How to Generate Leads From Cold Emailing – Case Studies, Templates and Sequences

29 Dec How to Generate Leads From Cold Emailing – Case Studies, Templates and Sequences

This post contains lots of data and useful tips – to maximise your chance of using these strategies successfully. including full templates and scripts, just
download my ‘cheat’ sheet’ by

Cold email is a waste of time….

That’s the general consensus from a lot of people – those who expect a 0.001% response rate from firing out generic emails to thousands of people.

But they are entirely wrong.

You can generate leads and sales from cold email, if you do it right.

I’ve found the best case studies from those generating response rates in the region of 50% + from simple, short emails.

In this article:

  • 90% response rate from emails to potential partners
  • How Flossing your teeth can generate more cold sales leads… (almost)
  • Generate 50 signups from a cold email
  • Follow best practice
  • A $15k deal from a cold emailing convert
  • Create a custom movie for each prospect for a > 50% response rate
  • Going from 0% response rate to 40%
  • How to email VIPs
  • Use Infographics to generate a $7,500 revenue
  • Putting in the extra mile to engage large firms for ongoing work
  • Add $7k to your sales in one month
  • How a creative freelancer landed $12,030 in revenue from cold emails
  • $10,000 a month recurring revenue by turning customer objections into a sales tools
  • ‘Finding the appropriate person’ generates $15m in sales with an 80% response rate
  • 4 sentences to 20-30% response rate on cold emails
  • The emails that turned Salesforce in a multi billion dollar company
  • Alligators and emails for a 10% response rate

How do they do it?

Find out more as we go through the emails.

 90% response rate from emails to potential partners

Hannah Wright was reaching out to fashion beauty and fashion bloggers to join her platform. Through some continuous testing, she managed to get a 90% response rate to her emails by adopting 4 practices:

1. She made the email personal (you’ll see a lot more of this):

Note the first line clearly shows that Hannah had read the blog of the recipient and that the email wasn’t only a spam email.

2. The text is all about the benefits the recipient will receive

In the example, there isn’t much said about Makeoverly – the majority of the text in the mail is about the benefit of the service to the user – ie the ability to promote their blog and show off their credibility.

3. It’s short and sweet.

There aren’t 40 features listed out, or a guide on how old the company is – it’s all very, very succinct and easy to read.

4. The right type of subject title was used

For the highest responses, Hannah used the subject ‘Makeoverly Opportunity – which was a lot more successful than earlier tries : ‘Hi, reaching out to you from Makeoverly’ and ‘Makeoverly Contributor’

A large part of the success of Hannah’s approach can be put down to the face she is emailing the right target with the right product.  It’s hard to see any fashion bloggers who wouldn’t be at least interested in ‘showing off their credibility’ – and I’m guessing that the bloggers aren’t emailed too frequently with such emails.   That said, regardless of how relevant your target is – sending the right email will make all the difference between a 0.01% response rate, and a 90% response rate.

How Flossing your teeth can generate more cold sales leads… (almost)

If you want to start flossing your teeth every day for the rest of your life, there’s a simple way to get started, either:

1. Commit today to floss your teeth and never ever stop

2. Agree to just floss one tooth, this evening.

The simplest way to gain lasting change is to start out committing to floss just one of your teeth.  It’s easy, quick and simple and ultimately it will set you on the most likely course to flossing all of your teeth every day, (according to Prof BJ Fogg of Tiny Habits).  Persuading anyone to take more than the minimal possible action (even yourself) is very hard – which is why if you are asking anyone to take action – you’ll reap the most benefit from making any action  you want people to take – to be small.

It’s the same with email – making any action you want the user to take to be small will increase your success rate.   If you request one hour of someone’s time – there’s a large risk associated with that for the recipient – if they don’t know you and don’t know exactly what you want – they are unlikely to commit to meeting you.

How to apply this to cold emailing

Micro commitments work by persuading someone to take a tiny step that is easy to see, quick and devoid of any risk.

If you’re ever opened an email, been faced with a wall of text – and then a request for an hour of your time, I’m sure you’ve immediately just pressed the delete button.

