How To Craft A Cold Email Sequence That Works [With Examples]

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Even when many say that cold emails are dead, they remain one of the best ways to grab the attention of your ICP in the least amount of time.

For me, email marketing has been one of the top 3 channels that have given excellent results throughout my career.

But we all know that cold emailing is challenging. There is no foolproof way of figuring out if the prospect has a need currently or not with all the so-called AI-based and intent intelligence tools we have today.

In addition, there are probably 100 other alternatives out there to what you offer. It’s not easy to stand out in just a few words you can fit inside an email.

I can go on and on talking about the challenges of cold emailing. But the point is, winning with cold email is all about continuously experimenting with various tactics.

Now the question is, how do you start? What are the different ways in which you can craft a cold email? What content should you include? What are some of the best practices?

I attempt to answer some of these in this article.


Mass emails vs personalized emails

Cold outreach can be sent in bulk or as highly personalized 1-on-1 notes. This article is more focused on the former though I will be covering some best practices with respect to the latter as well.

If you are interested in learning more about how to personalize your 1-on-1 emails, please check out the below article. Though it is on personalizing LinkedIn outreach, the same techniques can be extended to emails.

7 Ways To Optimize Your LinkedIn Outreach Using Personalization


Steps to crafting a winning cold email sequence

We all have seen a ton of content on how to create the best cold emails. What makes this one different is:

  • I have included examples of real cold emails that have been used in various companies and helped generate positive results.
  • The article also includes actionable templates that will help you get started with cold emailing right away.
  • I have also added a few related and additional resources you could refer to make your cold emailing strategy complete.

That said, below are the steps involved in writing a killer cold email sequence:

  1. Research
  2. Converting well-researched information into an email structure
  3. Writing a killer subject line
  4. Starting with the best hook
  5. Creating supporting material or content
  6. Writing the email copy
  7. Setting an email sending frequency
  8. Sequencing the email content
  9. Ending it in a way that you are remembered

Please note that this article does not cover everything related to cold emailing. Topics like list building, deliverability, automation, etc., are beyond the scope of this piece. However, additional references have been given wherever possible.

Related: How To Integrate Email Marketing With Other B2B Marketing Channels

1. Research

This, according to me, is by far the most important step in the process. And research doesn’t just mean collecting information from external sources. It also involves picking the brains of your SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), finding relevant reference material in your internal content management system, collecting insights from your teammates, etc.

The very first step of your research involves framing the right questions to find answers for. The following figure illustrates some of the types of information you need to find before starting to write a cold email sequence. I have also mentioned the methods and tools you can use to find this information:

Cold emailing questions
Cold Email Research Methodology

You could use the above template to consolidate all the relevant information. For instance, if you are using an excel sheet for this, you can consider having a separate tab for each question.

2. Converting well-researched information into an email structure

This is what differentiates a great email copywriter and an average one. While research can be templatized, this step cannot be. You need to have the ability to analyze a varied set of information and present it in a consumable format for your email recipients.

It is much like creating beautiful PowerBI or Tableau dashboards for data that lies on boring spreadsheets.

Let me try to explain this using an example.

Consider a company that sells demand generation services to B2B companies. Here is a document that lists some of the pain points of marketing and sales professionals in B2B organizations when it comes to demand and lead generation.

Now, how would you convert this piece into a super-rich email copy?

To understand how, have a look at this email content that has been created based on these pain points.

If you find creating this content to be too simple a process, give it a try yourself.

If you find it too overwhelming, again, give it a try yourself.

In either case, the more your practice, the better.

But this section was not about crafting the whole email content. The email will be complete only once we go through all 9 steps. I included the complete email sequence only as an example.

Instead, at this stage, what you can do is list down the key pointers you would include in the email copy as bullet points. This helps you create a skeleton using which you can later develop the whole sequence.

3. Writing a killer subject line

The beauty of cold emails is that there is no end to creativity. And subject lines are one place where your creativity can go crazy 😀.

Broadly speaking, following are the types of subject lines you can use in cold emails:

  • Formal
  • Informal
  • Personalized
  • Quirky (well, I couldn’t find a better term)

Let us try to write a few subject lines of each type for the same company we discussed earlier – a company that sells B2B demand gen and lead gen services.

