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Does Cold Email Really Work? 20 Real Cold Email Examples that Actually Get Responses

Does cold email actually work?

I get this question all the time. 

And while it’s easy enough to sit here and tell you that, yes, cold email does work, that’s not particularly helpful when you’re trying to put it into practice.

The good news is that there are plenty of proven formulas for cold email that can get your message opened and read. But we decided to take things a step further by asking real people for examples of real cold emails they used to get a response and get results.

Our request was simple. We wanted examples of really good cold emails that were successful in their ask or got a positive response that opened up new opportunities.

The result was pretty incredible. We heard from tons of interesting people with different stories about the power of cold email. 

More importantly, we collected 20 proven cold email examples that we’re excited to share with you – along with some of the lessons learned and tips from the people who sent them (and in one case, the person who received the email in question!).

Remember, these are all real-world examples of actual cold emails that led to successful sales, partnerships, link building, and business opportunities.

20 Real-World Cold Email Examples that Get Results

1. The Friendly Pitch with Social Proof



Email type

Blogging, Media Request

Who sent it?

Alex Tran, Wellness and Lifestyle Blogger at Schimiggy Reviews 

The results

According to Alex, this email almost always gets a positive response from the brands and businesses she contacts. “I usually get a YES. I’ve only been turned down 8 times in the 7 years I’ve been blogging.”

Why it works

The message is brief, focused, and friendly. Furthermore, it offers clear value upfront to the recipient. By highlighting the reach of her blog (46,000 visitors/month), Alex sells leads on the promise of driving more traffic to their online store. 

You can make this direct approach work for you, too; the key is to qualify leads beforehand, rather than blindly pitching to anyone and everyone.

2. The Open-Ended, Mutually-Beneficial Pitch 


Email type

Link Building, Collaboration Request

Who sent it?

Andrew Helling, Editor at REthority

The results

This email ultimately resulted in the recipient including Andrew’s content in a post.

Why it works

According to Andrew: “What landed this pitch was the fact that I compliment his brand and kept the pitch vague.” 

Though he had previously inquired about guest posting and been shut down, he managed to get a link to his website by keeping the lines of communication open and making his request more general. 

“By leaving the door open for multiple collaboration opportunities, they could either ignore my email or see what else I had to offer. While they didn’t accept guest posts, they were willing to feature my site in an existing article in exchange for promoting their products in one of mine.”

3. The Straight Shooter

The Straight Shooter

Email type

Cold Outreach, Prospecting

Who sent it? 

Anjana Wickramaratne, Digital Marketer and Agency Owner

The results

This message helped Anjana stir up new business by opening the conversation with potential clients.

Why it works

Simplicity sells! Through trial and error, Anjana discovered that straightforward messages generate better responses than more strategically-worded emails. She states her offering as a solution and avoids overly salesy lingo.

“I sent a lot of complicated emails with a lot of marketing tactics but did not get any good results. After some research, I sent out emails that are very simple, straight to the point,” says Anjana. “[These were] successful, I got a lot of positive feedback.”

4. The Three-Pronged Approach

The Three-Pronged Approach

Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it?

Christian Banach, Outbound Sales Consultant

The results

This cold email opened up a conversation with a major snack food company that led to a $100,000 market research project.

Why it works

A combination of personalization, a strong value proposition, and trust allowed this email stand out in prospects’ inboxes. Christian explains how these three characteristics made his email so successful:

“First, the email uses merge fields (first name, company name, and job title) to personalize the message. But what makes this great, is the customer introduction statement (‘read about your plans for the meat bar next year’). It makes the email more personal and highly relevant to someone in new product development.

Second, the message posted a challenge the prospect is likely facing (how to cost-effectively and quickly test concepts). It goes on to provide a clear and straightforward solution through the value proposition (uncover actionable insights within 3 days for under $10K).

Third, to build trust, the email names three well-known clients (Kellogg’s, Nestle, and Dannon) in the same industry as the prospect. Credibility is especially important in cold email since the prospect does not have an awareness of you or your company.”

