Dos and Don’ts about Emails to cold contacts

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Recently a lot of companies are looking to old clients, offline customers or otherwise ‘cold’ contacts to drum up new business.  This is a great idea,  but can seriously harm your company’s reputation if not done well.  Here are some guidelines from our recent experiences.

DO: Put yourself in their shoes

This is the key to all of the items that follow – always spend some time trying to put yourself in your contact’s mindset.  Consider how you react when you get an email from a company you don’t instantly remember.

DO: Introduce yourself

People are not likely to instantly remember that they bought something off you 1 ½ years ago, especially if it was offline and you’re contacting them online. A big part of reminding them of who you are is the look & feel of the email template itself.  Make sure that your template is on-brand and carries over consistent elements such as your logo that they may remember.

Keep branding of your template consistent with offline and other brand implementations
Keep branding of your template consistent with offline and other brand implementations

DO: Remind them of how you have their details

Here you want to answer the question “Why are they sending me an email?!” and build up the legitimacy of your message. The more detail you can put into your reminder the better. Including a reminder of how you got their details significantly improves how well the email is recieved.


“Dear Rachel,
You ordered some V-Pure from us in September 2008. We are getting in touch again to let you know that now have a brand new website for the world’s highest quality Vegetarian Omega 3. We look forward to seeing you soon!”

“Dear Rachel,
You registered with us in April 2008.  We are getting in touch to show you our new format newsletters and 15% off to our loyal customers.”

DO: Thank them by giving a special offer

Say thank you for their time and patience by giving a special offer code or discount.


“We want to offer you 10% off to say thank you for being a loyal subscriber!  Just enter the code DATJN15 at the checkout to claim 10% off.”

DO: Allow them to leave your contact list easily

For messages to cold contacts, one of the biggest issues you have to overcome is people hitting the Junk button when they don’t recognise you.  Overcome this by allowing them to unsubscribe easily – and you’ll actually be surprised by how few unsubscribe when you allow them to do so in such an easy way.

Example of an easy unsubscribe
Example of an easy unsubscribe

DON’T: Sell, sell, sell

Selling in your email is okay if balanced by all of the above, but certainly do not launch straight into your products without it. If possible, don’t sell at all in your first introduction email, and instead look for the long tail result of converting a cold contact into an interested one.

Selling to cold contacts done well
Selling to cold contacts done well – one product is profiled on an email announcing the new website with a polite introduction.