11 Types of Marketing Emails That Actually Generate a Response

Written by Neil Patel on March 9, 2016

cold emails

Are you the type of person who is willing to make 50+ phone calls per day in an attempt to add qualified prospects to your sales pipeline? Cold calling will always have a place in the business world, but it’s not the only strategy worth considering.

With a growing number of buyers interested in a digital experience, it’s time to turn your time and attention to cold emails. Combining this with cold calling is the best of both worlds.

If email marketing is considered the most effective marketing strategy, doesn’t it make sense to implement this into your sales plan mix as well?

This is where cold emails come into play.

Just the same as a cold call, you will contact prospects without prior notice. The only difference is that you use email as your contact method, not the telephone.

While you may be concerned about a low open and response rate, the right type of email can boost your numbers and lead you towards your goal of making a sale.

You can download this 11 types of marketing emails for future use.

Here are 11 types of cold emails, along with an example of each, that any salesperson can implement: 

The “Introductory” Email

As the name suggests, this is based on the premise of introducing yourself to the recipient.

You may be tempted to sell your product or service. Although it would be easy to work in a “soft sell,” it’s not what you are going for. Resist the urge.

Let’s look at an example:

Hey John,

I hope that this email finds you well. I know you are busy, so I won’t take up a lot of your time. The purpose of this email is to introduce myself, as I enjoy connecting with people who work in the same industry.

My company, XYZ Corporation, specializes in the production of widgets. I am a big supporter of your company and keep close tabs on all your latest news.

If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to reach out via email. Of course, you can also connect with me via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email. I hope we cross paths in the future!


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

This is a relationship-building email. You aren’t “going in for the kill” right now. The goal is to simply introduce yourself, tell the person more about who you are and take the first step in becoming business acquaintances.

If everything goes as planned, such as a return email or social media connection, you can continue to foster the relationship and push it forward as planned.

The “Hard Sell” Email

You may not be the “hard sell” type, on the phone or in person, but the use of email can help to give you the courage you require.

A hard sell is all about one thing: getting the person to make a purchase in the near term. You don’t send this email to build a relationship over time. You do it because you want to make a sale sooner rather than later.

A hard sell email can go one of two ways:

  • You catch the right person at the right time, intriguing them enough to set up a meeting or ask for more information.
  • Your “straight to the point” style puts them off and you’ll likely never hear from them again.

You’ll never experience a 100 percent success rate with a hard sell email strategy, but there are things you can say to improve your chances.

Try this out:

Hey John,

Are you looking for a way to generate more business through your website? With a professionally designed online presence, you can take your online sales to a new level.

While your website has a lot going for it – such as the mobile friendly design – there are steps you can take to improve its appearance and conversion potential.

My one and only goal is simple: to redesign your website as a means for helping you generate more revenue.

If you understand the importance of a well designed website and if you want to have more online success in the future, take the time to respond to this email. My past work, along with hundreds of positive reviews, don’t lie.

Is now the time to redesign your website? The answer may be yes.


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

Too harsh? Too direct? Some say yes, some say no. You know your audience better than anyone. It may be the type of email your target audience responds to.

To reiterate, a hard sell email won’t give everybody a warm and fuzzy feeling. It will put some people off.

Even so, when done the right way and in a consistent manner, it can generate a positive response and fast sales.

The “Soft Sell” Email

Not everybody is comfortable with the hard sell approach. This makes some people feel uneasy, almost like a sleazy used car salesman.

If a hard sell is too much, but you still want to push for new business, it’s time to experiment with a softer approach.

Here is what I mean:

Hey John,

As the marketing manager of XYZ Corporation, it’s my job to reach out to people in the industry who can provide us with high quality knowledge and feedback regarding our services.

It’s not always easy to find experienced professionals who know the industry, but it’s my hope that you can help.

Our primary services consist of X, Y, and Z, all of which I am sure you are familiar with in your current position.