5. Attention-Grabbing, Googled-Fuelled Ego Bait 


Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it?

Heather Hawkins, Founder/CEO, Elevation Strategy

The results

Of the 20 prospects who received this cold email, Heather ended up having in-depth conversations with 8 of them and selling 3 on a high-ticket offer. As for the other 5? They’re now highly-engaged members of her free group.

Why it works

Sending a personalized message shows the prospect you’ve taken the initiative to research them. As a PR professional, Heather says, “Personalizing pitches is kind of my forte. I never, ever, don’t personalize media pitches.”

In this example, to show recipients that it was “really her” reaching out, Heather did some research on each of the individuals she was contacting – the same way she would with any media outreach. However, “with no company to associate them with, [her] email ended up being unexpectedly amusing.” 

The resulting message not only helped break the ice and build rapport between Heather and each prospect, but it also functioned as ego bait by highlighting the recipient’s accomplishments and online mentions.

6. The Intro to Get Your Foot in the Door



Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it? 

Jack Reamer, Email Marketing Expert & Copywriter, Emails That Sell

The results

This email resulted in 19 meetings with startup founders.

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:

  • Total emails sent: 90
  • Total website contact form ‘sends’: 217
  • Open rate: 76%
  • Reply rate: 26%
  • Positive reply rate: 15.6%
  • Number of meetings booked: 19

Why it works

This message was highly effective because it was insanely easy to say yes to. As Jack puts it, “Who would say no to someone asking to exchange a few emails with a fellow founder?” 

Furthermore, since the initial ask was so easy to agree to, this email functioned as a stepping stone to a greater commitment. “People who agreed to exchange emails with us were far more likely to agree to an in-person meeting compared to people who were asked for a meeting during the first message.”

7. The Flattering, Detailed Introduction

Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it?

Jakub Kliszczak, Marketing Specialist, Crazy Call 

The results

90% of people who received the email replied and agreed to work with Jakub on his project.

Why it works

This email clearly shows that he researched the prospect and provides relevant information, which makes it easier for the reader to decide to participate in the project. Jakub explains that his detailed qualification process and simple email structure were the main reasons the email worked so effectively:

“1) First is the fact that I’ve actually done research on every person I sent the email to. This means, I saw their work, I handpicked their profile, and I knew why they would be a great artist for that project.

2) The email was structured in a clear, yet fun way. Even though it had some flaws and I would do a few tweaks here and there, I’ve managed to convey the message that did resonate with the recipient.”

8. The Cold Email Ultimatum


The Cold Email Ultimatum

Email type

Breakup Email, Follow-up Email

Who sent it?

Jeff Neal, PennCoat Inc.

The results

After emailing a prospect about three times and not getting a response (even though he could see the recipient had clicked and read each message), Jeff followed up with an ultimatum – which immediately garnered a response.

“Lo and behold, the next day he actually replied stating that they may have a project coming up in the summer, and that I should follow up in July.” 

Why it works

This type of ultimatum or “last chance” messaging plays off the prospect’s sense of FOMO and motivates fence-sitters to take action.

9. The Sad Breakup Email

Email type

Breakup Email, Follow-up Email

Who sent it? 

John Melchior, Founder of Kapture Pest Control 

The results

After experimenting with different types of cold email messages, John found that the most effective cold email was part of a fine-tuned email sequence.

“We tweaked it over time,” John says. “In the beginning we had the body say: ‘I’m sad. I still haven’t heard from you. At this point I’ll just assume you don’t like me and I will leave you alone.’ It got an almost visceral response, but it was mostly negative. So, we kept tweaking until we had something that got a good response rate but stayed positive.”

Why it works

The sequence was simple, but effective: the first email provided a brief intro, the second provided more information about the company, and the third email was a brief follow-up message with the subject line “I’m sad ☹”.

“The reason this works is because it’s personal. Also, it’s very personalized. The recipient will ask themselves – How do they know that I haven’t answered their previous messages?”

10. The Life-Changing Drunk Cold Email



Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it? 