Mike Hardenbrook detailed the sequence he used to persuade 140 tech thought leaders to engage with him,using ‘micro commitment’

The email sequence looks  like this:

Email 1:

Note how brief this is, and can only really be responded with a brief ‘Yes, no or possibly’

Email 2:

The same for this email – short, and only 3 outcomes: ‘Yes, no or possibly’

 Email 3:

The final email – offers a call,and is focused on how the 5 minute call saves the prospect time.

This doesn’t require lots of scheduling, long reading etc – the entire email stream is short, concise and benefit based – it’s a masterclass in how to slowly build commitment through emails..

Generate 50 signups from a cold email

Sometimes, a well crafted, intriguing email is all it takes. LeadGenius blogged about how an email one of their clients was sending managed to up their response rate from almost zero, to 28% (on a very small list).

The email sent is below:

Why this works:

1. The headline is intriguing – getting more customers for 15 minutes time isn’t long – and getting more customers in that time, sounds very attractive to a recipient.

2. The intro sentence.  A ‘hack’ sounds like something that’s easy to use.

3. It includes simple personal details – such as the company name and the person’s name (you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this).

4. It’s short – there aren’t endless paragraphs or text about the senders’ company

5. The social proof of the competitor increasing sales is a clear value statement which should make the recipient want to know more.

If that email landed in your inbox, would you be willing to spend 15 minutes to increase leads by 47%?

Follow best practice

There are a lot of statistics on cold emailing, but some of the most relevant, easy to implement that  I’ve found are:

2 seconds to read an email


ideal email subject length


increase in response rate - email follow-up

(Life-long Learner)

mobile users delete emails


From Leadgenuis


A $15k deal from a cold emailing convert

 generated a $15k client from a thoughtful, well structured small campaign:

Steps he took:

1. Drill down into WHO you sell you, and what type of company they work for.

i.e. you might be targeting CEO or CTO of tech startups in the USA or the UK with at least $200k funding, or $500k-$1m revenue if unfunded

2. Find companies that fit this profile – Marco used Crunchbase to find leads.

3. Manually check the profile of each company and record on a spreadsheet (Marco used a freelancer for this manual process at a cost of $250)

4. Send a short email:

The email sent was incredibly short, courteous and to the point:

Of 500 sent,  67 people replied. 14 were interested and the other 53 were not interested, would keep on file – or used an autoresponder reply.

This is a 13.4% response rate.

Positive responses looked like:

 The next step was to qualify the warm leads, which looked like:

Marco would ruthlessly qualify these people to save wasting time on dead leads – if their budget was too small, he’d explain this to them – or if they didn’t state a budget, he’d reply with ‘our minimum budget is $XX,XXX’ for a project.

After the qualification process, 2 were left – who went through the typical sales process Marco runs all clients through, and were then sent proposals.

The result: from 2 proposals, 1 agreed almost instantly to a $15,000 fee.

This shows with a well though-out process, it’s possible to engage and generate income quickly from cold-leads.

Create a custom movie for each prospect for a > 50% response rate

Scott Britton (who runs an excellent podcast at trains on cold emailing and has developed a useful process using videos, which can be completed in 5 minutes per prospect.

Scott using iPad software called ‘BContext’ which allows a user to create a static presentation and then annotate, or record your voice over.

Scott runs through an example he’d use if he were promoting a mobile website builder application:

Hey Dan,

I noticed your blog currently isn’t mobile optimized:

Dan’s Mobile site Review(contains sound)

WPTouch is a plugin that actually mobile optimizes wordpress blogs to enhance the viewing experience for your readers on phones and tablets. When you have a few minutes would love to connect to get this taken care of for you. Alternatively, you can just download the plugin here.



And the presentation linked is here:

The results – Scott has used this process to generate 15 responses out of 28 emails he sent to busy executives who haven’t responded to initial emails.

This will be mainly due to the short, benefit driven email with the highly personalised approach – ultimately standing out from many of the cold emails that the recipient would have received.    Adding a video is an element that provides a good return on impact relative to the effort required.

