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cold emailFrom Joshbraun

Want to Get a 60% Response Rate from Your Dream Clients? Steal These Emails

By August 9, 2016 No Comments

If you’re responsible for sending cold emails to attract new business, you’ve got a tough gig. It’s not easy getting the attention of crazy-busy people.

This post contains some things I’ve learned that are highly effective at getting your dream clients to respond positively to your first contact WITHOUT sounding “salesy”.

Yes, you can steal the emails below, but that’s not the most valuable thing about this post – it’s the underlying psychology of why the emails are effective that will help you to personalize the campaign for your audience.

This post contains three parts: (1) why most cold emails end up in the recycle bin; (2) the value-based email formula; and (3) an example campaign that uses the value based formula.

Pro Tip: don’t skip parts one and two. You’ll get much higher response rates if you understand the logic first.


As critical as cold emails are to generated sales, the truth is most emails end up in the recycle bin.

Here’s why:

1. You’re trying to get instead of give. If you walked up to a stranger and proposed, chances are they’d say no, because they don’t know or trust you. And yet, 99% of cold emails ask prospects to get married on the first or second “date” – whether that be making time in the calendar, agreeing to see a demo, or buying something.

On the other hand, if you had a good opening line and asked a stranger for coffee first, there’s a much higher chance they would say yes. If the coffee went well, they might agree to grab dinner.

After several months of dinner dates they might agree to move in together.  If you waited until this point to propose, you’d have a much higher chance of getting a “yes!” because you’d have built trust along the way.

“Closing” or getting someone to say “yes” to marriage is the natural progression of a good courtship.  If you’re not closing enough deals, chances are you need to work on your opening or courtship. 

The same “courtship” applies to cold emails.  A highly effective way to build trust in a cold email is to teach your potential customer how to do something better BEFORE asking for something in return.  


By including a link to a video that teaches your prospect how to achieve their desired outcome.  

In other words, give before getting.

Brad Feld the co-founder of Techstars, wrote an awesome post several years ago about the benefits of giving before getting (highly recommend you check it out).

What does giving in a cold email look like?

Say your business is an SEO agency.  You could “give” by creating a link to a video in your cold email that teaches your prospect how to boost their Google ranking using a lesser-known tactic.

Here’s an example.

No green screen or professional actors needed.  Just a screencast, which is a recording of you speaking over some slides sharing your screen.

This is one of  the best examples I’ve seen of providing a valuable insight.   (Imagine you’re a UI/UX shop and you send this to Delta.)

Why video?

Because videos have a higher perceived value than an article, white paper, or e-book and therefore get better response rates.  That said, it’s not the medium; it’s the message.  Your message has to be laser focused on an idea that can help your potential customer do something better.

Pro tip: your prospects will be more attracted to you if you can teach them something that helps them kick more ass.

Here’s how Scott Britton, the founder of Life-Long Learner, uses this mindset to start a conversation with crazy busy people (Scott uses a tool called bContext to create the screencast, but you can also use Screenflow if you have a Mac or Camtasia if your have a PC).

cold email

Scott Britton’s Cold Email

Notice how “low-fi” Scott’s video is, but how relevant the video is (the prospect’s website) and how helpful the content is.

2. Your emails are too long. 67% of your recipients will read your emails on their mobile device. The faster you articulate how you can help your potential customer be more awesome, the higher the response rate you’ll get—so cut, cut, cut. Shorten your sentences. Write 6-7 sentences max (you can link to a longer video).

3. You’re not sending enough follow-ups. Chances are your potential customer won’t say “yes” to marriage after the first few dates. It can take up to 5 emails before you can build up enough trust to get to a positive response. That means 4 follow-ups. That’s because 27% of your positive or neutral responses will come from emails 3-5, so if you’re not sending 4, you’re missing out on sales.

4. Your follow-ups are annoying. The question is: how do you follow up 5 times in a way that’s not annoying?

Here’s the follow up formula:

• Identify a pain point
• Teach your prospect how to solve it for themselves (using video)
• Offer to do it for them

For example, if you’re an SEO firm, you could identify a problem your prospect has, such as not having enough targeted traffic. Then, you could include a screencast you created that teaches them a tactic for getting more traffic. After that, you could offer to do it for them by selling your service.