Jon Buchan, Charm Offensive

The results

Jon achieved open rates of over 80% with a two-pronged approach, which involved first sending the message in letter form and then sending an email with a curious subject line. 

“I wanted to increase my open rates so started sending it in the post, and then following up with an email,” Jon explains in a reddit post. “The subject line said, “Sorry for the ferret in the post”. It worked.” 

Why it works

The message is attention-grabbing, refreshingly honest, and human. Perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t try to sell the offering right away. Instead of listing the benefits of what he’s selling, Jon’s first goal simply to convince the recipient that he’s worth their time. 

His advice? “It doesn't matter whether someone is a CEO of a global brand or an intern at a start-up - they are all HUMAN! Show some personality.”

11. The Basic No-Design Email

Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it? 

Curt Doherty, CEO, CNC Machines

The results

This is the email that CNC Machines used to breathe new life into a two-year-old email list. They achieved positive results by sending a short, bare-bones message from their CEO.

Why it works

The email is brief, personal, and not overly produced.

“We decided to take a separate approach this email. Instead of sending a graphic heavy email, we sent a short email from our CEO and it worked amazingly,” says John Alonso, Marketing Director at CNC. “It showed personal connection and interest and not just some automated approach. The moral of the story? Cold email works when you make it personal and short.”

12. The Short, Simple, Honest Note

Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it?

Linda Formichelli, owner of Hero’s Journey Content Studio

The results

Linda says she sent out about 75 emails in the last month and landed four new clients. Between this outreach email and a quick follow-up message, she achieved an open rate of 54%.

Why it works

Brevity and personalization play a big role in this cold email success story. With the help of a business coach, Linda trimmed down her original cold email to the 100-word message above. She also researched each prospect so that she could connect with them in an authentic way. 

“It was all about what I didn’t put in,” she explains. “There’s no fancy HTML, no pain-point subject lines, no false urgency. Just a short, simple, honest note about how I can help the business.”

13. The Request for an Expert Quote

The Request for an Expert Quote


Email type

Ego Bait, Networking

Who sent it? 

This example was actually submitted by the recipient! Mayank Kumar, Manager Partnerships at QuickEmailVertification, received this message from a content manager requesting his expert opinion for an infographic.

The results

Though this email wasn’t actually sell a product, it was still effective in its ask - which was to secure an expert quote from the recipient. The message successfully convinced the Mayank to take the time to reply. 

Why it works

Of the many things Mayank liked about receiving this email, there were two things that he says really stood out:

“The simple formatting of the email made it very easy for me to instantly spot the five subjects I could be sharing my views on. The sender mentions that they will take care of promotional activities. That tells us that our efforts will have the backing of their promotional activities.”

14. The Classic Template

Email type

Prospecting, Sales

Who sent it? 

M. Moaaz Nagori, Cofounder & Marketing Executive, Cloudlead.co

The results

This is a template that CloudLead uses time and time again to elicit positive replies and open conversations with high-quality leads.

Why it works

According to M. Moaaz, this reliable template works because it follows the fundamentals of effective cold emailing: “A good cold email is simply about being nice, to the point, personalized, not ‘sales-y’ in tone and has a clear ask.”

15. The Personalized Media Pitch


Email type

Media Pitch

Who sent it?

Nooria Khan, Content Marketer Executive, GigWorker

The results

Nooria uses cold emails like the one above – which elicited a positive response – to successfully open new business opportunities. She considers cold email to be “one of the best ways for big brands to connect with you and your small business, but only if it’s done the right way.”

Why it works

The message above is highly personalized to the recipient and provides real solutions to an issue. “Big brands usually receive hundreds of offers, so a generic email won’t cut it. The most important trick is to be focused, concise, and highlight how you can add value to their business.”

In order to master your own cold email sales pitch, Nooria says it must be short and specific, highly personalized, and contain “statistic data that shows you did a bit of research.” 

She also advises against sending attachments that could make your message look like spam. If you need to include additional information or resources, you’re better off including “a link to a presentation, infographic, or graphically enhanced images or GIFs.”