This post contains lots of data and useful tips – to maximise your chance of using these strategies successfully. including full templates and scripts, just
download my ‘cheat’ sheet’ by

Going from 0% response rate to 40%

Iris Shoor from Takipi ran through her fantastic emailing strategy which generated meetings with Twitter, Linkedin, Klout and more.

Her email approach even trumped ‘warm intro’s – with 7 meetings from cold emails leading to 5 installations, and 9 meetings from ‘warm intro’s’ leading to 2 installations.

Iris ran through some of the benefits she found for a new product like Takipi:

  • Cold emailing allows you to filter and find out those truly interested in a new product
  • In the case of a warm intro, you may not be getting introduced to the right person  – ie if your contact works at a google, what are the chances they really work in the right department, or even have the right internal connections to make the right impact?  whereas a cold email can be laser targeted to the right individual.

Iris’ steps:

1. Research – rather than heading straight to Linkedin, Iris found that those who tweet, go to meetups and present regularly are more likely to be interested in trying a new product.

2. Don’t give up.  Iris normally got a meeting after trying 2 or 3  different people at the company (And waiting 3 or 4 days between posts)

3. Craft the email and improve – Iris found that her initial emails fell on deaf ears – with 0% response rate, but she soon found a 40% response rate by using a subject line template like: ‘BENEFIT for X company’ – (in her example: ‘Server debugging in Scala/ Java at Twitter’.

4. Don’t forget you are emailing a real person, not a company.  The person you are emailing will have a history, interests, hopes, dreams and problems.  If you can show you’ve done some research, you’ll do well.

5. Keep it SHORT.  Nobody likes a long email – keep it around 2 paragraphs maximum.

6. Be upfront about what you want.  Don’t skirt around the issue asking for ‘feedback’ – instead, Iris found that being honest and direct worked a lot better than trying to gently dodge what you really want.

This case shows the impact of testing and improving emails, with a good framework can see a significant improvement in results.

How to email VIPs

John Corcoran worked out a strategy to get in front of VIPs using short, cold emails.

He sent Noah Kagan of OKDork and Appsumo the below email:

 And as a result, managed to interview Noah and spend some time with him.  Those of you who know of Noah will understand he’s a hard guy to get hold of.

His steps to crafting the above:

1. A direct subject line.  You want the recipient to know exactly why they should open the email from you.  If your recipient sees hundreds of emails a day, you’ll need to stand out.

2. He asked for a short time commitment. Saying yes to 5-7 minutes is a lot easier than saying yes to an hour meeting.

3. The email gave Noah everything he needed to be able to make a decision on whether he should accept the offer – he knew exactly the time commitment and what John wanted before he had finished the email.

John also gives sone tips on how to make life easier when emailing:
1. Grease the wheels ahead of time by using twitter or social media to connect – John had brief twitter exchanges with Noah before approaching him direct:

2. Keep it brief .  This is a lesson every single person who successfully cold-emails knows- you must keep your emails short to get read.

3. Try as much as possible to make sure there is something beneficial in your email for the recipient, such as:

      • ask to interview the person and publish it on a website, in a newsletter, or on a podcast.
      • help spread the word about a person’s new book, new product, or new business
      • offer to introduce the person to someone else who they might want to meet (such as when I introduced Noah to Brett McKay and Jon Morrow)
      • give them a tip related to a personal hobby. For example, I might give Noah a recommendation of where he can get a killer taco the next time he’s in San Francisco.
      • forward along the resume of a qualified candidate for a job opening with their company.

4. Make it FUN!  Sadly, not many people enjoy emails they get in their inbox – a lot of people dread opening their email and receiving hundreds of tasks or boring promotional emails.

John pointed out an email he received from Maneesh Sethi of Hack the System which was fun and offered value:

5. If  you have something common, make sure you leverage this – no matter how small.  In the best case, this could be an insightly reason for the reader to engage with you – and in the worst case, it shows you have at least done some research.

Whilst you may not be out looking for an ‘influencer’ to email, but the principles can be applied to any cold email scenario.

