#1: Start with a mindset shift: Successful cold emails are decidedly boring for those they’re not intended for.


I’ve been asked – quite a few times – to share the cold email that landed me a five-figure project for Copy Hackers.

And while I like to pretend I’m too busy to send that email…

I somehow manage to find the time to Whatsapp my entire iPhoto to anyone who expresses the slightest interest in my kids.

Oh, you have kids?

The real reason I have yet to share that email?


It’s obviously, objectively a good email.

But…it’s not that exciting.

The hook is kinda cool.

And there’s a pretty clever line halfway down.

But otherwise?

Transactional even.

Joanna Wiebe had a pain.
I had a solution.
The end.

The #1 copy principle that so many copywriters forget

It’s really fun to be clever.

But it’s really important to be clear.

Yes, you need to get your recipient’s attention.

But once you’ve got her attention?
Get straight to the point.

But more than that –
The best way  to get a busy person’s attention is to be super clear.

Tell me you’re solving a problem that’s impeding my quality of work or life?
Yep, you got my attention.

Trying to be entertaining?
Entertainment isn’t high on my priority list. I’ve got too many other things to get to.
Swipe to archive


Don’t spend time trying to be clever (and definitely don’t be cute).

If something wow-worthy comes to you – something wow-worthy that won’t distract from the real message – go for it.
But don’t spend active time trying to find a clever angle or wacky presentation.

Instead, use your time to do this:


#2: Get to know your recipient: that ‘real’ email address isn’t enough

It goes without saying that you need to be emailing a real person, at the right email address.

No low level managers.
And no infos@company.com.

You want to write a guest blog? Find the content manager on LinkedIn.
Want to pitch a partnership? Find the CEO using one of these email finders.
Getting bounces? Try your luck with an email permutator.

(More ideas on how to find the write address in this quite-cool guide by my fave address finder, hunter.io

But it goes deeper than getting the right recipient.


I’m super picky about who I cold pitch – because for it to be five-figure successful, I give each pitch a bucket load of time in research efforts.


There are two prongs to knowing your audience:


1. Knowing what your recipient needs from you

Like any good piece of copy, your cold email needs to focus on the reader.
It’s never about you and always about him.

The best way to make it all about the reader is NOT to flip “I statements” into “you statements.” That’s a less than effective hack.

The best way to make it all about the reader is to use the PAS (Pain-Agitation-Solution) framework.

The beauty of the PAS framework is that we dial back to the root cause for our solution.

We remind our reader of the pain she’s experiencing. (Pain)
We twist that knife and get her to feel it. (Agitation)
ONLY then do we show her the light at the end of the tunnel. #cuetheangelssinging (Solution)

Offer a solution, and we think people understand we’re solving something.
But we humans don’t work that way.
We bury our pain unless someone or something brings it up.

We need the reminder – and we need the context.


Dig into your cold pitching strategy a bit.

What’s the pain of your recipient? Why do they need your services?
Do you have a dedicated skill set they don’t have?
Do they have no time?
Do they not even know they need your services?

It may help to ask yourself these questions too:
Why are you pitching your specific recipient? Why him and not his coworker or competitor?

Once you have that down, use the information to structure your email using PAS.

2. Learning little details about your recipient

This part’s fun.

Learning little details about your recipient helps you build a connection – popping little data points into your email helps you go from cold stranger to fuzzy warm fan.

Disclaimer: Don’t be creepy – sprinkle things in very subtly.

He likes cats? Pick a gif that has a cat.
She’s engaged? Slide in some wedding-centered idioms.

These things should barely be noticeable.
But relevant irrelevancies subconsciously pique the reader’s interest.

(Yes I just wrote relevant irrelevancies. C’mon, it’s pretty awesome that it makes sense.)

Another use for personal or professional detail mining?

If you’re pointing out a flaw in the person’s business or process, you need some heavy handed flattery to soften the blow.

(Worried that you’ll lay the flattery on too thick? Studies show that we’re susceptible to flattery even when we know it’s fake! But yes, you could and should be authentic. You just don’t have to worry if you’re not.)


Dig around on social media and on the person’s website, blog, or podcast for personal – or professional – details.

Subscribe to his email list.
Show up to her live trainings.
Do anything you can to learn about your recipient.


#3 Don’t just be clear. Be decisive.


Why don’t people buy from cold emails? Assuming one actually wants the solution?

(I can’t even count how many times I’ve been pitched custom software development. I know the cliche marketers-turned-SaaS founders but this is too much…)

We’re wary of cold pitches because there’s too much at stake.
If you don’t know someone from coffee beans, why should you trust her?

When you’re writing your cold email –
don’t leave room for questions.
Don’t leave room for doubt.

Make sure you’re showing up as someone who deserves time, attention – and ultimately money.