16. The Cold Email with Social Proof


Email type

Influencer Outreach

Who sent it?

Roslyn Teng, Email and Social Media Specialist, Ampjar

The results

The Ampjar team uses variations of the cold email above to open conversations with clients. They help up-and-coming influencers collaborate with brands and grow their following.

Why it works

Once again, personalization plays a major role in the success of this cold email. Additionally, the messaging focuses on the benefits instead of features

But perhaps what sets this cold email apart from some of our other examples is its clever use of social proof to back up the sender’s claims. According to Ampjar’s Quincy Smith, “EmmyLou really did grow her list to 15k!” Sometimes a little social proof can go a long way.

17. The Cold Email that Can Get You the Job 


Email type

Job Seeking 

Who sent it?

Ruti Dadashm, PantheraPlus.com

The results

With the goal of becoming a freelance digital marketing consultant, Ruti sent out a bunch of cold emails to the first 20 relevant results on Google – and the email above got her a job.

Why it works

The content was personalized and highlighted what Ruti could do for the company (provide SEO expertise), rather than what she wanted from them (a job).

“The subject line worked well (I switched to ‘Looking for an experienced SEO expert?’ from ‘Are you hiring?’),” explains Ruti, “I also began (and ended) with compliments and advice personalized to that company, to show I’d done my research.”

18. The Win-Win Link Building Email


Email type

Link Building, SEO

Who sent it?

Syed Ali Hasan, Digital Marketing Manager, Film Jackets

The results

This email accomplished exactly what it set out to do – Syed scored the backlink he was aiming for on the recipient’s website.

Why it works

“The reason why it worked is because I not only asked him to feature my short SEO tip, but also offered a cross-promotion opportunity,” says Syed. “This way, both websites will get additional traffic.”

The lesson for your own cold email campaigns? By focusing on how you can help the recipient (rather than what you hope to achieve for yourself), you make it easier for prospects to understand the value being offered. This, in turn, makes them more likely to take the time to respond and continue the conversation.

19. The Concerned Follow-up Email


Email type


Email Sequence, Email Marketing


Who sent it?


Tony DeGennaro, Director of Marketing at Dragon Social


The results


Tony sent a follow-up email with this subject line to get one of his very first clients. More specifically, he sent a sequence of three emails to a list of purchased emails. And while the first two didn’t yield much in the way of results, the third email did get a healthy response.


“We had a 3-step automated email sequence for cold-emailing clients, with 2 normal emails, followed by an email with the subject line ‘[First Name], What’s Wrong?’” says Tony. “The 3rd email’s response rate was nearly 4 times higher than the first two and the open rate was close to 100% for all the emails that were actually delivered.”


Why it works


This subject line works well because it catches the recipient’s eye, plays off their emotions, and piques their curiosity. Tony’s success with this message is also a reminder that persistence is key – especially since 80% of all sales require five or more follow-ups to close.


20. The Email Tailored to the Prospect’s Current Needs


Email type


Prospecting, Sales, Recruiting


Who sent it? 


Evan Donahue, Sales and Recruiting Manager, JMJ Phillip Group


The results


JMJ Phillip uses variations of this message to successfully connect with potential recruits within a number of competitive industries, including Manufacturing, Business Services, and IT. One of the company’s branches, JMJ Philip Executive Search, has used similar cold emails to find talent for companies across the globe.


Why it works


Even though this email is based off a reusable template, each message is rounded out with a personal touch. Evan advises that anyone sending cold emails take the time to research their potential customers, so they can reach out with a customized message that addresses the recipient’s needs.


“If there is something specific you can recall to add in the email and tie that into why you’re contacting them, the chances of gaining a response will be much higher,” says Evan. “When we’re able to reference their current needs and show that we understand them, we see a much larger uptick in responses.”


Start Sending Cold Emails that Get Results


We hope you’ve learned a thing or two from the stories and examples shared above! If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of successful cold emailing, check out some of our other resources on this topic:


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