to?

The personalized ones. The emails where it is clear that the sender has taken the time to research your business, even at a basic level. 

That’s really the difference. Even something simple, like referencing something they posted on LinkedIn or a blog post on their website can be enough to set you apart from the other 25 they received that day. 

Let’s compare an unpersonalized campaign that I sent to a personalized one. 


unpersonalized-cold-email100+ emails sent between an initial cold email and the followup. Over 50 opens. One reply. Just one. 

And now let’s compare that to a personalized campaign. 



122 sent. 94 opened (77%). 16 Replies. Ultimately this resulted in two new deals. 

How much personalization did these emails include? One line, at the top of the email directly after the salutation. 

For each recipient, the personalized sentences referenced one of the following:

  • A social media post that they had made
  • A blog post that they had written
  • A case study on their website
  • A more general comment about their website

That’s it. A bare minimum to show them that you have done your research. 

Say your personalized compliment out loud. Make sure it sounds good. You want it to sound like something that you would actually say in real life. 

You might be thinking — “Big deal, one line. That doesn’t show a lot of effort.” — And you are right. It doesn’t take long to do a little background research on someone and reference that at the top of your email. But our goal is just to get a call. A lot goes into closing high-ticket clients once they get on. 

But try multiplying that same time investment across 40 or 50 different recipients. If you wanted to send 40 emails per day, you would spend several hours each day researching prospects and personalizing emails. Who has time for that?

Why Do Personalized First Lines Work So Well?

Personalized Cold Emails Are Respectful

First of all, you have the respect element. Filling up someone’s inbox with mass automated cold emails is disrespectful, at best. No one wants to feel like a faceless name that was automatically inserted into a list somewhere. 

A personalized first line is a signal not only that you have done some initial research,but that you have at least taken the time to make sure that they are the right person to receive your offer. That says a lot. 

Personalized First Lines Show Up In The Preview

It’s clear why personalized elements of a cold email increase open and reply rates. By why do we put it on the first line, directly after the “hello?”

So it will show up in the preview. This is the only place that we have to signal to the recipient that we aren’t like the other cold emails they receive. 


email previews cold email

If they can see from the preview area that you have mentioned something specific about them, they’re 10x more likely to open.

Respect Their Time, Keep It Short

If you’ve done any reading on cold email, you probably have come across this advice before. 

But when I say short, I mean really short. 

Most of the time, when I work with companies that think they have a “short” cold email template that they’ve been using, it’s usually still twice as long as it needs to be. 

20-25 seconds. That’s how long it should take — maximum — for someone to read your cold email. 

When you are targeting high-ticket clients, they aren’t the type of people with a lot of time to waste. You have less than half a minute to help them understand what you are offering and why it would be in their interest to take a call with you. 

Reading a short email is a small ask. We want to build on that small ask with a bigger ask (taking a quick call with you). 

Keeping People Happy

Look — the truth is that you are never going to be able to send unsolicited emails without receiving some angry replies.

A guy might just have a bad morning, open your cold email, and decide to dump some of that anger off on you. It happens. Cold callers deal with 100x more.

But through smart personalization, short emails, and a results-focused approach, you’ll have fewer angry recipients, less emails marked as SPAM, more excited replies, and an in-tact brand repuation.

Ryan Bozeman

About Ryan Bozeman

Ryan Bozeman is a copywriter, content strategist, and founder of Boze Content. When he's not working on his business, he's probably watching football or playing Starcraft.

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