Would you have any need for one or more of these services? Is there anything in particular that would improve the likelihood of working with our company?

I know you are busy, so I am going to stop here. If you have any free time, I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your time.


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

When you attend a conference or speak with somebody on the phone, would you immediately push your product or service?

Probably not. Even if you think you could make a sale, it could present you in a bad light.

Instead, you start by introducing yourself and then give a soft pitch on what you and your company are all about.

Email is different than an in-person or phone conversation, but it often makes sense to avoid a hard sell approach and stick with something more informative.

If you find a soft sell email that works, you can use this to start the conversation. This will eventually lead you into a situation where you are more comfortable asking for the sale.

The “Social Media” Email

When you bring together the best of social media and email, the results can be astonishing.

Regardless of your favorite social media platform, there are opportunities to implement this into your cold email strategy.

Here is an excerpt from a Business 2 Community blog post, examining the reach of social media in business:

Twitter is the place to engage with companies: While just 20 of the of Fortune 500 companies actually engage with their customers on Facebook, 83% have a presence on Twitter—as do 76% of the NASDAQ 100, 100% of Dow Jones companies, and 92% of the S&P 500. For reaching top executives though, LinkedIn is the place to be. Though only 32% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a presence on any major social network, the majority of those (25% of the total) are on LinkedIn. And 59% of executives prefer video content to text.

You can communicate directly with prospects on social media. It’s also possible to work this into a cold email as well. Here is how:

Hey John,

As somebody who thoroughly enjoys social media, I am always looking to grow my network. After coming across your name on LinkedIn, I sent you a connection request.

If you get the chance, I would be honored if you would accept my connection. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s not always easy to communicate via email in today’s fast paced business world, but feel free to keep my information on file. I know there are times when reaching out on social media doesn’t always make sense.

Anyway, I am glad I came across your LinkedIn profile. Let’s stay in touch!


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

There are two purposes of this email:

  • To introduce yourself following a social media request.
  • To ensure that the person has your email address, as it can speed up the process of scheduling a phone call or meeting down the road.

It’s not feasible to follow up on every social media request with an email. This isn’t something you will probably do every time, but it’s a strategy to employ when you truly want to build a relationship with a person.

The “Blog Post” Email

According to HubSpot, “companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.”

With this statistic guiding you, it makes sense to write as many high quality blog posts as possible.

What does this have to do with cold emails? You can use these blog posts as a discussion point. Here is how:

Hey John,

Upon publishing our most recent blog post, “TITLE HERE,” I immediately thought of you and your company.

The blog post examines many aspects of social media marketing, complete with quotes from thought leaders and a variety of data points.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the post, including any feedback we could use in the future to provide our audience with better content.

Of course, don’t hesitate to share some of your favorite blog posts. I am always interested in reading what other industry professionals have to say.

Thanks for your time.


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

Similar in many ways to an introductory email, there are many benefits to this format:

  • Provides a reason to reach out.
  • Shows that you are interested in sharing information, not just making a sale.
  • Proves your knowledge on a particular subject.

If you blog regularly, there will never be a shortage of posts to share via email.

The “In the Area” Email

Remember that Seinfeld episode when the gang talks about the “pop-in?” This is a good lesson for those of you interested in cold emailing followed up by an in-person meeting.

Don’t show up on a prospect’s doorstep unannounced, hoping they welcome you in. Instead, use this email script to break the ice:

Hey John,

I know you are busy, so I’ll be quick. I have several clients in your local area and will be stopping by to visit some of them next week.

If you have a few moments, I would love to stop by and drop off some information regarding our products and services. My schedule is flexible, so whatever works for you will most likely work for me.

You can be rest assured that I will be “in and out.” I only want to stop by for a few minutes, introduce myself and leave some resources behind.

Do you have any time next week? Maybe Wednesday or Thursday between 1 and 2 pm? Let me know your thoughts!


