Cold outreach emails give you very little feedback; hence, it’s difficult to craft a perfect cold email. Most of what you learn there is through experimentation.

The open rates for emails are about 20.94% (source). That shows there’s a lot of room for improvement.

The main question is should you send your pitch in your cold outreach?

The answer is ‘No’.

So the next question is, if you don’t pitch in the cold email, what do you include to make the email effective?

Here are four elements you can consider adding to your cold emails without pitching:

Stop them from being any ‘colder’

As the name suggests, cold emails are just that – cold. Don’t make them colder by impersonal content. 

Our recipients view impersonal emails as interruption by us – senders. A personalized email offers something that can lessen their load, improve their productivity, generate more revenue, cut cost or whatever your value proposition is.

Use whatever research you have done to better personalize your content. Something as basic as the name of the recipient can transform an automated email into a relatively personalized message.

Make it about them, not you

No one pay attention to emails that read like:

Hi Bob,

We are a high-volume producer of widgets. Our widgets have better quality and a longer life. What’s more, we offer good discounts for….

Did you notice how the sender is only concerned about what they’re selling? They show no concern about what would interest the recipient or what their needs are.

In short, the email is all about “my company and my sales targets”. Not only the email is heavy in pitch, it also fails the basic test of selling: understand your customers first.

Now look at the following email:

Hi Cathy

<Business name> Marketing Director Jane Sample and I just finished our video-call where she told me she’s facing these challenges. Do they look like your challenges too?

  • Not getting meaningful analytics of their marketing and promotional activities, and
  • Lack of real-time integration of their marketing intelligence with sales teams



Suddenly the email is no longer cold. Also, it’s not even about “my company and my sales targets”. 

It comes across as an email that’s genuinely asking you whether you face such challenges. Instead of trying to thrust something down the prospect’s throat, it takes a polite, diagnostic approach.

Most importantly, it’s not about me, it’s about you. Messages like this take away the pitching part. Instead, they infuse the feeling that the sender is genuinely concerned about what the prospect likely cares about.

Offer to explore, not sell

Again, the second of the two emails above serves as a wonderful illustration of what’s a good thing to do.

Two important things happen here. One, it takes away the impersonal nature of a mass email by trying to start a helpful conversation. And two, the cold email displays empathy by putting the challenges of the prospect ahead of that of the sender.

You will notice the email doesn’t make any direct offer to sell. It conveys an impression that the sender is trying to understand the challenges faced by the recipients.

It’s also interesting to note how the sender subtly brings in what we call social proof, by mentioning a company that’s likely a client of the sender. 

You can use this style to warm up your prospects by casually mentioning what challenges your prospects ask you to solve.

Build trust before you sell

This is how one of our clients described what a cold email that’s in a hurry to sell look like:

You’re doing something very important and suddenly a salesperson walks in. He doesn’t ask for permission, nor has any previous appointment. And before you know, he waves an electric drill – or whatever he’s selling – right under your nose and asks you to buy it. He does not understand whether I need it! That’s how annoying a cold email with a sales pitch feels like.

The reason such an email feel ‘annoying’ is that it doesn’t build a relationship or establish trust. It pushes its own agenda, without respecting your time or showing any concern for what troubles your business most.

When you buy something, you’re trusting someone to provide you a solution for whatever money you pay them. A cold email with a pitch leaves no room for trust. And people don’t buy things from people they can’t trust.

Summing up

It’s not that a sales pitch is bad, it’s just that the first cold email you send out is often not the right time to do that. Once you establish a relationship, you can gently pitch your products in the subsequent chain emails. 

If you can show you understand their challenges you have won the early part of the challenge. From there on, all you’ll need is a proven engagement plan for your sales funnel to win the customer over.