What does this mean in practicality?

1. Assume a yes.

Don’t be iffy or wishy washy:
Does that sound good?
If you’re interested…

This might seem aggressive to you, but it’s important because it inspires confidence.
You can always soften the rest of the email. (Use those little details!)

2. Tell your reader exactly what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, and how it’ll happen

No one likes the unknown.

Punch down any confusion, lack of clarity, or plain old decision deference – and lay everything out on the table.

Plus, if you want to establish trust, you need to show up confidently.
And the best way to do that is to outline a process.

Scared to get specific in case you’re wrong about his needs?
What I pitched Jo didn’t actually turn out to be exactly what she needed.

But I hit the mark on her pain – all we needed to tweak was exactly how I’d solve that pain.
See? It all goes back to that second step of deep research and PAS.


Assume a yes.
State exactly what you’ll do – and how and when you’ll do it.


#4 Make it easy for your recipient to say yes to you


Often the pitch is good – or intriguing enough – but the process to get to the solution is just too complicated or time consuming.

What will it cost? Tell her in plain ol simple words.
What are the next steps? Tell him in plain ol simple words.
What are the time constraints? Tell her in plain ol simple words.

And speaking of next steps, if you’re asking for a chat, make that really easy:
Shoot out two options of good times.

Better yet, use MixMax so he can book directly in your email. (More on MixMax in a minute.)

Or ask her to send you her Calendly. (Don’t send yours. It’s infinitely easier to get a booking than it is to pick a time on someone else’s calendar.)  


When you finish writing your pitch, read it as if you’re a recipient. What does it take to make your request happen? Can you simplify the process in any way?


#5 Follow up. Really. You need to follow up.


It’s worth saying this again and again. And again. And again.

Because when it comes to following up, we’ve got some major mind blocks.

Following up annoys the recipient.
Following up makes the recipient uncomfortable.
Following up makes me look desperate.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Following up is the name of the outreach game.

There are all sorts of stats:
It takes 8 touches to get to an initial meeting.

If you speak to 10 people, you’ll get a no from 9 of them.
You need 118 no’s before you get a yes.

Decision deference is real.

And busy people are…busy.

There are two ways to handle your follow ups:

  1. You can resend the original pitch – a la Aaron Orendorff (content buff who’s sent successful pitches to just about every publication that exists).
    Just shoot the email out again, minus all the forwarding junk that shows up. It’s super easy for you –  but more importantly doesn’t lay on the guilt that your recipient didn’t respond.
  2. Use the opportunity to test new subject lines, spins on the benefits, or dive deeper into how you can solve the recipient’s problem.

Either way, do follow up.

You will get nowhere if you don’t follow up.


#6 Like any good copywriter, test what you’re doing


Yes, Streak is free. So is Boomerang.
Even Gmail is finally catching up to how people use email and integrating tracking.

But if you’re serious about cold emailing, invest in a MixMax account.
It’s only $5/month and is an awesome addition to your tech stack.

I’m not an affiliate – just a really loyal fan.

MixMax has all the basics like open tracking and scheduling – but it does a better job at the two than Streak or Boomerang.
(Ex: MixMax works better with multiple time zones, shows you more detailed tracking information, etc.)

But here’s what other legs up MixMax has:

  • Best times to email the specific recipient << this one alone is worth the price
  • Embedded scheduler for easy booking << they just click and boom, meeting is scheduled.
  • Beautiful dashboard for simple review << makes it really easy to see how you’re doing and tweak pitches accordingly
  • Some smart integrations I haven’t checked out yet << like LinkedIn Sales Navigator + Salesforce


Get MixMax. :)
And keep tweaking your pitch.


#7 Don’t send cold emails.


Eh, what? This is a post on cold emails.


And sometimes you have no choice.

But if you’re digging around and doing research on a person you like, trust, and respect – it doesn’t take that much extra time to warm things up.

When you’re looking for your recipient’s pet interests on Twitter, retweet some of her best tweets.
After you comb his book for an understanding of his pain, leave a review on Amazon. (Bonus points if you send fan mail.)
When you’re skimming her LinkedIn profile for that best email address, leave a comment on her most recent post.

Make the effort to support what he’s doing –
and get in his face.

Once he knows who you are and appreciates what you contribute to his brand,
you’re in a better place to sell.


Find the one or two places you can actually reach your cold pitchee – and not an assistant.

It might be social media.
It might be live trainings.
It might only be snail mail.

But show up for them and you won’t be a stranger when you send the pitch.


What do you think?

Are these principles good enough for a cold email framework?  

(Sorry, I’m just utterly fascinated by homemade frameworks. I’m thinking of calling this the Microwave Framework. Or maybe the InstaHot. Though that one might already be trademarked.)

Let me know in the comments.
Or…you can send me fan mail. ;)