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

There are multiple components of this email:

  • Explanation that you will be in the area meeting with other clients and social proof (you have other clients).
  • Details regarding why you want to visit.
  • Assurance that you will not take up a lot of the person’s time.

It’s possible to drop in on a prospect without notice, but you may not like the final outcome. It’s better to first set something up. This email will improve your chance of setting an appointment.

The “Name Drop” Email

Do you know somebody who knows somebody? Your network can provide many benefits when prospecting for new business.

Some consider name dropping a killer strategy, but others think this is in poor taste. If you are willing to give it a try, a cold email is the right platform.

Here is an example of a name drop email:

Hey John,

I am writing you this note, as I recently learned that you are business acquaintances with a close friend of mine, Mr. Jack Smith.

In a recent conversation with Jack, he mentioned that you might be interested in a new service we are rolling out.

Do you happen to have a few minutes next week to jump on a phone call or meet for lunch? I would appreciate the opportunity to share more about the service, while also getting to know each other a bit more.

I hope you are okay with me reaching out. Once Jack explained your background in greater detail, I immediately realized you would be the perfect person to speak with.

Thanks for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

The truth of the matter is that name dropping strengthens your credibility. The person trusts you because they know somebody in your network. Furthermore, the person is more inclined to answer your email because of who you know.

From a response rate perspective, name dropping can really give your cold email strategy a boost.

The “Ask For Advice” Email

Are you too proud to ask for advice?

Even the greatest business minds in the world ask others for help. They know their weaknesses and aren’t afraid to enlist the services of others.

Asking for advice in an email can help you establish a relationship. The person may be flattered that you reached out for help. This gives you solid ground for pushing the conversation forward.

Try this email template:

Hey John,

As a big fan of yours for many years, I wanted to send you an email to ask for a bit of advice.

I am in the process of writing a book, and based on your past success in this area, was hoping you could answer a couple questions for me:

– What process did you follow to find your agent (if you used one)?

– Can you share any advice for pitching directly to publishers?

I know there is a lot to be said on both subjects, but any advice you can provide would be extremely helpful.


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

This particular email is short, sweet and to the point. You ask two direct questions in hopes of receiving two direct answers.

If you are lucky, the person will provide you with helpful advice. And, if you are really lucky, they may even volunteer to jump on a phone call, provide detailed feedback or even give you personal help as a mentor.

In the context of this email, the ideal response would be something along the lines of “can you send me your proposal and/or manuscript for review?” Even if this doesn’t happen, any response puts your foot in the door.

The “Free Help” Email

If you are cold emailing prospects, it’s safe to assume that you consider yourself an expert on a particular subject. Using your expertise, you can offer prospects free advice.

I know you are busy. I know you have work that needs to be done. But, providing free advice now can lead to a lucrative deal later on.

Putting together this type of email is simple. You need to include the following elements:

  • Introduction explaining your expertise.
  • The type of free help you are offering.
  • A method for delivering the help.

Here is a template you can customize:

Hey John,

As an expert in the world of social media marketing, I take great pride in helping clients increase traffic and revenue through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other notable social platforms.

I was reviewing your social profiles and love what your company is doing. There are a few other things you could do to take your strategy to the next level, such as using tools that allow you to better target your audience based on time and date.

Do you have time to jump on a call to discuss some of these basic tactics? Would you like me to send you a report on my findings? Either way, it is free of cost. I simply want to talk more, provide some advice and learn more about your business.

If this sounds good to you, shoot me a quick reply. Thanks for your time!


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

This is somewhere between a “hard sell” and a “soft sell.” On some level, it is obvious that you want to provide free advice in an attempt to sell a product or service in the future. But, as long as you don’t push too hard and as long as you are firm in saying that the review is free, the recipient won’t feel pressured.

In a nutshell, if you’re knowledgeable about your subject matter, you can use this to your advantage when sending cold emails.

The “Meet My Friend” Email

This sounds like a bad pickup line, but it’s anything but that.

