How to Design a Cold Email that Converts

Marketing messaging is responsible for 50% of the success of your outbound campaign.

Your perfect audience won’t matter if the messaging can’t persuade them.

And as a sales rep, you must know all about being persuasive.

But how do you turn words on a screen into an effective call-to-action that encourages the prospect to pick up the phone and set up that meeting?

A lot of advice online on how to write a perfect cold email/message is quite generic and obvious. Be concise, use personalisation, don’t talk yourself up, don’t forget a CTA.

But even if your cold email follows all rules of marketing copywriting, it still might not engage your potential client.

Why? Because it lacks clear direction.

How do you get a clear direction?

If you check your LinkedIn inbox now, you’ll probably find at least 3 lead generation messages that not only fail at engaging you, but don’t even know what they are saying.

You know the ones — where the call-to-action comes off too strong for the offer, or it’s too long, or the voice and tone is a bit off.

The thing is, it could easily be fixed if the cold message just picked a direction.

Before writing your marketing copy, these are the two questions to ask:

1. What’s your end goal?

Despite everyone being focused on results, a lot of lead generation campaigns ignore the end goal.

Of course we all want to increase sales. But that’s a big goal. There’s a lot of steps before a sale actually happens.

Are you looking to set up a call? What kind of call? An introduction? A sales call? A demo?

Or maybe you are trying to open up a conversation? Get a potential client to respond, discuss their pain points, provide genuine value?

Perhaps you are seeking webinar registrations/newsletter signups/case study downloads?

Knowing your desired results is integral to creating an effective message and will frame the whole sequence.

2. What kind of impression do you want to leave?

You know what they say — you never get a second chance to make the first impression.

The cold email does not only give info about your company, but also tells the potential client what kind of person you are.

This question is essentially just a rephrased “what’s your marketing voice” question. Are you straight-to-the-point? Helpful? Polite? Formal or informal? Funny or serious? Authoritative or friendly? Arrogant or humble?

These below-the-surface features will decide if it’s a business match.

How to approach lead generation messaging?

Here at the UMG we’ve executed hundreds of lead generation campaigns and perfected the art of the right cold messaging approach.

Through trial and error, we’ve categorised all messages into 2 styles (for our clients’ ease)

Direct approach

This style works great for companies that want to appear clear, confident and straight-to-the-point.

Such a product or service has a clear and strong USP, with no need for heavy embellishment or complex explanations.

The target audience are probably aware of this product or at least understand a need for it.

The point of the direct approach is often to set up a sales call — and most of the charm of the message comes from its overwhelming confidence.

The message itself can be very short, like in this example:

The tone and the purpose is clear — there’s no time to waste, let’s chat cooperation now.

However, the straightforwardness might scare away a few prospects, so it’s important to find the middle ground between being direct and being pushy.

Reasons why direct style works:

  1. Confident voice
  2. Strong USP
  3. Easy to scan
  4. Creates urgency and trust

According to our data, this style is overwhelmingly successful for industries like Finance, Manufacturing, IT, Computer Software and Industrial Automation.

Nurturing approach

The nurturing message is designed to slowly ease the prospect into the idea of getting your product. They are a lot less common but effective in different ways.

Its end goal is not to schedule a call right away, but provide the prospect with genuine value first.

Such cold messages are often accompanied by marketing materials: articles, case studies, videos etc.

Here’s an example:

They are designed to entice curiosity, or start a conversation and meaningful relationship with the prospect.

This type of message succeeds at creating trust and credibility between the prospect and the client since it’s not trying to sell you anything right away.

It works great for products that need a fair bit of time to explain.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that this approach will leave your calendar empty of sales calls. Quite the opposite, according to our data, it provides better, more qualified results.

However, nurturing does take a bit of time and commitment, unlike the direct approach.

Reasons why nurturing style works:

  1. Friendly, polite and understanding voice.

2. Doesn’t request but only give.

3. Creates long-term trust.

These are the industries that use the nurturing approach successfully according to the UMG: E-learning, HR, Health and Wellness, Telecommunications, Marketing.


In an outbound campaign all elements need to work in harmony with each other, from marketing to target.

Knowing exactly what you want your marketing copies to accomplish and come across to the prospect will help you create clear and efficient messaging that converts and fills your pipeline up with qualified leads.

If you need help with your outbound marketing, feel free to schedule a demo with our team.