Crafting messaging is never easy and a lot of people think they are great writers or treat writing as an afterthought. I don’t find many people in the middle. 🙂 Over the years, I have worked diligently to improve my writing skills because I saw how it was impacting my pitching skills whether in direct sales, creating decks, raising capital, or articulating my product vision. I took it upon myself to really think deep about what I wanted to say, and then continually rewrite it until the message is so simple and clean that anyone can get it. Not every message is going to win everyone over, but I challenge myself to think about how it will, because then I will be really good at writing.

For this blog post, I wanted to focus on writing a cold email. When crafting a cold email, you are looking for a response as you generally don’t know the intended recipient. Every email needs to drive some kind of response, whether a simple click of a hyperlink or possibly a reply.

Here are my golden rules to writing a cold email:

  1. Know Your Audience:
    1. Don’t treat them as just a recipient, actually care about what you are saying and who you are writing to. If you have one shot, why are you going to waste it?
  2. Put Yourself In Their Shoes:
    1. We all think that everyone is going to care about what we send to them, yet how many emails do you get that you don’t care about? The rule applies to you too, think what would make someone tick and write for them, not yourself.
  3. Keep the Message Simple:
    1. People talk about being to the point, yet we often go on and on. Strike hard and fast with your message because most people are just skimming; like you reading this blog post. 🙂
  4. Offer Them Something:
    1. It is easy to ask for something; it is more difficult to give. As the recipient, it is nice to receive something, so think about what you can offer them and extend the olive branch, especially if you are asking them to do something.
  5. Be Specific In Your Ask:
    1. Don’t ask for the world, ask for something very specific as it will help elicit a response. You may want the world from them, but focus on getting a Yes for your first ask as it opens the door.
  6. Spell Their Name and Company Correctly:
    1. You can’t believe how many times this happens, people spell names incorrectly all the time. All this proves is you are not proof reading and making your message a generic blast. It’s ok if the message is a template for a wide audience but make it feel unique to each recipient.

Using my six points above in the real world has proved valuable many of times. For a real world example, while building the XS company (social app for action sports enthusiasts) with Nate, we were raising capital to expand the business and I took everything I know about writing cold emails to VC’s and put together the email below. To me, it conveyed everything I knew about how to target the audience that I understood but did not know personally.

Here are some of the stats on our email campaign we sent out to VC’s.

  1. 68% of the recipients responded.
  2. 17% of those that responded were open to meeting or having a call.

What was exciting about writing this specific email was that there is a VC named Ted Serbinski who happened to being writing a blog post about how to write to a VC and he featured our email as the exact way to write a cold email. While he did not invest in the business, it was great validation to see how someone of his stature admired the email.

abe mccallum

I still have a long way to go to craft the perfect message every time, although I hope some of these tips help you in crafting your perfect message. Just remember to write, rewrite, write, and rewrite again until you create the best possible message for your audience.

About Abe McCallum

My name is Abe McCallum, and I am a Product Architect. I have spent my career pursuing one passionate objective: Create the best products that customers love & enrich their lives. See my work:


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