Use Infographics to generate a $7,500 revenue

The team at Klip (a mobile rewards networks)  ran a very interesting project which generated 3 clients with an estimated $7,500 in potential revenue.  Following the advice from most successful emailers about crafting a short email that provides real value to your user, they received some very positive responses.  The steps they followed:

1. They researched quotes and research about mobile revenue growth and built a target list of both:

a. Those who had written the article which provided the quote

b. Those who were the subject of the article.

2. They sent the following emails to both the journalist and the company featured in the article:

3. They created the infographic and ensured they promoted the image to those they had included in the post.

The results

The infographic they produced generated 4,000 views, 200 tweets and 100 likes:

Of 48 emails sent, they received 24 responses…and the 3 clients worth %$7,500

You can see the clear value they added to those companies included in the infographic ‘can we use your statistic to promote your company’ is an opportunity that most businesses would say ‘yes’ to.

Putting in the extra mile to engage large firms for ongoing work

Bryan Harris of Videofruit pitched Hubspot in a cold email which included a video, to generate some monthly video production work.
The email looked like this:

Why this worked:

1. It’s brief and informal

2. It states the value of Bryan’s work ‘I’m working with Kissmetrics already’

3. It’s complimentary – he demonstrated he knew information about the company by talking about their recent business card

4. He over-delivered on the content of his email: Bryan produced embedded this video in his email which showed he’d put a lot of work into a demo:

The results

This style of email has generated ongoing work for Bryan with Kissmetrics and Hubspot.  He receives  a 3 out of 5 success rate with companies he uses this approach with.

Add $7k to your sales in one month

Jesse from used Zoho Apps to setup a systematic, well organised campaign which netted a $7k client.

Jesse recommended the same advice as most of the case studies above – keeping your email relevant, personal and brief- and added some additional tips that worked for him:

1, Work on your signature:

2. Make use of  PS at the bottom of the email to leave something you want your recipient to remember (some copywriters swear by this – the theory being that it’s the one thing that people will remember).

3. Jesse included a high quality, 2 page attachment which explicitly ran through the benefits of their service to the user – it wasn’t just an old leaflet they had lying around teh office, but something that the email recipient would definitely  find ver useful.

4. Proofread like your life depends on it.  It’s naturally very hard to cross check your own work, but small typos make a big difference to and end user.

5. Work on what happens ‘after they reply’ – ensure you follow up with your client in the right way, to maximise your results from the process.

This post contains lots of data and useful tips – to maximise your chance of using these strategies successfully. including full templates and scripts, just
download my ‘cheat’ sheet’ by

A simple foundation for a 20% response rate

The team at Salesloft provide innovative lead generation software, so they know a thing or two about what makes your recipient take action.

Rather than a prescribed format, they identified key factors that gave them a 20% response rate to emails they have sent – the principles are how you make a cold email, seem less-cold to the recipient.

1. Don’t try to sell anything in the email – virtually nobody will buy immediately from you in a cold email – so focus on getting a response and taking baby steps towards a sales.

2.  Use Twitter to find out more about the recipient.  Twitter gives great insights into what someone really believe’s in:


3. Be nice and genuinely compliment them on their achievements – look through Linkedin and find something to comment on (but make sure it sounds genuine.

4. Remember you are selling yourself FIRST, not the company.   If the recipient thinks ‘this person is funny, smart and professional…I want to find our more…’ then you’re starting off on the right.


How a creative freelancer landed $12,030 in revenue from cold emails

Jake Jorgovan is a creative freelancer who has used cold emails to generate work from Fortune 500 companies in the past.  He generated $12,030 from a few batches of cold emails.

Jake believes the most essential item for any cold emailing, is a compelling case study:

 To maximise your results from the case study, you should ensure it’s aligned with your prospect – i.e. if you are looking to generate work from Lawyers, include a case study on how you helped other lawyers.

Jake then sends a nicely tailored email to the client which references the case study and the work performed:

Jake also focuses heavily on sending the second email.  The second email shows your prospect you are genuine, and interested in in working with them.

He found that by sending 100 emails, he could close 1-2 jobs.

A few other interesting takeaways he noticed during the process:

1. It took a long time for Jake to convert the leads – normally over several months.

2. Often it’s all about timing for the clients – some clients would revert back to Jake up to 5 months after his initial email.

