Cold Email Personalization: How to Make Your Outreach Stand Out

When you read the title of this article, I wouldn’t blame you if your first thought was, “Cold email personalization? That sounds like an oxymoron.”

After all, the concept of cold emails is diametrically opposed to the concept of email personalization.

Yet despite this, there is a litany of articles written on the topic by big names like Saleshandy and Klenty.

There has to be something to cold email personalization.

To clarify all of this, I’ll define both terms separately, explain how they go together, then go into tactics you can use to make your outreach emails stand out among the crowd.

What is cold email?

A cold email is an unsolicited email sent to a recipient without any prior relationship or interaction with the sender. In other words, it’s like sending a letter or message to someone you don’t know at all, and they don’t know you at all.

Cold emails are often used in sales and marketing efforts to reach out to individuals or businesses interested in the sender’s products, services, or partnership opportunities.

They are called “cold” emails because there is no prior “warm” contact or established relationship between the sender and the recipient.

What is email personalization?

Email personalization is the practice of customizing an email to make it more personal and specific to the person receiving it. Instead of sending the same email to everyone, you tailor the content, subject line, or other parts of the email to match each recipient’s interests, preferences, or characteristics. It’s like writing a letter that feels like it’s meant just for that person.

Email personalization helps businesses build stronger relationships with their customers, improve customer satisfaction, and increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

It shows that you understand and care about each person’s unique needs, which can make them more likely to connect with your brand and respond positively to your emails.

What is cold email personalization, then?

Now that I’ve explained what cold email and email personalization are, it’s pretty clear what the problem is.

If you have no prior contact with a recipient, then how in the world are you supposed to customize an email specifically for them?

In short, the answer is to do what you can.

Using the tactics below, you can make your generic cold emails into something with much clearer intent and much more customized content that a recipient will find hard to resist.

Tactics for Cold Email Personalization

1. Research & Tailor the Message

This is exactly what you would do even if you had a prior relationship with the recipient, but with cold emails, you have to work a little harder for your info. If you’re messaging a specific individual, then doing some research is highly recommended.

If you use something like their Linkedin profile (if you can find it), you can learn a lot about that person based on their credentials and post history.

One of the biggest things you can do to personalize an email is to include the recipient’s name, especially if it is in the subject line. Surveys say that personalized email subject lines result in 22% higher CTR, and you’ll need to take every advantage you can find regarding cold email personalization.

Of course, your personalization shouldn’t be limited to just a name in the subject line, but it’s a good start if you have little info.

2. Find Common Ground

As I mentioned in the previous tactic, if you find the social profiles of whoever you’re messaging, you can start to find places where your personal experience and theirs have overlapped.

For example, you could have attended the same event, belonged to the same professional association, or worked with similar clients.

This immediately results in a much more personal conversation than what you would expect with a cold email.

Because cold emails are “cold,” a recipient might be a little taken aback when discovering a connection between themselves and a person messaging them out of the blue. However, this is a good thing for you because it means they recognize you’ve done your research on them and will be more likely to open your emails as a result.

3. Keep it Brief and Personal

Cold emails should be concise, focused, and easy to read. Avoid generic templates or lengthy introductions, as the more content you have in an email, the more opportunity for the recipient to notice that it isn’t particularly personalized.

Instead, get to the point and maintain a conversational tone throughout the email.

4. Highlight Relevance and Benefits

Using the most basic info you’ve gathered about the recipient, clearly explain why your offering/proposition is relevant to their specific needs or challenges.

Focus on the benefits they can derive from your solution and emphasize how it can address their pain points or improve their business.

On top of this, you can provide personalized recommendations based on the recipient’s industry, role, or previous actions. This demonstrates that you understand their unique circumstances and positions you as a valuable resource.

5. Use Social Proof

You can use this without any info on the recipient, but it is more effective if you do know something about them.

Social proof is a great way to establish credibility and trust in your brand. Simply put, if you saw that other people had positive experiences with the person or brand reaching out to you, then you’d be more likely to give them the time of day.

If you do have some knowledge of your recipient, you can use that and maybe demonstrate social proof from someone they know or know of.

6. Follow Up with Personalized Follow-Up Emails

If you don’t receive a response to your initial cold email, consider sending personalized follow-up emails.

After all, once you’ve sent an email and not gotten a response, you know something about the recipient: they aren’t interested (yet).

Reference the previous email, acknowledge the lack of response, and offer additional value or insights to reignite their interest.

Conclusion: is cold email personalization worth it?

The answer is yes; of course it is.

Any kind of personalization will significantly increase your return on investment, and if you can cobble together a personalized cold email using the tactics above, the chances of it being opened and read are much higher than they would be if it were left as a generic, lifeless cold email.

This can also be made much easier using email personalization software, some of which also include the prospecting element of cold email as well.