The Best Startup Cold Email I’ve EVER Received…and How It Could Be Even Better

Posted on October 14, 2014

I get at least 1-2 cold emails every day from various B2B businesses and because I’m also B2B, I tend to examine these and see if I can learn anything from them. More often than not though, the emails are unimpressive and they get deleted. HOWEVER, the following email arrived in my inbox, and I actually wanted to talk with them! Enough of the anticipation. Here it is, why it’s great, and how it could have been even better. Use these tips when crafting your next cold email; the 8 steps listed below made my own open rates go up from 5% to 50%.

The Bait

Subject: Meet Advisors interested in featuring GlobalPetals

They have my company in the subject of their email, which means it’s not 100% irrelevant. This isn’t too hard to do with automation software, but it’s a nice touch. What makes me open it specifically is the verbiage, “featuring GlobalPetals.” They know that early startups like press. This sets the tone of giving rather than taking from the start – they want to do something that will benefit ME.

The Hook

Hi Michael,

My name is Renata, I am a story scout with Meet Advisors, a social network for entrepreneurs which has been featured on Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post and other publications.

Okay, I know they want to feature me in something, but who are they (I think next)? Her first sentence does the trick. The mailer states her personal name and instantly conveys her company’s credibility through known news sources. At this point, my skepticism starts fading away and it’s replaced by genuine interest. What entrepreneur doesn’t want their business associated with these publications? I’m curious how I can get in on this as well.

I am looking for cool startups in Chicago, IL and spotted Global Petals LLC to feature in the upcoming post “Top Startups Making Waves in Chicago, IL”.

“Of course, I have a cool startup” runs through my head. You sought me out, so that’s a plus. Also, if I can point to something that says I’m a “Top Startup,” it gives me credibility. I’m in…

Few story examples:

Okay – looks good to me.


Can you answer the following questions for my editor?

1. When did you launch?
2. Describe your traction to date?
3. What publications have you been featured in to date?
4. Have you been funded?

This requires me to act. These questions are pretty standard and don’t take too much effort to type out. If I answer, the line of communication is now open for them to eventually pitch me on what they’re trying to sell. BUT, they haven’t directly mentioned anything about a sale just yet.

Also, we have over 500 Advisors on the site willing to support entrepreneurs via free advice:

Looking forward to your response.

This may or may not be something I’m interested in, but the final statement is another subtle nudge to commit and open up the communication.

This is one of the few sales emails I actually responded to and am somewhat intrigued in discovering more. I knew there would probably be a sales pitch at some point, but after being so bombarded with impersonal, “buy my product” cold emails, it was refreshing to hear about benefits for me. You’d think everyone would talk about benefits instead of self-glorification, but it’s surprisingly rare.

Something interesting happened – I responded to the email, but didn’t get a response. After a great email, they didn’t seem to be on top of their game? That was a turn off, but I still wanted to speak with them (impressed with the email), so I reached back out after a couple weeks. If your email can prompt someone to get back in contact even after you forgot about them, you know your copy is right.

From Good to Unforgettable

While this email is the best email I’ve received to date, there is still a ways to go until it is the best email ever.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Bait the reader: make sure the subject line quickly and clearly states the benefit the reader will be receiving by opening the email.
  2. Address the email to an individual – use their actual name.
  3. Hook the reader: in the body, make sure you state who you are and why you’re contacting me – i.e. why should it matter to me?
  4. Reel the reader in: demonstrate that you know something specific about my business and why we’re a good match: “I sought you out because you’re different and focused on international e-commerce.” This shows you read at least one line on our website.
  5. Show that you’ve done your RESEARCH ON ME AND MY BUSINESS. Praise my accomplishments (everyone loves genuine flattery), and tell me how you can make me and my business even better: “I heard you just landed customer XYZ – that’s very impressive!”
  6. Tell me where you heard about me from: “I got your contact information from the 1871 member list”
  7. I’ll say this again – it’s not about YOU, it’s about ME.
  8. Make it easy to contact you and respond promptly.


Email marketing is increasingly tough, but it doesn’t have to be.  Personalize it, show you’ve done your research, and see your response rate climb.

What other effective cold email techniques have you used and would recommend?