$10,000 a month recurring revenue by turning customer objections into a sales tools

Ryan Luedecke of SumoJerky grew his business to $10,000 a month by focusing on emailing the right people – and crafting a well-honed email.

Through diligent research, Ryan worked out the ideal buyers of his product (Jerky delivery subscriptions) were CEOs of companies that fit the following traits:

– Were hiring staff

– Were a fairly new startup

– Were listed in app directories

– Were small to medium sized

This meant the company would most likely be growing, have money to spend on office snacks and weren’t filled by layers of bureaucracy.

The email

When it came time to email – Ryan crashed out the first time he emailed, but probed for some feedback and then wrote an email that answered every objection of his first potential customer…it turned out like:

and Ryan even broke down every single part of the email to show the use of the email:



If Ryan received a negative response, he always had a counter ready:

  • It’s too expensive (he offered a coupon code).
  • It doesn’t accommodate vegetarians (he included kale chips).
  • It’s not a fit for a small office (he let them order below our minimum).
  • It’s not clear what I’m getting (he wrote back in detail what they’d receive).
  • I am not sure if my team likes jerky (he offered a money back guarantee).
  • I already order jerky from Amazon / Costco (Great! Do a taste test as a team event!).
  • I want free sample first (he offered a $30 “tasting” order instead).

And the result of sending 5,000 emails to targeted offices using the above principles?  200 signed-up offices (4% success),  generating more than $10k per month in revenue.

4 sentences to 20-30% response rate on cold emails

Elizabeth Yin is the founder of Launchbit – a company that helps with customer acquisition.  She regularly cold emails to obtain new clients and has developed her own ‘formula’ on which she can generate 20-30% response rate.

Her best performing emails follow this 4 sentence formula:

Sentence 1 – Build rapport – make sure you mention something about the person you are emailing that shows you are personally interested in them: e.g. ‘we met at X event / I loved  your article/post/speech on ABC’

Sentence 2 – Explain how you can help them – e.g.’ my software can generate 200 leads a month for your company / we will reduce the cost of your leads by 40%’

Sentence 3 – Add social proof – e.g. ‘we helped X company do Y.’

Sentence 4 – Have a definitive call to action – e.g. ‘When is the best time to catch up for 20 mins by phone/ who is the best person to speak to at your company by phone for 20 minutes.

It’s a short and sweet formula that generates impressive results

‘Finding the appropriate person’ generates $15m in sales with an 80% response rate

Bryan Kreuzberger makes a living from promoting sales strategies and helping companies increase sales.

Like everyone who has developed a cold email template of formulate that works, his was developed after lots of testing and relatively little success with other methods.

Kreuzberger goes further than most by ensuring he knows the name of more than 1 person at every firm he approaches, then he sends multiple individual emails at the same time.

His email looks like this:

Breaking down the email:

1. The subject ‘ Appropriate person’

This looks formal and is naturally attention grabbing for the recipient.   It’s not very ‘salesy’ and will stand out amongst other ‘Free trial’ or ‘introducing our new product’ emails.

2. The first sentence ‘I’m writing in the hopes of finding the appropriate person who handles XXX.

Bryan recommends you keep the are you are seeking or help in, fairly vague.

3. The second sentence ‘I also wrote to. Person X, Y and Z’

This is where the tactic plays out well.  Bryan recommends targeting 4 people with an email – to ensure confusion amongst the hierarchy.  Note you would send all the emails separately, without any CC’ing of other people

4. The third sentence-  a Call To action

If you do get hold of the right person, what do you want them to do?

5. The elevator pitch

After the CTA comes your elevator pitch and a final call to action.

As you can see, this email takes a bit longer to set-up than a traditional cold-email where you only email one person – but if you can generate an 80% response rate like Bryan claims – then the extra effort will certainly pay off.

The emails that turned Salesforce in a multi billion dollar company

predictable leads revenue

Aaron Ross was a  fed up sales-guy at Salesforce.

He was tasked with generating 8 leads per month..his hit rate was a mere 2 –  Aaron was in trouble.