Similar in form to the free help email, you offer to connect the person with somebody who can help their business.

This doesn’t help you immediately, but it does lay the groundwork on which your relationship can grow.

If you want to do this right, get to the point in a clear and concise manner. Try this:

Hey John,

After learning more about you and your company, I wanted to introduce you to a friend of mine.

Jack Smith is an expert in the field of conversion rate optimization and, judging by your recent blog posts, this is something you are interested in.

I have copied Jack on this email, as I really believe you two will have a lot to talk about. Don’t feel obligated to reach out to him, but if you have some time, introduce yourself. He may be able to answer some of your questions on CRO and related subject matter.


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

So, what’s in it for you? Isn’t Jack the guy who wins in this arrangement? Your goal is to help others, not yourself. With this type of email, you are doing just that.

The chances are good that if the person responds to your friend, they will keep you in the loop. This is the first step in building a relationship you can benefit from in the future.

After a few weeks, once you know the two parties have chatted, check back in with the person. One step at a time, you will strengthen your relationship, hoping to eventually make a sale of your own.

The “I Think We Met” Email

If you attend networking events, conferences and seminars, you will meet thousands of people. While networking at conferences is important, there is only so much time in a day.

Do you remember meeting a person at a conference? Do you want to connect with this person again? Even if you are unsure if they remember you, it’s worth a cold email to strike up a conversation.

And here’s the kicker: even if the person doesn’t remember you, they will still feel inclined to respond as they don’t want to be rude. For all they know, you two had a meaningful conversation a few months (or years) ago.

Use this template:

Hey John,

I hope this note finds you well. I am not sure if you remember me, but we met a few months back at the “XYZ Conference.” I enjoyed our conversation and even implemented some of the strategies you shared with me.

We are in the process of ramping up our marketing efforts and I recall you mentioning the need for a service similar to the one we provide. Is this still the case? Have you found what you are looking for?

Even if we don’t have the opportunity to work together, I hope to hear back. I truly value the advice you provided me.

Thanks again for taking the time with me!


Jane Doe

XYZ Corporation

This type of email is a double-edged sword:

  • You have the opportunity to reintroduce yourself, doubling back on your last conversation.
  • You can work in a sales pitch based on what the person shared with you in the past.

If a lot of time has passed since you last spoke with a lead, it doesn’t mean the relationship is dead. An email like this can bring it back to life.

Don’t Forget the Subject Line

If your email is ignored or deleted before it’s opened, it doesn’t matter what type of approach you take or what you have to say. This is what makes the subject line so important.

With 33 percent of email recipients opening email based on the subject line alone, this is a detail you can’t afford to ignore.

MailChimp, a leading email marketing provider, shares some best practices for email subject lines. The company’s advice is based on the analysis of emails sent by its millions of users, with an eye towards those with the best open rate.

As a general rule of thumb, the best subject lines are descriptive, short and provide a reason to read the email. Here are some best practices shared by MailChimp:

  • Personalization. This should include the recipient’s first or last name, and a city name if possible.
  • Keep it compact. Most people scan subject lines, immediately making a decision on whether to open, pass or delete. Subject lines of 50 characters or less have a higher open rate.
  • Test, test and test again. Create multiple subject lines and test each one. By tracking the results, you can see what works best for your audience.

Other blog posts that share tips and advice on email subject line strategies include this one from Kissmetrics and this one from Unbounce.

All in all, your first goal is for a large majority of recipients to open your email. From there, you want your email to generate a positive response. If you don’t take the time to test subject lines, you are missing out on an opportunity to reach more people.


Along with cold calls, cold emailing is a powerful way to reach prospects and start a relationship. Salespeople who don’t experience results probably aren’t following the templates above.

There is no right or wrong way to send a cold email, but there are steps you can take to improve your response rate.

If you want to generate more sales via cold emails, experiment with a variety of templates. Whenever you generate a positive response, make note of what you did right.

Have you achieved success with any other type of cold email?