Here are a few samples for formal subject lines:

  1. {{recipient name}}, we are the right lead generation partner for you
  2. High-quality leads for {{prospect company name}}
  3. Increase {{prospect company name}}’s lead to opportunity conversion by 3X

Now, let us look at a few examples of informal subject lines.

  1. {{recipient name}}. can we talk?
  2. {{recipient name}}. I can help you.
  3. Are you up for this challenge?

Personalized email subject lines are mostly used for 1-on-1 cold emails, And they are more about the person than his/her company or industry.

Given below are a few examples of this type of subject line:

  1. {{recipient name}}, your LinkedIn post last Tuesday was amazing!
  2. Want to talk Golf next week?
  3. Congrats on your recent promotion!

There is a thin line between informal ones and quirky ones. The latter are more like a subset of informal subject lines, but look more ‘clickbaity’ by evoking curiosity among the recipients (they sometimes got no relation with the email content).

Here are a few examples of quirky subject lines:

  1. I almost died last week
  2. Cold emailing is dead
  3. You should quit

While I am personally not a big fan of quirky subject lines, they seem to work. Anyhow, the choice of which type to use is completely yours. But now you know where to start when it comes to writing jaw-dropping email subject lines.

For further reading, here is an article from the Content Marketing Institute that shares more thoughts on writing the perfect email subject line:

10 Best Practices to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line

4. Starting with the best hook

Hooks are most popular for social media posts and videos. But they are important for cold emails too. Given below are a few examples of hooks you can use in any kind of B2B cold email:

  • Asking a question (did you see how the third follow-up email started in the example I shared earlier?).
  • Establishing credibility or showing proof (for this, check out how I started the second follow-up email in the same example).
  • Creating FOMO (fear of missing out – an example of this is a statement like “did you miss our Christmas discount of $100?”)
  • Evoking a sense of belonging (this works best for asking recipients to join a community or subscribe to a newsletter. An example would be a statement like “Do you want to join a tribe of 5000+ learners who exchange thoughts on growth, marketing, and entrepreneurship? If yes,…..”)
  • Personalized note (this is for 1-on-1 emails. An example is: “Hey John, I just saw that you won the Asia’s Top 40 CMO award. I wanted to congratulate you….”)

These are some of my favorite examples. You can get creative and come up with more intriguing ones. It is a good idea to create a document where you curate such interesting subject lines as you use them in different campaigns. That will become a good collection of great hooks over time.

5. Creating supporting material or content

When we talk of supporting content, many marketers assume that it is always about linking to relevant web/landing pages. While that definitely helps, supporting content means a lot more than that. Some examples include:

  • Ebooks, how-to guides, and templates
  • Whitepapers
  • Videos
  • Podcast episodes
  • Newsletter editions
  • Customer success stories/case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Blog posts
  • Technical documentation

Depending on the content of the email, you can link to the relevant material. In the B2B demand gen email sample, you could see me doing this in the last email (4th follow-up).

Here is another sample email copy where the company is into selling BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) services to insurance companies.

6. Writing the email copy

This is where you stitch all the pieces together. Steps 1 through 5 culminate here to craft a nice-looking email that is intriguing to read and compelling enough to click through or respond to.

You have already seen a couple of examples (of a B2B demand gen company and a BPO company), both of which follow a similar pattern.

Here is one more such which is used to sell BPO services to e-commerce companies.

If you noticed, all three examples I shared have relatively long content. There is another school of thought that recommends using very short, to-the-point kind of content. I am not sure if there is any study that statistically shows that this works better. But some people do prefer making it crisp.

Given below is an example of such an email (where the company is trying to sell an email automation tool to the head of marketing at a B2B fintech firm):

” Hi John,

I see that you are the Director of Marketing at {{prospect company name}}. I wonder if you are interested in exploring an email automation tool that is built particularly for the fintech industry.

Here is the [link] to the tool my company {{sender company name}} has developed that has already helped 100+ fintech companies enhance the results of their email campaigns.

Please do let me know if you are interested in discussing this further.