4. Your email has too many instances of the word “I” and not enough of the word “You”. “You” phrasing increases response rates because it focuses your message on the potential customer’s interest rather than yours. Your “you to I” ratio should be 5:1. Five instances of “you” to every one of “I”.

5. You’re too self-focused. Put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. Next, make sure every sentence passes the “What’s in it for me?” test. That’s what your recipient is going to ask themselves as they read your email. If the answer is no, scrap the email or rewrite it.


  1. Identify a problem on your prospect’s website (that you can solve).
  2. Emphasize the impact the problem has on your prospect’s business.
  3. Include a screenshot of your prospect’s website in the email.
  4. Connect the dots between the problem you noticed and how you can help.  For example, send them a screencast that teaches a technique for boosting their Google rankings.
  5. Provide a call to action that helps your prospect be more successful.  “Beth, are you open to examining how this approach could help increase your conversion rates?”  Notice that I didn’t say, “Can I have 30 minutes of your time.”  There’s a big difference between the two asks.  The context of the first one is that Beth can be more successful (which is more compelling).  The context of the second one is that I want to take up her time.
  6. Sign off with just your first name. This makes it feel more authentic than including words like “best”, or “cheers” that might not come across as sincere since to a stranger.



Subject: 2 reasons why telecom.com/productpage is losing sales (and how to fix it..)

Hey Beth,

I recently analyzed the {product name} purchase flow and discovered that you’re most likely seeing drop off at the “select a plan” page below.


I made a personalized video for you where I go over the details, but here are 2 reasons why you might be losing people:

1. Too many choices. There are 5 plans to choose from and 3 add on options. (DVR capacity, premium channels, and self- or full-service installation.) Research by Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University, concluded that an overload of options paralyzes people (source).

2. Feature-heavy approach. The copy assumes your audience is versed in telecom lingo (megabytes, throttling, VOIP, etc.). Anyone who doesn’t have an understanding of those terms or why they should care about them will be confused (and confusion leads to inaction).

Anyway . . . (that’s called an awkward transition)

Here’s the video of the analysis, along with a “taste” of our recommended approach.

Beth, feel to say no, but allow me to ask: are you open to examining how this approach could help increase your conversion rates?



Subject: Research study: Increasing {name of product} conversion rates

Hi Beth,

I recently stumbled on some telecom research that shows how to design a pre-sales funnel that maximizes conversion rates for phone, TV, and internet products.

It was conducted by the Gartner Group, and the research found that when consumers don’t convert online 62% of the time they cite that they couldn’t decide what options to select.

If you’d like me to forward this research your way, let me know and I’ll gladly send send it over.



Subject: Beth, thought you’d find this interesting . .

Hey Beth,
I thought you’d find the Harvard Business Review article below helpful, given your interest in increasing phone, TV, and internet conversion rates.  In it, Lisa Brown discusses how to optimize the telecom pre-sales experience. A few of the points Lisa covers are:
  • Strive for understanding customer preference first: What do they want, need and expect?
  • Offer flexible, customer specific bundles: This will help customers obtain the services they want without paying for what they don’t want
  • Complex data plan guidance: data plans are hard to understand, so buyers need to have someone walk them through
 You can access the article here.



(include the touch 2 email so your prospect has context)

Subject: Re:2 reasons why telecom.com/productpage is losing sales (and how to fix it..)

Hi {first name},

Just wanted to circle back on my email below regarding techniques that can help increase {product name}’s conversion rates.

Is this something you’ve ever considered?

{sender’s name}

TOUCH 5 (7 days later)

(include touch 1 email below this email)

Subject: Did I lose you?

Hi {first name},

Just wanted to circle back one last time to see if there’s any interest in my email below regarding techniques that can help boost {company name}’s conversion rates while improving the customer experience.

Feel free to say no, but allow me to ask: is this something that sounds interesting?

{sender’s name}

Happy emailing.

Want me to create your email and video?

Just let me know.

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Josh Braun

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