One night he tried a different approach: He sent out two different emails to 100 of each of his targets:

Email 1 – Standard sales email:

Not like the ones included in this post, but the ones you normally see:

‘Dear Sir

We are company X

We are great a Y

Would you like Z

+ lots more info about the company’


Email 2 – Revised short and sweet email:

Aaron doesn’t give away a specific strategy, but his emails read along the lines of:


I’m sorry to trouble you.  Would you be so kind as to tell me how is responsible for [INSERT BIGGEST PROBLEM YOU SOLVE/ PAIN POINT] and how I might get in touch with them?

Kind regards

The results:

Email 1 – Zero responses

Email 2 – 5 responses. (rising to 9-10% after some improvement)

This also led to significant sales for the business – Aaron knew that if he only got a chance to speak to the right person, he’d generate sales  – and when you get an ‘inbound referral’ from a CEO, no matter how brief the message – you start a conversation in a lot more powerful position, than if you try to start with obtaining a sales meeting.

Aaron’s advice:

– Aim high (go for the person with the highest email address you can – e.g. CEO)

– Always keep it short

– Follow up

– Separate prospecting from closing deals  they are two different arts and should be focused on separately.


16 new customers from a 3 sentence email

This case study is from the free predictable revenue ebook.

Heather Morgan runs a B2B sales Consultancy – Salesfolk and follows the advice of keeping your cold emails short and sweet, to a tee, offering a huge amount of benefit to her customers in the minimum space possible.

This email generated 16 new customers:


57% open rate

21% response rate

There is hardly a wasted word – and it’s unlikely you’d find many people who don’t want to increase their leads in 10 minutes.



Alligators and emails for a 10% response rate

Jeremy Chatelaine, founder of has a one sentence email that generates a 10% response rate.

Like all of the above, it’s short and sweet:

“Hi Dr Bond

Quick question – what’s your biggest issue right now with [SITUATION] ?

I would love to hear back from you, even if it is only one sentence!”

Jeremy believes this works so well because he is only asking the recipient for one thing – and it’s very easy for them to reply. 

His email stash also includes one which generates a reported 100% response rate:

I’ve attempted to reach you, but have had no success. Either you’ve been eaten by alligators or you’re just plain swamped.

If you have been eaten by alligators, my deepest sympathy goes out to your family members.

If you’re still alive, one of the following is more likely to have happened. Pick one response and let me know what my next step should be:

____ Yes, I’ve been eaten by alligators. Please send flowers.

____ No, I haven’t been eaten by alligators, but you may wish I had been because I have decided I have no interest in someone helping my business. Sorry, you’re sunk (Thanks for the frank honesty. I can handle it)

____ Yes, I have some interest in hearing what you learnt from talking to and I’m happy to talk about how to improve my business, but here are my challenges: ……………………….

____ Yes, would be great to talk to likeminded people and see what good can come out of it, call me to set a time to discuss properly.

____ I’m not the right person, please contact ……………………….

____ Other: ………………………..

This is obviously a unique email – and I think it would be had not to receive this email and smile – or at least appreciate the creativity that went into the effort.   It might not work for all of your customers – but if you’ve tried everything else and your lead isn’t replying, then maybe it’s worth rolling the dice.

This post contains lots of data and useful tips – to maximise your chance of using these strategies successfully. including full templates and scripts, just
download my ‘cheat’ sheet’ by

The case studies above show that Cold Emailing can produce significant results for most businesses – all it takes is a bit of thought and a LOT of testing.

If you are serious about sending out cold emails, I highly recommend you take on some of the training or books available from the people featured above.  I’ve personally used Aaron Ross’ system to generate clients – and highly recommend his book: Predictable Revenue.  I’d also encourage you to take a look at  resources available from Scott Britton and Bryan Kreuzberger.

  • A lot of good stuff here! I’ve used the methodology behind Aaron Ross’ Predictable Revenue system and we outsourced the prospecting to, can also use something like as well. After we implemented that, we increased our lead gen efforts by approx. 500%.

  • Myles English

    Wow, what a great collection of case studies. I’ve been debating whether or not to give cold emailing a go and I’m now convinced I have to!