{{sender name}}

{{sender designation}}”

As I mentioned before, there is nothing like the perfect method. You can give both approaches a try and see which one gives better results.

Given below are a few best practices when it comes to writing email copy:

  • Try to use industry-specific terms. This gives the prospect a feeling that you understand their business.
  • It is recommended to stay away from too much jargon and complex words. End of the day, simplicity sells.
  • Clearly declare your identity. Maybe, add a link to your LinkedIn profile. This helps build trust. It also acts as a safety net against privacy and email etiquette violations with respect to laws like the GDPR, CCPA, CANSPAM, CASL, etc.
  • In a sequence, don’t always be salesy. Try using a mix of social proof, your expertise, differentiated points of view, etc., to stand out from the hundreds of other emails your recipients get.

Here is a good article by Harvard Business Review that covers a few useful tips when it comes to email copy:

A Guide To Cold Emailing

7. Setting an email sending frequency

This is another area in cold emailing that requires a lot of testing. The boundary between a valuable cold email and a spammy one is always very thin.

Again, there isn’t a single approach here that works. I would recommend setting the frequency as once a week initially. This would also depend on factors like:

  • The number of emails you wish to include in a cadence.
  • The timeframe within which you need to finish a campaign.

If you are in a hurry (let’s say you wish to promote an event that is coming up soon), you can try to send as many as two emails in a week.

But a word of caution here. Too many emails can lead to:

  • The recipient’s firewall construing your email as spam.
  • The recipient unsubscribing from your future communications.

So do some A/B testing to find out what works for you.

Also read: Improve your email deliverability with these 7 tips

8. Sequencing the email content

The number of emails you should include in an email sequence is always a topic of debate. In my career, I have gone with 3, 4, 5, and even 7 emails in a single cadence. And there has not been a significant and observable difference in the results.

However, some people do not appreciate too many aggressive follow-ups. So I would recommend stopping with 5. And go with a minimum of 3. Otherwise, your content might look too shallow and weak.

Also, if you are combining emails with any other channel (say LinkedIn outreach), make sure you do not come across as way too aggressive in your outreach.

What you can do here is to add the LinkedIn message too as an activity in your campaign calendar. This helps to organize your campaigns better in addition to staying away from spamming your prospects.

Also read: 5 B2B Email Marketing Hacks You Should Try In 2024

9. Ending it in a way that you are remembered

I consider this to be the most underrated tactic in B2B cold email marketing. In an effort to force conversions, many of us tend to be way too pushy in our emails. Owing to this, we often forget to look at email as a demand generation channel (yes, emails can generate demand).

Let me explain this through an example.

Imagine a scenario where the recipient is impressed with your email content. She falls right into your ICP. She has the budget to spend. She could also be a potential long-term customer. Only that, the timing is not right. She might have the need to buy your product only 6 months later.

Now the question is, what do you do to make sure you stay on the radar of such prospects? They are less likely to respond to your email or reach out to you through other channels immediately.

The answer is quite simple.

You make your email copy MEMORABLE.

There are different ways to do it. Sharing related educational content as I did in the examples I stated earlier is one of the ways to do it.

Some of the other ways include:

  • Offering a free giveaway (this is usually done in return for filling out a survey or sharing a testimonial).
  • Personalize your emails at a 1-on-1 level (this is not a scalable method though).
  • Even if you don’t get a response to your email, see if you can connect with the person on LinkedIn (this helps to stay on top of your prospect’s mind. You can also try to establish a professional relationship with the individual which is beyond just the scope of your work).

That’s all I wanted to cover in this article. Hope this was a useful read.


Skalegrow – B2B email marketing agency

With marketing getting tougher and tougher, every wrong foot you make might hamper your growth. What you need is the right guidance and a helping hand. This is where Skalegrow can make a sea of difference.

Skalegrow helps IT, tech, SaaS, and embedded systems companies leverage new-age marketing tactics to grow their business. Check out the below intro video to learn more about what Skalegrow brings to the table:

Email marketing is one of our focus areas and we are already helping some of our clients generate leads and improve brand awareness using high-quality content and  best practices. Visit our email marketing page to learn more about how we can help. You could also write to us at


About the author

Naseef KPO

Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.

Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.

You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.